Foodies are stupid; Being less lazy is hard for me but at least I’m not eating an endangered species and describing it as having an orgasm

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?

And

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.

YIKES

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.

But anyway.

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.

SLAM

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

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24 Responses to Foodies are stupid; Being less lazy is hard for me but at least I’m not eating an endangered species and describing it as having an orgasm

  1. geneviève says:

    That thing about Anthony Bourdain’s rage at vegetarians turning down the meat offered by their guests… Uh… I don’t know, I sort of feel it. In my case it’s not anger, but I definitely think it can be very rude. Bourdain travels the world and goes to far away places where people live off so little, those people often slave over a special meal they plan on serving him because he is fancy guest. Sometimes it’s totally disgusting sounding and he still eats it. He puts his money where his mouth is. As an ex-vegetarian, I believe there are times when you can politely decline a serving of meat, like when the host happens to have side dishes you can quietly partake in, or when you are welcome to lend a hand in the kitchen and make something you want to share with everyone. But when traveling to foreign lands where vegetarianism is often a luxury (because meat is the only protein readily available), or where vegetarianism is just not a concept that most people are familiar with, I definitely think it’s a little delusional to expect a host to please their guest’s dietary choices.

    • Yours Truly says:

      Right, I was conflating two separate strands of argument Meyers makes in this review. The one strand is like, if you’re a tourist and someone’s actively trying to sell you meat on the street and you say “no thanks,” why should that make Anthony Bourdain angry? The other strand of the argument is the dinner party one.

      There is certainly an argument to be made that if you, like, travel to some other country and are then invited into someone’s home for a meal, refusing what they served you would be rude. But that is a very specific situation that isn’t really the point of the article. If you want to travel to another land and then just not-buy meat from street vendors, then who cares?

      I think in America, in our own culture, it is NEVER RUDE to decline to eat something for reasons ethical or religious. If I kept kosher and someone offered me pork I think everyone would agree that I would be within my social etiquette rights to refuse. Why is ethical vegetarianism any different? It’s a choice you’ve made to not do something that you think is wrong. That should not be perceived as “rude.”

      That being said, I do think a vegetarian has the obligation to inform people, like if I’m invited to dinner somewhere I always find a way BEFOREHAND to be like “i don’t eat meat, JSYK.” Although again in an ideal world the onus would be on the host–whenever I’m having someone over for dinner I always check to see if there’s anything they can’t/won’t eat. I really don’t think people should have to do things they are actively uncomfortable with or feel strong antipathy for out of social politeness. Another word for that is just “peer pressure” and we’re supposed to not be susceptible to that either.

      • Yours Truly says:

        Or another example would be, what if you don’t drink? But your host is filling up your wineglass and being like “this wine is so awesome, I hope you like it”? Do you drink it just to be polite?

    • Kelsey says:

      I am a vegetarian and I watch a ton of Bourdain, and for a long time I felt similarly: I do think that in the abstract it is good manners to eat what you are offered when you are a guest, and I used to really admire his resolve in situations where his hosts are like, “literally the only thing we have to eat in this season is fermented warthog, and we have nothing in which to wash it” and he very gamely tries it and tries to get at what’s good/interesting about it. I do think he’s setting an impossibly high standard here: surely he wouldn’t begrudge the allergic or the religious the right to avoid foods they can’t have, and while it’s not exactly the same thing, I think that most people have strongly held preferences that are worth valuing (plus, I am pretty sure that there are many people who would have drawn the line at fermented warthog–which did indeed make Bourdain sick–and I’m not sure that’s the greatest sin of all time, you know?) But I did admire the extremes of his willingness to participate in local food cultures.

      Until this: lately, I have seen a number of episodes where the dominant food culture in the area is vegetarian (where, for religious or cultural regions, that’s just how people eat): there was an episode in a predominantly Jainist part of India and an episode in Jamaica where he eats with some Rastafarians that are particularly springing to mind. What struck me is that Bourdain had no problem acting like an asshole guest/avoiding what the majority of people eat when the locals were eating vegetarian. When he was with the Rastafarians, he had some vegan rice and veggie dish and was like, “This is it? This is what you eat every day?” and was totally weird and dismissive; when he was in India, he found an out of the way Muslim corridor and spent the entire episode in a very vegetarian area eating meat on sticks. I respect Bourdain’s position if he’s intellectually honest about it, but that pissed me off.

      So now when he talks shit about vegetarians, I just go ‘blah blah blah’ at the television until he does something else.

      • Yours Truly says:

        OMG!!!!!!! That is so infuriating. Thank you so much for this awesome piece of fodder for my future foodie diatribe!!!

        Classy move, Mr. Anthony “Cultural Relativity Is The Only Important Thing on Earth When Eating” Bourdain

  2. mokin says:

    Bourdain’s example (of the peasant family slaving over their valued goat meat for their honored guest, and then said guest turns it down because they’re vegetarian, thus offending the poor peasants) is so offensive and annoying to me because he uses that one example to write off vegetarianism/veganism as a whole. Like, sure, maybe there’s some people who would do that, but there’s other vegans who would gladly eat that meat because of its significance. And really, how many times are vegetarians put in that position? Mostly never!

