Why Does Food Serve as an Important Topic of Dialog?
Posted August 24, 2009on:
I recently saw this article, from Business Week on food criticism through a link from my Twitter account. Yup, I’m exactly one of the people the article is talking about. Yes, I follow Martha Stewart’s tweets to get some recipe ideas and I also follow Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern so I can get an idea of what it’s like in different lands. There is so much food media out today not only in the form of books, but there are also an abundance of television shows, movies (Julie & Julia) and blogs, it is difficult to keep up with them all! However, I do believe that the central theme of all this conversation, food, is an extremely important topic that can help the participants and all others involved to learn how to develop a diet that works for them, how to save some money, how to preserve their own cultural heritages and maybe even learn how other people live day to day lives in a distant land. After all, food should be a way to unite us all and help us understand each other.
I definitely agree with several points in the article. There IS an ascendancy of food consciousness as well as gardening. I’m sure a lot of it is a result of the current economic crisis. I also think that maybe a lot of this is also the result of the desire to steer away from poor dietary choices in the past. Although I think it is possible that this renewed food consciousness is, “ironically is making it harder for diners and grocery shoppers to get what they traditionally sought from food writing: guidance in determining what’s good to eat”, I do ultimately think it can eventually help those involved in the conversation about food and cooking to determine what is best for them to eat and how to keep in their budgets. So many people have relied on packaged foods for so long that they may have forgotten that it’s just as easy and probably more nutritious (definitely more delicious!) to make mac & cheese without an instant mix. People can ultimately become more adventurous testing out different ingredients and cooking methods to find the ones that work for them, helping to resolve confusion about what’s best to eat.
I also agree with the article and Zimmern in this portion of the article:
“But the hordes of Web critics dishing up praise and scorn can deny diners the benefit of professional critics’ breadth of expertise, Zimmern says. Missing from many food blogs are knowledge of a chef’s range and the ability to cast a gimlet eye on some establishments’ dubious claims of authentic cuisine. “A lot of the people who are doing food writing who don’t know what they’re talking about will disappear,” he says. “There’s no way for the dining public to tell who’s full of [it].”
It’s true–everyone can have an opinion since food is so very subjective, however, without some knowledge and experience as a backdrop, it’s hard to tell if a person’s opinion is grounded in more than just some minimal cooking experience. I do like to think I have some knowledge, since I am currently in culinary school, however, I am very aware that my experience is minimal and that I’m still learning everyday. However, short of going to culinary school or working in restaurants, I do think many people can achieve a level of skill just being involved in the kitchens and the food choices they make for themselves and their families.
While it is difficult to keep up with all the media, the fact that there are many more voices contributing to the food dialog indicates that as a culture we are at a crossroads. We’re no longer seeing food and food preparation as a burden and we’re no longer seeing gardening as backbreaking work. And we’re more eager than ever to try different things. (Who knew there was a renewed interest in Offal?) Ultimately, I hope this food explosion helps us all become more adventurous while helping us all to rediscover how great it truly is to transform raw ingredients into fabulous meals and desserts.