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Jonathan Day

Are we likely to go the post-modernist way...

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In the education of succeeding generations of children, they have indeed become the driving force. TV advertisers have taken over the modus operandi of the Jesuits: "Give me a child until the age of six . . ."

OK. I will keep it in mind for our 11 months old but one feels powerless...

Are you speaking of your own vantage point or, through some curiously acquired inside information, of mine?

Yours. I just clicked on your link and read some of your exquisite essays which also give clues about your background. I also went to Berkeley so momentarily I felt some empathy.

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is there really that much of a split between postmodern cuisine and that which is considered to be classicist? i find three of vmilor's defining characteristics of a postmodernist cuisine to be interesting, but not representative of reality. firstly, no cuisine is purely ahistorical, at least that i'm aware of, unless one is referring to (maybe) artificial flavor techniques that were invented in laboratories in the last fifty years. the avant garde chefs of the world--the blumenthals, the adrias, the liebrandts, et al.--are not completely reinventing the wheel at all, except maybe reconnecting the spokes in funny fashion and changing the tire tread. secondly, that such a cuisine should be "denatured" and without "seasonal variation," which is true of many chefs working today (down to people like vongerichten, or the guy "grilling" chicken at applebee's) is most true of the sector of the food industry that is also the most corporate (be it chain restaurants, or prepackaged food) and somehow the most reactionary (which is not necessarily the same as classicist). thirdly, the "theatrical" nature of food is nothing new, and has been replayed by generations for thousands of years (satyricon, anyone?). if we were to combine these three criteria--the ahistorical, the denatured, the histrionic--i think we'd be left with what is the biggest, most profitable, and most innately conservative portion of food production in the world: mcdonald's, kraft, you name it.

as a side note, for those seeking parallels between postmodern cuisine and other postmodern/poststructuralist endeavors, i think there are few comparisons to be found from the postmodernism of literature and a lot of the social sciences. i find that what people in this forum are referring to as postmodern within food most resembles the postmodernism of painting and architecture (i.e., not all PoMo's are same; collect them today!).



"Get yourself in trouble."

--Chuck Close

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Ballast Regime,

You are making thought provoking points. When the original distinction was drawn up between PM and ren.(better call neo-classic as LML has suggested) this was formulated against a background of HAUTE CUISINE. But given the 3 criteria by which I attempted to operationalize the concept, your posting does point out at the limits of operationalization and, furthermore, it suggests an interesting extension of the concept. In a way I would argue that Mc Donald is very historical, i.e. mass marketization and the spread of franchising are all singularly time bound phemomena ,spreading "rationalization" in the Weberian sense to a new domain (George Ritzer: The McDonaldization of Society); and, transforming work relations,restructuring supply chains for the food industry and, threatening the existence of independent farmers(Eric Schlosser: Fast Food Nation).

Methodologically, I am a believer in categorization/classification via formulating heuristic binary oppositions. Upon closer scrutiny these classifications may seem wanting. Some people don't believe in classifications at all; others go even further to say that these are silly constructs and they do mask rather than reveal differences in the creation of talented chefs. I respect these views. On the other hand I think of chefs as part artisans, part artists so esp. the former quality lends itself well to categorization. Personally, I had the privilege of dining in many so called HC landmarks several times and, while trying to make sense of different styles and sensibilities I noticed a meaningful divide about the chefs(which they themselves acknowledged and there really are different networks among them) and tried to bring it to the public attention. No one chef, even Adria can be said to squarely fit in one category(esp. the best of the PM chefs are well schooled in classical techniques and are very proud of their regional roots), but these categories somehow have explanatory power in that comparing some of the 2 best chefs from different traditions--say Pacaud and Adria-makes little sense. On the other hand, I am not hiding that I have personal preferences and I am worried about the fact that the center of gravity had been shifting in favor of an international, de-natured cuisine in the world of fine eating. I do not want to see the McDonaldization of Haute Cuisine.

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