Alice Waters on The View

Sharing your guilty pleasure is like describing what you just did in the bathroom: most people don’t want to hear it. But today my guilty pleasure intersects with my career and so I have no choice but to share, yet again, the sad but very true fact that every day, late in the afternoon, I watch “The View” on Tivo.

(shocked silence)

I wish I could say, “Sometimes I watch ‘The View’ on Tivo” the way that some people might say, “Sometimes, when I’m depressed, I dip Doritos in ice cream.” But no, my guilty pleasure has become a lifestyle; I may as well put curlers in my hair, chain smoke, and eat bonbons. “The View” makes me feel connected to the real world, somehow. The sensibility of those five ladies–admittedly less charged than when Rosie was on–is fascinating to behold, and I love the weird tension between Whoopi Goldberg and Sheri Sheppard, especially after Sheri shocked America by revealing that (a) she doesn’t believe in evolution; and (b) she’s not sure if the world is round. You can tell, ever since then, that she (thankfully) keeps much more to herself. It’s a fascinating commentary on the how the forces of religion, science, liberalism, conservatism and media interplay in 21st century America.

But I’m not here to talk about the merits of “The View.” I’m here to tell you that last night, when I got home from my reading at The Strand, Craig was on the couch watching a Michael Haneke film (“Benny’s Video”) and when it was over I grabbed the remote and said, “Ok, my turn.”

He said, “Anything but ‘The View.'”

Naturally, though, just to irritate him I took the Tivo remote and highlighted “The View.”

“No, stop,” he said.

“I just want to see who’s on it,” I replied.

Well imagine my surprise when I saw that the third guest–after Elmo and Tracy Morgan–was none other than the single most important living female food figure in the country (does anyone dispute that?) Alice Waters.

“Oh my God,” I said, “It’s Alice Waters! I have to watch this so I can write about it for my blog.”

Craig, being the good sport he is, allowed me to proceed (and to his credit, he didn’t ask, “Who’s Alice Waters?” and lately he’s been surprising me with knowing references to Dan Barber and Nancy Silverton. I’ll make an Amateur Gourmet of him yet.) And so I clicked “play” eager to see what would happen.


In the segment you have Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, just the two of them, standing behind a table arrayed with food (“Fresh from the Union Square Greenmarket,” Alice would eventually explain) and little Alice Waters, mousy and celestial, kind of crouched over in a corner.

Now at the top of the show the announcer, revealing the guests to the audience, described her as a “natural foods expert.” That’d be like describing T.S. Eliot as a “word organizer.” I almost gasped at the lack of reverence and yet, when the segment began, Whoopi seemed to know more than she let on: she sort of embraced Alice and said, “I love this woman.” Maybe Whoopi’s eaten at Chez Panisse?

Whoopi said, “Ok, so tell me about this organic fruit.”

Alice wasn’t having it. She wanted to start at the other end of the table with the vegetables. “Well we have the vegetables here,” she said, gently correcting Whoopi, and flitting across to where Joy was standing.

“Look at these beautiful vegetables,” she said (I’m paraphrasing–or, rather, recalling the best I can without actually watching it again), “this is how we’re going to seduce our children back to the table.”

“And all these are from the farmer’s market?” asked Whoopi.

“Yes,” said Alice.

“But you can get all this in a normal grocery store?” spat Joy, clearly uncomfortable around this weird Berkeley hippie.

You couldn’t find two women more different than Joy Behar and Alice Waters. One ballsy and brash, the other dainty and delicate. Did Joy understand who Alice was, her significance, the impact she’s had on food and the way we eat? I wasn’t quite sure and then, when Alice was showing off the chicken she’d roasted, my worst fears were confirmed. Joy asked, “Can’t you shove a beer can in the chicken’s vagina and cook it that way?”

Ok, it was pretty funny. I can’t imagine a more irreverent question to ask a living legend, especially one so meek-seeming you could blow on her and she’d fall over. But Alice Waters isn’t meek, that’s obvious to anyone who’s read about her. She just kind of hovered there, a weird visitor from another planet, and let the ladies have their fun while she squeezed in several words of advice. “Salt your chicken right away when you get it home,” she said, “it locks the moisture in and keeps it really moist when you roast it.”

