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Foie Gras, Cultural Imperialism
And Hypocrisy

Interesting piece, called I Want My Foie Grasfrom, in which two well known “foodies” — Anthony Bourdain who is the host on the Travel Channel show “No Reservations” and Michael Ruhlman, a well known author — protest against the “food police” and the society that embraces such policies as banning foie gras or trans fats:

Telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat is cultural imperialism — and deeply disturbing. That a group of people could say, “You know, how you eat and how you’ve been eating for hundreds, if not thousands, of years — traditional Jewish cuisine, Western European food since Roman times — that is wrong and should not be allowed.” I find that offensive. Ethnically insensitive, jingoistic, xenophobic, anti-human and disrespectful of the diversity of cultures on this planet, and for human history. But that’s just the kind of law that has passed — in Chicago, our second city, no less. It’s a win for the forces of darkness, willful ignorance and intolerance.

We dealt with the trans fat issue here and are in agreement with the advice given:

Look, if you don’t want to patronize a business that serves foie gras, don’t go there. Running full-page ads telling people how evil you think it is — that’s also a legitimate enterprise, in my view, and one that’s been effective in the case of anti-fur activism. But particularly as I travel so much and have come to know so many other cultures older than ours — to criminalize ways of eating, to suggest that we’ve all been wrong since Roman times, well, that kind of interference scares me. It’s like an American tourist traveling around the world stopping over in different countries, and saying, “This is wrong and you should stop that — because me and my privileged, well-fed, white friends in our comfortable shoes think so.” I respect people’s decisions. You don’t want to eat foie gras? Don’t eat it.

These guys also make the link between those looking to ban things on safety grounds, cruelty grounds and health grounds:

This reeks on so many levels. Along with other wrong-headed, easy-fix, knee-jerk reactions to perceived food scares…paints a gloomy picture of how we might be forced to eat in this country if the frightened, righteous people who want to ban everything because it might be unsafe get together with all the people who want to ban everything because it might be cruel, and the people who want to ban everything because it might be unhealthy. It’s the perfect storm.

Alas, as correct as these guys are, in this instance, I sense that the real problem is it is their own ox that is being gored:

I know I’m in peril of being thought of as some kind of culinary Ted Nugent. But for chrissake, I find hunting for sport appalling. You know how I feel about fur, about cosmetics testing on animals.

So how did I get here, defending the killing of God’s creatures? As I see it, what’s at stake is the individual’s right to choose, the future of my profession, and good taste. Not to mention a delicious organ that dates back to the beginnings of gastronomy as we know it.

It reminds me of Irving Kristol’s famous observation on liberals and pornography:

“The liberal paradigm of regulation and license has led to a society where an 18-year-old girl has the right to public fornication in a pornographic movie — but only if she is paid the minimum wage. Now you don’t have to be the father of a daughter to think that there is something crazy about this situation.”

Irving Kristol in the Wall Street Journal, 1975

What these guys don’t realize is that their desire to protect the future of chefs is no more convincing than someone else’s desire to protect the future of hunters. And the fact that they identify “good taste” with foie gras and a nice Riesling carries no more weight than those who identify good taste as wearing a divine sable shawl.

They know they don’t like these laws, these restrictions on their freedom, but they don’t really know how to construct an argument for why it is wrong. This is because they are unwilling to extend the same freedom of choice to others as they demand for themselves. For example, here is what they have to say about Ann Coulter:

“I may find Ann Coulter utterly loathsome and reprehensible on every level, and I would greatly enjoy throwing a [expletive deleted by Perishable Pundit] pie into her face…”

Not exactly the spirit of multi-cultural understanding we might hope for based on their argument.

Read the whole article here.

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