On food & pretension

The New York Times ran a great piece this week on bars that make a conscious effort to swim across the current and focus on being unpretentious, neighborhood watering holes instead of high-priced, hoity-toity cocktail places that serve drinks with more ingredients that you can count or even know how to pronounce. The burgeoning cocktail culture is awesome, but really makes you think about what pretension can do to a place. Read more: A Good Drink, Hold the Pretense

Similar food for thought on an InsideScoop post by SF Chronicle food and wine editor/restaurant critic Michael Bauer, dubbed “Why are comments so nasty on the Gate?” (referring to SFGate, the Chronicle’s website). Bauer recently reviewed a $298 meal at fancy-pants Saison, and online commenters went to town on him. (“‘A few examples: ‘Overpriced pretentious crap’; ‘Fools and their money are soon parted’; ‘Conspicuous consumption. No meal is worth that kind of money, period!’; ‘Saison is a sign of the impending apocalypse.’; and ‘Welcome to L’Idiot.‘”)

Plus, a comment on Bauer’s article:

It’s a slap in the face to readers who are struggling just to survive to have the SF Gate roll out fluffy pieces like yours. It’s a symptom of a much larger problem: the ‘haves’ vs. the ‘have nots’. The ‘haves’ are outpacing the ‘nots’ by leaps and bounds, and the ‘nots’ keep growing exponentially. Right now everyone is beyond fed up and spending an entire article on the joys of the ‘haves’ splendor is just plain annoying. I reserve the right to insult.

And another, more in Bauer’s defense:

If I were considering eating at such an expensive restaurant, I would surely check out the reviews first. Maybe most people don’t spend that much on a meal (we’ve done it once or twice), but for those who do, it would be negligent of the city’s most noted food critic to skip it because of the high price tag. You alll know that if he didn’t like the food, the whole course of discussion would have been different.

One more, less for food and more for journalism/laughs:

Worry not Mr Bauer: the days of nasty commenters are numbered: when SF Gate goes fully behind a pay wall, the venomous free loaders will disappear. Pay wall! Pay wall! Pay wall!

I don’t even want to think about how much money I spend on dining out, but I was having similar thoughts while looking at Bauer’s Instagram the other day (tea-smoked duck and pigeon wrapped in Savoy cabbage to name a few obviously luxurious meals he photographed). But Bauer makes a great defense; essentially that many people have something they spend too much money on (vacation, clothes, concerts, sports games), so why not let food lovers do their thing?

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