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weinoo

Tired of the Alice Waters Backlash - Are You?

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The problem here is that the thread's title is no good. It's similar to that old chestnut that asks, "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" Yes or no, you're screwed and the conversation goes nowhere.

The real question is "why is there an Alice Waters backlash?" I'd guess that most people visiting this thread are aware of the issues and probably agree to some extent with a lot of what Alice Waters believes. What she says though is another story: I think she's just not a very good figurehead right now.

I would even say there is no backlash: that would assume that everybody's been on board with her and that they've suddenly turned on her. This is not true either. She's been the same: her restaurant is good, her cookbooks are good, her ideas are good, her understanding of the larger context of these issues--not so good--and probably never has been. There's no backlash, it's just that the problems with her as a media figure stand in stark relief right now.

The problem is not that everybody's marginalizing her--she marginalizes herself by seeming to have little understanding outside of the context of her small community, her kitchen, and her own backyard. If she wants to make an impact, she's got to think outside of that context and I don't think she can. That's my criticism of her--she should stick to her own backyard because she doesn't seem to be able to act in other peoples' sometimes.


nunc est bibendum...

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But Alice Waters doesn't come across as weighing anything. When she goes on TV and proclaims that she couldn't imagine having a microwave, that she doesn't go to supermarkets, that she cooks eggs in a spoon over an open fire...

Julia Child, in her Master Chef series, went to visit the late Jean-Louis Palladin...here's that show in a nutshell...

Jean-Louis Palladin ran his own restaurant in the Watergate Hotel for almost twenty years. In this episode, he prepares Foie Gras (duck liver) with Poached Apples, roasts a Duck Breast over an open fireplace, and, to accompany the duck, prepares Sauteed Porcini Mushrooms.

There are several things here...

First of all, it's a cumulative effect. Julia Child certainly wasn't saying that she couldn't imagine having a microwave, that she doesn't go to supermarket and all those things. If anything, she was incredibly sensitive to the limitations and considerations of everyday people.

Second, there is no suggestion whatsoever that this should be an everyday kind of cooking and a normal way that people should be engaging with food. Palladin is presented as a multiple Michelin-starred "master chef" who is demonstrating an interesting cooking technique for people who might be interested.

Third, this is not Julia Child's cooking technique and demonstration, it is Jean-Louis Palladin's cooking technique and demonstration that Julia Child is featuring on her show. This is no different than showing, for example, a family that pit roasts whole pigs in it's back yard. Again, there is no implication that "this is the sort of thing everyone should be doing."

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, featuring this sort of thing on her "master chefs" show doesn't convey the same flavor as Alice Waters' egg on a spoon, because in Waters' case it comes across as self-aggrandizing: "ooh, look at what a foodie I am cooking this egg on a spoon over an open fire... you should be more like me." Julia Child was never this way about herself, and this is why she is universally beloved. Alice Waters is this way about herself, and this is why she is vulnerable to these kinds of criticisms.


--

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I really don't know how much of the backlash (when it's substantive at all) is aimed Waters' actual policies or at caricatures of them.

Does she have any core mission statements or manifestos that can be linked to?

This is the sign that hangs at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley. Clearly it's simplified for children, but this is the philosophy she is teaching [Edit--or perhaps its not simplified, sounding as it does much like what Fat Guy quoted]:

gallery_22464_5065_7176.jpg


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I just watched the interview. Now, I am the first person to be irritated by almost anyone... but I thought Alice was totally cool, and that Leslie has some sort of problem. Something isn't right there.

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Well, of course everybody will find different things annoying or not annoying. I have a few acquaintances I thought would never get married, but there's someone for everyone. But a lot of people found Alice Waters's comments on 60 minutes annoying, and a lot of people find her annoying in general, and I have no trouble seeing why -- since I found her very annoying in that segment as well. I think specifically the things that rubbed people the wrong way, aside from her general demeanor and manner of speaking (which to me are annoying in their own right), were:

It was at the house that Stahl realized that Waters lives in a different world - for one, she doesn't have a microwave.

Asked how she lives without one, Waters replied, "I don’t know how you can sort of live with one."

Waters told Stahl she rarely goes into a regular supermarket. "I'm looking for food that's just been picked. And so, I know when I go the farmer's market that you know, they just brought it in that day."

"I have to say, it's just a luxury to be able to do that," Stahl remarked.

"In a sense it is a luxury," Waters agreed.