Watching this with Craig, I realized how far removed this whole food world is from the “real world.” Obviously everyone’s sense of “the real world” is different, but to me it’s a question of class, education, exposure: what Joy Behar represents, at least for me, is a working class mentality. Why go to a farmer’s market when you can get cauliflower at Publix? Why salt a chicken early when you can put a beer can in its vagina?

In her own way, Joy Behar was the perfect foil for Alice Waters: no coddling, no ring-kissing. Just crass reality in the face of lofty idealism. Between the two, the answer lies.

50 thoughts on “Alice Waters on The View”

  1. That is beyond hilarious. I have no t.v. now so unfortunately could not witness these close encounters you have described. I must say you have created what seems like an exceedingly accurate account for us. I can just hear the voices of Joy and Alice in my head, having been a closeted View fan, long ago, before giving up t.v… You have certainly hit the nail on the head about class issues and food. Excellent post!

  2. Oh, Adam. I’m so glad someone else saw that episode too. I thought about the show several times today after watching it last night and wondered if it really happened.

    I tivoed the show specifically because Alice Waters was going to be on and it never dawned on me that it might be a huge disaster. I assumed they would place her on a throne and she would quietly dispense wisdom to the worshipping panel.

    I respect and admire Ms. Waters but the show made one thing clear – she could really use a sense of humor.

    Thanks for the great post.

    PS I don’t know how you can watch that show everyday. Sheri Sheppard scares the shit out of me.

  3. As someone who has done research in low-income neighborhoods (namely Compton and Inglewood in Los Angeles), I have to take offense to the presumption to the comment of “working-class mentality”. It is a condescending, banal argument that not only reflects a lack of knowledge on the population, but also reflects a haughtiness that DOES create a class barrier between those involved in “whole foods” and those who are not.

    There are a number of projects — The Peoples Grocery in Oakland, the farmers markets in the Bronx and Harlem, and the myriad urban farming projects that cater to low-income and working class neighborhoods — that are more involved than Slow Food or its offshoots in the primary issue regarding the “whole foods world”, namely access to the foodstuffs, both in terms of proximity and in terms of cash cost — most low-income/working class neighborhoods lack outlets (such as food markets) and most have an issue in external costs of accessing those goods (as in getting to the locations and getting back to home will make it more expensive). To talk about lower-income families as if they do not care about what they put into the nutrition of their family is demeaning, especially when comparing them to a TV presenter who caters to an audience of largely middle class, largely suburban housewives.

    This type of glibness is unbecoming of a lot of folk in the Slow Food/”good food” movements, one that has been used to at times neglect the class dimensions of the movement, as well as justify the $85 dollar sit-down dinners and wine tastings it hosts for its membership and for “creating awareness” about its issues. So long as people continue to perpetuate the feeling that its a specifically “working class mentality”, the more difficult it becomes to convince and work with those communities, and that fails the cause of organics, farmers, and ultimately consumers of all ranks.

    So seriously, while I hate to rain on the parade a bit, let’s tone down the self-righteousness and up the reality check a bit. Show some consideration instead of smugness.

  4. I knew there was a reason why I tivo’d The View everyday. I’m gonna have to make sure I watch that episode. Thanks for your funny account of it!


  5. When next you are near a grill — suck it up, make beer can chicken.

    We did it as a joke at a gathering of our friends while playing various redneck yard games, and imagine our surprise when it turned out to be really good.

    Admittedly we did use a good spice rub, but still, it was a surprise for sure.

  6. First of all, did Whoopi mention that she got her start in Berkeley at the same time Alice Waters did? I guess they never ran into each other.

    Second of all, since we’re sharing, I Tivo “Live with Regis and Kelly.” My husband claims to hate it but I can occasionally suck him in.

  7. I am SO glad that someone other than me saw this and thought it was hysterical (and wrong)! I admit it…I usually watch the first 15 mins of the show, and when I heard that AW was a guest, stayed with it. But I was criiiiiiinging the whole time she was on b/c it was such a very bad fit for them and her! When Joy B asked about the beer can, I almost snorted my coffee. Funny enough that I called a non-food friend to relay the story, and having explained who AW was and how very reserved she is in personality, my friend was hysterical just hearing about it. I did love how excited Whoopi was about the Seckle pears and about the fruit compote, though.

