20 Things Everyone Thinks About the Food World (But Nobody Will Say)

Don't shoot the messenger.

cheapethnic

Photo: nwso.net

Refusing to spend money on non-Western restaurants is racist.

Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)

Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine. And if you don’t see the problem with that, check out this conversation between Francis Lam and Eddie Huang, which gets straight to the heart of it.

  • lazysundae

    you’re buying crap wine. and have not eaten foie gras cooked by my bf. and david chang is a douche.

    • http://twitter.com/weareyourfek Foster Kamer

      You are perfect. Never change.

    • http://twitter.com/BerardiCM Christine Berardi

      I think they forgot to put the word “Jug” in the “All Wines Mostly Taste the Same” title

      • lazysundae

        or “Box”

    • George

      >>david chang is a douche.
      Here, here. Now *that* is the sort of straight talk the food world needs. Might I add that Bourdain took a dive a long time ago. NR turned into a schtick around season 3.

  • jmacleve

    Sorry — don’t agree about slow food/local eating. Community gardens (which are surely a part of this movement) are not a rich person’s game, of any color. Between the CGs and people who have enough space to grow food themselves, they help people put stuff on the table that they couldn’t afford to buy at the store, even in the summer. You’re looking at one small part of the “movement” and judging all the rest by it.

    • http://twitter.com/weareyourfek Foster Kamer

      I think the “movement” we’re talking about is nutrition, and the “small part of it” you’re referring to is arguably the most publicized and en vogue slice of it at the moment. Let’s face it: Healthy food appears to be a Rich White Person commodity. Even if buying slow food/local ingredients is, brass tacks, fiscally accessible to the impoverished mass of Americans that keeps growing larger, how much time do you think someone who isn’t a Rich White Person—think: the majority of Americans, and the majority of that segment—can regularly devote to seeking out, purchasing, and preparing it?

      • Melissa

        That’s pretty funny on an article that claims that some of the best food is cooked by illegal immigrants. Let’s face it- in every urban area there are large fresh food markets (not the ones that get attention like Green markets or farmer’s markets, but the ones selling average fresh foods, fish, and meat) that are mainly patronized by immigrants. Immigrants who cook foods that are pretty healthy from scratch despite not being Rich White People.

        It’s not until the second generation that people stop cooking and start having the same health as the average American, presumably having lost these traditions through various forces of Westernization. You can’t talk about people budgeting time to cook if they don’t know how to cook at all. If only schools took the same amount of time they do teaching standardized tests to teach such basic life skills.

        • SusanAx

          “In every urban area there are large fresh food markets” – not really. Have you ever been in the inner city? There are bodegas and small markets, not much else. In rural areas it’s even worse – there might not be anywhere to buy food for miles. But you are right about people losing cooking knowledge. Another problem is that those living in poverty might not have anywhere TO cook – other than perhaps a microwave or a toaster oven.

          • http://www.facebook.com/karen.hinderstein Karen Hinderstein

            That is ridiculous, in NYC the only place you can find fresh food are the live animal markets. You buy a fowl, or a lamb or a piglet, take it home, and kill it, pluck or skin it, gut it and cook it. I do not know many rich white people who would do that.

  • Pingback: This should bring some good debate… « The Sauce Spoon

  • Triana

    Surely you could have found a better picture to slam the sustainable food movement. That guy is a t-shirt salesman who is being sued by Chick-fil-a.

    • First We Feast

      no offense to that gentleman trying to make a buck, but people who wear those tees tend to be the worst—and it represents the overwrought sense of “do-gooderism” that people feel just because they eat locally

      • http://www.facebook.com/karen.hinderstein Karen Hinderstein

        No we are not. I live in my truck, eat canned food from EDEN company and grow vegetables in the summer in a community garden

        • First We Feast

          The point is not about the EMK guy by any means, nor an attack on a lifestyle that actually involves growing things, canning, etc. More so trying to point out the at times critical culture that has grown around “locavorism” as trendy lifestyle that absolutely requires $$$ to pursue (again, if you are not the one doing the gardening/preserving/etc on your own).

          • evan girard

            I’m a college student, and I’m a own a EMK shirt. Fact is that if we paid for the true costs of what we ate, food would be a lot more expensive. If people focused on the purchases that had the greatest implications for themselves, like…the stuff that we put in our body… people wouldn’t give a darn about how much food costs. The question I’m going to pose is, why do you give a rat’s ass what the trendy, locavore lifestyle. It’s not a trend, it’s a necessity, and it’s here to stay. Locavorism requires people on slim budgets to refocus where they put their dollar, but fact is that local, fresh food from sources that you are familiar with is the best thing a dollar can buy…. (obviously, second to seeds to grow your own and cans to preserve it)…. as I said, I’m a college student paying 70% of my college tuition, and I have found a budget that fits my desires to keep my dollars in a just and sustainable food economy. Affording to grow food, to buy this food requires a change in lifestyle. It’s not a lifestyle that popular America is familiar with at all…see this post…

          • Chuck

            You’ve failed to adequately explain how locavorism is remotely a necessity and not a trend rather than fulfill the stereotype of what a college student with a EMK shirt would say.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jay.stevens.587 Jay Stevens

            Can’t say I understand the criticism of locavorism. It’s not more expensive. It does involve seasonal vegetables and fruit (thus, the canning). The food is healthier. It benefits local producers. That’s all good, right? I don’t really see how eating locally and canning detracts from being aware of larger problems in our food system — isn’t it possible to hold on to two ideas at one time? Plus, decrying local eating because of its proximity to white privilege while criticizing the NY Times food critics, NYC bagels, and super-star chefs is like railing against elitism from the back of a polo pony.

          • Aaron

            Agree with Jay. Not only are CSAs better for the world in pretty much every way, but from what I’ve seen they don’t come at a cost premium — they’re a cheaper way to buy fresh fruits and veggies. On top of that, many of the NYC-area CSAs accept food stamps, making them accessible to low-income people. You’re off base on this one.

          • Anna h

            exactly. Thanks for stating.

      • http://twitter.com/trianat Kendra

        Wow. Do your research. Especially before attacking the EMK guy.

      • http://twitter.com/trianat Triana

        Wow. Do your research. Especially before attacking the EMK guy.

  • CAmarketgirl

    Funny and so true. As I work at a farmer’s market and teach school gardening and have my own garden, the cost of having home grown veggies prices most out of the market especially those who need it the most. It is sad because it truly is one of the most expensive arts. Clearly those that aren’t gardening or shopping at farmer’s markets and “pay” for it understand how much that homegrown beet really costs. Have you seen the clientle at Farmer’s markets – these people aren’t shopping at your average grocery store and I don’t know many people that can drop a few hundred dollars weekly for farmer market grub unless they have six-figure incomes. Most middle class kids have never eaten some of your basic fruits and veggies because their parents don’t feed it to them and have ZERO interest in growing it. The garden movement is an epidemic of a generation of outdoor death among other things like ignorance of processed foods etc. Most of the families I encounter which are upper middle class dash to Costcos and buy processed meals to last for the week only to repeat the process and “homecooked” has been redefined by pre-made cookie dough. Another truisim is the benefits of food critics, having been a PR professional in the hospitality industry in Arizona. Food critics are paid in comped future dinners and resort stays. Stays off the books but “compensates” them for the “good review” written. Don’t kid yourself, the system is totally rigged. Nothing for free. Loved this article.