    Whatever. What makes Bourdain entertaining (strong, caustic opinions) can also make him extremely irritating.

    • Yours Truly says:

      I know. And obviously those people in that specific situation are stupid and rude, but, like you said, that’s such an extremely specific situation, and there are lots of veggie dudes who would NOT have handled it that way. Furthermore, “peasant village in Vietnam where you are a guest” is NOT THE SAME THING as “new acquaintance’s dinner party in Brooklyn.” Equating them is false and disingenuous. Rudeness in the one situation is not rudeness in the other.

      It’s also like the CLASSIC THING people ask you when they find out you’re vegetarian (which, honestly? It’s 2011, is it still such a shock to people???), which is, “what if you were starving on a desert island and the only way to survive is to eat a rabbit or whatever?” And if you say “I’d eat the rabbit,” then that proves vegetarianism is stupid? Dude, I’d drink my own pee if I were trapped in a cave; that doesn’t mean we should all drink our own pee all the time.

  3. geneviève says:

    I don’t drink and that thing when the host wants to pour fancy wine into my glass happens all the time. It has happened abroad too, in places like Japan where it’s a big deal to drink together after a show and not participating can feel like a bummer for everyone else involved. In those cases I make up little lies, like “I am allergic” or “I can’t drink for health reasons”. If someone has the time and interest, I may explain to them why I don’t drink, but I definitely don’t want to make anyone self-conscious about my not drinking.
    Even when I was a vegetarian there were parts of it which drove me crazy and even embarrassed me. One is that I do think veganism can seriously be a class issue/luxury. Like when visiting Arctic Norway: in order to survive in Arctic Norway you’d have to eat a ton of dairy and reindeer meat. Nowadays families get to buy all sorts of moderately priced things at the supermarket, but anything soy, any vegan products beyond your very basic vegetables are very expensive and come all the way from England or Germany. To survive on a vegan diet in Arctic Norway is to be willing to spend a ton of money and resources on food. Which to me is not better for the world at all.

    • Yours Truly says:

      But, again, this is such a specific example and I’m not sure what you’re arguing here. I shouldn’t be vegetarian because people in Arctic Norway can’t be vegetarians? I’m sure they do lots of things in Arctic Norway that you don’t do in your daily life in Regular Continental America. We (you and I) live in a place where we can go to the supermarket and buy vegetables cheaply and eat them; thus if someone wants to eat that way, they should do that. Obviously if we lived in Arctic Norway, or Papua New Guinea, or the Moon, our lives/possibilities/eating options would be very different. What does that have to do with anything? By this logic we should all be eating half a cup of white rice every day and dying of malnutrition, because that’s what’s happening to an enormous majority of people on this earth.

      I’m not interested in making everyone on the earth eat exactly the same way. Cultures are different; what’s available is different; climates are different. I don’t care what they do in Arctic Norway, where the entire system of food production is totally different than it is where I live. I am interested in eating the way that makes sense for me and for where I live.

      Finally, I definitely reject this whole argument that eating vegetables is somehow more costly than eating meat. That may be true in a distant clime like the Arctic, but when you make it a generalization (“it’s a luxury to eat a vegetarian diet”), that’s simply not true. Vegetables do not automatically cost more than meat, and I don’t know why this has become such a truism of the anti-vegetarian movement.

      I am not advocating that everyone should be vegetarian. I don’t think people in Arctic Norway should be vegetarian. It’s obviously not a diet that would work for them. I’m saying that in America, the choice to not eat meat is based on real things, and is a reasonable choice, and that people who make that choice should not be mocked and belittled by people like Anthony Bourdain for not wanting to stuff live piglets down their throats or something.

      • Yours Truly says:

        also it seems like from what you say about drinking that you would agree with me about not eating meat at someone’s house…how are the two things different? I don’t think a veggie person needs to be a jerk or make a big deal out of it, like you said, you don’t want to make your host feel weird. I totally agree. I think such a refusal to take part in something can be done casually with minimal awkwardness.

  4. intheblanks says:

    This post expresses so many things I feel, and I’m going to read the article stat.

    My only thought is that I don’t think there is that much of a distinction between hipster bacon-love and Bourdain-style “foodies.” I have hipster inclinations (gasp!) and graduated college in 2004, which has given me a firsthand view of seeing the best minds of my generation destroyed by the pursuit of artisanal sausage. And a lot of my friends really like Bourdain and his ilk, watch the shows, read the books, etc. It is part of the way they think about food and pursue food as a sorta “cool” hobby. They don’t make their living at it, but the “foodie” ethos has trickled downward from those who do.

    So I get to hear a lot about how delicious oxtail tacos or foie gras hotdogs are, because “High culture or low culture? THE LINES ARE BLURRED!!!!” is always a hip way to do things, regardless of the cultural terrain.

    In conclusion, your post is great!

    • intheblanks says:

      Also, the first time I heard the term “foodie” I actually thought it was a joke at the expense of the terminology general hobbyists sometimes use to describe their pursuits. It just seemed so uncreative and stupid!

      Sorry to be such a jerk to you, “foodies”!