    Good stuff indeed!

  8. This is a great post.

    I am also a longtime fan of “The View”, and even excitedly went to a taping when I was living in New York. Although, I wish Lisa Ling would come back. I’m soooo not into Elizabeth representing the “younger woman” demographic. Scary.

  9. It kind of sounds like AW could work on the soft sell sometimes. She seems steadfast in her mission, which is great, but it’s pretty clear that Joy Behar isn’t in AW’s targeted demographic. But why not? Why can’t AW make her point to other ppl? Why can’t she get a sense of humor?


    Elizabeth Hasselback is scary… there’s some clip of her and Rosie arguing on youtube. Yea.. Lisa Ling is great though. One time I saw her on the streets of Chicago, comletely sloshed, and had to hang on to her companion to walk straight. Then of course I shouted “Channel One” in her direction. She wasn’t so amused.

  10. Since I’m not likely to ever see this episode of The View, thanks for the recap. From your description of Joy Behar, it sounds like I’m not missing a thing. She sounds awful. I think in some ways Ms. Waters just doesn’t realize the power she wields–she’s clearly not on an ego trip, which makes her more likeable to me. Her new cookbook is also quite good–very conversational, good basic recipes. A little contradictory–buy fresh and local, but use only the best imported French sea salt–that sort of thing. However, if you get past that, she has some really persuasive things to say about starting from scratch with really good ingredients, and avoiding processed foods. I’m thinking of making fresh pasta this weekend, spurred by her description in the book.

  11. I love Alice Walker and “The Color Purple”. Who knew she was an accomplished author and food expert. Wow. Joking of course :)

  12. Adam, as much as I have berated you, you couldn’t be more dead-on right when you say

    “Watching this with Craig, I realized how far removed this whole food world is from the “real world.”

    Thankyou for stating what took me months to realize and hit home yesterday. Good luck-with your perserverance and tenacity I have no doubt you will succeed…

    Natalie Sztern

  13. I have to agree with Stephen Wade, but I agree with you at the same time. It’s the haughtiness of people who believe in slow food that keeps it away from the masses.

    In addition, the little research I have done on the farm bill also hurts the ability of the poor in this country to get some nutrition. The funny thing is, the direction the upper class is turning is in the direction of the poor populations in other countries. White flour and other highly processed foods, along with lots of meat, used to be only available to the rich. So, the poor were the ones who perfected the cooking of lesser cuts of meat, whole grains, and vegetables, learning how to make them both delicious and healthy. I think there is something wrong in this country right now, that only wealthy people are eating properly. We have to find a way to bridge that gap and bring healthy food back down to earth.

    Again, a lot of this does have to do with the farm bill, which makes twinkies more affordable than carrots. I think the all-mighty dollar is much more at play here than class or education. However, as whole foods become more expensive for generation after generation, eventually the poor will culturally “forget” how to use those foods. Children will not be learning from their grandmothers. And that is a terrible thing.

  14. Adam, you are hilarious. I met Alice last week in Chicago at a booksigning event. She broke the news that she met with the Chicago mayor to discuss opening Edible Schoolyards in Chicago. She is very very nice in person, and I wrote about this news on my blog!

  15. I totally agree with Stephen. I found this post condescending and spoken from an ivory tower. Also, a little hypocritical, since it seems that you haven’t embraced this form of living your entire life, and it sounds as though you didn’t come from a “working class” background.

    Farmers are working class people. I grew up on a farm, went to private schools – where I was fed crap along with my rich classmates – and returned to whole foods eating, eating locally, etc. when I returned home from college, because I was a produce snob. Now I’m still working class, and I eat better (at home, anyway) than anyone I know, regardless of income.

    Furthermore, Alice Waters, although certainly a very influential figure in our country, is not really helping bring good foods to the masses. She is so far removed from day to day life that she can’t quite sell it. Alice Waters has a legion of lackeys to shop, chop and peel for her. Remember that NYT article where she bought ridiculous amounts of food at the farm market(which the author would have to lug home without a car) and then insisted the writer start a compost bin? It’s absurd.

