To the food snobs out there…
We’re blessed to be living in an age that allows us such easy access to great food. We’ve come a long way since the 1950s (unarguably a horrid time in American dining history). Just consider this fun fact–during the decade of the 1960s, the word “sushi” appeared only 8 times in the New York Times. Today, 50 years later, you can probably name 8 different sushi restaurants in less than a minute.
These advancements in access to new and different foods is great. Unfortunately, these advancements have turned way too many people into snobs who aggressively uphold ideas about food and drink that are offputting to others. It always bothers me on shows like Top Chef when diners dislike a dish for whatever reason, and chef contestants say things like, “Well, these are regular people, they don’t really know food.” Um, why? Because I didn’t go to culinary school? Does that make me incapable of having a properly developed palate?
I argue that these snobby people don’t always know better about food and drink, and that they uphold certain myths to make themselves appear superior.
Here are some food and drink attitudes that I’m tired of experiencing from people who think they know best:
1) You’re inferior because you like sugar in your coffee. Those of you who take sugar in your coffee know what I’m talking about: that condescending smirk from people who deem themselves “real” coffee drinkers–the look they give you when you sweeten your coffee. Folks, there’s no rule that says people can’t mix sugar with coffee– the practice started during the 1600s when a man named Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki opened western Europe’s first coffeehouse in Vienna. He served the coffee plain during its early days, then started experimenting with adding sugar and milk to taste to create coffee drinks and well, the rest is history. Earlier than that, coffee drinkers in the Middle East often sweetened their coffee with cinnamon. If you like your coffee without sugar for whatever reason, that’s fine, but lose the “Sugar?? Oh Heavens no!” attitude–it’s obnoxious.
Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.” – Turkish proverb
2) You’re inferior because you like your meat fully cooked. This will always be a battle of the wills between those eating and those preparing the food. Yes, I love sushi, sashimi and beef tartare. I eat beef carpaccio pretty often. When I cook salmon or tuna at home, I cook it rare. But I also acknowledge that it’s well documented that undercooked meats make people sick. I accept that while I may enjoy eating raw or rare meat, I may be exposing myself to various infections like salmonellosis, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, listeriosis, and E. coli . Bottom line–whether avoiding illness is worth eating slightly dried-out meat is a matter of personal opinion, and someone shouldn’t be made to feel stupid, unsophisticated, or close-minded because he or she would rather eat their meat fully cooked.
3) You’re inferior because you like sweeter wines. Unfortunately, many wine snobs disdain sweet wines; this is shortsighted and simplistic. Even the snobbiest of snobs will admit that a glass of a Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes (a wine beloved across the board) is the ideal pairing with a decadent foie gras. I dare you to write off a delicious glass of Tokaji–described in Wine Spectator in 2004 as today’s most underappreciated truly great wine– as a glass of glorified grape juice. And don’t get me started on ports, ice wines and sherry. There are a lot of rich complex sweet wines out there; please resist that bias and try them!
4) You’re inferior because you ordered the chicken. “Why don’t you try the liver/veal/braised short rib/monkfish instead?” I know others may deride you for choosing that rock of ages at a fine restaurant, but stick to your guns, chicken-lovers! Ancient Egyptians and the Sultans of Delhi along with countless other great ones who came before you have eaten this bird with gusto. I maintain that it’s a challenge to find perfectly cooked poultry seasoned in a simple manner; delicious chicken that’s not tasty only because it’s smothered in sweet and sour sauce or drenched in syrupy teriyaki glaze like the kind found at mall food courts. Assuming you have access to well-raised free-roaming birds that will yield flavorful meat, chicken remains fully deserving of your love.
Are there any food myths or mindsets out there that get on your nerves? Please share!