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Adam Balic

Is an interest in food in the UK, "elitist"?

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After the egullet meal in London I me Wilfrid at the Borough (sp?) Market. While there I noticed that we were both greedily eyeing a magnificent pork pie. I knew about the pork pies maker and the pigs that went into it, I was interested in eating the pork pie as an expeirence of all that knowledge. Now, I wonder, is this level of interest in food elitist? Much about food and drink is certainly elitist, however is taking an interest in food which is avalible on most budgets elitist in the UK simply because in greneral people in the UK have a very shallow interest in food?

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Adam -- Leaving aside the question of whether UK people's general level of interest in food has been or is low or high in absolute terms, would you view that level as having increased in the past decade or so (at least in larger cities)?

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That is a very good question and will no doubt inspire a huge amount of debate

My two penn'oth

In the UK knowledge of food, while improved dramatically in the last twenty years is still light years behind our european neighbours. We are much more on a par with the US in that respect

People here are far more removed from the "means of production" to use a political phrase and treat food and therefore food sources as a means to an end. Quality for years meant less than price and still does

In France, I am sure and in Spain, I am certain, foodstuffs and stores are advertised on the basis of quality as much as price. In the UK and US it is almost solely on price

This is changing and there a core of people that are taking a real interest in not just what they put in their mouth but the provenance of the same.

We are still miles behind. Hell,even in Borough they don't like you touching the prodce before you buy. In Spain someone would just walk away if they could not verify the quality for themsleves.

There are levels at which things become ridiculous. Some of the conversations we have on egullet would be seen ( probably rightly ) as elitist by others but this is a web site on a specific subject and the same would be true on a discussion board about dance music, football, or Boxing ( I know that is true. I re read some of my posts on secondsout.com and shudder )

Anyway, a pork pie is not elitist. it is a basic food group. Was it a handraised lard based pie? Mmm. lard

S

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I think Lard isn't elitist. But an interest in it would be so regarded.

(Plus I always get confused between elitist and 'elitist' as a term of abuse.)


Wilma squawks no more

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Adam -- Leaving aside the question of whether UK people's general level of interest in food has been or is low or high in absolute terms, would you view that level as having increased in the past decade or so (at least in larger cities)?

Difficult to comment on as I haven't been here for that long. However, from what I have read and been told then yes it has.

However, recently reading a load of books on British and Scottish food history, I noticed that somebody of my wage level eats on par with an artisan class or lower middle class person in the 19th. C. eg. Rarely can afford meat regularly except in the forms of bacon, mince or sausage. My wage is almost exactly the average wage for a male in the UK, if this is the average condidtion then I find it difficult to see how people can afford to develope an in-depth knowledge of food. Therefore, any in-depth interest or knowledge is elitist because it is unavalible to the majority of people.

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Adam -- Leaving aside the question of whether UK people's general level of interest in food has been or is low or high in absolute terms, would you view that level as having increased in the past decade or so (at least in larger cities)?

Difficult to comment on as I haven't been here for that long. However, from what I have read and been told then yes it has.

However, recently reading a load of books on British and Scottish food history, I noticed that somebody of my wage level eats on par with an artisan class or lower middle class person in the 19th. C. eg. Rarely can afford meat regularly except in the forms of bacon, mince or sausage. My wage is almost exactly the average wage for a male in the UK, if this is the average condidtion then I find it difficult to see how people can afford to develope an in-depth knowledge of food. Therefore, any in-depth interest or knowledge is elitist because it is unavalible to the majority of people.

I don't think it is just a case of wage, Adam, but more how one chooses to spend it

I know people who plead poverty constantly, never by a pint, but always seem to have the latest CD, Clothes etc

I remember going out with a girl who came from a family she claimed to be "poor" she invited me back for supper and was worried because for some reason she had me down as posh and thought that I would be snobbish about the whole thing. When I got to their, perfectly respectable house, I was greeted by the sight of a groaning table of incredible food, including truffles, foie, great wines etc etc. The father though not well off budgeted so he could go to France and buy things that he loved ( from trying things when he was batman to a Major general in the Army ) Other families in a similar income bracket could have spent their money of Cable TV etc etc. They prefered to spend it on food.

We have people who are on Egullet who are in different income groups, but there are many who spend far more than I do on eating out as it is their great passion. I have to balance my expenditure between eating out and going to the fights.

Gavin - If I was to look at lard on its own and be overly enthused, that might well be elitist and indeed illegal. In a pork pie ( well one of any note ) it is essential.

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A meta-topic of sorts: Does it matter whether or not it's elitist? It's clearly the right thing to do, so go ahead and do it regardless of its... er... elitistness.

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A meta-topic of sorts:  Does it matter whether or not it's elitist?  It's clearly the right thing to do, so go ahead and do it regardless of its... er... elitistness.

There is a level were the 'if it feels good do it' espect is fine. But in in terms of food discussion on this site if we talk about 'British food' or 'British eating habits' how reflective are the views on this site of those concepts in general.