    At the Whole Foods in Columbus, you will see people walk from the store to their BMWs and drive right to the Burger King drive through.

    As a college student, I was a nanny for some of the wealthiest families in my city – they all fed their children crap. Because they’re busy. What we really need is a leader who will show busy people of all income levels how to source their food responsibly. *Without* being condescending.

    This isn’t your first post lately where you have brought up class issues, with the assumption that you are of a higher social standing than everyone else; I suppose as someone who grew up in the country, class was never a big issue for me, but I think you should keep your audience in mind, because a lot of them are probably “working class.” All of that to say, I just realized that I am too working class for you. And probably, so are all of the chefs, line cooks, dishwashers, farmers, hostesses, bakers, servers, and bartenders who grow and cook for you so that you can have this website, write a book, and become an amateur gourmet.

  16. I’ll second the vote for beer-can chicken (aka beer-butt chicken among the local vulgarians). The skin comes out so crispy; the meat remains so moist. I even invested in a beer-can chicken holder. The next time I make it I’ll try to combine Alice Water’s suggestions with the

    I have to applaud your tolerance in sticking to The View as well, Adam. I can’t stand the Hasselbeck creature, and I’m sure that the other flat-worlder would get on my nerves as well. Happy TIVOing!

  17. Dear Adam, I have been reading your blog for years now and usually agree with most of what you write. Your sense of humor and stle of writing have always been wonderful and fresh. Lately though, and this in particular, you seem to have developed an overblown sense of importance and really have an unfortunate habit of putting people down who do not worship at your latest “find”.

    My family was in the restaurant busness for many years and I enjoyed reading about your adventures in discovering things that many of us have known about for eons. It’s a lot like watching your children make the great discoveries in life. I really looked forward to your adventures and smiled a little and a lot when you told us about making and discovering things that I’ve been doing for 30 years-such is the lot of the older woman when viewing the younger generation.

    Get yourself off your pedestal for a second and get a beer can chicken holder and a can of imported beer,I say that because it may make such mundane food-albeit slow food, more acceptable to someone of your recently advanced status in the food world. Go to and get the recipe for the rub and make yourself a beer can chicken. An hour and forty-five minutes later you can eat the best chicken you have ever had as well as your high-handed words. It is moist and the skin crackles like peking duck skin.

    Please stop watching crap like The View and ignorant, ill-bred, people like Joyce Behar. I’ve known about Alice for more than a quarter century-I’ve eaten in her restaurant and consider her a champion of reasoned thinking. What posessed her to appear on that insipid program in a effort to explain anything to those idiots in 3 minutes is beyond me. The thing about Alice is that she never snears at people. What happened to you?

  18. To anyone I offended by my use of the phrase “working class sensibility,” I’m afraid I owe you an explanation. I grew up with parents who had that sensibility, and grandparents too. Joy Behar’s voice is a very familiar voice to me: probably because she’s a loud Italian woman and that’s not very far removed from the loud Jewish women who rule my family. My mom grew up in Queens, my dad in East New York; their parents struggled to make money to put food on the table, my dad’s dad a grocery store manager, my mom’s dad an advertising salesman. By “working class sensibility” I simply mean a sensibility focused on survival: who cares where you get the food as long as there’s food? This is the sensibility I grew up with. (My grandparents still go to Wendy’s several times a week, my grandmother ordering a grilled chicken sandwich and a baked potato).) It’s a sensibility concerned with value more than anything else and its roots are bourn of necessity. If my post sounded condescending, I didn’t mean it to be: at the end I said that the answer lies between this way of thinking and Alice’s more idealistic view. That’s because I understand the reality of the former while also appreciating the necessity of the latter. Hope that clears things up.

  19. Thanks for the explanation Adam. I can understand that view completely. Have a good weekend.

  20. I did a spot on “The View” a few years ago. Joy Behar not only plays a bitch of TV, she is one. A miserable person. Everyone else, including Barbara, was quite pleasant. Meridith was the first to come up to me and introduce herself. Even Star, who handled my bit, was extremely nice.