    • First We Feast

      thanks for adding more fuel to the fire. great points.

  • cobra kai

    yellowtail is another name for amberjack, dude

    • First We Feast

      good catch

  • http://twitter.com/Shuruppag Shuruppag

    “That is to real Japanese food what the T.G.I. Friday’s Molten Chocolate Lava Cake is to Jean-George Vongerichten.”

    “Why do we, in food media, discount so heartily Americanized ethnic foods?”

    • First We Feast

      Needless to say, these thoughts don’t form a cohesive food philosophy. Each is commonly held, just not always by the same people.

  • http://twitter.com/BerardiCM Christine Berardi

    “Sustainable” used to just be people who gardened and canned and hunted and “put up” food. It’s just the only people who get any attention for talking about it are rich white people

    • lazysundae

      wait, you mean doomsday preppers?? jk

  • http://twitter.com/BDWhygee Bob Gandhi

    About #18, it’s Frédéric Morin, not “Fredric Moran” ;-) And the success and overexposure of Torrisi’s has certainly phased in a new era for the fetishization of american-ethnic food.

    • First We Feast

      “Food writers suck at spelling” was #21 ;)

      And agreed about Torrisi. Same with Mission for “Americanized Oriental.” Point about bastard cuisines and not paying $$$ for “ethnic” cuisine go hand in hand…people seem to give a pass to chefs who are trendy on both fronts.

  • Katie Conley

    this is a very NY-centric list–funny, interesting commentary, but an article about the “food world” should expand on the food world beyond Manhattan and Brooklyn. As for the wine: I disagree. Not all wines taste the same, and consumers (at least our here in San Francisco) appreciate the differences.

    • First We Feast

      guilty as charged on being pretty NY centric on this one. want to write the West Coast rebuttal??

      • Katie Conley

        That could be fun. I would just add to your list:
        We’re tired of Mason jars and reclaimed wood. It originally said “thrifty” and “green” and “cozy” but now that everyone seems to be adapting this look (including Starbucks, with fake wood!), it’s become tired. And I can’t help but wonder where all this “reclaimed” wood is coming from. I suspect some of it is actually new wood that’s been treated to look old–in which case, it’s hardly green. When the inevitable day arrives that those wooden slats get pulled from the walls and ceilings of thousands of restaurants across the country, where will that wood get chucked? And those Mason jars, where will they go when it’s finally decided that wine that costs $15 a glass deserves to be served in a container more refined and sophisticated than a jam jar?

    • chuck

      The point wasn’t that all wines taste the same (despite the attention grabbing headline), it’s that the “notes” are over-appreciated. Blindfolded taste test will prove San Francisco wine consumers are as full of crap as everyone else.

      • Katie Conley

        I can see that point. When we’re out for dinner with friends and drinking wine, we don’t concentrate on the subtle notes, we don’t obsessively “taste” the wine, it’s true. I was thinking of the bigger picture differences: a delicate Pinot vs a big California Zinfandel, for example, which have obvious differences (flavor notes aside).

  • http://twitter.com/Aphrodite44 Love Goddess

    Well said…all of it. About time someone said it too. Thank-you.

  • Emjay

    Montreal bagels are the real deal. The sooner you folks in the five boroughs recognize it the happier you’ll be. Dunno about the Mile End version.

    • lazysundae

      Mile End version is mad decent. I’ve been to St Viatur & Fairmount.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vinita.jacinto Vinita Jacinto

    Totally wonderful! Enjoyed all the 20!

  • Leecifur

    Shit got real…fucking boring.

  • theabroma

    No, MOST of the best meals in America are cooked by “illegal” immigrants.

    • gautam

      and the same is true for just about every western country (i’m in Canada and it’s Sri Lankans here). Reason: try finding enough citizens that will wash dishes for less than min. wage….or we could pay more and then eat the cost on the cost of a meal

  • theabroma

    Whoa, Nellie! Tex-Mex IS authentic Mexican. It was born from Mexicans living and working in the Southwest, and making home food with the ingredients at hand. Queso fresco, chiles other than anchos, jalapenos, serranos, and piquines were really, really hard to find. And fajitas were junk meat, sold cheap in Mexican areas of town. And “authentic” Mexican food can be very, very different than much of what we are used to. But what it is not is a tarted up, imagined version made “good enough” by some chef ignorant of the real deal, to serve in a white tablecloth venue. This gets back to another gripe: the refusal to pay for quality ethnic food.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.hinderstein Karen Hinderstein

    Very ignorant and stupid to make unfounded comments. So living in the country and supporting a local farmer who gets to keep his (or her) land is selfish? Or do you think poor people should only buy the crap on the grocers shelves. Do you work for Monsanto?

  • wineau

    So you are going to tell me there is a difference between one burger and another (and that people who can’t tell they’re “shitty burgers” have “not enough taste”), but not one wine and another? Stop buying oaky, fake, cheap wine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tina.vasquez.37 Tina Vasquez

    It’s called being an undocumented immigrant; not an “illegal immigrant.” Drop the I-word, it’s fucking offensive.

    • section 34

      If you are in the country illegally, you are an illegal immigrant. You can choose to be offended, but the term is accurate.

      • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

        No, it’s outdated and most commonly employed these days by xenophobic ignorami. You can choose to be offended, but that description is accurate.

        • goldushapple

          “outdated”

          It’s called being accurate, unlike like your entire post.

          “xenophobic ignorami”

          That’s a good one.

          >>You can choose to be offended, but that description is accurate.

          Based on what evidence? Sorry, unflattering, but you’re just playing the PC card.

    • goldushapple

      Stop being PC you, Tina.

  • fattsmann

    My opinion about #1: People complain about prices all the time. I hear how a basket of crawfish is cheaper in New Orleans. Or how the lobster in Maine is fresher and less expensive. Or how the portions are bigger in Texas and how we pay so much for so little food in NYC.

    For ethnic foods, it’s a chicken and egg problem: If a Chinese person in Chinatown won’t pay more than $5 for an authentic bowl of noodles, then I’m not paying more than $5. If they price higher, then they lose a large portion of their clientele. Note: I’m Chinese.

    The $14 shu mai is not targeting native Chinese people — it’s targeting people that can afford to pay $14 for a shu mai. Let’s use denim as a parallel: Denim was originally working class clothing. Now, we have designer denim. Those $500 jeans are targeting the people that can pay $500 for a pair of jeans. But we still have good denim at affordable prices co-existing.

    If someone wants to pay $14 to try a shu mai, or hell wants to pay $30 to go to the top of the Empire State Building or $500 for a pair of jeans, then how does that affect me? I still have my $5 bowl of noodles and $5 shu mai, my daily view of the Empire State Building and my $50 pair of jeans.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      Re-read the article. Because those $14 shumai, $8 beef tongue tacos or $25 phrik pao are rarely made by POC. It is the expectation that “ethnic” food always has to be “cheap” and that nearly always when it’s expensive it’s acceptable only because white people are making it.

