Omnivore - New York gastro-moronics

I have spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about homesickness for New York, and I think I’m done. Is the food better there? Yes. Is it worth it to live with the kind of moronic people I’ve just read about? I don’t think so.

In last week’s Dining Section of the New York Times, Katherine Wheelock writes about the anxiety attached to foodie dinner parties. She tells the story of a couple who is mortified that they once served store-bought tortillas at a party. It seems that in New York’s culinary circles, food has become the latest status symbol – Wheelock compares it to the way people judge one another on their clothes or cars.

It’s the type of article that makes me ashamed to be a food lover. It makes me want to crawl into a box of Velveeta mac-n-cheese and die.

These are people who love to throw the term Slow Food around, but who would disdain a simple meal at a farmer’s house. Eating is about love, not status. Fancy restaurants are about money, and therefore status, but eating in someone’s home? One-upmanship by way of sustenance? Disgusting. If you come to my house to eat, you’re lucky if you get more than a simple tomato sauce over (gasp!) store-bought pasta.

I’ve also hosted a dinner party that was built around a fresh white truffle flown in from Italy. During summer, we serve fresh heirloom tomatoes from my garden. We have some bottles of wine that are so special, people gasp when we bring them out. But one of my favorite fish dishes involves crumbled Ritz crackers. Some days my guests will find that all I have in my fridge is PBR.

One of the things I most hate is people’s reluctance to cook for me because they assume I will judge their honest food as lacking. It seems that the people in this article relish that thought! Cooking for someone in the home should be an act of community, not status.

Is this a Southern/Northern thing? Just another instance of upper classes grasping for whatever luxury they can to feel superior? Perhaps I am overreacting. There have always been food snobs, and in some ways I am guilty as well. But when it comes to food and friendship, I’m just as happy to eat a hot dog as a snobby gringo’s homemade tortilla.

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