Foodstagramming

Foodstagramming. The fact that there's now a portmanteau for it makes my skin crawl and my iPhone shut down in protest. The word, which doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, refers, of course, to the trend of photographing everything we eat, and then editing it to make it appear somehow more hip or luxurious. But the fact is no one wants to see what your bowl of cereal looks like when you stick a Kelvin filter on it. We also don't want to see images of gourmet meal after gourmet meal. Let's be honest: It's not about the food anymore; it's about self-promotion and showing other food lovers (and, you know, the rest of the wired world) what a foie-gras-and-white-truffle-filled life you live while ignoring those around you in favor of getting just the right angle to make that foam not look like spittle. Dr. Oz has even warned consumption of "food porn" signals an unhealthy preoccupation with food. How about we just enjoy the act of eating it and the company around us? Take a deep breath, and put down the phone. Eat your meal, and converse with your friends, because that's what dining is really about. And I promise that hamburger will taste just as good without a Valencia filter.

Truffle Oil on Everything

We love Jonathon's chicken and waffles, but ... it's chicken and waffles.
Sara Kerens
We love Jonathon's chicken and waffles, but ... it's chicken and waffles.

Enough with the truffle oil. It's not bacon. It doesn't actually make everything taste better. In fact, it ruins more dishes than it improves. Did macaroni and cheese need to be improved? Was the greasy, salty, crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside glory that is the French fry missing something? No. But add the word "truffle" to the description and an inexpensive side dish doubles or triples in price. Not only does the taste and scent of the truffle oil completely overwhelm the dish it's meant to enhance, but the vast majority of the time, the cloying substance is actually olive or grape-seed oil with a chemical additive. This is not news: A 2007 piece in The New York Times revealed that chefs knew perfectly well that the cheap substance was just olive oil with 2,4-dithiapentane added to it. And how could they not, considering that actual truffles cost somewhere around $60 an ounce? Apparently, however, the restaurant industry is, like, competitive and junk. After all, 2,4-dithiapentane is an odorant found in some truffles, so it really just "democratizes" truffles so we can all "enjoy" their flavor. But, as world-renowned chef Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago told The New York Times, "It doesn't even taste like truffle." Since most people have never tasted the real thing, a massive fraud continues to be perpetuated on the nonelite eating public who don't know the difference. So, no, that food truck that just charged you $18 for stinky mac and cheese is not investing in fungi rooted up by pedigree pigs being shepherded through the French countryside by men in charming berets. It's just cheap oil made to smell expensive to trick you into paying more for the honor of eating it.

Ramen Burgers

In the modern era of the food mashup, crowbarring one dish into another has become a kind of performance art, like competitive eating recalibrated from quantity to thought piece: your dinner as a Jeff Koons balloon. Some of these mashups work; some of them should be banned by the FDA. But a rare few of them are genius, not so much edible cultural fusion as a rip in the space-time continuum. The ramen burger is one of the latter — very silly, but genius nonetheless. It's pretty self-explanatory: a bun woven from ramen noodles and pan-fried, a burger made with chashu or beef, scallions and all kinds of special sauce. Sure, that sound you hear is purists screaming, but they scream a lot. This high-concept take on lowbrow food was dreamed up by Keizo Shimamoto, a computer programmer turned food blogger (aren't we all), who then brought his dream to the public. A large public. When he popped up with his burgers in a south Los Angeles food court, 1,000 people waited in line, starting at dawn, like the dish was a K-pop band. It has since turned up at food festivals and L.A. ramen shops, made by ramen chefs alongside their repeating bowls of tonkotsu. There are even rumors of a ramen burger shop coming to Hollywood. Will a ramen burger be as ubiquitous as gyoza and takoyaki on ramen shop menus? Highly doubtful. But it will be a very fun ride.

Kitchen Towels Standing in for Napkins

When our most forward-thinking restaurateurs began putting kitchen towels on tables instead of napkins, it was endearing. Restaurants had been cautiously making a move toward a more casual presentation ever since the recession made spending a car payment on an ounce of caviar seem crass and insensitive. Bow-tied waiters and starched linens were out; approachable service and the warm comfort of casual dishtowels tied with butcher's twine were in. If the towels had remained an intermittent occurrence they might have maintained their initial appeal, but within just a few years they've appeared on the tables of every gastropub, farm-to-table restaurant and any other establishment that serves craft cocktails or brunch. They're everywhere. And many of them are beginning to look a little threadbare, as if they've been in service since the trend began. If daubing your face with unsightly linens doesn't affront you, consider the lint. All towels aren't created equally, and as they've grown in popularity, restaurants have increasingly come to rely on lower-quality fabric. Draped across the legs these inferior linens have an effect not unlike an unkempt Persian cat, leaving a fine veil of fuzz that requires half a roll of masking tape to remove. Certainly we'll get back to the white linen standard eventually — even the good trends fade. Let's relegate the kitchen towel to where it belongs: the kitchen bucket.

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8 comments
cliffd972
cliffd972

I'm sorry... I was agreeing with everything you wrote until Sriracha. I get that it is getting way too trendy for hipsters but that's not a reason to dislike it. Sriracha is a staple of Southeast Asian cuisine. I pretty much put it on everything and welcome the fact the more people are getting turned onto it because it gives some people, who have never been exposed to different cuisines, a chance to broaden their palette. Other than that, this article was pretty much spot on.

Sher
Sher

You fuckers. Eggs on everything is good. You are bad.

bobbyvdallas
bobbyvdallas

SPOT ON about the chicken and waffles..another cultural delight ruined by white people. Chicken and waffles was a delicious cheap meal for working class people. Now that it's been "popularized", sometimes I don't even recognize what it is when I see it, not to mention I got an order of chicken and waffles at an Uptown spot once that wasn't even that glamorized (or all that good) that cost $25!!!! 25 effffing dollars for chicken and waffles...White People Puleeeeze!!!

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

Can you please put a warning at the top of the article when it's NSFW?

mdd0124
mdd0124

@AdamsonScott what on EARTH in this article isn't safe for work?
I ask because I'm reading it at work.

nd68
nd68

@mdd0124 I think this heading would do it...Putting a Fucking Egg on Everything

 
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