Food first, taste laterPerhaps we need to instead shift our attention to actually talking about food, and stop clamouring over ‘good taste’, because, in the end, that is only a show of class anxiety.
As a regular reader of The Kathmandu Post, I have noticed a greater focus on food recently. Sometimes directly as restaurant reviews by Hantakali or in Brunch With the Post or the occasional middle-page spread on how to cook goat meat (‘It’s Dashain time, so here we goat’, September 26). While food is something that is supposed to bring people together, this incessant focus on ‘good taste’ as author and lecturer S Margot Finn says in a recent interview with Vox, seems the embodiment of desirable class identity.
I still can’t get over the irony of reading the conversation with Gagan Thapa (‘Gagan Thapa: The young people of today can’t connect with Congress’, July 28) and how ‘the young people of today can’t connect with Congress’ after seeing that the total bill from the brunch was Rs2,625 (without additional charges). Yes, Rs2,625 for a lunch (sorry, brunch) for two is not unheard of in Kathmandu; rather, it is the norm for many upper-middle-class people. However, the focus here is on the larger picture this paints: can we really take Thapa’s words seriously if we are picturing him saying it in the midst of gulping down basa fish and steamed vegetables at an arguably fancy restaurant? But the focus here is not just on Thapa, but also the type of food, its price and the restaurant.
This ‘culinary awakening’, as Vox reporter Rachel Sugar calls it, has taken over not just The Kathmandu Post but also many of its readers. The recent goat spread caused a bit of an uproar amongst some readers not because the readers believe the Post’s intent to claim that this recipe is superior to theirs. But rather because of the perceived objectification of the goat, especially at a time when some believe that we all need to be eating saag to combat climate change. So, on one end there are the meat lovers and on the other, there are the vegans, both fighting with each other for the same claim: a higher class or social status based on whose lifestyle choices are better (a dispute that will never be resolved).
Perhaps we need to instead shift our attention to actually talking about food, and stop clamouring over ‘good taste’, because, in the end, that is only a show of class anxiety.
Yutsha Dahal, Kathmandu
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