The Atlantic’s resident literary hater, B.R. Myers, sets his sights on foodies in the March issue. Naturally, it’s a provocative piece. On the one hand, it’s incredibly harsh and Myers’ j’accuse–“mindless, sweating gluttony”–will make any reader of The Atlantic blush with guilt. On the other, foodies absolutely should be skewered. The “movement’s” loftier aspirations–Is it local? Is it humane? Is it sustainable?–don’t hold up under close scrutiny, which it’s more deserving of now that its leaders are sticking a toe into politics and using these talking points to justify what the food obsessives have always been into. Namely, eating as much gorgeous, delicious, and exclusive food as possible.
And, sure, the things that food writers, and increasingly, chefs write about their craft can be cringe-worthy: the prissiness of the details, the solemnity of the process, the self-righteousness that any devotee carries with him. But how is that different from any other field of professionals? Fashion kings and queens having secret powwows to decide what colors they will make us wear; academics penning mind-numbingly boring “definitive” articles; politicians rewriting their personal histories; Wall Streeters smugly in the know. There is self-indulgence in every inner circle, but that passion in the center, fanning out, is unavoidable, and in many cases absolutely necessary for the greater good (thanks, academics!). And as much as foodies can be hard to take–precisely how I know I’m not one–they certainly aren’t the worst of the worst (thanks, masters of the universe!).