Everybody’s a critic

I looked into Tara’s eyes and spoke.

“They WHAT?”

“They didn’t like your bread…said it was too crusty.”

“It was a BAGUETTE!”

It’s the first time I’ve ever been annoyed at how someone judged anything I made. Usually I know beforehard whatever I cook is good, bad, or indifferent and can take all criticism accordingly. But for some reason knowing that complete strangers had dissed what I thought to be a half-way decent attempt at french bread irked me.

The snob in me immediately dismissed their opinions. “Feh, what do they know, they Wonder-bread eating blasphemers!” I felt marginally better in feeling superior, but not much.

There were apparently two things going on at play here. One, they had no vested interest in protecting my feelings. Had they known of me personally, they may have been a little more careful with their opinions.

Truth now… how many times have you eaten something made by a friend or family member, and you swallowed it down with as much will and grace as you could muster in order not to hurt feelings? The worst dinner I ever had in my life came from a girlfriend who made crunchy spaghetti and topped it with a marinara that could best be described as thickened water with a hint of tomato. But yet, I ate all that was put in front of me, afriad that not finishing it would hurt her feelings.

And then there was the curried-cheese burrito incident, where it became apparent that the author of a burrito recipe mistook “Curry” for “Cumin” . Try shoveling that down your mouth without grimacing. Luckily, the cook of that meal (who shall remain nameless to protect their stellar reputation) took a few bites and gave a quick glance across the table. “Well… that could have been better”, they said. It’s easier to say a meal is bad when the chef gives you the go ahead.

But what about when something is supposed to be cooked as planned? We live in a culture that encourages sameness. Every load of bread one buys is supposed to be the same as the every other loaf of bread. Visualize a loaf of bread right now, and if you picture it sliced and in a plastic bag, you’ve been conned! Bread is supposed to have nuance. One loaf is not supposed to taste like every other. A friend gave me a piece of store bought wheat bread, and the only discernable difference between this slice of bread and a slice of Wonder bread white was the fact that it was brownish-tan instead of white.

It’s the concept of uniformity which has me so irritated. Are we so afraid of change and/or diversity that we demand a level of sameness throughout the basic staples of our lives? Ancient Egypt had dozens, if not hundreds of different kinds of breads. They put everything from Honey, to olives, to even oysters into their breads.

And what do we have? Go to the bread aisle in your supermarket, and count just how many different products we have. White bread, in the form of sliced and in the form of hamburger and hot dog buns make up over 50% of what’s out there.

What does this all have to do with the fact that Tara’s coworkers didn’t like my baguettes? Well, nothing really. But for some reason I get great pleasure in believing that they are culinary heathens, not yet ready to move beyond their sliced bread and velveeta cheese world.

But what if, perchance, my baguettes where less than good?

Nah! It could never happen.


Tags: ,