She brought Stahl over to one of her favorite local farmers, John Lagier, who uses only eco-friendly, or as Waters would say, "sustainable" methods. That day he was showing off his specialty grapes, Bronx seedless, which he was selling at $4 a pound.

There's the rub. A common complaint about organic food is that it's expensive.

"We make decisions everyday about what we're going to eat," Waters said. "And some people want to buy Nike shoes - two pairs, and other people want to eat Bronx grapes, and nourish themselves. I pay a little extra, but this is what I want to do."

Not horrible, but she does come across to me as out-of-touch, condescending, unrealistic, finger-wagging, etc. -- all the things that have been said here and in many other places.

I thought Anthony Bourdain, with whom I certainly don't agree on everything, really nailed it here:

I'll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We're all in the middle of a recession, like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I'm not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I'm a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits. I'm suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth.

http://dcist.com/2009/01/chewing_the_fat_a...ny_bourdain.php


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This has been a very cool thread with lots of interesting and throught provoking comments.

Alice Waters is a symptom, not the root cause of all this food angst.

1) We've all been saturated with information telling us what and how to eat for a long time and with increasing stridency. The pendulum has swung to extreme political correctness with regard to food and eating. Just as menu items go through menu fatigue, fatigue has set in with the political food agenda as it became increasingly politicized and, bit by bit, began swinging to the extreme. All pendulums must eventually right themselves and the food agenda is no different. It's most likely reached it's apex and is begining to swing the opposite direction, back to a more moderate point where a majority of people can feel comfortable making their own decisions about what and how to eat and from whom to buy. The extremes always raise the conscious awareness of the topic, but general acceptance takes a while as people digest things and figure out what they value and believe in and how to incoporate that into their life and lifestyle.

2) Alice Waters is a Baby Boomer. With the election of Barack Obama, for the first time in nearly 70 years, the 70+million Baby Boomers are no longer in the drivers seat and have become, for all practical purposes, irrelevant. The balance of power has shifted to the younger generations; that shift was palpable on election night (even my 90 y.o. monther recognized and felt it!). Boomers are suddenly finding themselves on the outside looking in and wondering what the h*ll happened. The famously "It's all about ME" Boomers are not going to go gently in that good night. There is nothing wrong with the ideas of concepts AW promotes, she's no longer the standard bearer, the most qualified for the position. How much more effective would the 60 Minutes interview have been in discussing the issues around food ( they are varied and interesting) had the person being interviewed have been someone in their 20s or 30s?

As the saying goes, time marches on, and it's made her (continued) delivery of the message no longer relevant. The 60 Minutes interview crystallized that. There is a fundamental change going on in the U.S. and in the world. We're being asked to alter and modify and in some cases make fundamental changes to the core beliefs and values that we hold both as a country and as individuals, whether we are consciously aware of that or not. The 60 Minute interview really highlighted the disconnect between the old belief structure and the emerging new one, which is why it's generated so much heated and passionate response. AW is an aging, and now irrelevant Boomer pushing a narrow and rigid agenda that doesn't quite fit with emerging new directions. It's no longer business as usual. Creativity and innovation in working through the current transitions is required, and that's the part that both AW and 60 Minutes missed.

(And for the record, I, too, am an aging and now irrelevant Boomer myself :smile: and I have no axe to grind with AW.)

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OK, ok, after reading this thread I decided to watch the 60 Minutes segment that precipitated this vigorous discussion. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/13/...in4863738.shtml

Obviously some people are bothered by Waters and/or Stahl, but frankly, I felt OK about both of them. Waters came across as charming, if inflexible in her principles, and Stahl was fair in assessing the pros and cons of Alice's message, and also Alice's personality.

Waters believes, and says flat out, that the way we're eating is making us sick. With that base for her ideas, I can understand why she is so zealous (some would say overzealous) in what she has to say.

Stahl rightfully points out that Waters--in her personal habits--lives in a different world than the rest of us. That portion of the show in Waters' kitchen was unfortunate. I perceive Waters was inviting Stahl into her home and giving her a treat (the epitome of Waters' food style, if you like), and people may be reading too much into all that business about microwaves, no supermarket food, and cooking eggs in your own kitchen fireplace. Those are Waters' choices and opinions. How much was she saying that everybody shd be like her and do as she does? Probably somewhat, by implication, but not finger-wagging as I see it.

