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post #46 of 76
Does anyone else find Fuuma to be a spoiled and utterly sanctimonious douche?
post #47 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnH123 View Post

Does anyone else find Fuuma to be a spoiled and utterly sanctimonious douche?

He comes across much less so in person, due to an incredibly thick Chicago accent
post #48 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Also, are food and art really any different from other things? I'm having trouble thinking of a good that isn't valued partially on aesthetics or some other subjective measure.

I guess I was looking at it the other way around. My hunch is that other forms of art & aesthetic judgment aren't dependent in quite the same way upon the literal ingredients that make them up as food & eating are.

Everyone has to eat, and virtually everyone experiences food aesthetically, so we’re more or less forced to make aesthetic judgments about food all the time. More ingredients = expanding aesthetic horizons. This certainly doesn't mean that everyone plugged into a global market has good taste--I think fuuma's right that it leads to millions settling for mediocrity. On the other hand, I think you’re right that "mediocrity" certainly keeps on improving.

Could we really say the same about other forms of art? (I’m literally not sure—I could be off base, and I could be basing this on all sorts of shaky assumptions. I especially hope I'm not somehow harboring some sort of half-assed quasi-Kantian notion of disinterested aesthetic judgment.) I don’t know if the availability of all sorts of paints or whatever really improves tastes. And I’m not sure that the availability of all sorts of art-objects (reproduced art, tchotchkes, or more and more museums) really brings up the collective average when it comes to taste. It might, or it might have a bad effect, or it might have no effect.

In any case, this was why I was suggesting that food strikes me as an especially tricky example of talking about mass consumerism & taste.
post #49 of 76
The history of food is really complicated, and so is the history of trade, agricultural and otherwise. It's hard to refer back to those days before "free market capitalism" since it has popped up pretty much everywhere and at every time. Not as the dominant form of commerce, and not always defined as such, but in black markets and town markets everywhere. It has also been inextricably linked to agriculture and food since day one, as one of the earliest forms of money was cow. It was literally a cow standard, and since they were divisible, mobile and rare (at the time) they played money quite well. They also took a good deal of capital to raise.

Anyway, it is a bit of a tangent, but if we are going to look at a before and after scenario, we have to be able to identify the before clearly. It's easy to conflate a modern industrial work with a capitalist/market based one, and it is true that industry has led to a change in food and a concomitant change in the number of people who could eat, and it might even be an acceptable conflation in some ideologies and philosophies, but I think it is missing the important distinction which is not the market but the technological change in production and the number of people eating.
post #50 of 76
I ate, ironically, at Olive Garden, outside some outlet mall, on the way back from vacation, last weekend. I have to admit that while the breaded shrimp scampi was truly terrible on pretty much every "objective" level except for the temperature, I actually enjoyed them quite unironically.

I love food. I like to cook, and I like good restaurants, though some menus in trendier places give me a rash - the dishes are either overdescribed (I do not need to know every spice that will be used) or undescribed (ordering "kale" says very little to me, except that I'll be eating kale at some point during the meal.) I also love great pastries, cakes, and pies. I find nothing contradictory about enjoying both Per Se and Olive Garden, the truly amazing pies at Petsi Pies in Cambridge, MA (seriously good) or the 2 for a dollar apple pies from McDonalds, although the latter has suffered since they started to bake rather than deep fry them. One cannot be compared to the other, nor should it. Sure, the concept of shrimp scampi, battered and deep fried, was muddled, and the execution was clumsy, but they were tasty nonetheless.

High/low dressing seems to be taken as a point of pride. Can't we do the same with food?
post #51 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

The history of food is really complicated, and so is the history of trade, agricultural and otherwise. It's hard to refer back to those days before "free market capitalism" since it has popped up pretty much everywhere and at every time. Not as the dominant form of commerce, and not always defined as such, but in black markets and town markets everywhere. It has also been inextricably linked to agriculture and food since day one, as one of the earliest forms of money was cow. It was literally a cow standard, and since they were divisible, mobile and rare (at the time) they played money quite well. They also took a good deal of capital to raise.
Anyway, it is a bit of a tangent, but if we are going to look at a before and after scenario, we have to be able to identify the before clearly. It's easy to conflate a modern industrial work with a capitalist/market based one, and it is true that industry has led to a change in food and a concomitant change in the number of people who could eat, and it might even be an acceptable conflation in some ideologies and philosophies, but I think it is missing the important distinction which is not the market but the technological change in production and the number of people eating.

I didn't read Fuuma's earlier, deleted, posts. Quite summary so that I can get up to speed on Matt's point?
post #52 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

It's easy to conflate a modern industrial work with a capitalist/market based one, and it is true that industry has led to a change in food and a concomitant change in the number of people who could eat, and it might even be an acceptable conflation in some ideologies and philosophies, but I think it is missing the important distinction which is not the market but the technological change in production and the number of people eating.

This is an important distinction and worth keeping in mind, and I accept responsibility for opening up the can of worms when I claimed that the expansion of free markets has made food better over time. However, I'm not sure we need to go so deep when the question posed by Fuuma is specifically directed at why corporate market participants put out bad food today--often, even worse than what small merchants with much more limited resources and means of production might put out in a developing country. So long as one accepts the premise that a street vendor in India can give you potentially tastier food than a Starbucks on the Upper West Side, I'm not sure we need to delve too much into how food has changed through history. The current discrepancy is real enough.

