Friday, August 12, 2016

foodie snobs

When I was a eighteen, I bullied my way into being an assistant chef/baker at a Chicago Italian Bistro. At the time, I had no idea how ridiculous I must have appeared. Walking into an interview and sharing the news that I had no formal education in the industry. Luckily, I was hired for three reasons.
  1. I lived a block away
  2. I was willing to work all kinds of crazy hours at mediocre pay
  3. I told that old Italian woman who was the chef that if she didn't hire me I would come everyday and ask her to show me how to cook regardless.
Now, I already knew how to cook. What I didn't know is how to use industrial mixers or wield a nine inch Wüsthof. My Italian mentor took me under her wing and I went from being a cook to a "foodie" in a very short time.

What I found out quickly is that people can be "foodie snobs". Foodies tend to look at a Chef's resume or a food critic review. They focus on how ingredients are quantified. Is this unusual? Is this cut right? How fresh is it? Obviously, there is nothing wrong with this. But, I felt it left out all the, "little guys". What about all those moments in life where you ate a food, and it was an experience? 

My first interaction with this kind of feeling was partaking in the ritual of the Maxwell Street Polish. 

At three in the morning, my friends brought me to Maxwell and Halsted in a rather undesirable part of Chicago. The buildings hovered over a dirty street and vagrants hovered nearby hawking such wares as socks and porn. A yellow sign glowed over a small stand where a few people huddled in the cold. My friend ordered me something which arrived wrapped tightly in sticky wax paper. With a grape soda in one hand and a hot polish sausage in the other; I ate quietly. I marveled at the bubble of safety I felt and at my sudden love of sport peppers.

I think this is where my love of street food began. 

What does this have to do with "foodie snobs"? Two words; Michelin Star.

How a tire manufacture became the go-to name in cuisine; I will never understand. What I do know is that in 1926, Michelin started awarding stars for fine dining. And now, it is what Chef's and food aficionados look at for the pinnacle of food success.

Recently, a Singapore man Chan Hon Meng received a Michelin Star for his signature dish. It costs 1.50 and has been served out of his stall for the last 35 years. Proof that good food can be found anywhere. Thanks Michelin!

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