Last week, I referred to BR Myers’s great article about foodie-ism. He quotes this gem from John Thorne’s self-published (oh, I wonder why) Rather Special and Strangely Popular: A Milk Toast Exemplary:
The things involved must be few, so that their meaning is not diffused, and they must somehow assume a perceptible weight. They attain this partly from the reassurance that comes of being ‘just so,’ and partly by already possessing the solidity of the absolutely familiar.
Thorne is writing about toast. Yup.
The food pseuds of the next few weeks come courtesy of BR Myers’s excellent essay for the Atlantic, ‘The Moral Crusade against Foodies‘, which Ella McSweeney forwarded to me recently. (Thank you! And all contributions and suggestions are always welcome.) Today’s post provides some context for the gems of food pseudery I’ve been featuring: it tries to answer the question why so many otherwise intelligent writers describe food and eating so incredibly badly.
I think Myers comes pretty close to an answer. He’s particularly good at showing how the High Moral Seriousness of ‘foodie-ism’ is a cover for foodies’ elitism:
Even if gourmets’ rejection of factory farms and fast food is largely motivated by their traditional elitism, it has left them, for the first time in the history of their community, feeling more moral, spiritual even, than the man on the street. Food writing reflects the change. Since the late 1990s, the guilty smirkiness that once marked its default style has been losing ever more ground to pomposity and sermonizing. References to cooks as ‘gods,’ to restaurants as ‘temples,’ to biting into ‘heaven,’ etc., used to be meant as jokes, even if the compulsive recourse to religious language always betrayed a certain guilt about the stomach-driven life. Now the equation of eating with worship is often made with a straight face.