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Old 05-14-2013, 10:36 AM
 
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Read this earlier on Slate and found it pretty interesting

Against foodies: Alison Pearlman’s Smart Casual reviewed. - Slate Magazine

Here's an excerpt:

Quote:
Foodie culture demands a similar self-serving fantasy when it comes to chefs’ combinations of world cuisines—what used to be known as “fusion” food, before that term lost its cachet. Pearlman observes that “comfort food,” a term that entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1997, has gradually grown to absorb all manner of world cuisines—she points to cookbook titles like Hip Asian Comfort Food and Italian Comfort Food. Pearlman argues that taking “a metacultural position, embracing cultural pluralism while also advocating the search for common ground,” is in itself an expression of one’s progressivism—“a badge of urban-elite status.” She refrains from describing this phenomenon in a less flattering but perhaps more accurate term: cultural appropriation. The pattern she describes is one in which privileged, mostly white people elide and hijack cultural differences in order to soothe their own anxieties about social change. Comfort food, indeed.

Pearlman brings up comfort food by means of discussing two simultaneous yet polarized trends in haute cuisine: that of transforming commoditized fast food into upscale fare and that of glorifying simple, traditional preparations. As she breezed through related concepts—including modernist cuisine’s winking redefinitions of familiar food items, and menus that painstakingly catalog where each ingredient comes from—I wished she would take a step back and define her argument in more detail. It is this section of Smart Casual that feels the most rushed and disjointed, but along the way Pearlman hints at the ultimate irony of the sea change in fine dining in America over the past half-century: While gourmet food appears to be undergoing a process of democratization, it is in fact becoming more exclusive than ever.
Along with that, there is this book:

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies: Tyler Cowen: Amazon.com: Books

While neither of those directly address gentrification, they do talk about a phenomenon that occurs as a result: high end restaurants whose main appeal is only being high end. This is more so in the article. While the book talks about how to seek out good places to eat. It reminds me of a time I traveled to another city with some people and one of them sought out restaurants that were high end in the gentrified areas while ignoring food carts and other less fancy restaurants on the way. Needless to say it was expensive and drew a certain crowd. On here, I was once looking through a picture thread on the Ohio forums and saw someone do a photo walk through an older neighborhood and he happened to come across a local Caribbean restaurant and mentioned how he was able to buy a good meal that was filling for a only a few dollars.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
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I get what you're saying. A lot of the stuff that tends to open up in gentrifying neighborhoods is hoity toity and will often have you seeking out a Big Montana sandwich after you're done. Those places are cool if you're just looking for something new, a nice ambience, and if you're not really that hungry in the first place.

Part of the problem, I think, is that the rent is just too damn high. When you're paying $9,000 per month in rent, it might not be feasible to sell $1 pizza slices. So the high rents may lock restauranteurs into adopting a certain type of business model.

On the other hand, I agree with you that some restaurants are more into running a restaurant than serving quality food. And some people are A-Okay with that.
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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Fine dining is possible, but you need to:
1. Be prepared to spend a lot of money.
2. Spend that money developing a discerning palate and hunting for good food at the same time (not an easy proposition).
3. Be prepared to be brutally honest with yourself and others when you've just wasted $200 on a sub-standard meal.

Cheap food can be good food, but it can't be haute cuisine. That is a rare animal really not worth pursuing.

Myself, I've lucked into a handful of fair-to-good fine dining establishments when I was dumb enough to spend money and time looking, and I (mostly) refuse to look any more. The first thing I now check at the door is the price on the menu. If it's too high, or not marked, away I go. Unfortunately, my list only gets shorter as these places I know switch chefs, change ingredients, raise prices, or just have a bad night. I don't forgive spending a lot of mony on inadequate cuisine, not even once.

And, to the OP's point, yes, most high-end resturants aren't worth a good g--da-n. Not that you'll find anyone inside who will cop to that. Oh, the fare is usually passable, sometimes even good, but certainly not 10X better than the dross served up at more unassuming places, though the cost is an order of magnitute higher.

Which means it's pretty much street food, dollar pizza/menu, or free food at catered events I've crashed, for me these days.

A better investment is to spend your "foodie" budget on ingredients, equipment, and learning how to prepare decent cuisine, yourself. You might not reach the level of master chef, but you'll do at least as well as 80% of the haute cuisine places out there, and you're not missing much by failing to discover those 20% or really excellent places.

After all, this stuff all eventually ends up in the toilet anyway.

Last edited by sponger42; 05-14-2013 at 11:01 AM.. Reason: lysdexic
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Fine dining is possible, but you need to:
1. Be prepared to spend a lot of money.
2. Spend that money developing a discerning palate and hunting for good food at the same time (not an easy proposition).
3. Be prepared to be brutally honest with yourself and others when you've just wasted $200 on a sub-standard meal.

Cheap food can be good food, but it can't be haute cuisine. That is a rare animal really not worth pursuing.

Myself, I've lucked into a handful of fair-to-good fine dining establishments when I was dumb enough to spend money and time looking, and I (mostly) refuse to look any more. The first thing I now check at the door is the price on the menu. If it's too high, or not marked, away I go. Unfortunately, my list only gets shorter as these places I know switch chefs, change ingredients, raise prices, or just have a bad night. I don't forgive spending a lot of mony on inadequate cuisine, not even once.