    If Behar thought a chicken’s opening is like a vagina, I’d say she was projecting.

  21. You, sir, have far more stamina than I do when it comes to The View. My mom loves it and anytime I’m at home, it’s on in the morning. It bothers me because all the ladies talk at once and I can never follow what’s going on. And Joy has some occassional flops in terms of jokes and it’s very uncomfortable to watch,

  22. I too was a bit turned off by the “working class” comment, but your explanation helps explain the point you were trying to make. I think your recap and reaction to the View is more telling of the majority of the View’s audience, i.e., white heterosexual moms with expendable income. It sounds like the vast View-watching audience is more interested in humorous beer-can-in-a-chicken’s-vagina jokes (regardless of how beer-can-chicken actually tastes) than preparing healthy and tasty food. Perhaps Alice’s presence on the show had more to do with the fact that she is a “name” View-viewers can use at catered dinner-parties to impress their friends than with their actual interest in what Alice has to say. What a waste.

  23. Wow. I am stunned at Lauren’s post just as much as those who were “offended” by Adam’s misunderstood comment about the “working class”. That is quite the assumption that the majority of The View’s audience is “white, heterosexual mom’s with expendable income”…I am not one to get easliy offended, nor do I go to the trouble of actually writing comments if I do, but your broad sweeping generalizations of who watches this show made me do the cartoon head double take. I am a white heterosexual mom, but that’s about it. So, you think only rich, or “doing well” women with children watch this show? I am embarrased to admit that I watch The View, but that is less and less as I can’t tolerate these women much anymore these days, but we all have our guilty pleasure items, right? I am home during the day to be with my children and make sure they come home from school to me and not an empty house or a sitter or whatever, but I make sacrifices to do that. My income is NOT expendable and I work a couple part time jobs to help make ends meet. I am there for my kids and it is a daily struggle and I don’t know one mom in my area in which I live that doesn’t do the same. I certainly don’t watch The View to get humorous antidotes about chicken vagina’s (although that is kind of funny to think about – ha)or to get names to impress friends at catered dinner parties – I have never really been to a “dinner party” – I live in a “middle class” community if pressed to label my area and I almost choked at your description of who you think most women are that watch this show. I do know Alice Waters, I do want to hear what she has to say about food because I value her principals and believe I have a lot to learn from her. Your comment about The View audience not wanting to learn how to prepare healthy and tasty food is offensive. Wow. Maybe you need to learn more about women in general, you don’t paint us in a very flattering color.

  24. Thanks vaginachicken, I was scouring YouTube for that to no avail… off to check out the vid now!

    ps: there doesn’t have to be anything inherently “haughty” about slow food – in fact,it’s pretty much as down-to-earth as eating gets. who ever posted upthread about the all-mighty dollar having a hand in making carrots more expensive then twinkies totally nailed it. as a nation (and a world) we need to really step up and get our priorities straight when it comes to food. we are what we eat, after all.

  25. Well, I guess the “working class mentality” controversy is not going away, so I guess I’ll add a couple of words here…some members of the “working class,” including my Italian immigrant family, always knew that the key to great produce was growing your own, in your garden (or in a neighborhood truck garden, on your apartment balcony or roof, etc.)!! So I don’t agree with the “who cares where you get the food, as long as there’s food” adage as being peculiar to the poor, working class. My father and his family worked as laborers off the boat, so money was always a problem for us, yet quality food (which was not necessarily expensive) was a priority. That’s just the way it is with certain cultures.

    Let’s just say that certain groups may have different preferences and experiences with foods than other groups…even Alice Waters herself will talk with glazed eyes about her food “epiphany”, after eating processed food growing up….some of us have been eating fresh, “exotic” vegetables and produce all along, well before she developed into the powerhouse she is…and I say good for her for bringing the wonder of great produce and meats to many others.

  26. I watch the View every day as well. My boyfriend, a chef, and I watched this epsiode with more interest than most because Alice was going to be on. I was disappointed becuase it was a choppy mess of cheap one-liners and people interrupting and talking over one another.