As for that fantastic kitchen, Waters is one of the top restauranteurs in the world, whose life has revolved around food and cooking, and she's going to have a kitchen like that. So do other chefs and restauranteurs who have been successful! Give the woman a break! And cooking an egg over a wood fire might seem pretentious to some, but to me that would be a joyful and sensual experience. Remember, Waters was originally a Montessori teacher, and she has emphasized the joy of the senses in food (something that can occasionally be lost in her political message).

People do the best they can to make a better world, according to their desires and priorities. Two of my friends are locavores who have (unsuccessfully) tried to persuade me to do the same. I support a CSA--that's my thing. One of my friends, an administrative asst, has two teenage boys who, in her words, are eating her out of house and home! She tries to shop at farmers markets. Other people I know could care less about organic food. But they're raising their kids well and they're active in supporting the public schools. That sounds good to me.

I'm glad to have read this discussion on EGullet. People have made many good points. I don't think there's any absolute right or wrong here, as other people have said. Alice Waters, by words and actions, is presenting us with what she considers to be the ideal. We can agree or disagree, or we can simply say, That's a good idea, but not right now, thank you.

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One of the things that threw me about the 60 Minutes segment was this:

Waters has produced eight cookbooks, but she's more famous as the mother of a movement that preaches about fresh food grown in a way that's good for the environment. The movement, now called "slow food," is a healthy alternative to "fast food."

I had no idea Alice Waters was the mother of the slow food movement!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Eating locally has a nice sound but; it would be quite boring and likely not very healthful here in the Puget Sound area where I live. Yeah we have a bunch of really great seafood that much of the rest of the North Amerricans do not , that sums up most of it. I should point out that much of it comes from as far as southeast Alaska, around a thousand to twelve hundred miles north and a large portion of that by plane.

If I buy local flour, eastern Washington's wheat fields are about 200+miles from Seattle [that is a guess-most of you have seen the Windows screen saver of the Palouse area of Wa where much if not most of our local grain comes from], Lentils and beans from the same area. But that is soft wheat not the same as Montana and The Dakotas grown-hard wheat. I'm a poor baker at best but don't most bread bakers want the hard wheat?

In the summer, we get lots of pretty good produce from the fairly close areas of Yakima, WA and the wonderful Willamette valley of Oregon.

Come winter the pickings get real thin from locally.Except, our climate allows us to grow all the greens- Kale, Chard, Collards, so on- we want in our home flower beds-a plus for our rain soaked area.

In short, I think I don't want to go back to what a pioneer had to live thru the winters on.

I wish to thank all for the above writings/links. You have created a lot of reading do for me to wade thru to see what else I can learn about this worthy subject.


Robert

Seattle

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One of the things that threw me about the 60 Minutes segment was this:
Waters has produced eight cookbooks, but she's more famous as the mother of a movement that preaches about fresh food grown in a way that's good for the environment. The movement, now called "slow food," is a healthy alternative to "fast food."

I had no idea Alice Waters was the mother of the slow food movement!

Oh, STOP, will you?

Alice never claimed to have invented the Slow Food movement. That is just one part of the problem with the Leslie Stahl interview - she failed to make the distinction that Alice, while a proponant and leader, did not begin the movement.

All you have to do is google Slow Food San Francisco and follow a few links to find that it was the Slow Food Convivium that produced the Slow Food Nation event last fall:

"Slow Food Nation is a subsidiary non-profit of Slow Food USA and part of the international Slow Food movement. It was created to organize the first-ever American collaborative gathering to unite the growing sustainable food movement and introduce thousands of people to food that is good, clean and fair."

http://slowfoodnation.org/about-sfn/

http://slowfoodnation.org/faq/


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I really think anybody who is wondering about the impetus behind Alice Waters backlash should invest the 12 agonizing minutes in watching her 60 Minutes profile. Granted, the editing of TV segments is not under the control of the subject. But they hardly seem out to get her. The few tough questions they ask, they don't really drill down on. And despite that, to me Alice Waters comes across as cringe-inducing, out of touch and, yes, condescending. Am I the only one who finds her tremendously annoying based on this footage?

I heard Leslie Stahl saying "You've got to be kidding" in a voice over - not really objective. I saw kids who were excited about growing, cooking and eating vegetables.

What exactly was cringe-inducing? Her passion? Her idea that healthy food is a right, not a privilege? Horrors! Healthy food for all! Showing kids how to cook, rather than buying preservative laden packaged food - dreadful!

