Have you ever felt as though you were born in the wrong time period? I thought so! Me too. From my taste in music, fashion, and architecture to my views on political correctness, there are any number of ways in which I feel I am struggling upstream against the prevailing temporal currents. I have an anachronistic soul, completely out-of-touch with the zeitgeist.
One way in which this is brought home to me again and again is this whole undying obsession with foodie culture. Of course, there have always been gourmands, gourmets, connoisseurs and snobs. But in the past, I feel that those with deep interest and knowledge of the subject were specialists in a somewhat rarefied and esoteric area of knowledge, much like folks with an abiding passion for orchids, art deco lamps, 1970s jazz fusion, or French symbolist poetry. Taken in this spirit, I even enjoy listening to or reading about arcane gastronomical lore. (For instance, my copy of Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, written by the wonderful pre- and post-Second World War New Yorker food critic, A.J. Liebling, is one of the most dog-eared and pored-over books on my shelves. Now, there was someone who could write about food in an engaging way.) Nowadays, though, what with my plumber, my hairdresser, and my dental hygienist prattling on about “amuse-bouche,” “mirepoix,” “coulis,” and “artisanal-whatever”. I can’t even …
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good meal, and I know my way around the kitchen. It’s sort of my happy place on a Friday or Saturday night: music blasting, strip loins on the grill, the sweet smell of garlic roasting, blender whipping up its margarita magic. And, like most people, I enjoy a fancy meal in a restaurant whenever I can afford it; a perfect bordelaise sauce or an elegant duck cassoulet are a gift from the heavens. But, overall, I just don’t give enough of a damn about food to be constantly analyzing it or posting pictures of every trendy forkful. I feel the same way about my chefs as I feel about my mechanics: I’m glad they do what they do, but I don’t want to idolize them, emulate them, or cop their jargon.
And I don’t even understand the point of wine, especially if beer and / or hard liquor are readily available. How can these self-proclaimed wine snobs make such ballsy claims about being able to sniff out a certain type of herb that wafted over the vineyards during a particular growing season. Do they know what those vineyards were fertilized with? How come they can’t smell that? There may be the occasional nasal Rain Man or two out there, but can most people really tell the difference between one red wine and another? I’m pretty sure I could stir some food colouring into a Chardonnay and convince most people that it’s Beaujolais.
Of course, I am willing to entertain other perspectives. Perhaps I am simply grumpy, churlish, and narrow-minded about all this. Nothing is more likely, and it’s not exactly an unpopular theory amongst my circle of family and friends. What do you think, Dear Reader? I would love to have you weigh in on the issue. Have at it. And bon appetit.