Toward addressing that, I'm just shying away from big intangibles like "culture" when more simple mechanics with fewer moving parts can explain the phenomenon.
post #53 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

The history of food is really complicated . . . .

All of this makes sense, but I'm not sure if--leaving aside the before and after capitalism/global capitalism question--this means that: a) food is a perfect example for thinking through how availability & access influence aesthetic taste (because food has always been a matter of biological necessity, cultural meaning, and economic transaction all at once--in short, a way that an individual engages with the natural and social world) or b) that food is a terrible example because there are simply too many variables.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LA Guy View Post

High/low dressing seems to be taken as a point of pride. Can't we do the same with food?

I know I've bloviated about this elsewhere in this subforum, but I think it's super interesting that food has only recently undergone a modernist movement or has never really undergone one at all. And the reason is shockingly simple: the high/low distinction of modernism in other media simply doesn't work well with food. We might like our palates to be challenged a little, but very few of us would really go to a restaurant to eat something that's intentionally a direct affront to what we generally agree to be good taste in food and drink. The highest cuisine caters to bourgeois tastes, and a truly "modernist" cuisine seems pretty unsustainable. (Nobody would eat at a restaurant that served the culinary equivalent of Finnegans Wake.)

All of which is to say that when it comes to food, high and low might always be in closer contact with each other (both aim to taste good) than in other forms of market-driven creativity. Sure, there's a lot of high forms of cuisine taking pleasure in the low, or high-end diners enjoying cheap stuff that's tasty. But even if this is or pretends to be ironic, I'm not sure it's postmodern in the sense that postmodern art is.
post #54 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by LA Guy View Post

High/low dressing seems to be taken as a point of pride. Can't we do the same with food?

Yes, absolutely. I love Chicken McNuggets (with sweet and sour sauce), Krispy Kreme doughnuts (microwaved), and Pizza Hut pan-fried pizza.
post #55 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by erictheobscure View Post

All of this makes sense, but I'm not sure if--leaving aside the before and after capitalism/global capitalism question--this means that: a) food is a perfect example for thinking through how availability & access influence aesthetic taste (because food has always been a matter of biological necessity, cultural meaning, and economic transaction all at once--in short, a way that an individual engages with the natural and social world) or b) that food is a terrible example because there are simply too many variables.

I agree. I would even say it is a good medium for discussion, but it is also intertwined enough with so many things that each time we think we are on a path we are likely to bump into a historical reality which alters where we are going.

Also, I'd say there is modernist food. Just because it isn't in food temples doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Think of all of the astronaut inspired food which captivated a generation. Also the SNCF stuff etc.
post #56 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

Think of all of the astronaut inspired food which captivated a generation. Also the SNCF stuff etc.

Hmm, interesting example--one that definitely didn't cross my mind. "SNCF stuff" = French train food? (I have no idea what SNCF stands for, and Google led me only to the French railway system.)
post #57 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Yes, absolutely. I love Chicken McNuggets (with sweet and sour sauce), Krispy Kreme doughnuts (microwaved), and Pizza Hut pan-fried pizza.

Two of these things I like. One I find inedible.
post #58 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

Yes, absolutely. I love Chicken McNuggets (with sweet and sour sauce), Krispy Kreme doughnuts (microwaved), and Pizza Hut pan-fried pizza.

I like Krispy Kreme, but the donuts can be overly sweet. Comparing KK to Timmies is apples and oranges. KK has essentially one type of yeast donut with different fillings/toppings. Tim Hortons has a full donut menu. If I want some heft to my donut, I opt for Tim Horton's Walnut Crunch, a dense, moist, cocoa flavored (it's not really chocolate) cake donut with walnut bits. If I want something light, I'll go for the airy French Cruller.

Eric, I take your point. And all the Modernist cuisine I've had (I am assuming that things like Schwa count) has left me wanting something substantial and thoroughly retro, like Hong Kong style baked seafood rice.
post #59 of 76
I have a friend whose taste itself seems to have been affected by ubiquitous fast food. He's had so much McDonalds, Hershey's, Coke, etc., that he finds decent, home-cooked food off-putting. I swear he complains about feeling sick in the stomach every time we eat somewhere where the food was cooked on premises (rather than reheated). It seems like something I would have thought universal has been led seriously astray.

I can see how Starbucks/capitalism has brought uniformity and availability, virtues that are hard to underrate in much of the world.
post #60 of 76
I was always a fan of the apple fritter at Horton's if I was in the mode to actually eat something there. Usually though it was just coffee after a night of drinking.

Bit of trivia: in the 80s and 90s, two great places to bump into famous musicians, were the McD's and Horton's on Huron Church Road in Windsor. More tour buses would cross the Ambassador after playing Detroit or Pine Knob than I could tell you and their first stop was either the McD's at the foot of the bridge or the old Horton's on the east side of the road. The folks on the bus would want two things, food and pot, as they usually jettisoned their weed before crossing the bridge. I met several famous folks this way.
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