I just don't get the hate.


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I thought Anthony Bourdain, with whom I certainly don't agree on everything, really nailed it here:
I'll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We're all in the middle of a recession, like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I'm not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I'm a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits. I'm suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth.

That's a great quote coming from a guy who probably hasn't paid for a meal in a restaurant in years. He must worry a lot about the little people.

And if I have to pick between who annoys me more, Tony Bourdain and all his troubles as he travels the globe telling us we just have to taste the food in Penang and Chengdu or Alice Waters telling us our kids should really be eating better, well...

In today's NY Times, there's an op-ed piece entitled Selling Obesity at School. While it wasn't written by the estimable James McWilliams, it does make a point that:

take note of a study released this year in West Virginia showing that the budgetary costs of switching from sodas to healthy drinks like fruit juices, milk and water were negligible....

Over the last four decades, the obesity rates for adolescents have tripled. Unless there is decisive action, weight and inactivity-related disorders will afflict a steadily larger proportion of the work force and replace smoking as the leading cause of premature death.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Again, I don't think anyone is suggesting that Alice Waters doesn't have any good points (or that Bourdain isn't a bit of a douche in his own right). They're just explaining why some people don't like her.


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Again, I don't think anyone is suggesting that Alice Waters doesn't have any good points (or that Bourdain isn't a bit of a douche in his own right).  They're just explaining why some people don't like her.

that's fine, but expecting AW to change just to please her critics is a little unrealistic.

plus I prefer her just the way she is. :wink:

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This is pretty Bay Area specific, but I really have a hard time wrapping my head around "locally grown" food in the Bay Area. For anything grown in the Bay Area, there is a lot of time spent on congested freeways just to get to Farmers Markets in San Francisco, Berkeley or Oakland. Is food from 100-200 miles away still considered local?

AW's ideas are admirable, but not really reasonable for a lot of the public. Even if I did cut the cable TV, internet and cell phone, I still wouldn't have enough to eat the AW way.

I really do love good food, but not to the point where I'm going to cut off all other things in my life that I find enjoyable.


Cheryl

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FG, living in uptown Manhattan is a world away from Waters, so one wouldn't expect you to walk her walk.

I agree that she comes off as a strident "out-of-touch, condescending, unrealistic, finger-wagging" PITA, and she probably is; however that type of personality is not unusual for people who change the zeitgeist of a way of doing things. Feel free to disagree, but when I was a prep cook with Rick Bayless in Southern California in the early 1980's, she, along with Puck were the most influential chefs in the country. Word was that Puck was heavily influenced by Waters, as well.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Again, I don't think anyone is suggesting that Alice Waters doesn't have any good points (or that Bourdain isn't a bit of a douche in his own right).  They're just explaining why some people don't like her.

that's fine, but expecting AW to change just to please her critics is a little unrealistic.

plus I prefer her just the way she is. :wink:

And some of those critics are less than honest with their public or themselves. Like I said, touting a $26 hamburger, which isn't exactly food for the masses. And I'm wondering if Tony remembers this line, from the Les Halles cookbook:

You need to be a citizen of the world, or, at least, your local markets.

First, you need to find a butcher. This, sadly, is no small task in our increasingly homogenized, standardized, sanitized ubermarket-choked country.

And, of course, Saint Tony had this to say as well...

As painful as it might be, it's also a good idea to suck up a little at the overpirced "gourmet specialty shop."

With produce it is advisable to use what is good and fresh and prime locally, but if you must have Cavaillon melons from France, so be it.

And...

A final word on greenmarkets and the Slow Food movement. Whether you fully share the views of the Slow Food sustainable agriculture organics posse or not, it is well worth making their acquaintance.

Oh, Tony, how we used to trust thy word.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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And some of those critics are less than honest with their public or themselves.  Like I said, touting a $26 hamburger, which isn't exactly food for the masses.

Mitch, this is a completely bullcrap argument. No one is touting a $26 hamburger as "food for the masses." Alice Waters, on the other hand, is touting super-expensive organic greenmarket foodstuffs as "food for the masses."

You have to compare apples to apples. If you can find one single quote where Josh Ozersky says that schools should be serving and everyone should be eating $26 La Frieda Black Label burgers, then you've got an argument. Otherwise, this is just a strawman.

And I'm wondering if Tony remembers this line, from the Les Halles cookbook:
You need to be a citizen of the world, or, at least, your local markets.