      • fattsmann

        Thanks for your reply.

        - Japanese food is made by Asians and it has a wide range of prices, upwards of $100′s per person for sushi. The expectation for high quality Japanese is that it will be expensive, not because white people are making it.

        - David Chang’s places. Ippudo. Korean BBQ. All of these are expensive (at least in NYC). The expectation is that it will be expensive, not because white people are making it.

        As I noted in another reply, to disprove something requires different evidence burden than to prove something.

        I agree that there will be morons that pay $14 for a shu mai that is no better than the $2 one in Chinatown. Again I ask the question: How does that affect me? Will it make my awesome $2 shu mai disappear? Will it lead to the catastrophic economic collapse of the Chinatown dim sum community?

      • fattsmann

        One more note: The article states that, “Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more.”

        Actually you do see these complaints. People say, “$10 for a Shake Shack burger? No thanks, I’ll go to my local Queens diner.” Also “Grom Gelato for $5? In Italy you could get better for $1!”

    • Not made o’money

      $50 jeans???? Jeez. I guess it’s all relative up there! :)

  • fattsmann

    #13: Last time I checked Linsanity was still going strong. Also some dude named Yao Ming was a celebrity before retiring. Also there was this guy Michael Chang in the tennis world. Michiko Kaku is kind of a science celebrity, up there with Steven Hawking, etc. And these are just the “oriental” Asians — let’s not discount Jay Sean, MIA, etc. in music. What about this Gangnam Style thing going on?

    It really should be rephrased as: “In areas where you can become a celebrity, there are not that many Asians. However, in cooking, there are more Asians being represented in the top tier. Therefore it’s a field where Asians have had the most success achieved celebrity status.”

    • chuck

      In order to prove there are other famous Asians you had to bring up the comptroller of NYC, a tennis player who hasn’t been relevant for 15 years, and two, albeit “asian”, Indian men. Oh the irony.

      Psy and Lin are two flukes and whose celebrity hangs in strong part on their Asian-ness in and of itself rather than talent.

      • fattsmann

        Thanks for your lack of discussion (which leaves me to interpret as agreement) of the majority of my post, including my key important statement at the end.

        I respect that your opinion of “famous” is different from my opinion. This is going to be a purely objective reply. No offense intended. And none of this is a personal attack.

        1. The article mentioned that it was hard to cite famous Asians. It’s not if you are Asian, chuck, and pay attention to the news. I’m not “proving” anything. I’m “disproving” something. The requirements are different. If I believe that there are absolutely no famous Armenians (even half-Armenians) in US popular culture, all you need to do is cite 1 example to _disprove_ it: Kim Kardashian.

        2. The article asked for Asian politicians. I think there are House representatives and Senators I missed, too. Again, they exist, unlike what the article would imply. NYC’s comptroller is the chief financial officer of the city — it’s a big deal for the Asian community to have John Liu there.

        3. Michael Jordan hasn’t been relevant for 15 years, either (I’m counting his last Bulls championship in 1998 as the end of his relevance). By your logic (again, have to interpret because you were not clear), if I have any discussion about NBA players winning more than 3 championships, I can’t use him because he hasn’t been relevant for 15 years. Would you agree?

        4. Indians are Asians. Therefore they need to be included in the discussion.

        5. I don’t think you are using “irony” correctly. I was disproving that “famous” Asians that immediately come to mind do not exist. I am using what I consider “famous” Asians that immediately come to my mind. If you disagree on what you consider “famous,” then I’m it’s still not irony as there is no factual contradiction — your opinion of “famous” is a different opinion.

        The point is: “In general, for the fields where you can become a celebrity, there are not that many Asians. However, in cooking, there are more Asians being represented in the top tier. Therefore it’s a field where Asians have had the most success achieving celebrity status.”

        Thanks for further stimulating discussion and your agreement.

  • BrooklynChef

    Great, old fashioned bagels DO exist in New York. Mill Basin Bagel Cafe makes killer bagels. They are crusty, dense, chewy, well-seeded, and not too big. They are far from the rolls with holes being passed off as bagels in most of the city. If you don’t wanna go all the way out to Mill Basin, go to Shelsky’s Smoked Fish in Carroll Gardens. They carry those bagels. I know, because, full disclosure, I own Shelsky’s Smoked Fish.

    • First We Feast

      @d0fcbad2fbdd3ac212c16e779f9b9132:disqus since you serve Ashlawn Coffee, you can do no wrong. And point is not that there are NO good bagels, but that to call NYC a great bagel town these days is disingenuous. You really have to seek them out.

      • http://twitter.com/theblugoldfish m.s.

        To say that you can’t get a good New York bagel just because of H&H is doing a disservice to the rest of NY that isn’t manhattan. There are PLENTY of great bagel places that represent a new york bagel that aren’t in manhattan.

  • http://twitter.com/sierratierra Lisa Kalner Williams

    Wait … you’re going to slam Bo from Eat More Kale about representing elitism? The guy provides meals to seniors in his community and is a proud foster dad. The man couldn’t be more giving. I get what you’re saying about the locavore movement, but using Bo as the poster boy is in bad taste.

    • Monika

      Gonna ‘ditto’ that. You done did a wrong thing by grabbing his photo up for the category of elite. I live adjacent to his studio garage…and he is the farthest thing from elite. Eating kale in Vermont is not elite. My CSA farmers work hard. I work 4 days/week in org produce dept. All of our farmers work hard and their life styles are not elite. When I see them arrive, dressed in heavy clothing, having dug beets out of cold November dirt–not gonna say fancy living. Ditto what Lisa says about Bo, his work, his work ethic, his neighborliness.You owe Bo an apology BIG TIME!

  • fuck off

    go fuck yourself, san diego

  • evan girard

    The EMK story is the epitome of what’s wrong with our food system dominated by corporate interests.

  • GoinG gone

    Holy crap, any more white bashing to come? We dont have enough mainstream asian celebrities? There are lots of them in the food world but that doesnt count because there arent enough movie/media ones? THE COUNTRY ISNT 75% ASIAN YOU IDIOTS! Are there tons of white mainstream celebrities in china? In india? In Sierra Leone? Japan doesnt even allow true citizenship to whites or “gaijin”. Im so sick of the ultra cliched racist jibberish. Whites are so racist because many ethnic foods are cheap and delicious?? Should these “evil white people” start asking to pay 8 bucks for a taco in redhook that cost 35 cents to make and is served in a hovel? Will they pay a higher amount when it is served in a more lush restaurant setting, with higher end/exotic ingredients? YES, they do it all the time. But thats not the narrative you want, you just want to ruin things and make the passion so many people have for food into a new battleground for your naive, Middlebury grad student, left of left outlook. Ugh. Also I eat at Marea and i dont mind paying $35 for their “pasta and sauce” because i cant make it at home because im not a fucking chef.