    It seems that the show has become more focused on quick soundbites of polarizing views and less about honest discussion of normally taboo subjects. I think producers were attracted to the ratings that Rosie v. Elizabeth brought and try to duplicate it on a daily basis now. I’m sure the earpieces that the hosts wear help to get the producer’s opinions out.

    I don’t think you draw any real conclusions about “whole food vs. real world” from the View. It’s a television show focused on getting higher ratings. Ratings which rise when people say outrageaous things and disagree. Joy was simply playing the part of the grocery store/prepared food loving shopper to contrast with Alice Water’s sustainable approach.

  27. Wow, some of you really need to lighten up. It seemed to me that Adam’s point was just that the people who are involved in food blogging, slow food, etc. forget a) how many people really don’t care about food issues and b) think that we are snobbish or impractical about our eating habits. If anything, Adam seems to be making the point that the food community needs to do a better job of communicating their message to those who have a different point of view. What Adam calls a “working class mentality” is a personality trait that exists in people in every economic stratum.

    Also, dee, I really don’t understand how you can pick up on all the “putting people down” without also noticing all the self-deprecation on the site. Anyway, he didn’t seem to be making fun of beer-can chicken at all. It was just a demonstration of how a single snarky comment could almost completely undermine Alice Waters’ message, which is sad since it is a good one. It makes me wonder if she is really the person to deliver it.

  28. Oh this is priceless, and I’m ordering your book on the strength of this one post. If you can cook too, well!

    In my opinion the only thing wrong with food culture, other than too frou-frou cooking ( _Not_ Alice’s), is not enough humour in the kitchen.

  29. I have to say, after reading the post and all the comments, I’m not sure what all this fuss is about. The Slow Food movement is not inimical to low-income families — or at least it doesn’t have to be. Slow Food is, in some ways, about buying locally, which reduces the cost of the food itself. In low-income areas, this can be a boon because it combines the nutrition of “whole” foods with affordability.

    As for the “working class” comment, I do think it was pretty inartful wording for what Adam was trying to get across. On the other hand, Behar is attempting to pander to a crowd of people who would find the concept of a beer can in a chicken’s vagina funny. I do consider that comment crude, ignorant, rude and ill-conceived on her part.

    There is certainly a class divide when it comes to the Slow Food movement, but it’s because it categorizes itself as such. Slow Food could be more properly defined as “local, whole foods” and that phrase would be just as correct in defining the movement as Slow Food. Moreover, it is a “friendlier” phrase in terms of understanding what the Slow Food movement is about. I live in Madison, WI, which has arguably one of the largest and most diverse farmers’ markets in the country.

    All summer long, I eat from a CSA and the farmers market; I eat locally grown vegetables that are in-season. They are delicious. You know what? At least here in the People’s Republic of Madison, low-income people are able to get CSA vegetables from their food-stamps. So the government here has successfully combined the Slow Food movement with low-income people and it has been a success.

  30. john, i’m with you. this is great. the political correctness police is everywhere. you can’t say anything anymore. third-world is now developing countries. blacks is now african american, and then sometimes black because well, who knows. and now working class = ….?

    as someone who’s pretty much against the slow food movement, (because you know i want the polar ice caps to melt so little cute penguins can lose their homes) and someone who reads this blog pretty often, i think it should be clear to most ppl that adam is just trying to say there’s a chasm between the current demographic of the slow food movement, versus the general population. (wow, run on sentence). also that there’s probably a happy medium somewhere, we just do not know where it is yet.

  31. Yes, “working-class mentality” wasn’t the right term, but how do you describe those who are Food Ignorant Know-It-Alls and who prefer to fad diet, exercise and eat fast food at the same time? The Food Stupid? I don’t know, but this shows what Alice’s Delicious Revolution is up against.

  32. I feel a little silly because what resonated most with me in this post was not the “working class” issue, but the realization of “how far removed this whole food world is from the ‘real world.'”

    Have entered this food blogging world semi-recently, I was quickly sucked into the community-like aspects of sharing recipes and experiences with food. But when I try to share these sentiments with friends, I’m often greeted with a puzzled look. I try to explain to my friends the importance of sustainable agriculture and the craze of the mangosteen trend, but I usually get a “so what?” response.