First, you need to find a butcher. This, sadly, is no small task in our increasingly homogenized, standardized, sanitized ubermarket-choked country.

And, of course, Saint Tony had this to say as well...

As painful as it might be, it's also a good idea to suck up a little at the overpirced "gourmet specialty shop."

With produce it is advisable to use what is good and fresh and prime locally, but if you must have Cavaillon melons from France, so be it.

And...

A final word on greenmarkets and the Slow Food movement. Whether you fully share the views of the Slow Food sustainable agriculture organics posse or not, it is well worth making their acquaintance.

Oh, Tony, how we used to trust thy word.

I'll be the first person to say that Bourdain sycophancy and idolatry is annoying and stupid. But none of these things are presented as "save the world" arguments, nor are they presented with the flavor of "everyone would be a better person if they were more like me." And the bottom line is that Alice Waters does come across that way. The Bourdain quotes are simply hints about how to get better quality food. I don't sense any moralizing there.


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Again, I don't think anyone is suggesting that Alice Waters doesn't have any good points (or that Bourdain isn't a bit of a douche in his own right).  They're just explaining why some people don't like her.

that's fine, but expecting AW to change just to please her critics is a little unrealistic.

plus I prefer her just the way she is. :wink:

And some of those critics are less than honest with their public or themselves. Like I said, touting a $26 hamburger, which isn't exactly food for the masses. And I'm wondering if Tony remembers this line, from the Les Halles cookbook:

You need to be a citizen of the world, or, at least, your local markets.

First, you need to find a butcher. This, sadly, is no small task in our increasingly homogenized, standardized, sanitized ubermarket-choked country.

And, of course, Saint Tony had this to say as well...

As painful as it might be, it's also a good idea to suck up a little at the overpirced "gourmet specialty shop."

With produce it is advisable to use what is good and fresh and prime locally, but if you must have Cavaillon melons from France, so be it.

And...

A final word on greenmarkets and the Slow Food movement. Whether you fully share the views of the Slow Food sustainable agriculture organics posse or not, it is well worth making their acquaintance.

Oh, Tony, how we used to trust thy word.

Sooooo...Bourdain, like many others, has complicated views. It's pretty easy to find somebody contradicting themselves, especially when you have access to their printed word over the course of a couple of years. The fact of the matter is that people's opinions are complicated and may seem/be contradictory sometimes. It's a fantasy to think that a person would have one consistent line of thought over the course of a couple of years or even days. It just doesn't work that way: things are complicated, people's views evolve.

This doesn't give you license to lord their contradictions over them though as if to nullify the things they say. Perhaps we should comb over the archives and see how utterly consistent we all are: then we can decide who gets to post.

I freely grant that AW has complex views. The problem is she has no sense of the larger context of what she's saying. Is she a visionary? Perhaps. But visionaries who can't see what's going on around them aren't that effective and can seem out of touch. I'll repeat this one more time: nobody is saying that AW's goals are not worthy. To say that simply because we criticize or are annoyed by her that we therefore cannot share her views at all is just too black and white a way of thinking. I eat local food for a lot of reasons and think that educating people about nutrition is vitally important. Alice Waters is, however, not. If you need her as a figure, then fine. But don't imply that unless I rally behind her, I don't care about the environment, natural and social, and equate me to some hack writer of a rag pumping out sensationalist articles to make a buck. That's a cheap trick and doesn't really get us anywhere.

Like I said: there's no backlash as far as I'm concerned. AW is important as a restaurateur and in her community. Beyond that, I see no reason to think she's all that significant and this thread is confirming that.


nunc est bibendum...

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Like I said: there's no backlash as far as I'm concerned. AW is important as a restaurateur and in her community. Beyond that, I see no reason to think she's all that significant and this thread is confirming that.

Count me as one who is *NOT* confirming that. You don't have to like her or even agree with her to acknowledge that she has played a significant role in the movement. To say otherwise is preposterous. Kind of like most of the posts on this thread.

I really do love good food, but not to the point where I'm going to cut off all other things in my life that I find enjoyable.

HUH? Who is asking you to?

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I really do love good food, but not to the point where I'm going to cut off all other things in my life that I find enjoyable.

HUH? Who is asking you to?

This would be, e.g., the implication that one should forego $100 shoes in favor of $100 worth of organic food from the farmer's market.


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I really do love good food, but not to the point where I'm going to cut off all other things in my life that I find enjoyable.

