Pittsburgh is fast becoming a culinary mecca. Within the last ten years, we have seen an incredible rise of talent in the chefs, kitchen staff, and management of our restaurants and caterers. We are not alone. A positive change has swept America and exciting dining experiences are no longer the province of New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. I applaud our resolve to eat more locally-sourced products.
With every great movement, alas, come those that must effect their enthusiasm in shows of public display—not for the benefit of education, but to exalt their palate, their refinement, and their superiority to the dull-tongued meatheads eating next to them.
Many people take pictures of their food to the delight of themselves and their friends. No problem. Many people post their dining experience bite by bite. Good for them. I have nothing against foodies. It’s the Foodie Snob that truly annoys me.
SNOBBERY in any fashion is to be loathed. Why can some people only feel better about themselves if they regard everyone else as less skilled, less talented, less refined, less classy, less smart, less, less, less? Stand on the shoulders of giants, if you will, but be happy that anyone, anywhere can contribute in their own meaningful way.
I was enjoying an excellent meal in a fine restaurant when a young couple oohed and ahhed over each dish placed before them. Okay, enjoy. He made the perfect forkful for himself and the ecstasy of his tasting made me think he’d tapped into an infinite loop of pleasure a la Brainstorm. He repeated the exercise to feed his partner. Fine, go at it. Then they examined other diners enjoying their meals in their own, normal way—in other words, without examining each bite in the best light for color distribution, portion control, balance of squish to crunch, and wit of presentation.
Unable to comprehend this behavior, they LAUGHED at those inferior persons who ploughed through their meal in the blissful ignorance of an unrefined palate. To find mirth in a perceived failing of another is reprehensible. When that perception is blatantly false, it’s ridiculous.
Have we learned no lessons from our vacations in Paris? At least in the more touristy restaurants, Parisian contempt for American eating habits is legendary and has strained Franco-American relations since Chef Boyardee donned his hat. Why would the speed at which I consume my food imply an inverse relationship to my enjoyment? Throughout history, a guest eating quickly implied success for the host. Picking at your food was bad manners. And who can argue that a loud, extended belch isn’t satisfying for the entire dinner party?
Unfortunately, such snobbery is not the sole purview of the patrons. Wait staff in trendy restaurants have a bad habit of accounting for every INGREDIENT in each dish brought to the table. For some, the exposition is an interesting foray into the expert process of the chef during this mandatory cooling period of their food—yikes, it can take ten minutes for a large table.
Sure, I don’t mind helpful wait staff exploring the intricacies on my plate when I have a question. The vast majority of those in the restaurant service industry leave us pleased, full, and satisfied. So it’s a matter of the chef’s liturgy that needs curtailing, without fault to those delivering the sermons.
It has never been a better time to be a foodie—or just a restaurant patron—and enjoy a meal out in Pittsburgh. But let’s lose the personal judgements against our fellow diners and enjoy the brave, new dining experiences on the Three Rivers.
Stay friendly and healthy.