‘Yes, some food is better than other food’
Rob Lyons answers readers’ questions on Jamie Oliver, food snobbery, and his very own tuna pasta surprise.
Rob, you often criticise the concept of junk food, but surely it is possible to say some types of food are simply better than other types? Is it not possible that food snobs simply exercise better judgement?
Jo Fallows, UK
Yes, some food is better than others. But ‘good food’ is seen to be synonymous with a whole bunch of other ideas, like ‘natural’, ‘real’, ‘artisan’, ‘expensive’, ‘local’, ‘organic’ and ‘small-scale’. ‘Bad food’ is equated to ‘processed’, ‘industrialised’, ‘fake’ and ‘cheap’. These concepts really need to be untangled. If we did that, we could get back to making proper food judgements, of which I see only two being useful most of the time. First, is it nutritious? Second, does it taste good?
I’ve had the pleasure of eating at some really good restaurants over the past few years. Some of those meals have been excellent; some have been disappointing. The same goes for mass-produced foods. Some are great all the time, some are good once in a while, some are just crap and I wonder why anybody bothers with them. If we get the prejudices out of the way, then we are free to take pleasure in what we eat. If we allow fears about health and the environment, or snobbery about how food is produced, to cloud our judgement, then we will miss out on some real pleasures…
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