    • http://twitter.com/weareyourfek Foster Kamer

      Lolz at white dude being angry because he’s white.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      Clearly you completely missed the point. It’s not about “ethnic foods” being “cheap and delicious”. It’s about the perception they’re worth less, which you apparently seem to share. Quick example: it’s no problem if a high-end Italian restaurant wants to charge $30+ for pasta with duck. Quite possibly a small portion. But noodles and duck at a Thai place costing more than ten bucks? People freak out. And unless the portion size is a metric ton, people whine about getting ripped off because apparently “ethnic” food is supposed to be not only “cheap and delicious”, but also come in huge portions.

      If you were less offended at perceived slights about your whiteness maybe your reading comprehension would improve.

  • Themountainbed

    Choice of the “Kale guy” aside, I’m curious how the consumption of artisan goods directly prevents us from acknowledging food injustice? I, like many others, am busy educating myself on the dangers of the industrial food complex (with a degree in environmental sustainability) and it only seems fitting to purchase products that align with my beliefs. Certainly, there is a degree of superfluity within the new sub-culture of $20 Sriracha but I can’t quite see how purchasing goods that support the local economy and small growers/producers is keeping us from the bigger picture.

    The mocking of Community Supported Agriculture too seems a bit off base as this is often a partial solution to the issue of food deserts (see People’s Grocery in Oakland–an extremely diverse outfit). What then, is the alternative for those of us privileged enough to afford supporting small farmers? Should we continue to purchase nutritionally void convenience store food in solidarity with those who can’t afford a CSA basket? I think we can agree that would not achieve much.

    The following sentence is the real grain of truth in the piece:

    “The reality is that, while laudable in theory, our nation’s notion of sustainability doesn’t
    account for all who may wish to participate.”

    I just simply don’t see the point in bashing the very few who are willing to acknowledge the disparity you mention.

    • JansSushiBar

      Thank you.

    • sneakypizza

      Totes.

    • JeremyEG

      So well said. There are tons of things wrong with some messengers of the sustainable food movement (elitism, pretension, etc.) but nearly everyone I know became interested in the movement after learning more about the industrial food system and how crappy it is for our bodies, the environment, and for labor, not because they found a tasty new $12 candy bar. I volunteer at a farmers market and they bring in teachers to work with low income kids, they double the value of food stamps, and have opened more and more markets in low income neighborhoods. Do many of them also go home with a fancy loaf of bread or an expensive basket of tomatoes? Absolutely. But to say that their notion of sustainability doesn’t account for anyone other than wealthy caucasians is ridiculous. Lots of people who enjoy local foods are working passionately for food justice across all income levels.
      JeremyEG
      HomeCookLocavore.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracy-Lerman/660355015 Tracy Lerman

    I don’t know what exactly you mean when you talk about the sustainable food movement, but I can tell you that for the past 9 years, I’ve worked in a movement that happens to have the same name, and it’s a lot more than yuppies canning things, restaurants decorated with salvaged wood, and hipsters eating kale. it’s about trying to actually address those deeper problems you seem to think we have no handle on, such as food desserts, and the decline in family farms, and the consumption of arable agricultural lands by strip malls and McMansions, and consolidation in food corporations, and the abysmal treatment of farm and food workers, to name just a few problems, and with very little funding and asinine elected officials who thinks the pennies we get to fund sustainable food system programs are a threat to the bazillions that corporate agriculture gets. and when people like you reduce the sustainable food system to yuppies canning and glorifying organic, local bacon from pigs with names from hobby farms in the Hudson Valley, you are not addressing the problems you lament. you are making them worse.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      You seem fond of the word “yuppies”…anyway, believe it or not, just because someone happens to have disposable income doesn’t mean they don’t actually care about the real issues and politics surrounding food and its production, including the effect on the people who produce, prepare, serve and (sometimes) deliver it.

      While it irks me also that the sustainability movement movement so often focuses on the white and wealthy (after all, Indigenous South Americans have been eating quinoa for way longer) I think it’s a rare but good example of those who have more making an effort to not be wasteful and treat our society as disposable.

      Yes, food deserts are a real thing in the Land of Plenty, but demonizing “yuppies” for trying to eat more sustainably an support local businesses accomplishes little other than making you seem unreasonably bitter and resentful.

      Incidentally, I’m a teacher so I’m certainly no “yuppie”.

  • Micah

    yet another editorial written by those jaded by a lack of participation and over interest, hence the juiced up “pop” food references and antiquated “food celebrities.” How long ago did Bourdain start book touring and stop chefing? Your verbatim about brooklyn and molecular gastronomy is as old as his. Foodie clown shoes.

  • I dont have it

    I cant afford the “western” food you mention, but luckily I live in Los Angeles so I have a plethora of delicious “non-western” options available. This isn’t racism; it’s pure economics. I struggled to continue reading after that first complete BS point you made (my personal finances aside). The rest of the list could incorporate basic logic, economics, and common business dilemmas/strategies as well. All in all it is very one dimensional. No tip for you.

  • miguel c

    I wholeheartedly disagree on Tex-Mex being ‘often’ better than ‘authentic’ Mexican food. I assume you meant the kinds produced within the US, because even Mexican (as in, actually produced in Mexico) street food is often much, much better than any of the better offerings at hand at your local Lalo’s or La Pasadita (Tex-Mex and ‘authentic’ Mexican respectively, both in Chitown.)

  • David

    I’d say Tex-Mex is in many cases not worse than authentic Mexican. as opposed to it being often better. Real authentic Mexican is pretty awesome, and that shouldnt put down tex-mex in any way. Go to Mexico, eat some fish tacos, its an experience.

  • j

    over the years i have belonged to several CSAs and we always made sure shares went out to folks not in the “rich white people” category, by setting income limits and accepting various forms of aid. it’s pretty stupid to use a broad brush with this, considering that the farmers growing the food we were eating (and the people doing the distribution/administrating the thing) weren’t white or rich. in nyc in particular there are folks in food desert neighborhoods (several in central brooklyn, south bronx, norwood) who can join a CSA. it’s not all white yuppies shopping at whole foods and going to the park slope coop, geez!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katie-Rappold/68138143 Katie Rappold

    lol pretty funny and true mostly. Although it’s pretty obvious that this list is very northeast centric. The whole “locavore” thing never went out of style in much of the south. Of course it was never called that. I have lived in Virginia and the Carolinas all my life and when driving down the road there’s tons of cheap road side stands selling local produce, dairy, seafood, and prepared foods. They even sell it at the gas stations. My 90 year old grandmother even gets people coming to her door selling things they grew themselves such as tomatoes and honey, etc for dirt dirt cheap.

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  • Daniel

    I was disappointed when the author took a human-centric stance in saying that the torture of birds to make foie gras is not as important as hunger experienced by humans. Both, and really all problems of violence and poverty, come from the same philosophy of domination and oppression. I don’t think we can tease out the exploitation of humans from the exploitation of other animals. They are an integrated, eco-social problem that needs to be addressed holistically.

    • section 34

      “Human-centric?” Hahahahahaha. Please point out some bird-centric journalism.

    • goldushapple

      Daniel, you sound like a hugely naive college student.

