Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Left--right split

A difficult moment for the hard-nosed anti-foodie, perched precariously as he or she is between blindly securing a top table in the comfort zone of organic food shows, cuddly food writers and celebrity recipes, and fighting on an almost daily basis conformity and the admission of helplessness in the face of mass marketing.
There I was, reading a little filler story about a new survey which reveals that: “Eating out in a restaurant is a source of intimidation, embarrassment and shame even for young professionals, due to ignorance of restaurant protocol and a lack of knowledge about food and wine.”
And so I felt myself smiling slightly smugly to myself, thinking “tell me something I don’t know. They’ve got it all so wrong. Let me open my own joint with a stripped down menu in plain English and simple service and surroundings that make the customer feel at ease. Etc.” And I read on in comfort, chortling quietly to myself that 65% of those questioned “have made food or wine choices based upon their desire to impress others rather than what they actually want, and a similar fraction would rather sit in silence than complain.”
Ah ha, I laughed, at the paradoxical observation that our food culture has evolved to the point where eating has been dislocated so badly from everyday life that enjoying it has been reduced to a pitiful inability. But then I found that the source of all this rich and valuable information, and thus some pretty favourable press coverage, was Devon-based Ashburton Cookery School – a place I stayed at for a week last year.
Nothing odd in that, of course. It was nice to read a familiar name. But the rest of the sentence continued: “ …, which earlier this year was voted one of the top five cookery schools in the world by Waitrose Food magazine.” My little heart went all warm for a moment, basking in the knowledge that I, the obsessive amateur gourmand, have that stamp of approval on my knife skills and creme brulees. And then I felt guilty for having succumbed to the bullshit of it all, that I somehow craved the recognition from the world that I deserve having attended not just any cookery school but one of the best cookery schools in the world. The survey is probably biased to the point of redundancy with loaded questions and too few statistics, yet still I felt I wanted to believe in it. Like I said, it’s a precarious position.

No comments: