Natalie C. Padilla
I couldn’t say that my roommate was too happy when, upon opening our closet, she found a giant mushroom suspended in hazy liquid. This particular mushroom—also known as a SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast—was part of my kombucha tea home brew kit, merely one of many culinary tools I had randomly brought back to the apartment.
Who is to say that a Caesar salad requires more lettuce than bread? We could resign ourselves to reproduce the work of strangers, but this challenge to deconstruct can provide inspiration even when we believe a dish to be complete. Descended from Mexican-Italian heritage, I was taught from a young age the proper way to assemble pasta and the appropriate fillings for a taco. But why shouldn’t we do otherwise?
At almost any wine tasting, the same precisely obscure terminology is used to describe the taste of the drink: a scent of stone fruit, balanced flavors, excessively young tannins. But to me, a certain unknown German wine evoked more unfamiliar qualities: a scent of gasoline or paint thinner, watery—perhaps not the sort of flavor profile the traditional elitists of the wine world would deem worthy of such analysis. But I found it intriguing.
It is all part of the experience—today customers are seeking more than just tasty food or creative drinks; they are seeking a full interactive event. The décor, the menu, the restaurant staff, the customer—all contribute to a theatrical reenactment of the food culture of a distinct historical period. And what better way to build community than through this form of art, a staged dining experience based on customer participation?
Today, the term foodie describes a way of thinking rather than a way of acting. A foodie is someone committed to increasing his or her knowledge about food and—in this era—someone who sees food as art that can be produced by ordinary people rather than by a culinary elite.