I was a bit underwhelmed by this Steven Poole article on foodie-ism; yes, there are some nicely-drawn stories about the excesses of today’s food culture, but he never gets round to explaining why we should care. What does it say about our culture that this is the way we talk about food? Still, this is drawn from the preface of his forthcoming book on the subject, and there are some hints that he may have a deeper analysis in the book:
Food is not only a safe “passion” (in the tellingly etiolated modern sense of “passion” that just means liking something a lot); it has become an obligatory one. The unexamined meal, as a pair of pioneer modern “foodies” wrote in the 1980s, is not worth eating.
Poole identifies a constant desire to explain food in terms of the spiritual or the artistic, and I wonder if this isn’t a sign that foodie-ism is, perhaps surprisingly, a sign of widespread cultural anti-somatism, a hostility to bodies. One could think of Žižek’s riff about how it is acceptable to smoke marijuana because it is a kind of “decaffeinated opium,” or Nina Power on the way women are encouraged to talk about chocolate as both synecdoche and substitute for the bodily transgressions women’s magazines constantly warn against.