A conversation last night has me thinking about the whole business of making food seem like more than it is, making food a status object. Did you eat a hamburger last night, or a charbroiled, seared Kobe beef burger? What does it mean when you accept tap water over bottle water at a restaurant? You’re cheap, or savvy about the local water supply?
Is it inherently wrong or obnoxious to be elitist? Or does it just mean that you are discerning?
There is an ongoing discussion on eGullet about the merits of English cooking being overlooked by people who are blindsided by their belief that French food is superior. At least that is where the discussion started.
But, take a look at this quote from Charles Sweeney, aka Busboy, “Rejection of strip-mall food (except in Riverdale and certain quarters of Queens, Northern Virginia and Orange County) is merely another way for the elite to differentiate and lift themselves above the hoi polloi by asserting superior taste, intellect, and tolerance — the culinary equivalent of an expensively distressed leather jacket or that twenty-dollar-a-pound fair trade coffee.
So food is status. Talk about overlooking the 800 pound elephant in the room.