Food Critique: Knowledge, Confidence & Food Snobbery

Eating used to be something I just did, one of those necessary things in life that at times had highlights, but usually consisted of monotony. Eating was an act, not necessarily a pleasure. Breakfast was usually non-existent or store bought hastily on the way to work. Lunch was always purchased during the work week or a form of eggs or cereal on weekends. Dinner consisted of a random cut of meat from the supermarket cooked rare or burnt beyond recognition. Although making trips home to visit my family while also getting to enjoy a wonderful home-cooked meal are just as special, one thing has changed; the contrast between meals at home and meals made in my apartment is not as jarring as it once was.

When acquiring a new skill, vocabulary and technique are picked up along the way. With cooking this is certainly true as is a deeper appreciation for the time and effort involved in making a meal and a new perspective on the food to be enjoyed. One thing is also true of acquiring a new skill, being that a little knowledge can be a little dangerous so to speak and new found confidence can come across as snobbery.

As a culinary neophyte voraciously reading biogrpahies, cookbooks, and many other food related texts I have obtained quite a bit of knowledge and more importantly confidence in the kitchen as well as confidence about what I like and don’t like. I’ve opened up my palatte to try many new things to gain experience and in doing so am at a point where I have my likes and dislikes, views on personalities in the food world, views on food and how it should be prepared and what makes good food, and with this confidence feel more free to voice my opinion.

I’ve been thinking about my views, the knowledge I have obtained and my experiences in this short amount of time. One could ask, “Who is Eric to be making comments about food at this point in his journey? What does he know? What qualifies him?”.  I wonder to myself if my assertions and views are turning me in to a food snob or worse yet, an uniformed amateur snob, a person who thinks the know what they are talking about but really don’t know how little they know.

What it comes down to is this. Generally speaking chefs and cooks alike often prepare food as a labor of love. They enjoy cooking because they know that their meals make people happy. Wonderful textures, flavors, presentation and the culture diversity of food add to the experience of life. When I am expressing my opinion, I am doing so based on what I know I enjoy and what makes me happy. Each day I learn more about this. Bright colors, salt over sweet, simple and delicious dishes are what I enjoy. My evaluations are different than those say of a food critic evaluating a cook or chef on the merits of their skill and against those of other professionals. That is of little interest to me. My views are mere projections of my observations and my preferences.

Life is too short to continually experience meals that are not satisifying. This of course is not limited to the food or setting but is equally affected by the company one is with of course. Expensive food does not necessarily mean great food and a great meal. Sometimes the simple pleasures of home are simply unmatched. Each passing day usually imparts additional knowledge or in some way refines what I have learned up to this point. Learning is also a never-ending process filled with suspense and surprise.  This perhaps is the best part of experience of all and appreciate each new bit of knowledge I am able to acquire as well as a deeper understanding of what I like and dislike. I know that there is so much to learn and embrace the challenges that lay ahead.

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