One of my favorite folksy aphorisms, and apparently, most timely, is the culinary admonishment: “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” This simple sentence encapsulates the flawed nature of America’s relationship with food. In a spoiled culture so fixated with food, with experimental incarnations of the most mundane dishes and overextended definitions of basic recipes posing as pretentious culinary affectation, food has been elevated to heights that are embarrassing to witness in all their gluttonous self-conscious glory.
Food is not simply food. Not any more.
Food is spectacle, it’s overly civilized manifestation of a higher calling that you are free to display in the most ostentatious manners of pedagogy possible. The effusive overstated nature of food praise is a competition in itself. Who can sound like the biggest fruit while ejaculating over the wonders of a risotto dish? You are the winner!
People make a spectacle of thumbing their nose at a dish or a meal while spending nauseating amounts of time spilling lavish praise about the sensual joys of simple ingredients in measures beyond what even a simple grain of rice should ever deserve.
Most of the new foodie movement seems a like put on. A charade of overacting and overreacting.
We no longer live to eat. No…this is too simple and basic and onerous a task. The most elemental survival activity has been decorated with distorted amounts of human egomania and falsity.
I don’t care about the obesity element that is an outgrowth of foodie-ism. That’s a given. I’m sure there are many foodie types who are rather slender. No, my concern is not the health or the physiological manifestations of the foodie mentality. Rather, I wonder, why have Americans become such food worshipers. What does this connote about our culture and mentality?
What does this obsessive deconstruction and “overconstruction” of food say about our collective soul? The foodie movement is an outgrowth of disposable income and expendable time. Too much money and not enough spine. In those faint archaic days of family dinner, courtesy of mother in her apron, food was a less extravagant ideal of urbanity than it has become today. Modern people denigrate old food traditions, old recipes. When women stayed home and cooked meals and we didn’t eat out for sport, food was one-dimensional and was segregated from the egotistical demands of peer-driven glutton porn.
In fact, the plethora of food-related television programming represents true glutton porn. I enjoy Food TV. I will not lie. But glutton porn is not the cause of our foodie culture and food obsession; it is a symptom.
No one appreciates the culinary arts as much as I do. I enjoy cooking more than most men or women I know. I began tackling “The Joy Of Cooking” after I married in 1997. There is a Zen involvement and purity involved in true cooking. In patiently building a sauce, in the rhythmic circularity of constructing bases and rues. In the old days, it was a given that men didn’t enjoy cooking, but conversely, women were expected to cook.
That is history. Now that liberated women work and whine about it so much, they have finally been liberated from the kitchen. And this is the one “freedom” they have embraced most heartily. With the decline in the family dinner table and the traditional female role of home- and family-chef, food has progressed to become a social extravagance and a thorough spectacle of “keeping up with the Jones'” where one-upsmanship is defined by who has been to the newest restaurant first.
Food is no longer humble. It is not an ojbect.
It is showmanship. The most irritating thing about foodie-ism is that it is showmanship by proxy because people don’t make food. They buy it! They watch others prepare it and celebrate that. They spend hard-earned money on prepared food. They eat out constantly. Restaurants are an esoteric scene here in Los Angeles. They have askew names and build up a franchise of cultivating foodie hordes. Their lunch offerings are icing on the cake because they can count on the lazy, complacent foodies to never eat left-overs or bring lunches to work. Especially when the company buys lunch for you, as is common in much of the “Industry” in this town.
Modern urban-dwellers are lazy-asses who can’t be troubled to turn the burner on or dust off their measuring spoons and actually make a mess on their pristine HGTV-approved counter-tops.
People are so insulated from the elements of life, from living. They live in absentia. They buy prepared meals. They don’t make meals. They don’t even buy food stuffs. And as far as raising or growing food stuffs, forget it! It’s been a long decline in proximity to what we put in our mouths. What we once grew, we now buy, cooked, as it makes its dreary, lifeless appearance at the other end of the food chain.
We are lazy consumers of life, of survival. We’ll pay for it. Put it on our tab.
We are now connoisseurs of taste but imbeciles of substance.
We are foodies!