Is It the Mole-Gas, Or Is It Us?
As people who love to eat pretty much anything, the Foobooz team read David “Philafoodie” Snyder’s article “Foam Over Function: why don’t we ‘get’ molecular gastronomy?” in the City Paper with great interest. We heart Philafoodie, but we were both a little perplexed–irked, even–by the comments made by the people interviewed in the article. Our takes after the jump, both with Whiz:
Without getting back to our Quaker roots and staid parochial ways, I’d like to at least comment that Philadelphians has never been that impressed with flash or what’s hip and trendy. We knew enough to boo Kobe [the Bryant, not the beef] before the rest of the country found out he wasn’t the person he pretended to be. And so it is with food. If we are skeptical of molecular gastronomy for molecular gastronomy’s sake, then so be it. When the fad has passed and we’re left with the true improvements of the science, let it be said that we didn’t take the wacky ride but remembered what’s important: How does it taste? After all, if we feared the science, could we have embraced Cheez Whiz?
What really bothers me here is the underlying assumption that people don’t like this food because they don’t get it or they are narrow-minded. I really think that when people don’t like food, they don’t like it because it doesn’t taste good to them, not because they’re afraid of a tasteless seaweed additive or a method of cooking that involves a vacuum. You can accuse them of perhaps not having a sophisticated palate, but as a good chef or restaurateur, your job is not to accuse the palate of your audience, but to please it. If you try and you fail, then you must try something different.
Do these chefs and restaurateurs really believe that the diners at their restaurants are so inexperienced that they aren’t willing to give food prepared this way a fair chance? They’re forgetting their customer base. The restaurants that serve this kind of fare are upscale and so is the clientele. The kind of customer who spends money going to a place like Lacroix, for example, has a good amount of expendable income and is a relatively sophisticated diner. These are not people who are going to be fearful of a new technique, especially if it has delicious results.
Ultimately, the thing to remember is that this discussion (much like the great foie gras debate) affects very few people. What is of greater concern is the ‘science’ that goes on in the corporations that make the food that the majority of the population eats. Partially hydrogenated oil, anyone? Maybe you’d like some high fructose corn syrup with your chicken part slurry? And, of course, there’s Cheez Whiz, the ultimate in food science.