Recently, I’ve been doing some writing for CASE Magazine, a new online magazine of cultural criticism. My latest piece went up today. Since it’s about food and the experience of eating, I thought I’d repost it here. Enjoy!
It’s a windy Monday evening. I’ve skipped out of work a little early to meet up with friends for a cheese and charcuterie tasting class in the Mission. It’s not the sort of thing I usually do on a weeknight, but it’s exactly the kind of thing I love: fancy artisanal food, and lots of it.
We enter the class area through a narrow, neatly arranged courtyard, into a patio area with a tall wooden table and a pizza oven. There are big bottles of artisanal beer on ice and a display of cookbooks and cheese knives for sale. The knives cost $10; I don’t check the price on the books.
The class is neatly set up indoors, safely out of the wind. There are place settings and name cards for each of us, and each place has an enormous plate of cheese wedges and cured meat slices. There’s a platter of locally-baked bread on each table, and little cups of cornichons and mustard, and a plate of apple slices and blackberries, and glass milk bottles for water pitchers.
I really enjoy this kind of thing—meticulous presentations of excellent-quality food, curated by someone who knows their stuff. But at the same time, even as I settle into my seat and pour myself a glass of water from the nearest milk bottle, I can feel the objections rising in my chest. This is a little pretentious, no? A little overly precious? A little silly?