If an interest in food represents a tiny minority of the majority of the population, then is it particularly valid to talk about say 'British dining' experiences, when these experiences here expressed are so un-representative of the majority of peoples expectations of British dining? It would be eually valid to state that Kimchi was a 'typical British dish', as it is eaten in Britian by minority.

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If an interest in food represents a tiny minority of the majority of the population, then is it particularly valid to talk about say 'British dining' experiences, when these experiences here expressed are so un-representative of the majority of peoples expectations of British dining?

i think this comment is representative of most cultures, with few exceptions.

on to your original question, elitism is perceived, much more than it is based on a measurable scale. the level of general interest/knowledge of food within a defined group should not influence the degree to which an idividual is "perceived" to be elitist.

che

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I know people who plead poverty constantly, never by a pint, but always seem to have the latest CD, Clothes etc

.

oohh, don't get me started on that...

Among my friends (twenty something DINKIES) I am regarded as an excellent cook, which I am not by any stretch of the imagination, but because I use the best ingredients I can afford e.g. organic chicken even if cooking for 10 - Neals Yard cheese, rare-breed meat - surprise, surprise everything I cook tastes better than if it was made with pale, flabby chicken or plastic cheese. I don’t mind buying a piece of meat for £40 because food is very important to me, it just isn’t for Joe Bloggs. My friends just don’t place importance on traceability of meat, wild salmon over farmed etc. I don’t know if this is elitist though, as most of my friends could certainly afford it (average incomes for London) but would rather own 100 DVD’s and would rather eat 5 Melton Mowbray’s than just one delicious Mrs Kings.

I suppose what is elitist is for us on Egullet to presume that our interest in food is the norm or more accurately to be disappointed when others don’t share our passion for eating or care what the top 50 restaurants are.

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Among my friends (twenty something DINKIES) I am regarded as an excellent cook, which I am not by any stretch of the imagination, but because I use the best ingredients I can afford e.g. organic chicken even if cooking for 10 - Neals Yard cheese, rare-breed meat - surprise, surprise everything I cook tastes better than if it was made with pale, flabby chicken or plastic cheese.  I don’t mind buying a piece of meat for £40 because food is very important to me, it just isn’t for Joe Bloggs. My friends just don’t place importance on traceability of meat, wild salmon over farmed etc.    I don’t know if this is elitist though, as most of my friends could certainly afford it (average incomes for London) but would rather own 100 DVD’s and would rather eat 5 Melton Mowbray’s than just one delicious Mrs Kings.

I suppose what is elitist is for us on Egullet to presume that our interest in food is the norm or more accurately to be disappointed when others don’t share our passion for eating or care what the top 50 restaurants are.

If you lived in Italy, you would probably not question yourself as the cost of good raw materials is not absurd...thus affodable to most anyone, regardless of income.

You can make the same analogy with any material purchase - like the gentleman who owns a porsche but lives in a shack - each individual spends their money on what provides them the greatest gratification posssible. In the end it probably comes down to culture.

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Is an interest in food in the UK, "elitist"?

Not inherently. But's certainly viewed as eccentric. :hmmm:

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Is an interest in food in the UK, "elitist"?

Not inherently. But's certainly viewed as eccentric.  :hmmm:

An interest (passion?) in/for food remains a minority interest in this country

Not sure whether than says if its elitist or not

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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An interest (passion?) in/for food remains a minority interest in this country

Not sure whether than says if its elitist or not

J

If that minority is aware that it's interests in food represents the "better end" of the spectrum in food and drink, then what else is it?

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My friends just don’t place importance on traceability of meat, wild salmon over farmed etc.

I agree and that's why food is so good in Italy, simply put quality and freshnes does not come into it because it's ALL quality and fresh - nothing less would do.

Yes, I've been accused of being an elitist - on this site would you believe - because I love Italian food as cooked in Italy which is very difficult to get in the UK. Elitist? No, just someone who knows what they like, is all.

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I think you’re using the word ‘elitist’ rather loosely. Elitism is the belief that the elite should lead. Thus if Balic believes that his knowledge of food allows him to dictate the diet of the non-food obsessed, he is an elitist. But I don’t think anyone believes that. You are a bunch of snobs, though.

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And what does that make the person who finds joy in promoting food to the non-obsessed?

An evangelist.

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Whether it is elitist or not depends upon your point of view.

Certainly an interest in food is a minority, although growing, interest in the UK. And probably is seen as 'elitist' by those who do not share that interest. That is simply a British characteristic - a kind of inverse snobbery.

Amongst those who see themselves as interested in food, I would consider some to be elitist - for example those who cannot countenance the fact that food from beyond the boundaries of Europe can be taken seriously. But I see that as a cultural thing, not a food thing.

v

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I have so much to say on this topic, but it will have to wait until I get to the UK tomorrow  :wink:

You fly in as i fly out...strange :laugh:

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