  • gypsyfred

    Tex-Mex is Mexican food! Ever heard of the Alamo? the Mexican/American War? Texas was part of Mexico until the fine colonizers in DC fought a war to move the border. History and food go hand and glove…without understanding history, imperialism, migration patterns and the like, your understanding of food, taste and tradition are necessarily limited

    • Not made o’money

      I think the failure of this TexMex vs Mexican food discussion is that people fail to realize that Mexico is a huge country with many distinct regions and flavors.

  • starvinmarvinpb

    Uh, you guys ever been to Russ&Daughters? They even sell the right size (smaller) bagels that are the way they’re supposed to be. And Tal bagels on UWS and ME are almost as good -on par with H&H.

  • Eron Rauch

    The whole “all wine is about the same” bullshit gets trotted out every year by rabble rousers. It’s such a hackneyed complaint though. To follow the logic used here,because most people in America went and saw Transformers 3 would mean that all movies are pretty much like Transformers 3 to most people. Which, while it might be kind of true, doesn’t mean that people who make good, arty movies should stop caring, arguing, talking and writing about good movies.

    However, I actually agree that most of the “top rated” wines are almost never worth the cost in the context of dining. But almost everything in life has a serious level of diminishing returns — So I would instead say the “truth” behind wine is that often cheaper wine goes as well or better with most food in most restaurants. Unless you are a wine nerd, if you’re spending more than $20 retail or $50 at a restaurant on a bottle of wine, you’re probably maxing out your enjoyment potential. But just because some egotistical Napa producers change $300 for a “cult” wine or that Dom and Vuitton are owned by the same company doesn’t mean that even a wine novice who likes food wouldn’t get a decent amount more pleasure from an $18 Tempranillo than another bottle of 2 buck chuck.

    • Eron Rauch

      Actually, I’ll back off even a little more on the pricing. Unless you’re really knowledgable, you probably shouldn’t be spending more than $30 at a restaurant.

  • MBOTT

    Maybe slamming the sustainable food movement wasn’t the best call. I can kind of understand where you’re coming from, there are plenty of hackers out there that like to put out the facade that they give a damn about the environment and marginalized citizens, but really could care less, and those people are, well just hacks and who really cares about them? But to generalize the whole movement as elitists is reaching. I agree with a lot of the other comments on here that the diverse, hard working folks, myself included, are not at all elitists. It is true that one’s zip code does seem to determine what kind of access to healthy food you have. That’s sad, but that’s how it is. But there are millions of people out there working hard to change this. This movement (in addition to the “back to basics” DIY culture of canning and all that other jazz) is in my opinion at it’s core about the real issues, fighting for food justice, blasting corporate greed and “big food”, the anti monsanto work happening, and so much more, but it’s slow going. I am not rich by any means, I make less then $30,000 a year and while to some people that’s a lot, to most of us, that ain’t nothin’, especially if you reside in NY or CA, but I choose to spend my hard earned money on buying farmers market produce, shopping at whole foods, etc. etc. I choose to eat healthy, and care where I’m getting my food. If that makes me an elitist in your eyes, well then, so be it.

  • MBOTT

    also, kind of surprised there was no mention of how ridiculous it seems that practically every pic you see of a chef these days shows his or her tatted sleeves or whatever. Idk, I’m a chef, I have tattoos too (underneath my clothes mind you) so I’m not exactly original either, so you can call me a hypocrite, but geez, doesn’t anyone else find it somewhat amusing/annoying that today to be a “cool” chef, aka “rockstar of the culinary world” (who wants to get on tv), you must join the masses and all look the same?? I realize I am generalizing here, and maybe I’m just jaded, but man if I see one more restaurant opening article with a picture of their chef that has a tattooed whisk on his forearm cradling a whole hog and a bunch of vegetables seated at a reclaimed slab of wood as a table with the name “Swine” or “Provisions” or “& Sons” in their restaurant name, I’m gonna scream. I feel like I’m at freakin’ disneyland and everyone drank the same damn cool-aid. Just sayin’.

  • sneakypizza

    Great piece, though I was a bit disappointed to see the old “food desert” straw man argument pop up. Yes, it’s unfortunate that many people don’t have access to healthy food, or to food that doesn’t totally wreck the environment. But that doesn’t mean people who do have access/can afford to eat and shop that way shouldn’t, or that doing so doesn’t hold value (despite however much it stings to validate their smugness).

    In fact, I’d argue that a growing demand for quality produce (extending from the top down, economically speaking) is more likely to make a dent in the ubiquity of Monsanto’s frankenveggies, and bring (at least some) healthier/more environmentally friendly options into our poorer neighborhoods, versus any foreseeable legislative action (remember the stranglehold that industrial farming has on our legislative system).

    It’s by no means a standalone solution–there are myriad factors at play that keep poorer people less healthy–but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      To be fair, awareness about food deserts is important. They are a real problem in the US. But the polarization between those affected by them and “rich people” might be a bit much. The middle class in America may be disappearing but at the same time a majority of Americans are neither in food deserts or “yuppies”.

  • http://twitter.com/philmosk Jeff Makowski

    What’s he got against gołąbki? An irrational fear of stuffed cabbage?

  • http://twitter.com/revkaterev Kate Rev

    Chicago no longer has a foie ban as implied in the article.

  • Cristy Yeung

    Wincing at the use of “illegal immigrants.” Couldn’t that have been edited to say “undocumented immigrants” instead?

  • Youngmi

    THIS IS SO GOOD. I CAN’T EVEN BREATHE.

  • yappy00

    Thank you for the “Tipping Should Be Abolished” entry.

    I despise having to tip, and for all the reasons you mentioned. And this goes for all areas of business, not just waiters in restaurants. The US has a ridiculously tip-centric mentality and it does nothing but serve as a source of anxiety, embarrassment, and/or butting heads.

    And I still believe the whole “making waiters rely on tips promotes better customer service” line is utter BS. Restaurants encourage tipping because it shaves $$$ off their own expenses. You get better customer service when your employees are treated as valued employees performing a “real” job in which they can have pride, one that’s appreciated and compensated as such — not when you treat employees like trained monkeys and try to screw them out of a decent paycheck.

    • YourFullOfIt

      I call BS on your claim that tipping doesn’t ensure better service. Go travel in Western Europe and see how knowledgeable, friendly and efficient your server is. I have eaten at 2 and 3 Star Michelin restaurants in Europe and the service is about as good as a mid level restaurant in the US. If you go to a cafe in Europe, the service is about like McDonalds is here. And the price goes up significantly. A $150 tasting menu in the US would run about $300 Euros in France – or about $400. I have traveled all over the world from Asia to Latin America to Europe and the best restaurant service is in the US (specifically NY).

      • yappy00

        The US has a more happy, chirpy, friendly, CS-focused mentality overall — even outside of the CS industry. (I’ve traveled in Western Europe: I’m from Western Europe.)

        Tipping is irrelevant: You see the same US-Euro difference in attitude even in CS roles where tipping doesn’t exist. For example, hotel front desk agents.

        You talk to a girl at the front desk somewhere in Texas and I guarantee she’s chirpy and bubbly, full of the joys of life and southern charm, and all too happy to make your stay the absolute most bestester hotel stay you’ve ever had. Talk to a guy at the check-in desk in a similar French hotel and chances are he’s a surly b_____d.

