When Did it Happen: Pretentious Food.Posted: March 27, 2012
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.