PRATIE PLACE

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In a society where people have too much money, the unending quest to ruin simple things continues.

I had a mad unrequitable crush on Samuel Johnson after reading his essays in "The Rambler" and the "Idler;" after I got into Boswell's "Life of Johnson," not so much. One of the things that made me cross Johnson off my guest list: he often told Boswell he was irritated and disappointed when people invited him to dinner and he didn't get something "good."

The article below fits right into Hannah's theory that men's hunter-gatherer and building-fixing impulses are perverted, in Manhattan, due to lack of proper outlets.

Extracts from
Dinner at the Foodies’: Purslane and Anxiety
by Katherine Wheelock for the New York Times, June 6, 2007

Dinner parties have been fraught with performance anxiety for as long as people have given them. Soufflés, cribbed from the pages of glossy food magazines, have been attempted and botched.

Especially in New York, where there are fewer status indicators (like cars and landscaped lawns), adjectives like local, organic and free range are signifiers of taste.

"Entertaining and cooking have become an integral part of how certain people demonstrate their cultural cachet, ... there is a specific cachet that only a fiddlehead fern can convey. Saying, 'I got this olive oil from this specific region in Greece,' is like talking about what kind of car you have. And people don’t want to be associated with the wrong kind of olive oil."

"You can’t just serve purslane ... you have to serve purslane on Limoges you found in a Connecticut consignment shop with a fork that has a carved ivory handle you found in a flea market somewhere."

"As soon as something becomes overpopularized, I don’t want to serve it anymore ... I wouldn’t want anyone to be able to identify something I made as being from a book or a restaurant. I don’t want anyone to be able to say, oh, I see where he got this idea to put microgreens on top of his fish fillets."


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