        There are plenty of waitstaff roles in Europe that rely on tips just as heavily as in US restaurants, yet the level of chirpiness and service still isn’t up to the typical US standard.

        You even see it outside of the service industry altogether. Brits come to the US and always say how friendly the Americans are, how they’re always bubbly and cheerful and happy, how they’ll go out of their to help, and how they’re frequently just excited by the novelty of speaking to a foreigner. (Ok, maybe not in NY … but you get the picture.) The same simply isn’t true in reverse: Americans in Britain may say how polite the Brits are, but they rarely say how bubbly and chirpy they are.

        The British and most Western Europeans are simply far more reserved than the typical American, who tends to be a lot bolder and more outspoken. Translate this into a CS role and the American attitude is generally considered far more genial, while the typically reserved Euro attitude is more likely seen to be standoffish or curt.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Mr.Blakeney Buster Blakeney

          I don’t know where you picked up this experience, but having lived abroad for most of my life, I can say that the faux-niceties of the Actress pretending to give a shit about how I’d like my burger cooked while she sizes up how big a tip she can squeeze out of me can’t hold a candle to the waiter in Florence who spent twelve hours in the water swimming over from Istria who not only loves the food, but loves that people enjoy it and is excited by the prospect of them enjoying their meal.

          I’ve waited tables in several cities; the ratio of people who give a shit about your dining experience to people who want you to feel babied so you’ll tip more is severely unbalanced towards the latter.

      • Chris W.

        What incentive does a waiter have to provide better service when a baseline of tipping is guaranteed because anyone who doesn’t tip a certain amount would be looked upon as scum of the Earth in American culture? A tip is supposed to be a sign of extra satisfaction from good service, not a necessity.

  • valeriekeefe

    Ah, I knew we couldn’t go long without a freakout about what happens to a population with a stable, ample, and cheap food supply. Newsflash: Based on the epidemiology numbers trotted out, after they had to revise them down by a factor of four, because it turned out they were making shit up?

    In terms of mortality per classifiable person per year: Being obese is roughly 3/5ths as dangerous as being a social drinker, 1/7th as dangerous as being a smoker, and twice as dangerous as having a job.

    Oh, and the skyrocketing health care costs of obesity amount to $66 billion when obesity prevalence hits 50%. That, by the way, is less than one half of one percent of GDP per year, or one twelfth of the expected savings of moving off of the American health care system to a single-payer health care system.

    Is it better to be thin than fat, all things being equal? No argument here. But to treat obesity as though it’s anything but the government’s failure to subsidize greenhouses until a meal sized salad costs three bucks is disingenuous, and, for an author busy spouting about the prejudices of rich white people, as though rich people of colour are magically any less a pack of pearl-clutching classist assholes (but then, maybe that’s just my Canadian experience talking), overfeeding anxiety about the increased prevalence of fat people is, just that: An obsession for the rich that lets them once again punish and toy with the poor.

  • jlockley

    This is by far the dumbest article I have read this month, and I don’t think the rest of the year is going to give it much competition. Counterpoints below:

    1) New York Bagels are terrible: Wouldn’t know, never having met a bagel I couldn’t come to some kind of agreement with. Same for doughnuts. No American bagels meet the Standards of Dianne Estrin’s Polish Emigre baker grandfather.

    2) Refusing to spend money on non American restaurants is racist: Depending on the level of the restaurant, it can also be a survival mechanism. Too many nights
    hugging the throne after an “authentic” meal. Those cheap prices often come
    from not paying for staff with the level of education necessary to guarantee
    the most basic food safety.

    3) The New York Times has gone soft: Guy Fierri might not agree entirely.

    4) Some of the best meals in America are cooked byIllegal immigrants. Newsflash –The majority of meals in American restaurants have traditionally had at least one illegal immigrant on the line. The INS has cracked down, and now there are more reformed felons in proportion to Amigos. Whatever works.

    5) The sustainable food movement is only relevant to rich white people: Well, yeah..or rich black and Asian, Arab, Indian and Latino people. ‘Nother news flash – prime foods are a luxury. Luxuries cost more. They tend thus to be used more by rich people. It’s elitist, not racist.

    6) Tipping should be abolished. Yeah. No contest. Pay more for dinner and
    know the end price up front.

    7) Anthony Bourdain has gone pop. And laughing all the way to the bank. What I resent more is that he doesn’t say hello any more,even if I can fight my way through his handlers. Still, I’d change places rightnow. (Except I am much prettier, not that that’s much of a feat). Anthony – you can’t have the foie T shirt any more. I think they quit printing them. So there.

    8)
    Most sushi restaurants in America stay in
    business by serving mislabeled fish and ridiculous rolls that have never actually
    existed in Japan. Suggest reading Bourdain on cheap sushi. Then again, Europeans insist on putting grated carrots, crushed ice and Worchester Sauce in “real” hamburgers. Authentic sushi (Sushi Ran) doesn’t come cheap. Most sushi is cheap. Finish the equation.

    9) Foie gras is not worth fighting for : Tadpole
    poop. IT F*ing IS! You obviously have not had the right stuff.
    (and there are political implications such as the need to slaughter the vegan
    barbarians before they get past the gates which are way to long for here.)

    10) The food world is the only place where Asians get respect as celebrities in America: Bubba, you gotta get some help with this racist hangup thing you’ve got
    going on. Aside from YoYo Ma and PSY, have you ever seen the list of who works
    at Stanford Medical Center?

    11) Tasting menus and molecular gastronomy are too often the domain of charlatans: Sonny, you mean shoemakers. They tend to pretend to the exotic to hide their faults in the basic, but they can be found in abundance at every level of the
    food industry, and for that matter, every other. You never read Dilbert?

    12) Anonymous critics don’t exist anymore, and most food writers (and their publications) don’t pay for their meals. Anonymous no more for good reason. As for paying, the quality publications pay. The B-Leagues rarely. Thus it has ever been.

    13) Not every country’s cuisine is worth celebrating. Not a big Lutfisk fan, eh? Good Lord, who ever suggested it was?

    14) Sexual harassment is an everyday occurrence at some of your favorite restaurants: No shit!!?? Of course it’s an everyday occurrence of some restaurants I despise and a lot of office complexes and dry cleaners.The House didn’t sign the Violence Against Women Act. Who in the world gave you the benighted belief that we were a sexually enlightened nation? (Yeah..I know. It’s all relative. Rather not live in India until they get their stuff together, either)

    15) Tex-Mex is often better than authentic Mexican. Authentic Mexican is often better than Tex Mex. Lithuanian fusion can often be better than either, depending on what you mean by “often”. Burgers can be better than French. Some French guys are awful cooks.

    16) The high-minded gluttony promoted by food
    writers is just as unhealthy as the average American diets they rail against:
    WTF???? Gluttony is a sport, not a religion. There’s nothing high minded about
    it. What bug crawled up your bum? Food is not in it’s first place a health
    exercise. I don’t go to my gym to eat and I don’t go to Perbacco to work out.
    You got diet issues? Deal with them, but don’t expect the food writers of
    America (some of them great, some just downright shoemakers themselves) to
    indulge you in your quest for eternity. That’s not their job.

