Extreme food: Is our culture’s hunger for adventure changing the notion of what is acceptable to eat?
As food television enters its second decade and the Internet bursts with food blogs starring glamorous macro-lens photos of the latest dish, the culinary world has never been so competitive, so saturated, so hungry for adventure. And there has never been more blood, more guts, more bugs on beautifully constructed plates. At a time when a whole pig’s head dinner is less than shocking and horse heart tartare is par for the course, chefs are pushing boundaries of what North Americans consider food, entering more exotic, dangerous and even illegal territory, writes New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear in her new book Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters and the Making of a New American Food Culture.
It used to be an insult to use the phrase “anything that moves,’’ in reference to another culture’s eating habits, she writes. “Now it is a foodie-to-foodie brag, used to celebrate unchecked appetite.” The foodies’s adventures and discoveries may change deeply entrenched ideas of what’s acceptable to eat, she argues.
In the eyes of critics, however, that doesn’t make them any less insufferable.
“Foodists have a pathological need to distinguish themselves from the non-grub-obsessed masses by scoffing things that no one else is eating,” says writer Steven Poole, whose e-book You Aren’t What You Eat, skewered the foodie culture, and coined the term ‘‘foodist,’’ to apply to people who harshly judge the eating habits of others and hold theirs in the highest regard. (Photos: Tyler Anderson/National Post; Jon Sufrin)