Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Food Books I'm Not Going to Read

The Atlantic has a review of several recently-published foodie books: The Moral Crusade Against Foodies: Gluttony dressed up as foodie-ism is still gluttony by B. R. Myers. The author is very turned off by the foodies and their poses, as the article's title suggests.

A few of the many foodie-writer crimes attested:
  • First: "these people really do live to eat" -- and often to overeat, writes Myers.
  • Despite lip service to the contrary, they are often cruel to animals, and go as far as to participate enthusiastically in cruel slaughter of animals they are about to eat. One example: "Steingarten tells of watching four people hold down a struggling, groaning pig for a full 20 minutes as it bled to death for his dinner."
  • Foodies don't respect food traditions of others, especially when the traditions involve avoidance of specific foods: "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."
  • Moral or ethical consistency is lacking, despite professions of same. An "affectation of piety does not keep foodies from vaunting their penchant for obscenely priced meals, for gorging themselves, even for dining on endangered animals—but only rarely is public attention drawn to the contradiction." They nevertheless claim moral superiority to those who merely eat to live: "the guilty smirkiness that once marked [their] default style has been losing ever more ground to pomposity and sermonizing."
There's lots more. I accept the conclusion that foodie writers are a sorry lot. I'm not a big fan of most of these writers anyway -- though I think the author is too hard on Michael Pollan and maybe Alice Waters. I think that the interesting writing about food these days is in blogs and in fiction. I've tried some of the reviewed writers' earlier books or articles (Steingarten, Severson, Bourdain), and for the most part had already lost interest in what they have to say. Now I feel really free to skip them.

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

I think I'll give that one a pass, too!