We read, but didn’t take very seriously, a recent piece at Slate condemning our high end food culture as horribly snobbish and elitist. Slate specializes in contrarian concern-trolling like this, and telling us that wanting carrots from actual farmers is worse than, say, 19th century robber barons with diamond-tipped canes beating orphans in the street is par for the course for them. But Whet Moser took it seriously enough at Chicago magazine to skewer it pretty thoroughly for one of its key assumptions: that one of the main features of our dining scene is mocking the food of poor people, as in the McDonald’s-imitating dessert that Moto serves (you could add the dead-on deconstructed Big Mac at Next Childhood, for that matter). Moser’s point is that the social group Slate assumes our fancy chefs are mocking is, well, actually themselves:
Homaro Cantu, whose McDonald’s cheeseburger dessert gets called out in the piece, was homeless for three years of his childhood, leading to an ongoing interest in hunger and waste that’s driven some of his culinary experiments.
In fact, unlike the somewhat lazy Slate piece, Moser finds— in the writings of a number of other writers about food— an underlying theme of exploration by many of our chefs that’s aimed at reconciling the high/low divide over food, not aggravating it. It’s one of the most thoughtful pieces about our food scene we’ve read lately. [Chicago]