I attended a very interesting panel at the Miami Book Fair International on Saturday entitled "Why We Eat The Way We Eat Now".
The standing room only audience pictured here
and I listened to the three panelists pictured here
discuss “Why We Eat What We Eat”. The panel included David Kamp, Laura Shapiro, and Molly O’Neill. This illustrious panel was moderated by Marcel Escoffier.
Here are Molly and David conversing in low tones
before they launched into a discussion about how we as Americans got here; how we became the eaters we are now.
David Kamp asserted that our current culinary tastes were formed by Craig Claiborne, Julia Child, and James Beard and that the new food movements aren’t elitist as many claim/bemoan. He asked: what’s wrong with better/higher quality food that’s more readily available? He also wondered aloud why Americans have such a dysfunctional relationship with food. To wit: Americans will happily wait on line for a $400 iphone; however, when Kamp suggested that Americans should spend $5 a week more on their food budget, they cried that don’t have the cash.
Laura Shapiro's comments focused upon Julia Child and Julia’s relationship with food. According to Shapiro, Julia wanted to change Americans relationship with food from the outset. She wanted Americans to “get in there with their food”. Julia made this notion particularly famous when she told her audience: “you’re alone in the kitchen; who’s going to see” after she flipped a potato pancake which splattered everywhere, broke in two and she patched it up. According to Shapiro’s exhaustive research, Julia’s lasting message was: Trust food.
Molly O’Neill asserted that in our supposedly classless society, food tastes are a determinant of class. She relayed how her mother would look down upon the neighbor children whose mother gave them coca cola for breakfast. She then talked about the earliest known American food writing, colonists waxing poetic about the American bounty and their feelings of entitlements to partake in it.
Overall, it was dynamic discussion about class, taste-makers, politics and our current collective relationship with food in America.