Things I Can do without in the Food World

I’ve been crankier than normal of late, so I’ve decided to take that negative energy and pass it on to you all. Never it let it be said that I am not a giver.

I tend to think a fair amount of the food world, and my place in it. I also read a fair amount of food blogs and magazines, and the conclusion I have reached is that there are some topics that others talk about that leave me scratching my head, wondering “How is this at all relevant to me or the food community at large?” Here are some of those items which you will read precious little of on this site.

  • The World’s Largest (fill in the blank with some sort of food item): It’s not that I don’t applaud the folks who typically look to get themselves in a record book of some sorts, it’s just that it ceased to be appealing to me after the age of 13. It’s novel, I agree. But trying to fit it into the larger context of the food world? I don’t see how it’s relevant.
  • The World’s most expensive (fill in the blank with some sort of food item): Most of these items tend to be nothing more than PR stunts, and unoriginal ones at that. And part of me believes that there’s nothing more gaudy than sucking down a martini with diamond garnish or eating a sundae with gold flakes. It’s wealth for the sake of wealth, and again, I don’t see how it’s relevant to the food world at large. Although it does speak volumes about the restaurants and promoters who pimp these menu items.
  • Top Chef and other shows of their ilk: I know that I’m likely to be a minority in this opinion, but I feel that shows such as these feed the celebrity culture rather than our food culture. While the chefs featured all likely have skills in the kitchen in one form or another, it’s just as likely that you or I can find a chef equal to their skill in our own city who don’t feel the need to be on television. While I think it’s great that some of these chefs see some success in the restaurant business, being put on T.V. doesn’t mean that they are better than those who don’t make it in the cast.
  • PR Flacks: This one is a tough one. I know that there are decent PR folks out there. I’ve worked with several. But for every good one who is honest and trustworthy, there’s a dozen more who are trying to tell you that Pizza Cones are the most revolutionary items to come on the market in the past one hundred years, or that Ice Water in a Box is a marketable idea whose time has come. If there’s a hell, these folks are sure to have front row seats.
  • Zagat-junkies: You know these folks – they’re the ones who swear by Zagat/Chowhound/Newspaper Reviewers. They’re the ones who go to restaurants that are highly rated by media outlets without exploring other, lesser known places. They go to these places, not actually to enjoy the food, but rather to either a) claim to be “in the know”, or b) to be seen at the latest and greatest reviewed place. The flaw in their thinking is that if they’re always going to the latest and greatest, then they’ll never give the little guy the chance, nor will they ensure that the places that they’ve stated they loved before will be able to stick around when the next Zagat book or New York Times review comes out.
  • Eating contests: Otherwise known as competitive eating, I’m still of the belief that these events are mere novelties. They speak more about the competitors (and their followers) than about the foods they consume. In my opinion, the Rock, Paper, Scissor League has more credibility.
  • Trend Setters: Let me clarify this a bit. When I say “Trend Setters” what I mean to say is anyone who believes that they are the ultimate authority about what is in and out of fashion in the food world. Anyone who writes something along the lines of “Beets are in this year” or “Vanilla is the new Chocolate” is guilty of this. While I think that it’s laudable that magazines and websites can give press to lesser known and lesser used products, I feel that there are some who feel as if the world would jump if they snapped their fingers. This, from my perspective, runs contrary to what makes the food world so great. There is a special joy when we, as individuals, discover something new on our own. Dictating taste is the opposite of that joy. And yes, I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this.

There. I feel a bit better. Now get the hell off of my lawn.