And, to the OP's point, yes, most high-end resturants aren't worth a good g--da-n. Not that you'll find anyone inside who will cop to that. Oh, the fare is usually passable, sometimes even good, but certainly not 10X better than the dross served up at more unassuming places, though the cost is an order of magnitute higher.

Which means it's pretty much street food, dollar pizza/menu, or free food at catered events I've crashed, for me these days.

A better investment is to spend your "foodie" budget on ingredients, equipment, and learning how to prepare decent cuisine, yourself. You might not reach the level of master chef, but you'll do at least as well as 80% of the haute cuisine places out there, and you're not missing much by failing to discover those 20% or really excellent places.

After all, this stuff all eventually ends up in the toilet anyway.
Good post. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. But I'll add that you don't necessarily have to go to a 4-Star restaurant to spend an unjustified sum of money on food. There are a lot of places serving $4 cups of coffee. $7 turkey apple brie sandwiches. $8 smoothies. $4 cupcakes. And the lines of people who are willing to spend ridiculous sums of money on these very basic items seems to be growing longer by the day.

Once you start talking kale, cilantro, hummus and "splashes" of this and that, you've lost me for the most part. I had a friend who once tried to serve that garbage up during a July 4th BBQ. We promptly made our way to the market, came back with multiple bags of charcoal, and grilled up some ribs, shish kabobs, burgers and chicken. Sometimes enough is enough.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:34 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,988 posts, read 41,967,271 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Part of the problem, I think, is that the rent is just too damn high. When you're paying $9,000 per month in rent, it might not be feasible to sell $1 pizza slices. So the high rents may lock restauranteurs into adopting a certain type of business model.
Well then, how do you explain the $1 pizza slices near Times Square? Volume and cheap labor.

As for elite eateries, I noticed rich neighborhood (such as Park Slope) have restaurants with overpriced Mexican food. And there, a few miles away in Sunset Park, were cheaper authentic Mexican restaurants made by and for Mexicans. The yuppie restaurant looks hip with well done decor. Paying for the vibe and the privelege of eating with other well-off people?
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Philaburbia
32,377 posts, read 59,836,421 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Once you start talking kale, cilantro, hummus and "splashes" of this and that, you've lost me for the most part.
If the title of the dish is longer than the Declaration of Independence .... run! LOL
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,111,636 times
Reputation: 3982
Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Fine dining is possible, but you need to:
1. Be prepared to spend a lot of money.
2. Spend that money developing a discerning palate and hunting for good food at the same time (not an easy proposition).
3. Be prepared to be brutally honest with yourself and others when you've just wasted $200 on a sub-standard meal.

Cheap food can be good food, but it can't be haute cuisine. That is a rare animal really not worth pursuing.

Myself, I've lucked into a handful of fair-to-good fine dining establishments when I was dumb enough to spend money and time looking, and I (mostly) refuse to look any more. The first thing I now check at the door is the price on the menu. If it's too high, or not marked, away I go. Unfortunately, my list only gets shorter as these places I know switch chefs, change ingredients, raise prices, or just have a bad night. I don't forgive spending a lot of mony on inadequate cuisine, not even once.

And, to the OP's point, yes, most high-end resturants aren't worth a good g--da-n. Not that you'll find anyone inside who will cop to that. Oh, the fare is usually passable, sometimes even good, but certainly not 10X better than the dross served up at more unassuming places, though the cost is an order of magnitute higher.

Which means it's pretty much street food, dollar pizza/menu, or free food at catered events I've crashed, for me these days.

A better investment is to spend your "foodie" budget on ingredients, equipment, and learning how to prepare decent cuisine, yourself. You might not reach the level of master chef, but you'll do at least as well as 80% of the haute cuisine places out there, and you're not missing much by failing to discover those 20% or really excellent places.

After all, this stuff all eventually ends up in the toilet anyway.
The sentence in bold is so true in Los Angeles. Many of the best places to get a bite are tucked away in strip malls and have bare-bones aesthetics, maybe even tacky aesthetics.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
The sentence in bold is so true in Los Angeles. Many of the best places to get a bite are tucked away in strip malls and have bare-bones aesthetics, maybe even tacky aesthetics.
This is probably true everywhere.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,111,636 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
This is probably true everywhere.
Probably, but Los Angeles is particularly known for having high-end restaurants that focus more on the concept than the food.
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Old 05-14-2013, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,242,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Well then, how do you explain the $1 pizza slices near Times Square? Volume and cheap labor.
Yes, it's easy to make money when you have the foot traffic of Times Square. Remind me again how many neighborhoods in America have the foot traffic of Times Square.

The places that often have the most reasonable prices are usually the places that have been around for a while. Ben's Chili Bowl, for example, could probably keep on charging what it's been charging for the past 15 years because it's been at the same location way before gentrification started rolling through the area. But if you're a new business in a gentrifying neighborhood, and you're dealing with a landlord that's seeking rent to the max, you don't have that luxury. And you likely don't have the luxury of tens of thousands of potential customers walking in front of your business every day.
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