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Wednesday, 09 May 2012 00:00

I’ll have some Cheese with my Whine

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I’ll have some Cheese with my Whine Image: Sullivan

Tayla Africa: Young people are increasingly more interested in documenting themselves amongst the finest and most sophisticated “food snobs”; adding more panache than the average McDonald’s-cheese-burger adventure.


fThe term “Foodie” is used to define a person who has an enthusiastic and refined interest in good food.  Nowadays, with the broad spectrum of social media platforms available, everybody gets to comment on their eating experiences, but that doesn’t make them a bona fide Foodie.

When one thinks about Foodies, one generally pictures the older, white, affluent crowd who enjoy golf and opera and sitting in high-end restaurants critically tasting exotic cuisine such as pickled sheep tongue or deep-fried duck legs. I suppose this is why the word has also become synonymous with “food snob”.

The youth of today are becoming increasingly involved in this type of haute dining, but their taste buds are less discerning than those of the true food critics. 

I find that young people are using food as a way of dishing themselves onto the sophisticated and urbane chic social plate. The reason is that food can be considered as a means of equalising people from different cultural and economic backgrounds. It is a source of social status that the youth use to wedge themselves into the same category as the old-school gourmet eaters. Paradoxically, even though they have joined the social elite’s cheese-and-wine culture, they still aren’t equipped with the same culinary parlance that real foodies possess.

Being a part of the “foodie culture” doesn’t mean that they are starting to prefer garlic-buttered escargot over the classic margarita pizza, but that young people are organising their social lives around the “tasteful” status attached to high-class food and dining.

The youth have this obsession with documenting every moment of their lives, especially if they feel a specific broadcast might score their social life some brownie points. Tweeting about a new sushi bar they discovered or posting a snapshot of themselves indulging in macaroons at a French café definitely exudes a more “classy” panache than your average McDonald’s-cheese-burger adventure.

Their daily exposure to and consumption of “food media” through blogs, magazines and programs like Top Chef have contributed to the sensationalism of the eating experience.

More and more young people now have the space to comment and speculate about their dish preferences. Does this mean that they consider themselves ‘foodies’ and are trying to cheapen the reviews of real food critics?

This new breed of restaurant-goer has transformed the conservative dining hobby to a youth-culture phenomenon.

An abiding Foodie gains satisfaction from being able to tell the difference between a spicy plum and fruity sweet-edged wine, whereas young people tend to brag about being cultured enough to have attended the actual wine festival.

I don’t think they make it their mission to go around tasting and criticising the most outlandish entrées. Firstly, spending hundreds on a rare steak sliver would be very hard on their pockets and, secondly, I think they‘re more interested in using the image of tasteful dining that places them among those trendy eaters than being a professional fussy food consumer per se.

Food is just being used as a leisurely cultural pursuit of the urbane and a yardstick for sophistication among the new kids on the restaurant block.

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