    True, it’s just not a priority for most twentysomethings on a budget, working their first jobs out of college, but I think there is great merit in this “food world” and it’s something I’m trying to merge with my “real world.” Thanks for articulating that sentiment so nicely. :)

  33. Adam your point was very well understood…you didn’t come across (to me) as haughty, but explaining a difference in perspective when it comes to what we eat.

    And if I could stomach watching the View I wouldn’t have missed Alice! Maybe I can YouTube it. I’m rather stunned she did the show…

  34. Ariella, I wish it were true what you say, but unfortunately most “in low-income areas” the access to local, fresh, healthy foods is largely inaccessible. Check out the food businesses that are within walking distance in low income areas and you will not see liqueur stores or convenience stores that are likely selling more than a few old apples.

    Even in my low-income neighborhood bordering Alice Watersland there’s nowhere nearby. They do host a farmers market in the safer section of the low income area, but the only one is on a weekday when all those “working class” folks are busy working.

    I don’t believe that the class divide has anything to do with the snobbishness of the movement (though it certainly does exist bountifully!) There’s a great disparity in education, resources and availability between the classes. It would be very difficult to communicate the importance of the Slow Food values to someone who’s priorities and day-to-day needs are so very different. Alice Waters has done great things when it comes to infiltrating the idea into children’s psyches, but her “rhetoric” must come off as completely irrelevant to most of the working class. It’s just totally out of context. (I say this as a semi-working-class woman who accidentally stumbled into this world, but my food values are a total riddle to nearly everyone else I know in my “real world”, even if I try to explain them).

  35. Interesting on the “working class mentality” comment, Adam.

    Though I don’t necessarily disagree with you entirely, I think it’s also dangerous to classify an interest in food (particularly in eating locally and seasonally, as opposed to haute cuisine) as belonging to one class or another.

    Have the better off amongst us typically been more able to enjoy more free time and energy to spend on sourcing our food? Sure. But if Pollan’s research at Polyface Farm shows us anything, it’s that the customer base for locally produced foods is diverse and is not exclusive to the “upper” classes.

  36. Fascinating discussion, but I think the whole working class, beer can chicken discussion begs the question of Adam’s original post. His point, as I see it, was that most people are unaware of the effect that Alice Waters has had on food as a whole in the US. (David Leibovitz has an interesting take on this over at his blog, and links to another writer’s post on this topic, about emailing some friends in the midwest asking who is AW, and I would link to it if I knew how.) Ironically, in many parts of the world, “working class” people are the ones who hit the local markets every day looking for good, cheap food to cook for dinner that night. I can picture someone living in a small town in the middle of France going to the market and buying a bit of bacon and some eggs, and pulling some greens out of their garden, and making a nice little salad of greens, bacon and a poached egg, all in all costing practically nothing. That same salad will cost you $15 or $20 in any decent New York restaurant. I think our French “gourmet” would find this whole discussion more than a little pointless.

    The beer can chicken debate misses the point. It’s not a question of sticking the beer can up the chicken’s butt and what that may or may not imply about your place in society, but let’s talk about the chicken itself; after all, it is the food at the center of a food debate. More and more people are demanding organic, free range, drug free, humanely raised chickens, and the market is responding. David Liebovitz makes a good point about goat cheese and blood oranges. None of that stuff was in my local grocery store in the sixties…or seventies…or eighties…and probably not through most of the nineties. Now I’m annoyed when I can’t find blood oranges when I want them at the local Safeway or Acme or A&P or Kroger’s or Shop Rite. Alice Waters was at the start of a movement that helped to put fresh, locally grown ingredients on the map. This in turn led to a demand for more variety and more fresh, local ingredients at the market. This was a key factor in the growth of the slow food movement. Does Alice Waters come from a rarified world far removed from the average person walking into a Costco? Of course. But to focus on that misses the point.

    And when did working class become a four letter word?

