Oasis in a Gastronomic Wasteland
Chapter One: Introduction
Friday June 3, 2011
(Warning: this blog is not for the masses)
So here we are in the 21st century. We still don’t have flying cars. The plumbing doesn’t always work. Space tourism is for billionaires. The cure for the common cold still eludes our best scientists. And the giants of news journalism pump out nothing more than “infotainment.”
But fear not my fellow Earth dwellers, because the interweb is here to offer us salvation...NOT!
We (or at least anyone reading this) are in fact hyperconnected, “hyperpeople” as Mark Pesce defined the term in his Word Press article by the same title We carry the internet with us in our purses and our pockets. “To facebook” has become a commonly used verb. We can buy anything, look up anything, and search for anything. Any tidbit of information from the most trivial to the most profound is but a click away...But what is the point?
I know it must seem ridiculous, if not downright hypocritical, to publish this piece using the very thing I am lambasting; and many of you are probably wondering what this rant regarding the internet has to do with the crisis in modern gastronomy...so I’ll do what all of my English teachers advised me to do, and GET TO THE POINT.
In short, the evils of the internet and the present gastronomic wasteland are symptoms of the same problem...human nature.
We as humans have been genetically selected, tested, and bred over the millennia to do that which gives us the most pleasure. At its most basic level, this has enabled our survival. Sweet things taste pleasing to us because of the presence of necessary and life sustaining carbohydrates. Meats taste “savory” because of our need for a complex mixture of proteins. And bitter things often taste that way because of the presence of certain toxic chemicals.
Now, I must say that technically machines can “taste.” Computers equipped with various sensors can detect the same particles and compounds as our taste buds. But the inherent nature of human “taste” is the emotion associated with such experiences.
We have allowed ourselves to become emotional automatons, doing that which causes us the most pleasure with the smallest amount of sacrifice and pain.
Writing a research paper? Don’t hit the library, just go to Wikipedia. Feeling lonely? Free sex is just a few quick clicks away! Feeling hungry? Don’t cook anything, just dash to the nearest McDonalds or phone in an order to Pizza Hut.
Humans are not naturally lazy creatures. We have simply outsmarted ourselves. I’m not advocating that we should all go back to living in sod houses and using out houses, as I’m just as connected as anyone else in the Millennial Generation. My Blackberry (sorry Apple fans) is my constant connection to the world. The internet and the “le gastronomie moderne” are not inherently evil creations. It is how we as humans use these creations to better ourselves and society that determines their morality. WE ARE STILL IN CONTROL.
Bit by bit (pun intended) we are reclaiming our lost humanity from the confines of cyberspace. Our initial love affair with the internet is at its end, and with this new stage of net-living we are experiencing a renaissance of human thought. We can now think collectively, across continents and oceans. Political borders are for the meek!
And so I will play my small part in this greater electronic revival to help support the culinary arts (no reference to Subway sandwich artists).
I know that many of you may not see the modern gastronomic landscape as a devastating wasteland. And granted we have come a long way from the fast-food paved highways and frozen TV dinners of the 1950s and 1960s. The Food Network is one of the most watched cable channels, undoubtedly due to the apolitical nature of their programming. And chefs are celebrated national celebrities. But there is still room for improvement.
My intention with this blog is to find those little nuggets and pearls of good food made from quality ingredients, and to tell the story of those dedicated foodies who seek to better the hearts, minds, and stomachs of their fellow man (and woman).
Stay tuned for future updates!
Later this week: a beer tasting among friends and the weekly dinner at the Nook Tavern in Huntsville, AL.