A while back, I'm not sure how long ago exactly, I asked myself whether or not I might be a 'foodie.' I think around the time I had been sucked in to a semi-extraordinary number of conversations on the subject, and having previously denounced foodie-ism as, well, a kind of ridiculous pomp of American affluence, I decided to seek out some basic foodie literature, see what it was all about, and determine whether or not my attitude was hypocritical. As it turned out, no. I'm not so much a foodie. I like a good meal as much as the next person, and I enjoy cooking perhaps a bit more than the usual twenty-six year old American male, but the er... 'orgasmic' tone of some of the writing I encountered, it was certainly nothing I could abide by. So I happily (or perhaps begrudgingly, depending on my mood), decided to let the pomp continue on without me. On the other hand, on my food-lit expedition I came across a few interesting things.
Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant, a remainder book here at Green Apple, contains a haunting tale of solitary culinary by Haruki Murakami revolving around spaghetti, though it hardly seems to be about spaghetti at all. Really an obscure must read for fans.
Issue 102 of Granta, The New Nature writing issue, contained a silent comic by David Heatley which illustrated the process behind the preparation of the classic American lunch (cheeseburger, fries and a coke) in an honest, and what I consider tasteful manner. No pushing of ideologies, merely a diagram the factory farming process. The strip ends with a set table and the reader is left to decide its intentions. Kind of nice I thought, considering the murk of literature out in the world commanding people to eat that and not this, buy this and not that, liberate cow and not chicken, etc.
Michael Pollan holds three spots in the top ten on the SF Chronicle's paperback best seller list. Furthermore there are four other books holding top ten spots which are primarily about food. This information is essentially re-reporting gleaned from the Zyzzyva blog (the angriest literary blog around, which I enjoy being that some of my more unpopular critical views are shared on it), but I found the fact curious. What does this say about the state of literature in our beloved bay? To me things like Zagat have no place on a list such as this, being that it's something that's readily available in 'e' format. Even in the case of Michael Pollan's work, yes, it is nice to see that people are examining their eating and shopping habits, but I can hardly imagine reading In Defense of Food, The Omnivores Dilemma, and Food Rules back to back (let alone writing them). I read Peter Singer's Animal Liberation in high school, among a plethora of zines, articles, etc, which helped influence my own personal dietary choices. I suppose my question is what the current validity of this work is when there is such a world of infinite mystery for us to be exploring? How much truly needs to be said?
Ah well. Perhaps we can all have a discussion sometime. For now let me close this post by drawing your attention to two final things-
1: My coworker Jenn has done an excellent job preparing and arranging a new shelf in our fiction annex, an impressive display of Green Apple's selection of translated foreign literature, with very little focus on food. I cannot recommend taking a look at it enough the next time you happen by the store.
2: My favorite meal still consists of the same thing that it has for the bulk of my life. Here:
Track me down at the store someday if you are interested in going out for some lunch.