Welcome to a new feature, called Jack Explains It All, in which I share the most insane (or perceptive?) ideas about how society and human nature interact — jb
“It has always been crucial to the gourmet’s pleasure that he eat in ways the mainstream cannot afford.” This sentence, from “The Moral Crusade Against Foodies”, made a big impression on me six years ago, serving as it does to place the “refined palate” in its proper place next to gold-plated toilet fixtures, exotic pets, and the repugnant Bentley Continental GTC as a blank-faced sigifier of mere wealth, independent of education or authentic refinement. “The Roman historian Livy,” gripes B.R. Myers in the article, “famously regarded the glorification of chefs as the sign of a culture in decline.” It’s a great read, vicious and contemptuous by turns, and as perceptive today as it was when it was published. (Mr. Myers is also responsible for another one of my favorite sentences: “…when feminists are denouncing marriage, the last thing they want is a happy bachelor chiming in.”)
Traditional art and literature have no place in the mind of the truly dedicated foodie, something that is reiterated for me about once a month when some would-be critic of mine stammers his way through a borderline-illiterate rant about how my well-documented fondness for the Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain places me very nearly beneath his contempt. I have unbridled disdain for people who think they are cultured because of what is currently making its rotting way through their bowels. The concept that we are defined by what we eat and drink is a relic of pagan antiquity and Jewish desert hygiene; Christ takes care to specifically reject this in Matthew 15:11. The later Christian intellectual tradition abandons even the custom of fasting, which was once held to have immense spiritual benefits.
Note that I have nothing against the idea of enjoying a meal. I simply believe that your preference for a particular sort of wine is no more intellectually elevated than my preference for Sprite over 7Up, and that your rigorous approach to rating and categorizing cheese is in no way morally superior to my belief that Guns N’ Roses was a better band than Motley Crue. It’s all low culture, and you can prove it to yourself by considering this question: If you had a time machine that would give you thirty minutes to talk to Issac Newton or the Apostle Paul or Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan, how much of that time would you devote to a discussion of what you had for dinner last night?
Speaking of Caesar: I come not to bury foodies, but to explain them. More precisely, I come to explain why being a “foodie” is a big deal with Millennials and other young people. Turns out that it has very little to do with the actual merits of gourmet eating. It’s better understood as an issue of hydraulic pressure.