Food can never be art, grouses an op-ed in The New York Times‘ Sunday edition. William Deresiewicz says, “Nobody cares if you know about Mozart or Leonardo anymore, but you had better be able to discuss the difference between ganache and couverture.”

Back in the day, when foodie-ism first started, he had thought that the passion for food would eventually translate into a passion for art (or at least, his definition of art). Except, to his alarm, he has found that our interest in food has instead replaced art.

As he puts it, “Food, for young people now, is creativity, commerce, politics, health, almost religion.” With a perspective framed mostly by Eurocentrism, he goes on to parallel the ways in which food has superseded art’s cultural purpose—you know, to help you “top of the social heap.”

We’re not completely convinced by the argument. And surely, anyone else who believes that food is the best gateway into culture will balk at this statement: “A good risotto is a fine thing, but it isn’t going to give you insight into other people, allow you to see the world in a new way, or force you to take an inventory of your soul.”

Deresiewicz is correct that we may have gone a little overboard as a society in our quest to celebrate, discuss, and be entertained by food. But rather than replacing the thing he calls Art, food may have actually introduced new notions of artistry to those who might  otherwise have found it irrelevant or incongruent to their lives. One wonders if the author has seen jello portraits of our presidents past and president (see above), or experienced how a chef’s dishes—like a painting—can say more than words.

But hey—if food is really the new rock, as everyone likes to say, maybe it’s only fitting that it would tear down the establishment that Deresiewicz holds so dear.

[via The New York Times]