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Small Portions
Stay Hungry
Interests: character, community and tradition
Recent Activity
[Lightbulb burns brightly behind my head] Lets legalise drugs. No more drugs-related crime [cheer]. An... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2010 at Small Portions
When The Metro said that half a billion people have Facebook accounts, did they take... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2010 at Small Portions
All the best things in life come in polystyrene containers: stereos, laptops, fast food, diskettes,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2010 at Small Portions
Horst Feldman @ Hound All living fish are aquatic. I find it very funny. It was actually that that made me write the post in the first place.
Small Portions is now following Ak6750
Jul 2, 2010
I read on a weblog that Primavera Sound Festival is just ‘ATP kids on holiday‘.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2010 at Small Portions
I think the goalposts got shifted in your response so I’ll try my best to keep to the theme of the original post but also respond to you comments. All spheres of human interest operate according to the logic of cultural capital. Knowledge of theatre, art, music, film, literature etc is more often than not put to bad use in order to maintain ones social standing. We all do it in our interactions with others, often without intention. It’s a product of wanting to survive in a society where the display of ‘social refinement’ and ‘cultural wit’, to use your terms, is an essential good in simply ‘getting on’. Now the people who take this too far are indeed snobs and you’re right to state that those who admire their ‘foodie’ superiors in a manner designed to situate their own tastes above others (particularly those deemed unrefined), are producing a shit-sandwich for us all. But they are also present in literature, art, music, fashion etc. I think the reason that food snobs get on your wick and not the others is foods ability to permeate all spheres of life, from the TV to the man in Costcutter. Food is accessible to everyone, its easily understood, its cheap(ish), its a necessity and thereby something in which everyone holds at least a tacit interest, its non-exclusive (by virtue of its necessity), and its everywhere (in the west at least). In other words, society’s snobs are found in all domains of interest but food just happens to be easier to get into, and thus it seems as if food is one area to which snobs are particularly attracted. I would say this isn’t true, you get more snobs in food simply because it is extremely popular, by virtue of the mentioned characteristics, and thus the ratio is the same but the numbers are more. Food is an area where you don’t need a certain background in order to join the club. Theatre, art, classical music, all these have much harder entry criteria, they are tightly regulated and the cultural capital needed to gain access is hard to acquire. Either you spend an awful lot of time reading and listening, acquiring the right language and motions or you are just lucky enough to have grown up around these things. Thats why you get more people watching Jamie Oliver than Mahler, and thats why it seems as though there are more food snobs than the others. So the real reason for food snobbery is that the snobs in other domains keep them so tightly contained, tightly regulated, and demand such a high level for entry. People have got to be into something so they get into food, since its a non-exclusive cultural good when compared with many others (I’m ignoring the margins here). Perhaps this has meant that food snobbery has been allowed to run wild and has ‘taken to the streets’ as it were, but we only have the snobs in other domains to blame. Jamie Oliver, James Martin, and Ainsley Harriott are all that some people have, since the latest piece by David Runcimen in the LRB is too hard to understand, and the latest exhibition at the White Cube is located in such a complex arrangement of Art fads and fashions that it becomes meaningless to the casual observer. I think it is crucial that the labelling of ‘foodies’ as snobs doesn’t get out of hand, as it’s all to easy to extend a dislike of the ubiquitous nature of food culture into a snobbery of its own kind.
