Entitlement and Food: Part Two of an 87 Part Series

I really enjoyed the first part of this 87 part thread, namely because of the vibrant debate that went on. Keep in mind that you really can’t offend me with a dissenting opinion, as long as you stick to the issue and don’t make it personal. (Unless of course you’re William Shatner in which case it will ALWAYS be personal. I’ll get you Captain Kirk!)

For a really well crafted dissenting opinion, check out Trey Given’s “The Glorious Luxury of Food” in which he picks my piece apart. I wish I understood political and economic discourse better, because it seems the terms of that debate are beyond my ken. (I better get the ken back, though, before my Corporations final Thursday!)

Suffice it to say that I am that cliched breed of privileged liberal satarized so well in John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation.” I decry the corruption of corporate America while reaping it’s benefits. I’m like Meadow Soprano: fighting the good fight for the disenfranchized while daddy kills people. It’s all very ironic.

What I don’t like about my original post is that it’s very paternalistic. “I, the wealthy white male, know what’s good for you, you downtrodden minorities. Here, let me tell you what to eat.”

It’s a rather smug proposition. But I don’t mean it that way.

I feel like discovering food is like discovering sex or music or art for the first time. It’s this wonderful thing that’s always existed but that you never really noticed. The transition from “eating to live” to “living to eat” is an exciting one. It is to truly appreciate what it means to be alive.

And that’s why I find America’s food situation so discouraging. You get the illusion of freshness without actual freshness (Subway: “Eat Fresh.”) You get the illusion of authenticity without the authenticity (The Olive Garden). You get carbon copies of food culture without actually having a food culture. Which is why so many food critics, when they’re asked what they eat when they don’t want to spend a lot of money will tell you “ethnic food.” That’s because it’s the only “real food” that’s left that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Ethnic food is the one place in American culture where the excitement and beauty of food preparation (check out John Kessler’s James Beard nominated piece on the Dekalb Farmer’s Market) is a thriving enterprise. The trouble is that its merit is precisely due to the fact that it’s NOT American.

And I should point out that I’m not so concerned with health as I am a quality food culture. And by that I mean a food culture like you’d find in Italy or Spain or France, that’s indiginous to the land and a huge part of the experience of living in those places. Italians PRIDE themselves on their food. Do you pride yourself on Appleby’s? I rest my case.

I’ll leave you with lyrics to a new Ben Folds song that’s right on point. (Well it’s on point from the first thread, but not so much this one which moved in a new direction, but I still like the lyrics). Let’s keep the discussion going!

All You Can Eat

So I’m lookin’ at all the people in this restaurant

What do you think they weigh?

Look out the window to the parking lot

at their SUVs taking all of the space

They give no fuck

they talk as loud as they want

They give no fuck

just as long as there’s enough for them

Gonna get on the microphone down at Wal-Mart

Talk about some shit that’s been on my mind

Talk about the state of this great nation of ours

People, look to you left, yeah, look to your right

They give no fuck

they buy as much as they want

They give no fuck

just as long as there’s enough for them

(piano solo)

So I look at the people lining up for plastic

I’d like to see ’em in the National Geographic

Squatting bare-assed in the dirt eating rice from a bowl

With a towel on their head or maybe a bone in their nose

See that asshole with the peace sign on his license plate

Giving me the finger and running me out of his lane

God made us number one cause he loves us the best

Well maybe he should go bless someone else for a while, give us a rest

Just so everyone can see

We’ve eaten all that we can eat.

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