November 19, 2019

"Good Taste" and Class Anxiety

“We are living in what appears to be an age of great culinary awakening. It is reflected everywhere: the aisles of grocery stores are stocked with organic, non-GMO, locally-grown, cage-free, plant-based options. On television, you can watch food-related programming every hour of every day.

Celebrity chefs have transcended the foodie sphere and become general household names, while high-profile food activists have become celebrities. Restaurants featuring cuisines from all over the world are nestled in suburban strip malls, your standard Safeway has three kinds of kale, and if you encounter a recipe that calls for an ingredient you can’t get — while book sales are declining generally, cookbook sales are up — well, that’s no problem, you just order it online.

And this seems good! We used to have worse taste, as a nation, but now, with the help of technology and shipping and immigration and tourism, we have refined our palates, and now our taste is good, and soon it will be even better. It is an appealing explanation for a shift, which began in the 1980s and continues to the present day. Who doesn’t like progress? Who doesn’t like three kinds of kale?”

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