Toggle Commented Jun 22, 2010 on Curry Night at Small Portions
A secondary use overpowering a primary use, of course, is not itself snobbery. But if we ask the question why this happens so damn much in food, then I think we arrive at an answer that is snobbery. The “way we interact” with food is the key here. As you say, the interaction is clearly about more than stimulating our guts: The association of ‘good living’ and food is now ingrained. But how do we know what is ‘good living’? and how is it possible that we all agree? Luckily, as with other areas of living, there are experts, gurus, champions and detectives on hand to deliver a simple ‘good/bad’ dichotomy. Their utterances purge those corners of ignorance and make a leap into ‘conventional wisdom’ more or less unchecked. The annunciation is followed by anyone bright enough to follow a list of instructions, but bored enough to buy into a self-referential television guide to ‘good living’. But unlike music, unlike theatre, unlike cars, the good/bad measurement is so unbelievably rudimentary (the level of analysis in cookery programmes is worse than that of Match of the Day), the prescription is swallowed almost without scrutiny, and then trotted out as evidence of social refinement and cultural wit. I’m happy to refer to those many people who imitate, cultivate, and slavishly admire their foodie superiors as ‘snobs‘. I can’t quite tell if their condescension of the unlearned is real or imagined (by me), but the ‘erudition’ on show certainly feels like a shit-sandwich. The suggestion I originally made of reverting back to “food’s true function, to fill” is nothing but fantasy, but its appeal lies in removing snobbery’s powerful new tool. I admit it may be a little ‘baby out with the bathwater’. Lastly, I’d be delighted if this blog achieves anything as significant as words losing their “linguistic value.” But that’ll never happen, with your attitude.
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2010 on Curry Night at Small Portions
“Since this event I’ve become convinced that food snobbery in the UK has gotten so violent that it has the power to trickle down and attack the starving from the inside out. As a society we may have lost sight of the point of food. Gastro-dressage should be considered secondary to food’s true function, to fill.” Not sure of the use of the word snobbery here. Are you suggesting that using something for anything other than its primary purpose is snobbery? Im pretty sure you don’t just wear clothes to keep warm, there are also issues of style, fashion, identity, and belonging. Yes there is a brute material need for certain things - food=to fill, clothes=to keep warm, sex=to reproduce - but there are ideas constructed around those things, altering the way we interact with them. People don’t just have sex to reproduce, they also engage in that act to fulfil ideas of love/desire/fun/personal connection etc. In fact I would go as far as to say that in western society sign-value is so prevalent that interacting with objects on the basis of pure function alone is inconceivable. To call this snobbery seems to somewhat confuse the meaning of the term and usurp the word for other purposes. If you extend your logic, your point may as well read “As a society we may have lost sight of the point of everything”. Either that or we are all snobs, in which case the term loses its linguistic value.
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2010 on Curry Night at Small Portions
‘Curry night’ at Asian Spicy is something of a non-event. That is not to say... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2010 at Small Portions
So much has been written about the decline of American Apparel. There have been accusations,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2010 at Small Portions
Why is Israel intent on sabotaging its own credibility? First the Lebanon War in 2006... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2010 at Small Portions
The oil spill is now a huge disaster. Check out its size here. Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2010 at Small Portions
American Apparel (Am Appy) is in trouble. The company announced a $17.6 million loss for... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2010 at Small Portions
Nick Cohen’s written something quasi-decent in the Observer today. It makes a number of points... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2010 at Small Portions
Mike Labossiere makes a good point that the banking crisis, Toyota’s unstoppable cars, and the... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2010 at Small Portions
Commenting on the BA Cabin crew strikes, Ross Clark asks if the crew deserve to... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2010 at Small Portions
If only writing a masters thesis was this easy. (Thanks to Geras for this) Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2010 at Small Portions
If only writing a masters thesis was this easy. Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at Small Portions
Where do all the YMAs go? I see them at the meat counter. I see... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2010 at Small Portions
When I was studying for my A-levels a favoured maxim of mine was - if... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2010 at Small Portions
Ratatat made a vid for their song 'Party with Children' which is just a little bird being a little bird. Now the blogs are going wild for all things avian, so here is my attempt at getting in on the action. Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2010 at Small Portions
About 60 years ago my grandparents started having catholic sex. This sex resulted in children,... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2010 at Small Portions
Finally a post I can enjoy. - Daddy Pilgrim
Toggle Commented May 7, 2010 on How come I’ve got bad teeth? at Small Portions
I got problems. Teeth problems. Approximately 50% of my teeth depress me. They wind me... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2010 at Small Portions