Food And Society's Expectations Of Food In America

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A man sat down for dinner at a restaurant that he, having never eaten there before, decided to try on a whim. Feeling adventurous, he ordered a dish completely unlike anything he had before, something new, something different, something exotic. Yet, before his fork had even reached his mouth, his mind was made up on the food already. How could someone’s mind be made up on a food they have never tried before? The answer to this question is because of the preconceived notions the person has of both food and cuisine as a whole. For example, the man has acquired certain expectations of food from his childhood. Additionally, society assigns connotations to many foods, swaying the general opinion of said foods. The appearance of the food could cause…show more content…
Eating a certain food may be synonymous to living in poverty, or it may be a sign of a fine diner. There is an idea in American society that unhealthy food will usually taste much better than a healthy counterpart. Wilson touches on this principle, asserting that “nutritionists use the word ‘palatable’ to describe foods high in sugar, salt…” (B. Wilson xxii). Because of this notion of unhealthy favorability, the taste of a food that is known to possess one of the damaging traits described by Wilson will be subconsciously marked higher by many people. The socioeconomic status of a food is another value determined by society that affects a person’s preconceived notions of food. If a food is thought to be associated with lower social status, then it will be subconsciously enjoyed less or, conversely, if a food is a part of a higher culture, then perceptions of its taste will be raised. An interesting example of this in American history is the lobster. Once a pauper’s food, lobster has now become a symbol of a fancy dinner. According to Daniel Luzer, news editor, in his Pacific Standard article “How Lobster Got Fancy”, lobster was thought of as “trash food” by people in the early days (Luzer 2013). The multitude of lobsters available to early settlers made relying on them for a food source unpopular and looked down upon. In her book Lobsters: A Global History, Elisabeth…show more content…
In Agnès Varda’s film The Gleaners and I, farmers are depicted throwing away thousands of pounds of edible potatoes because the supermarkets will not accept potatoes that are too small, too big, or too oddly shaped. In an interview with the farmers, Varda highlights that, regardless of the strange appearances, the potatoes are perfectly fine to eat (Varda 2000). Simply because the potatoes are not uniformly shaped, they are rejected by the supermarkets, and by extension the supermarkets’ customers, as undesirable and unsellable. In Mireille Roselo’s article “Agnès Varda’s Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse”, she criticizes the supermarkets for this, contending that the supermarkets “will only buy rigorously regular and millimetrically correct potatoes” (Rosello 3). Once again, the reverse is true. An aesthetically pleasing dish will be much more pleasurable to the diner. In Mark Wilson’s article “How to Plate Food Like a 3-Star Michelin Chef”, he highlights the plating of high-end cuisine, describing it as “an abstract work of art” (M. Wilson 2015). He interviews Tracey Torres, an employee of multiple fine dining institutions. Torres emphasizes the importance of the plating and appearance of a dish when serving customers. “If there’s one grounding philosophy of [plating],” she explains, “it’s delighting the customer through variety and transparency” (M. Wilson 2015). Depending on a dish’s

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