Sunday, June 05, 2005

Coming Soon: You Can't Pick Your Friend's Nose

Admit this: when you find out that someone you really like does not share your opinion on what you consider an important culinary matter, your opinion of that person changes. No, it doesn't? Here's an experiment to see if I'm wrong: (1) Think of one of your best, most memorable sushi experiences--one that made the top of your head lift off and your eyes roll back. (2) Picture a good friend of yours--someone you've spent really great time with. (3) Picture that person wrinkling his/her nose and sticking our his/her tongue at the same piece of sushi that got you to the edge of Nirvana. For added emphasis, s/he then says "I just don't like sushi--I mean, it's raw fish!"

So, what do you think? Was I wrong? If the sushi example doesn't work for you, choose whatever the food is that gets you closer to god. Then again, if sushi doesn't work for you, I don't know if we can be friends, so maybe you should just move along.

More on this in a few.


Anonymous c said...

omg dwg, I'm going through this right now! In my case, my friend recently revealed themselves as a trend chaser. That is, they willingly submit their palates to the opinions of the New York Times, Zagat, and the most inexcusable one among them, Time Out.

One of our outings involved a restaurant that requires a 2-3 month advance reservation and a $150 penalty for any no shows in the party. That's all cool and the gang with me if the food were inspired enough for some mental sommersaults between sips of our Mosel/Saar/Ruwer. (Another thing - I prefer reds, and they, whites, sweet whites. Ack!) But it wasn't, and quite honestly, the whole elitist shtick of the place left me thoroughly bored.

Then, later on, we went to an obscure ethnic place that I like (ahem, think Issan). My friend offered no constructive comment on any of the dishes we ordered. Rather, they said: I can't believe a place like this could stay open for this long.

We first became friends because we both like to eat, and to talk about the food we eat. But it's clear now that our perceptions are on wholly separate wavelengths.

How do I cope? Let me wax philosophical:

Don't take their opinion personally, even if you can't respect it (but try).

I know it's hard, especially after you get passionate about your favorite papaya salad (or whatever) after scouring the city long and hard. But we are individuals, which means we have our own perceptions, and along with them, our own preferences.

I must, however, maintain one qualification: anyone who makes fun of my #34 at Pho 79 (the Alhambra one, thank you) and dinner's over at that point. Check please.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the opposite problem. People who think their tastes are better than mine - food snobs, if you will. Like they can't believe I would ever buy a certain brand of product when their favorite brand, at 5 times the price should be the only brand that is acceptable.

11:04 AM  
Blogger dwg said...

I wasn't going to respond to comments until after I wrote the complete post, but Anon's needs a reply now. I think, Anon, that what you're talking about is more the same thing I am than its opposite, don't you think? I mean, those friends of yours, whose tastes run to the senselessly expensive: you form opinions of them (i.e., that they're "snobs") based on that, right?

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, my point is different. My point is that it is easy to go the other way 'round - and be a bit haughty in responding to another's likes or dislikes.

A roommate once asked me, "How could you not like olives?"

My response, "I just don't. Why you don't like tofu?"

His response, "I just don't. But I see your point."

End of conversation as we carried on with our lives realizing we aren't the same person.

Just like c said: We are individuals. We like what we like, and if my other friend (the "snob" of our discussion) likes his item and pays 5x more for it, that's fine by me.

I would not criticize his choice in paying 5x the amount for a product which I feel is just as good at x price. But for him to criticize me on how I "could be so uninformed and 'bourgeois' as to EVEN CONSIDER buying my brand, and to have the AUDACITY to say that I like it"...that's what I call "snobbery" and food-elitism at its worst.

So that's the difference between what you were talking about and what I was talking about.

My friend formed an opinion on me by the brand I bought and expressed it. I, in turn, thought him a "snob" for that opinion, not for his brand choice.

Nonetheless, I held my tongue since I had better things to do than argue about something so trivial.

3:51 PM  
Blogger dwg said...

You know what, Anon? You're absolutely right. How could you not like olives?

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of "food-snobs", check this guy AndrewS out. He's a riot!

11:31 AM  
Blogger dwg said...

i love it: criticizing people on chowhound for not being adventurous enough. that's terrific. some people (ok, me included, on many occasions) should have a third party vet their posts prior to submission. if andrewS had done that, maybe his friend could have pointed him to the endless years-old references to the "new" and "innovative" stuff lefebre is screwing with (not to mention that, from what i hear, he's doing one of the worse jobs with it).

thanks for the link!

2:03 PM  
Blogger dwg said...

Oh, hey, here's another gem from Chowhound:

Someone weighed in with a personal experience of Nozawa, and this dude basically says "you're wrong." Now, I can be a strident, smug sonofabitch, but to suggest that he just GETS IT and the original poster so doesn't is, to me, the quintessence of snobbery. In fact, it's made me a little queasy about finishing up this piece...but I'll still see it through. It just might be more balanced than I had planned.

10:02 AM  

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