HUH? Who is asking you to?

This would be, e.g., the implication that one should forego $100 shoes in favor of $100 worth of organic food from the farmer's market.

I don't tell other people how to spend their money and I don't hear AW doing that either (let alone "cut off all other things in [one's] life"). People should have information and make their own informed choices. If they did, our country would eat a hell of lot differently. (BTW, I can't wait for the swine flu to be definitively tied to CAFOs. Are we going to make this a priority, ever?)

And you're right - Josh Ozersky doesn't say that $26 hamburgers should be served for school lunch. I don't hear him say much on important issues or anything remotely healthy, period. I'm glad someone is bringing these issues to people's attention.

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And you're right - Josh Ozersky doesn't say that $26 hamburgers should be served for school lunch.  I don't hear him say much on important issues or anything remotely healthy, period.  I'm glad someone is bringing these issues to people's attention.

But he does say, in his "review" of Minetta Tavern:

The meal wasn’t cheap — $450 without wine! Vey is mere! — but I’ve seldom felt so at peace with paying a big check. Yes, this is The Waverly Inn with better food. But it’s really so much more than that, a perfect consummation of the old-school movement that is the presiding urge of the moment in the restaurant business. It’s the new Stork Club, the new 21. But so what? Go for the scene. But stay for the steak.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Sooooo...Bourdain, like many others, has complicated views. It's pretty easy to find somebody contradicting themselves, especially when you have access to their printed word over the course of a couple of years.

Complicated views I have no problem with. Totally contradicting your own printed word because it might make some headlines, or because you're playing the bad boy, I do.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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And you're right - Josh Ozersky doesn't say that $26 hamburgers should be served for school lunch.  I don't hear him say much on important issues or anything remotely healthy, period.  I'm glad someone is bringing these issues to people's attention.

But he does say, in his "review" of Minetta Tavern:

The meal wasn’t cheap — $450 without wine! Vey is mere! — but I’ve seldom felt so at peace with paying a big check. Yes, this is The Waverly Inn with better food. But it’s really so much more than that, a perfect consummation of the old-school movement that is the presiding urge of the moment in the restaurant business. It’s the new Stork Club, the new 21. But so what? Go for the scene. But stay for the steak.

Come on, Mitch. Cherry-picking decontextualized tidbits doesn't help your argument. We all know he's not saying "everyone should be spending $450 on dinner."

Sooooo...Bourdain, like many others, has complicated views. It's pretty easy to find somebody contradicting themselves, especially when you have access to their printed word over the course of a couple of years.

Complicated views I have no problem with. Totally contradicting your own printed word because it might make some headlines, or because you're playing the bad boy, I do.

I'm not going to say that I don't think Bourdain has it in him to be hypocritical for effect. But I'd sure like to see you post some side-by-side statements by Bourdain that "totally contradict his own printed word."

Here's the complete context what he said in the DCist interview:

The inauguration is tomorrow. Do you have any advice for our soon-to-be president?

I would not presume to advise him on anything. By virtue of being elected, he has made my life as a traveler much much easier. I've felt the impact abroad already. I get congratulated by complete strangers walking up to me in Sri Lanka and Vietnam. It's been a tough eight years to be a traveling American. I don't think people hated Americans, but there was a look that people gave you. Just by virtue of being an American you were like some well-intentioned, but rabid golden retriever. A look of curiosity, disbelief and horror. And this was in England and Australia. I'm particularly proud and happy about our new president. There will be a tangible difference in the way Americans are treated abroad. It just feels better. Above and beyond all the policy.

Any advice about food?

I'll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We're all in the middle of a recession, like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I'm not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I'm a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits. I'm suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth. I'm a little reluctant to admit that maybe Americans are too stupid to figure out that the food we're eating is killing us. But I don't know if it's time to send out special squads to close all the McDonald's. My libertarian side is at odds with my revulsion at what we as a country have done to ourselves physically with what we've chosen to eat and our fast food culture. I'm really divided on that issue. It'd be great if he [Obama] served better food at the White House than what I suspect the Bushies were serving. It's gotta be better than Nixon. He liked starting up a roaring fire, turning up the air conditioning, and eating a bowl of cottage cheese with ketchup. Anything above that is a good thing. He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is.

Nothing there appears to contradict any of the things you've posted. And I think it sums up nicely what annoys a lot of people about Alice Waters.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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