When did food become pretentious?
I know. I know. Ask me!
I was first aware of how insidious food pretentiousness had become in our society when I walked into a fast food hamburger joint to see carefully chalked on the wall where the potatoes came from that day. Like I care? Do I know anything about potato farmers on the other side of the country? Of course I don’t. I’ll give a little and let a restaurant brag about their special food on their menu but the potatoes growing locale chalked on the wall as if every day would bring a new taste sensation to their fries is, there’s no other word for it, it is pretentious.
It seems as if in order to have a delicious breakfast our eggs have to come from Farmer John’s organically grown henhouse that’s located within a sustainable distance of our home. Nothing less will do. While there’s nothing wrong with doing the right thing, and I applaud and support those that do care about the planet, we didn’t use to blatantly announce the origination of every food item.
Let me get back to the point of this blog: when did we become such a pretentious society. I say it was when we started demanding 24/7 television. That’s when. Why you ask? To me it is Lenox crystal clear.
Think about it. Previously only the rich were pretentious. They didn’t just breakfast on jam; they dined on Follain Rhubarb and Ginger Jam. Imported Devon Clotted Cream was part of their everyday diet. Mrs. Bucket on “Keeping Up Appearances” with her Royal Doulton china could have been the poster child for rich and pretentious if only she had money and prestige. We laugh as we watch reruns of this show but as a society have we all become Hyacinth Bucket?
Back when television stations still signed off at night our cooking entertainment was Julia Child. Shows were on once a week and we rarely saw reruns. We, the average American, were easily impressed with changing everyday ingredients from food to cuisine. By the time Martin Yan arrived on PBS with “Yan Can Cook” we were ready to cook international; venture beyond chicken lo mein into real foreign cuisine.
Finally 24/7 arrived; an entire network devoted just to cooking. Eventually another network was added. Cooking shows were popping up faster than toadstools after a rain. Americans became obsessed with food. To feed this obsession 24/7 each new cooking show had to have an angle and nothing says angle like giving food important sounding names. Chefs obtained movie star status but something was lost: actual cooking. Today with some notable exceptions cooking shows don’t teach us how to cook, they are showcases for personalities. Newer shows pit contestants against each other, stage a race to create the “most” unique food item or the hosts simply show up at restaurants and eat. Watching someone else eat doesn’t appeal to me.
I sound like I’m immune to all this food conceit but OMG while I’m channel surfing let me get a glimpse of a Christopher Garrens cake being created and I’m there for the entire show. That man and his staff are cake artists, bakery genius.
Is this pretentious food obsession going to end? I don’t know and my Ouija board is not telling. Hopefully, one day we’ll get so tired of probing and promoting every morsel that we’ll revert back to actually enjoying the food we eat.
Since my blogging centers around food a friend sent me a list she had received of 45 synonyms for the word “food.” I would say on a regular basis I use about 3 of them so to expand my vocabulary and showcase my versatility I’m going use all 45 words in one post.
Let’s start with the three I didn’t know: Aliment, Viand and Provender. It’s a sentence so I count those three as officially done and counted.
The Versatile Synonym
It was easy for Jennifer to take a bite from the board spread out at the restaurant. Her foodie friends had brought her to this place. The chow on the impressive bread spread included every kind of comfort food she could imagine.
Cuisine is for cruise ships, this was plain ‘ol home-style eats. The fare wasn’t anything Richard Simmons would consider proper fodder. The kitchen staff doing the cooking had never heard the word diet. In fact their favorite dish to prepare was “any kind of dessert.” Edible, eatable, anyway you said it the grub on the line was home cooking at its best. No fast food fries here.
The larder at this place obviously did not have any slop hiding on a back shelf. Nourishment for the hungry diner came in the form of a meal consisting of meat and a mess of vegetables. But there was more, the wait staff did not ration out the provisions.
28 + x = 45
I’m over halfway through the words on this refreshment writing exercise. Deep breath, time to finish the list with a flourish.
For those in the know there was a back room. Everyone who received a private invitation to the rear table wanted to know where the cook bought her groceries. The foodstuff was astounding. Goodies from around the world were displayed. If someone didn’t like the vittles on the buffet table there was a menu available for the elite in the rearmost area– 26 pages of victuals to choose from. It would take an hour just to read this nutriment list which to its credit did not include any pabulum.
This was not some shabby feed set up to feed a cattle car of patrons nor was it a handout. The clientele of this place knew their rations. They knew the store of food in the freezer would run short by 10 p.m. and there was no chance of take-out. These food snobs considered bare subsistence to include five courses (two entrees were de rigor) and as many wines. In reality though it wasn’t all about sustenance. It was about dining on 45 words.
Call me crazy – I think a person’s house should be larger than their outdoor kitchen.