  37. I think that “food stupid” as a substitute for “working class mentality” from the post up thread is a fantastic idea. All this fuss over phrases that people have picked out of adam’s post is ridiculous. I would hope that we could all read between the lines (although I don’t think that is even really necessary here) and get the message that he was putting across which is a good point. as some of you summed up above, there are 2 separate worlds that many of us food-conscious (no matter what income level we have sprung out of)forget about. I am a college student in a major football town living with 6 (yes 6) other women, randing from all levels of the middle class (haha) who serve as my version of “Craig”. Every day when i get home from the farmers market or attempt to explain to them why I buy organic or don’t just buy the frozen fish I am reminded of the fact that the majority of the population are far removed in their food mentality and awareness than the small number of us food interested people. Though all of relatively equal economic status, our house is like a little mini-USA. The state of food in this country, while improving slowly (thanks in large part to Alice), is a sad one. The lack of importance we place on food speaks to our lifestyles, as well as why we (in general as americans) are overweight, overstressed, and unhealthy. Food ignorance, as I’ll dub it for now, is one of the main problems of American culture. Even when people have parents or grandparents who cooked and ate well and were more food conscious, it is often times not passed on as it used to be or in other cultures. Case in point one of my roommates: N.’s grandparents were italian immigrants, her grandmother still makes everything from scratch just as she used to, and N. often talks about all the great, SLOW cooked homemade foods she gets when she goes home to visit. Despite this direct influence and incredible access (of which I am exceedingly jealous) N. revealed the toher day that if given a chicken breast or a green bean (examples) she would have no idea how to make either edible…gasp! As shocked as I was, when I thought about it I realized that I have never seen her cook anything, her cabinet is stocked with 100-calorie snacks and top-ramen, and any time I’ve seen her eat anything she didn’t buy from one of the many semi-fast food places around us I had cooked it for her. I think recognizing the differences between her and I (I cook basically everyday and attempt to make everything from scratch with the best ingredients I can find) serves the same function as putting AW with Joy. We need to educate, and in the meantime find a middle ground

  38. Wow. I can’t believe all the discussion about this blog post. Goes to show how food is a very political subject.

    First of all, Joy is a comedian, people! The view is for entertainment purposes only, and Joy’s “job” is to play that “in your face” host.Lighten up!

    If you don’t believe that there are distinctions in what people eat because of their income (and not their education) you are sadly mistaken. On David’s blog, someone even said that you can eat well if you just knew how to cook. When times are tough, people have to buy what they can, which usually doesn’t include fresh organic produce, cruelty free meat, and milk with no hormones. It’s not ignorance or laziness, or lack of time that keeps them ill fed. The organic foods are just too damn expensive. It wasn’t always this way. The food the “working class” used to eat on a daily basis has now become “peasant chic” to the wealthy. Now the wealthy see it’s merit and pay crazy prices for it. The poor used to be the healthiest in this country, now it’s the opposite.

    Then you have the farmer’s market venders who up the price of their products in an attempt to catch the wave.

    So, I understand the passion in this discussion, but I’m a bit sick of those who have always had the money to eat well saying that the working class are stupid, uneducated and misinformed about what they eat. That’s real, unbelievable ignorance to me.

  39. This fascinates me. There was a similar outcry when I put up what I thought was an innocuous post, months ago, about how the Chef and I look in other people’s carts at the grocery store and sometimes wince. There’s a polarity when it comes to food in this culture. We have a long way to go, even when talking about it.

    When we were in Italy last month, we realized that everyone there lives in food. Wealthy, working-class, in the cities or the country — everyone has a passion and avocation for food. There isn’t the same divide. There aren’t as many processed foods. I wish that we had some of that spirit here.

    Most chefs are working-class heroes.

    Finally, i have to say: that beer-can chicken? That can make those of us who have to eat gluten-free dreadfully sick. (All that beer steam infusing the flesh.) Much better to stick a boiling hot lemon up the chicken’s ass, anyway!

  40. I found the link to this particular entry on David Lebovitz’s blog. For your amusement, I invite you to take a peek at Sherri Shepherd’s official web site where you’ll find a lively exchange between a fan/publicist and the kind of person who might know something about spheres, the HMS Beagle and swishing dainty little leaves around in large bowls of cool, local water.

  41. P.S. I just registered on the web site to ask about this whole round planet business. If I get an answer, I’ll report back.

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