    17) Brooklyn’s hyped food scene will turn the borough into Manhattan, Part Deux. Yep.It’s called “gentrification”. That’s how it works. Boutiques and restaurants go
    into places with cheap rents because even the roaches are looking for a better
    squat, and then people follow them. Deal with it. Oakland will also someday be SF II. Of course you could prevent this by passing ordinances which would make these places sort of historical preserves for junkies and poor people. I suggest you write to your local councilperson.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      Ok….

      Here goes:

      2) Survival mechanism? As in refusing to pay more keeps it “real”? That comment made little sense. By your logic you’d think paying more always guaranteed clean food. At the very high end places the standards are incredibly high, but below that it varies wildly. As someone who worked in the industry for almost a decade I’ve seen it firsthand, not just in NYC.

      3) The Guy Fieri review was such a big deal BECAUSE the Times isn’t as objectively critical as it once was.

      4) “Amigos”…wow that was some blatantly racist and fucked up shit you just posted. I guess you’re one of those complete dipshits who assumes undocumented people are “Mexican”. And what’s this “INS” you keep talking about? It’s ICE now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. You’re good at pretending to know what you’re talking about, while actually knowing very little and coming off like a total douche though…

      5) Kumbaya, yeah ok…you are aware that most wealth in America is concentrated among white people, yes? Are you paying attention to the people held up as the “faces” of this movement? I’m guessing they all look like you so they don’t “scan” on your radar. That proportionately there are fewer POC with disposable income (the kind that tend to dine out more, duh) than whites? And yes, I’m aware there are white people who live in poverty. I had to say it first because it’s the kind of reply I’d expect.

      6) Dinner doesn’t have to cost that much more for tipping to be abolished. I live in Germany now, traveled all over Europe and many parts of the world and it doesn’t mean eating out has to be expensive. And FTR, it’s common to leave a few Euros for good service here anyway.

      10) LOL saying someone has a racist hangup when they’re pointing out examples of racism…I’m guessing you think we either live in a post-racial society, that racism doesn’t exist against Asians or some other such drivel. Google “Model Minority Myth” and maybe learn something. Or not.

      15) Do you know what “Mexican” food is? That there are different regions of Mexico with different dishes and that Texas was ONCE PART OF MEXICO? I’m guessing not.

      I can’t bother to reply to the rest of this, because I already feel brain cells dying after the time I wasted reading this ignorant drivel.

      • YourFullOfIt

        Again, BS to 6. Maybe McDonalds and Cafe’s are similar in price, but everything else costs more. If not 20%, then at least 10%. And if they are only paying the servers $10/hr, you are going to get crappy service, which you do in Europe. Servers as decent restaurants in large cities in the US make about $35K to $70K a year. And Most of them should since they are professionals. If you start paying European wages to servers in the US, you will get European service. And if the service is bad here, we can choose not to pay for it. Its the one time I think straight forward capitalism really pays off.

  • Bebop

    This is an ignorant statement. The whole point of eating sustainably and locally is to encourage more people to get back to being less reliant on crappy, nutrition-less food that comes from disreputable companies. It’s called a movement because it’s supposed to encourage change in all communities. It is in fact how everybody eats in the rest of the world. That you don’t realize that crappy processed food is an American problem just shows your lack of credibility on the subject. Being a person who lives on a very low income; being one of those people that’s out of work, I have actually realized that it’s much more cost efficient to buy basic ingredients from close to home and plant some things of my own and can and jar, than it is to go out and buy those items. You are a prime example that education is sorely lacking in regard to food and nutrition in North America and in the USA in particular.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      You have enough land to plant enough food to survive on and the equipment to do it? I’d say in your case you should check your privilege too. You think the working poor have the time to do this too, in addition to all that? PS-Urban and vertical farming is catching on too.

  • George

    Interesting list, but I think that if you *really* wanted to put it out there you might have named the cuisines that are not worth celebrating.

    • http://twitter.com/unflattering unflattering

      I admit I’m curious to know too. Let’s make our own list! I’ll start.

      Colombian food (I’m Latina BTW). Mostly corn and root veggies, not that flavorfully or creatively prepared it seems. For being on the water there don’t seem to be many good fish/seafood recipes coming out of Cartagena.

      Czech food. Bland, starchy or greasy and heavy boiled meats mostly. The beers manage to save it.

  • Mike

    If you think all wine mostly tastes the same, then I pity you. Also I suspect you probably shouldn’t do any more writing about restaurants or food.

  • Fred

    MANHATTAN bagels are terrible… Bagels are actually amazing when made on the premises in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island

  • Peter Han

    I disagree with your first contention that not spending money on non-western food is racist. I’m an Korean-American with a strong sense of self, so I can be as sensitive as the next guy about my identity and culture. However, dropping the racist accusation needs to be strongly backed up, and I don’t think your note does that. Frankly, I have no problem with the content of point #1, but I do have a problem with the headline and calling it racist. I think it’s marketing and it’s the invisible hand of the market/economy dictating pricing, not racism. Some non-western food doesn’t deserve to be $$$ on a menu either, just like your point in #16. I think your point in 1 and 16 actually contradict each other, somewhat. Calling something racist is attention grabbing, but I also think it is overused and dilutes the meaning of the term. This dilution has a pernicious effect, obscuring when true racism actually occurs. My two cents. Appreciate the article and conversation starter.

  • J. Hayes

    Re: anonymous critics. Probably true in NYC, but not out here where ” foodies” don’t expect a good meal but get one anyway (read Orlando). I pay for every meal I’ve reviewed, and have for 15 years, including the Beard-nominated ones, and if somebody recognizes me … well, what can they possibly do in the 5 minutes between door and table? Should #21 be “food blogs are all New York blinded?”

  • Paul

    Good list, but you bought into one of the biggest food myths: That there are “food deserts” all around the US. There really aren’t that many places where you can’t buy fresh healthy food, especially if you put the slightest effort into it. As one of my friends (an African-American man who lives in a middle-class African-American neighborhood) told me, “They say I live in a food desert, but my local supermarket is just a few blocks away and has a great produce department.” The idea of “food deserts” everywhere has become just another excuse for wealthy white people to rationalize the poor diets that many Americans choose to adopt – because they like fatty tasty junk food. Isn’t that the sort of hypocrisy this article is supposed to expose?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1475079531 Kate Cooley

    The bagel thing is completely true. With family living in NYC who now prefer Panera’s fare to the local offerings, I can attest to this. We used to go back and visit and come home with dozens of bagels for ourselves and others. But the gentrification of New York (Staten Island, especially) has caused a HUGE decline in the quality of local food product. Mourn the passing of a good onion bagel with me. :*(

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  • jo

    If they only started teaching this in preschool…..we would be better in every way! I pray.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502799613 A. B. Landis

    Spot the f#*k on!

  • Anonymous

    This is the worst schlock I have ever read. Would-be sensationalist garbage that has no base, little relevance, and isn’t written compellingly nor convincingly (because it’s baseless).

