Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'll Have What She's Having

This email from Marco Bresba to Tyler Cowen on food versus music as social status signature really resonated with me.

I have always been out of step with music culture. Growing up I was 1-2 decades behind my peers enjoying music from my parent's generation and the 1/2 generation between us. Because I never liked kid's music, though, I was an outsider in kindergarten (listening to adult music) and then an outsider in junior high and high school for the same reason. My horizons have very much broadened in the past two decades and I have friends, lovers, and (mostly) the Internet to thank for that.

People think of me as a foodie, a title I cringe at a bit when assigned to me. I am definitely 1+ standard deviations to the right on food knowledge, experience, and willingness. But at the same time, I know what I don't know and don't do.

My relationship with food and my fellow man is a perfect microcosm for how I see most issues. I agree with no one. On the one hand I try to hold back a knee-jerk, mocking disdain for those to the left of me on the distribution (to abuse that analogy a bit more). The complacency (and that is the perfect methaphor) aggravates my less-charitable self. Eventually I come around to my higher principles--de gustibus non est disputandum--and I seek to accept their mockery of my choices leaving an open door to help guide them along the journey should they choose enlightenment. And yes, I am being sarcastic about my arrived status because . . .

On the other hand I have a hard time hiding my inner-eye roll at those reaching mightily for ultimate food nirvana. My knee-jerk reaction to those demonstrating their fringe and elite status is to assume it is not genuine. I keep waiting for them to rediscover the hot dog, but only concede that it is a desired food once deconstructed from a food truck or simply for the sake of irony. This extreme is its own version of complacency. Rather than make choices for themselves, we have a group looking to peers for the next best (and approved) thing.

This is me at any dinner party. I am either the most avant-garde among a group of conventional wisdom followers (whose motto might be "Choose Sliced Bread, the best thing from here on out!) or I am the most conventional (small-c conservative) among a group of would-be trend setters. Like I say, my food tastes are a microcosm. For once conversation starts I will find myself uneasily choosing how much to politely disagree and hoping the others will appreciate that true respect comes not from acquiescence but from honest/divergent/challenging discussion.