Reader Tom S. sends in a WaPo piece contending that foodie-ism is the new rock-and-roll. Excerpt:
That’s because today’s gastronomical adventures provide the thrills that rock-and-roll used to. New restaurants appeal to our sense of discovery. Our diets can reflect our identities, our politics. For fans of thrash metal and/or live octopus sashimi, food is a way to sate cravings for the maximal, visceral and extreme.
And above all, unlike music, food provides a sensual pleasure that can’t be transmitted digitally. We can’t download a banh mi.
“Cuisine exists in a cultural realm where people can engage in status displays,” says Kyle Rees, communications manager at the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. “And status items are things that aren’t easily obtained. So if everyone can get music, it loses that value. . . . And the millennial generation, they’re willing to drop the better part of their already low salaries on new food experiences.”
We all remember when video killed the radio star, but if we’re trying to establish that ramen shops are killing the record biz, the numbers are a little blurry.
I’m old enough to remember the early days of SXSW and the Austin music scene, when people in Austin used to talk about which clubs were featuring the hottest local bands. I wonder if Austinites now talk about food trailers like they talked then about music clubs. Maybe it’s not an either/or, but a both/and. I dunno. I do know that I was amazed, and excited, by the number of food trailers I saw all over town last weekend.
This Post piece made me reflect on how I used to be really into music, but now follow food and food trends the way I used to follow music. I’m not sure why that is. It’s not a status thing; I genuinely like new and interesting tastes. I think it’s also probably true that liking to cook has a lot to do with this. Because cooking is my hobby, and a source of great pleasure, I find that I’m able to appreciate what professional cooks accomplish — much, I’d guess, in the same way that amateur musicians can appreciate what professional musicians accomplish onstage.
I was writing this morning to a cousin who is planning to visit Paris for the first time, and I was going to recommend going to La Grande Epicerie and picking up a few jars of Christine Ferber confiture for a souvenir. It really is something extremely special. I don’t know if anything that small contains so much concentrated pleasure. The thing is, they are a high-status foodie item not only because they’re so delicious, but because they’re so hard to come by. I think you can buy them at Dean & DeLuca in NYC, but nowhere else in the US, or almost nowhere else. To be perfectly clear, I love her jam because it tastes so extraordinarily delicious, but I can’t deny that I get the same kind of pleasure thinking about hoofing it all the way to the far end of the rue du Bac to get my Christine Ferber fix, in the same way that decades ago, I used to love to find out-of-the-way record shops in search of hard-to-find albums (remember “albums”?).
Remember how I would go on and on and on about the oysters at Huitrerie Régis? The ones that come $30 to $40 a dozen? To me, they’re one of the great pleasures in the world, exactly what I would choose to eat for my last meal before going to the guillotine. Therefore, they’re a bargain. I know people who would spend twice what I spent on a meal at that Paris oyster bar, going to a single concert or a sporting event — and yet look down on me as a kind of frootaboo for being willing to pay big bucks for oysters. What is one man’s mindless splurge is another man’s connoisseurship, I guess.
With the exception of Diana Krall, an angel who among us walks, I can’t think of a single performer or band I would turn down oysters at Régis to see. I cannot imagine a more sublime night on this earth than to see Diana Krall in concert in Paris, and repair afterward to Régis for late-night oysters and Champagne. Peel me a grape!