Well! I very much enjoyed this article, which friend Elizabeth pointed me to after my mild rant against the new hipster obsession with bacon. WHAT A SCATHING SCREED is this Atlantic Monthly book review! It’s not about hipster bacon but rather about foodie culture, which is different, but still. I love it! Meyers takes foodies to task for acting like they’re the ones saving the world by caring about ingredients or whatever, but then turning around and being all excited to spend $100 on lunch and eat enough food at every meal to feed an entire family once a day, not to mention ferociously enjoying the sight of a “struggling, groaning pig” being held down for 20 minutes by 4 people as it bleeds slowly to death so they can eat its rectum or whatever. I also love the interweaving of catholic teachings on the sin of gluttony. HILARIOUS.
‘[Waters’s] streamlined philosophy’ Severson tells us, is ‘that the most political act we can commit is to eat delicious food that is produced in a way that is sustainable, that doesn’t exploit workers and is eaten slowly and with reverence.’ A vegetarian diet, in other words? Please. The reference is to Chez Panisse’s standard fare–Severson cites ‘grilled rack and loin of Magruder Ranch veal’ as a typical offering–which is environmentally sustainable only because so few people can afford it.
Also how in foodie culture it’s rude to not eat what you are served–Meyers quotes Anthony Bourdain’s rage at seeing vegetarian tourists in Vietnam say ‘no thanks’ to a vender selling meat on a stick or whatever. How furious it makes him when somebody at a dinner party is like “oh I don’t eat meat” or something. Meyers is like, “so now it’s the GUEST’S duty to please the HOST? What kind of “tradition” does that come from????” Meyers points out this very bonkers contradiction among foodies, that tradition is great (eat shit-tons of meat, because it’s “traditional” (although only traditional, as Meyers points out, if you look only at the extremely wealthy throughout history–poor people in Europe/America never ate much meat, until factory farming made it cheap)) but that abstention from any kind of food for any kind of moral, ethical, or religious reason (religion = tradition as well, no?) is stupid and wienery. Meyers quotes this crazy Dana Goodyear restaurant article in which she makes hilarious fun of a Jewish lady who was unwittingly served pork and got upset, and apparently the whole restaurant and the chef were openly laughing at this person. That’s hilarious??? Goodness gracious.
We are meant to chuckle too; the woman got what she deserved. Most of us consider it a virtue to maintain our principles in the face of social pressure, but in the involuted world of gourmet morals, constancy is rudeness. One must never spoil a dinner party for mere religious or ethical reasons.
The stuff about gluttony is so intense. Meyers quotes Bourdain talking about the “identical just-fucked look” gracing each diner’s face after eating an illegal meal of endangered ortolan songbirds, who are fattened in pitch-dark cages and then drowned in cognac before being roasted whole. What the honest fuck.
If nothing else, Bourdain at least gives the lie to the Pollan-Severson cant about foodie-ism being an integral part of the whole, truly sociable, human being. In Bourdain’s world, diners are as likely to sit solo or at a countertop while chewing their way through ‘a fucking Everest of shellfish.’ Contributors to the Best Food Writing anthologies celebrate the same mindless, sweating gluttony. ‘You eat and eat and eat,’ Todd Klingman writes, ‘long after you’re full. Being overstuffed, for the food lover, is not a moral problem.’ But then, what is?
We’ve already seen that the foodie respects only those customs, traditions, beliefs, cultures–old and new, domestic and foreign–that call on him to eat more, not less. But the foodie is even more insatiable in regard to variety than quantity…indeed, there appears to be no greater point of pride in this set than to eat with the indiscriminate omnivorousness of a rat in a zoo dumpster.
The more lives sacrificed for a dinner, the more impressive the eater. Dana Goodyear: ‘Thirty duck hearts in curry…The ethos of this kind of cooking is undeniably macho.’ Amorality as ethos, callousness as bravery, queenly self-absorption as machismo: no small perversion of language is needed to spin heroism out of an evening spent in a chair.
HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would like that on a bumper sticker. “No small perversion of language is needed to spin heroism out of an evening spent in a chair.” THE AMERICAN WAY. Although to be honest I did feel heroic for sitting through “Last Tango in Paris.”
Then Meyers delivers the ultimate slam, summing up this month spent reviewing foodie tomes by comparing them to other addiction-memoirs. Thus:
After a month among the bat eaters…I opened Nikki Sixx’s Heroin Diaries and encountered a refreshingly sane-seeming young man, self-critical and with a dazzlingly wide range of interests.
HA HA HA HA I AM DYING
To me, it’s not worth getting all that mad about, since relatively speaking the number of real Bourdain-style “foodies” in the world is basically infinitesimally small, and rich people have always acted like fools in one way or another, including lording insane dietary habits over the plebes, so whatever (and the lazy hipster bacon-love sweeping our nation makes me way madder, and is way more destructive). But still, I love a carefully scathing screed against something I think is dumb, so FIVE STARS.
(also TAKE THAT, because I cited something that wasn’t a New Yorker article! My horizons are expanding)
IN OTHER NEWS
In other news, I am having a hard time writing another article. Everyone’s like “you have to write another article!” And I’m like “I know!” And then I play Zelda for two hours. Gary got mad the other day and told me I am lazy, and I yelled at him, because that is so rude and I have actually accomplished a lot of things, and lets see how HE feels 2 years from now when he’s where I’m at right now. However it is true that this little “break” I am taking has stretched on longer than is strictly conscionable or even vaguely reasonable or even, to be honest, all that enjoyable.
Remember in high school when you’d write in your diary about how you are excited for your “life to start”? Do you still feel that way? I can’t tell if I do or not.
Last night I slept on the living room floor because the old man is having one of his nose problems and is snoring more mightily than usual, and I have a brutal and well-documented case of “Light Sleeper Syndrome” for which I wish they’d make a pill (oh wait, they did, it’s called a sleeping pill. Does Ambien still make you get up in the night and eat a whole turkey in your sleep?). At first you’re excited to sleep on the floor because it means you get to sleep with the snoopy. But then you realize the snoopy is kind of a terrible bedmate. He is a bed-hog, for starters, and even a covers-hog somehow, even though he doesn’t have hands. He is so happy to be sleeping with you that he wants to put his mouth and nose all over you and breathe the same air you are breathing out. Nobody loves like a snoopy. He is like Flaubert rapturously smelling the armpits of prostitutes. Snoopy wants to lick your eyeball and put his tongue up your nose just as you are about to drift into sleep. He also stomps on your boobs and fidgets all night long and can’t get comfortable and it’s like JOIN THE CLUB!!!! ASSHOLE!!!!!!!
Then at five in the morning he rang the bell, and I had to get up and let him out so he could pee for what felt like an hour. He is very proud of himself every time he rings the bell and goes outside and pees. I wish my life were so easy.
I just overheard the old man: “No! You entertain yourself! You are almost a grown-ass man!” He’s trying to get Frank to eat his tennis ball instead of ringing the bell over and over again.
What a turd.
“It’s a crazy world”
“Somebody oughtta sell tickets”
“sure I’d buy one”
Do you get tired of hearing about my snoopy? Guess what–I don’t care. I don’t come down to where YOU work and slap the you-know-what out of YOUR mouth.
Also, can I please come be an adjunct teacher at the university you run?
WHY DON’T YOU RUN A UNIVERSITY???
Surely “the President of Yale” is reading this blog. Come on, people.
I would say the UC president but I’m not sure he can read.
UC PRESIDENT SLAM
I BET THAT GUY IS A FOODIE, AMIRITE?
$10,000 A MONTH HOUSING ALLOWANCE, I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY
$10,000 BUYS A LOT OF LIVE OCTOPUSES YOU CAN STUFF IN YOUR MOUTH