The New York Times’ infatuation with the Portland culinary scene has inflated the egos of food fanatics across the city. The Rose City’s wealth of food carts and whimsical eateries hints of post-modern chic. Meanwhile, an influx of gastronomic dynamos has put the Rose City on the culinary map, crafting elegant food from the region’s ample resources.
There is no denying that Portland is a dream destination for the discerning gourmand. The city takes its food very seriously.
Not surprisingly, foodies across the city were outraged over an Oregonian article praising Portland’s more pedestrian eateries.The list of chain restaurants and fast-food eateries enraged culinary bloggers and local food fanatics alike.
For the Oregonian, the backlash in rival publications Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury proved the daily was increasingly out-of-touch with young readers. According to one poster on the Portland Mercury blog, “Strategically, The Mercury has a future in media – the O article is a prime example of why their publication does not.”
Meanwhile, self-confessed foodies took offense to Lee William’s writing. According to one Willamette Week poster, “The dumbshit who wrote the article claimed that foodies don’t like American cheese (and “ultimately,” hate America -perhaps in a shit attempt at a joke). Well, foodies like locally produced cheese, but tend to dislike orange vegetable oil solids (or “American Cheese”).”
Writer Lee Williams’ barb that foodies hate American Cheese – and America by default, unintentionally politicizes the dispute and creates an “Us vs. Them” mentality. Says Williams, “Call them gourmands, connoisseurs, picky eaters, or just plain old snobs. Foodies blog, write and chat about pet restaurants, trends and chefs. They leave little room on their plates or in their hearts for fast food, family dining and the untrendy. And they can be pretty mean to some places we love.”
Williams creates a dichotomy between perceived urbane elitists and the rest of the population: normal folks who are in to simple, stripped-down food. As critics of the article argued, the lines are not as distinct as the Oregonian would lead you to believe.
The subsequent flurry of media attention and reader response proves the old adage, “you are what you eat”.
In the future, the Oregonian will surely consider this fact before green-lighting similarly incendiary articles.