Sunday, November 1, 2015

Can Foodies Laugh at Ourselves?

No doubt about it – foodies often take themselves (ourselves) too seriously.  The endless pursuit of the unique ingredient or some elusive source of the best of something can reek of elitism.  And while we talk of great food as though everyone should experience it, we know we are enjoying something that prices out many, many people.  

Recently a group of artists in Providence, Rhode Island poked some fun and satirical criticism at us and hit the nail on the head.  Check out this article at The Atlantic’s Citylab and have a good laugh:

I particularly appreciate this passage:
“The artists say Lura was not intended as a criticism of foodies per se. “It’s just about how easy it is to feed into hype, the need to belong in a community, and the elitist aspect of it,” they told CityLab. “People are so into this foodie culture because it does give you a sense of belonging [and] social hierarchy. It's a niche.”

Modern media has certainly allowed us all to hype whatever we think should be shared with the world and build a movement – or a moment.  Little has staying power so if you’re going to draw attention to something, you have to have significant hype.

And foodies certainly like to build community and a sense of belonging.  That’s the point of my blog after all.  But I disagree that it has to be a sense of elitism, hierarchy and niche.  Certainly there’s an element looking for the next Michelin star and the next big go-to restaurant and chef.  But many of us just enjoy a delicious meal with great conversation.  I am happy with a banh mi sandwich for half the price and triple the flavor of a ubiquitous Subway.  Show me a killer falafel spot for a cheap snack and I will show you a happy guy.  I crave a taqueria and can walk to a half-dozen that make me happy for under $10.  And I don’t want these places classed up; I have no interest in any elitist attitude about them.  I want people to go to these places and enjoy real food for a great price at a local spot that will keep their profits in the community and not send them off to some bland, corporate overlord.  Sometimes being a foodie is really about great food at prices accessible to all prepared by neighbors.  

That said, this Lura CafĂ© project was brilliant and made a great point.  Bravo!