How did it happen that food became the new luxury item, to be desired with the excitement one would normally give an overpriced status symbol, be it a car, a watch, a handbag, a new pair of Louboutins, ocean front property, just to name a few. Well, now we can include food in this list of desirable expensive pleasures. And it starts at the bottom, working its way to the top. The organically grown, fed, nurtured at seed, the celebrity chef preparation, the five star, Michelin rated restaurant, the expensive gourmet grocery, all join in this new contemporary status food fest we are experiencing today. Yet we are told to watch our weight, constantly reminded of the dangers of obesity, while simultaneously being “fed”, pardon the pun, a non- stop media overload of cooking shows, celebrity chefs, eating contests, restaurant wars, makeovers, best thing ever eaten, the newest craziest food fad to come down the block, the list is endless.
To eat or not. That is the question. Walk into a Nyc grocery today, pick up a lemon and check the price. You will go into shock. When did food become the newest luxury? Food. The staple of life. The bread and water we need to keep us alive. Who would have guessed that it would become so chic, so pretentious, so commercial? Who could have predicted this phenomena? Used to be, we ate to live, and some just ate more than others. Socrates said “we should eat to live, not live to eat” A pleasurable evening out in a restaurant used to be a once in a while occasion, not a hot passion driving us to the latest hot food fad! The cheese addiction is an example of this food madness. Check out the cheese sections in any major grocery and we will be instantly transported on an excursion into the land of extravagant indulgences for the palate. It’s obscene because we have been manipulated by the media to make us want many of these food items that we not only do not really want, we definitely don’t need! Its a food lust fetish that defines one of the seven deadly sins. Gluttony! This lust and craving for food not for dietary purposes or sustenance but purely to “feel good” or status driven gives “gluttony” new meaning.
These pricey food items will bankrupt the average person quickly if they indulge. Think about it. Eating is a Verrry temporary quick pleasure ending almost as quickly as it begins. We are really satisfying the human hunger urge, and anything else is a bonus. A bonus with a steep pricetag. Those rich, decadent, expensive cheeses, that fresh water salmon flown in from Nova Scotia, those varied and exotic mushrooms, truffles, the top grade beef , Kobe or Wagu, fruit- the new indulgence, all pricey, all unnecessary. Let’s not even talk about the price of any food item that has “organic” attached to it. Out of control!
Is it about impressing others, making ourselves feel better, obeying Ina Garten, or Guy Fieri, or the ubiquitous Bobby Flay “Cook what I cook”, it’s amazing, but wait — you need to spend $$$$$ in order to actually assemble the ingredients necessary. Sandra Lee tries to go practical, along with her peer, Rachel Ray, but they are in the minority. And do we really need to be told what to do with canned food? No. So the bottom line is, why do we watch these food shows? The Chopped, Iron chef, Padma and her various Top Chef contestants, all fighting, spatula in hand, for the big bucks.? Is it because we feel some nostalgic comfort relating back to childhood, when mommy served us our meals? Back to childhood, Top Chef style. Is it really that thrilling watching people create food for money, or millionaire chefs tell us what and how to cook? This is their bread and butter. The food they create puts food on THEIR table! But what does it do for us? It’s their living. Their money pot. Food has an entirely different meaning and purpose for the celebrity chef, the television personality, the Michelin restauranteur, than it does for most people. We are just trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and it probably isn’t anything like Flay’s latest hot pepper encrusted fantasy, Pioneer Woman’s greasy, sloppy, cowhand ranchers delight, or Rachel Ray’s latest college dorm roommates casserole. Come on!!
To make the food dilemma even more confusing we have Michelle Obama and her obesity campaign telling people what NOT to eat, slim down, lose weight! Talk about mixed messages! What goes on here? We can’t have it both ways, stuffing ourselves on Humbolt Fog cheese, AND lose 10 pounds. This double message is annoying. Yeah we all like to eat, but if we listen to the hype the Food Network delivers we will all be obese, shopping, preparing, cooking, ordering these tasty, high caloric, gourmet delicacies.
So. Choose. Break the bank food shopping for those yummy food items, Bobby and Giada, Ina and Mario tell us we have to eat in order to give our lives that extra added plus, that will make us feel so much better, that incredible meal in the celebrity chef’s temple you reserved a month in advance, that insanely good bottle of wine, that delectable truffle, that perfect rack of lamb! Just remember Not to get on the scale, or check your bank account afterwards, or you may be needing a dose of Pepto Bismol!