Culinary Elitism

Bruni_new-articleInline-v2 The latest sightings of classism in food politics and gourmandizers from Frank Bruni in the NYT:

Anthony Bourdain, the part-time chef and full-time celebrity, has a tongue on him. It’s the sharpest knife in his set. He has used it to carve up vegans, whom he called the “Hezbollah-like splinter faction” of vegetarians, and the culinary moralist Alice Waters, whose rigidity is “very Khmer Rouge.”

The latest to be slashed: Paula Deen. For the uninitiated, she’s the deep-fried doyenne of a fatty, buttery subgenre of putatively Southern cooking. And Bourdain, in an interview with TV Guide published last week, branded her an outright menace to America, scolding her for “telling an already obese nation that it’s O.K. to eat food that is killing us.”

To this he added a gratuitous schoolyard-crass putdown of Deen cuisine.

Which certainly isn’t my cup of lard. But it bothers me no more than his ill-timed elitism, which Deen nailed in her response.

“Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine,” she told The New York Post. “My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

Put aside her one-with-the-masses pose, ludicrous in light of the millions she has made from television shows, cookbooks, cookware, mattresses and more. She’s otherwise 100 percent justified in assailing the culinary aristocracy, to which even a self-styled bad boy like Bourdain belongs, for an often selective, judgmental and unforgiving worldview.