  • citizenne

    Br-r-r-r-r-rilliant! As a member of a restaurant family, I have tired of the food snobbery that is now the trend. Give me a break already with your made-up-rules. Two generations ago, no one was a ‘chef,’ they were cooks. Something of the service class. And, farm to table? That was the norm, a function of a grounded economy. I feel like my mantra has now been written and my silent beliefs spoken. Want to get married?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chefhermes.blog Chef Hermes

    Glad to see that somebody else is calling Rene Redzepi & his disciples for what they are, ” Emperor’s new clothes “. I did it on Twitter after a string of negative reviews of NoMa at Claridges, net result was Redzepi calling me a C*NT. Classy

    Chefhermes.com

  • treyfieri

    pretty narrow minded article

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Mr.Blakeney Buster Blakeney

    So good. Absolutely on point, and the reason I don’t get back into cooking. It’s all the pretension of the film industry, the same back-slapping, the same contrivances, and the same circuitous copy-and-pasting that characterizes movies and food alike nowadays.

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  • http://twitter.com/locavoreincity Suzanne Cope

    I believe that the “onslaught of kale and artisanal pickles” does not blind us “from looking at the deeper problems affecting America’s food system,” but rather it highlights this fight. That jar of pickles or wedge of cheese is saying “this is what you deserve, America. You deserve a wide variety of quality produce at a price that is fair to both you and the farmer. You deserve dairy that isn’t laced with bovine growth hormones and even coffee and chocolate that pays the source a fair wage for their efforts. You deserve a world where your food choices don’t reflect large industrial farms getting rich through subsidies and poor environmental practices that are paid for by your taxes and health.” I’ll gladly pay for that, and others can as well. My longer argument here: http://locavoreinthecity.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/keeping-the-sustainable-food-discussion-relevant/

  • BG

    Guys, Awesome! If you are in the food world, you get this. Great stuff. For anyone hating on this, have a sense of humor. We all know wine doesn’t taste the same but the bit they wrote is so true. And so are all the others.

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  • zestfullyyours

    yes, when you want $15 mcDonalds quality hamburgers and $20 pad Thai to become the norm; maybe $25 for a plain pasta dish with no protein or a $35 Choice Grade, non-dry aged Strip appeals to you because all restaurant staff then have to be paid way more per hour. Brilliant Idea. Think with your head, not your ass. The system works. And no, people aren’t thinking it. you are.

    • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

      I never tip at McDonald’s, and they’re not that pricey.

      • tiredofyourblather

        perhaps you confused mcDonalds “quality” with actual mcDonalds

        • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

          Seems like you missed the point.

          zestfullyyours suggested that without tips, staff would have to be paid more, and even “McDonald’s quality” hamburgers would cost $15.

          But McDonald’s itself defies zestfully’s prediction: their staff gets no tips, yet their McDonald’s quality hamburgers are not $15, but quite cheap.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/sara.tenhundfeld Sara Tenhundfeld

    Wow, this was an extremely thinly and poorly guised snob review of one person’s definition of conspiracy and hipster in a markedly pompous and judgmental form of prose. It could have been insightful and pragmatic if it didn’t seem like it had been made to condescend to others how enlightened the author actually is.

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  • die die

    tex-mex? looool

  • jerk

    I love how people throw around the word “racism”. Being bias about food costs is nowhere near an indication of racism.

  • FugYouAndTheHorseYouRodeInOn

    #21 Incompetent, worthless hacks who think they are ‘contributing’ something meaningful to the world because they can bang out a 15K character tirade berating and lamenting the very industry that puts food on their own table. STFU and get a real job.

    • goldushapple

      So being critical of the elite foodies isn’t worth a mention? STFU and practice some critical thinking.

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  • GGG

    Food world = United States, and “Asian” = Asian American, specifically South East Asian American. Nice ethnocentrism! Really, good work y’all!

  • Alysonland

    Right on! I think your observations are terribly astute – Particularly your words about those of us who cannot afford to be a part of the organic/local/ unprocessed food craze. I dare anyone to try to be farm to table in the middle of the Las Vegas desert on a fixed income. Thank you for cutting through some of the bull.

    • goldushapple

      The “farm to table” is a great idea, but like you noted it’s sometimes unrealistic given ones economic means and geographical location. Indirectly food snobs (or maybe they’re aware) insult the majority of the country who don’t live on the coasts.

  • Joshua Walker

    Just remember, when they do away with tips and the resturant pays the server a decent wage, your $14 coctail is now $18 I don’t want to hear you writing another article complaining about the high cost of dining out. It’s not like the resturant can just magically start paying people without the consumer absorbing those costs. Business Management 101. Then the server can also ignore you, bring your order wrong and act as if you are a total inconvienence to them without you having a recourse other complaining to show them exactly what you think about their piss poor service. I’ve left a server $10 on a $30 check, I’ve left a server $1 on a $50 check. TIPS = To Insure Prompt Service.

    • tiredofyourblather

      Actually your $14 Martini is more likely to become a $20-$21 martini, the food service budgets on 10% labour costs so when the wage, with payroll taxes etc, goes from $8-$10 to north of $25 the effects will be more dramatic than most would imagine.

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  • Matt

    TAL BAGELS ARE THE TRUTH. I do agree the real boiled crispy babies are increasingly harder to find but these are as good as they get

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  • Chris W.

    This is the ballsiest (and hilarious) food article I’ve ever read. I was pulling my hair out and screaming “YESSSS” on the part about tipping. I expect the part about wine to generate the most violent shitstorm, and while I’m not a wine connoisseur, I can relate to craft beer culture in that many fancy tasting and smelling notes are over-emphasized, although there are obvious differences in styles. My personal gripe with the gastronomy scene is that food is way too glamorized. “Food can only taste so good” would be a heading that I’d resonate with. Too often are we caught up in melodrama from food advertising and reporting and build up unrealistic expectations that reflect our infatuated idea of food rather than the reality of food itself. In my eyes, the differences in price between restaurants rarely reflect the proportionate differences in quality or ingenuity. Even the best and most expensive of dining would only be realistically worth it for those to whom money is not a limitation in life, and even then it’s still a ridiculous economic choice for anybody given the opportunity cost.

  • Chris W.

    And the biggest one of all. “FUCK WHITE MEAT”

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  • tiredofyourblather

    This is the first, and likely the last, article I’ve read from this site. #21, or actually #1, on this list should be “there are way too many self righteous food related sites on the internet”, this one would be on that list.

  • http://www.singleape.com/ steven

    I’ll wear the fuck out of my EMK shirt.

  • kb

    i find it funny that the writer wants to call out “racist” thinking on the first page yet uses the term “illegal” to describe human beings. undocumented is a more appropriate term.

    • bizshop

      No, illegal is. If they are here illegally, they are illegal. Or if you prefer, criminal – they are committing a crime.

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  • haruto

    aaand suddenly i am reminded that this a website ran by complex mag.

    • Chris S

      @7c50bc7ba7923d2aa8d06b3d0c4d3fa1:disqus was it the Converse ads that tipped you off?

  • slowboat

    Hell ya, my wife an i are chefs in San Antonio, I must say you are on point with the tex-mex point of view. My wife is from mexico but I’ve been raised in Texas, ppl still prefer my hispanic/fusion cuisine more than recipes her family has handed down for over a hundred years

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