      • Yours Truly says:

        “a firsthand view of seeing the best minds of my generation destroyed by the pursuit of artisanal sausage.”

        brilliant

  5. geneviève says:

    My point was that when I was in Arctic Norway I felt embarrassed to be a vegetarian.

    • Yours Truly says:

      fair enough. I know I would have felt the same way there. I definitely felt that way in Japan. But lately I’ve been being like “being vegetarian is MY CULTURE,” like it’s a culture, a way of life, not necessarily any dumber than any other culture or way of life.

  6. kerry says:

    I was going to write something about feeling adrift after school and running off to join the peace corps but whoa, there is heavier shit going down I apparently need to read up on.

  7. Adam says:

    YOU SHOULD WRITE AN ARTICLE ON:

    LED ZEP MIC TECHNIQUES
    WOLF COLONEL

    BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK

    THE SONG “EVEN FLOW”

    PARAPPA THE RAPPA/MUSICAL GAMES PAST PRESENT FUTURE

    CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS OF COMPLICATED HI HAT TECHNIQUES

    TOWER OF POWER, PHIL COLLINS SUSSUDIO, AND HOW THE FUNK WENT UPSCALE

    REVIEWS OF THE CD REVIEWS WITHIN AMERICAN PSYCHO

    DIGITAL CULTURE DECLINE:
    WHY, AFTER YEARS OF INOVATION AND CAREER MAKING PRODUCTIONS, DR DRE’S COMEBACK IS BOUND FOR FAILURE

    UHHHHHHH

    TEDDY RILEY VS TERRY RILEY: THE RILEY BROTHERS
    wait that ones mine

  8. Yours Truly says:

    really strong calls, alan.
    especially the cd reviews in american psycho one.
    WHOA

  9. Vicki says:

    I think genevieve’s point has some relevance in America, too though. I recently decreased my fake meat intake and increased my ethically raised and slaughtered, as far as I can tell, intake (which in chicago is surprisingly easy) because I thought, “why should I feel all virtuous about buying soybean products when they are taking over agriculture, supporting monoculture, etc etc. And why is my soymilk amnufactured by TJs in California with soy from probably all over the world better than getting some organic milk from a local smallish farm?” And I sort of decided that it wasn’t, and I didn’t (feel more virtuous), and so now we eat a limited amount of meat–like 2-3 times/week, including fish.

    The problem is that so many people are like, “if you eat meat, you eat it twice a day every day!” and then vegetarians who oppose commercial meat production (such a vegetarian was I) just completely abstain and replace that protein with something that has its own ethical issues. That’s not to say that vegetarianism, and even veganism I guess, isn’t an ethical response to a totally fucked up meat production industry, but it’s not the *only* response one can make.

    And as for your article: are any of your cohort also dissertating? Would they want to form a writing group? You could also put that on your CV: “Co-founder, Music Writing Group” or something.

    • Yours Truly says:

      Yes, I strongly agree with everything you say here. Strongly, strongly. I think what I react negatively to is the assumption that “vegetarian diet” just equals “tons of fake meat products.” Because that’s just one shitty version of a vegetarian diet–it’s not my version. I very rarely eat a fake meat product. And I feel like when people say “vegetarianism is more expensive than eating meat, thus is a luxury” or when they say “vegetarianism is just as bad for the earth,” they’re assuming a like 90% Tofurkey-based diet, which I think is unfair.

      However, if we are purely talking about the 90%Tofurkey-based diet, then I absolutely agree with what you guys are saying. That’s a stupid diet, no doubt about it. And just as unethical and non-eco-friendly and etc.

      I do love soymilk.

      • Kelsey says:

        they’re assuming a like 90% Tofurkey-based diet, which I think is unfair.

        This. This this this-y this. I think that it is really hard for many people who have spent their whole lives constructing meals around a central protein to imagine how you would do it any other way (this was definitely something that came up a lot when I was eating with P and his German family a lot last year.) So I think that really leads to the assumption that your meals look just like theirs, except with an enormous tofu loaf at the center of a platter or something.

  10. Vicki says:

    Also, agreed: hipster bacon fad is annoying and dumb.

  11. Vicki says:

    Yeah–I also believe that people’s bods respond differently to different diets. For example, my bod like protein and dislikes tons of grains, and gets swollen and tired when it doesn’t get enough of one or too much of the other. Other people can go days and days without any significant protein and feel fine. Given my reservations about unfermented soy, then, that kinda leaves me with eggs, meat, and fish. So I do the best I can with that. But I’ve know plenty of vegetarians who just eat lots of scones and fries, or alternatively, “vegans” who just want an excuse not to eat, period. But that’s neither here nor there, I guess, to what we’re talking about.

  12. alex says:

    http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/eat-and-drink/articles/winged-victory-march-2011/
    DRILLING INTO LAMB’S SKULLS!
    “Hours later, Rucker and Van Kley were frying up brains, tongues, and cheeks to mash with potatoes and mushrooms for Le Pigeon’s new “Lamb’s Head Shepherds Pie.” It was more than a hit. Customers clamored for seconds.”
    Whatever floats your boat, Portland.

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