Today, part of my job at MyCentralJersey.com and DailyRecord.com is to write for our weekly Table section, where we feature restaurants, food news and the like. So, basically, I live the dream – I visit new local restaurants, try out cool dishes and hang out with like-minded people who don’t eat to live, but live to eat.
Although I do get to meet lots of friendly restaurant owners and chefs whose mouths literally water as they describe their favorite meals, I also meet a lot of food snobs. These people generally believe that the best wines are those you can’t pronounce and the best restaurants can only be found in the hidden corners of the world.
These people really annoy me, but what has inspired this post was a man I came across recently who, because of his own professional culinary training and personal experience, seemed to think that only he could appreciate who actually knew how to barbecue (obviously, only those who live down south), only a very select few pizzerias in New Jersey knew how to make a decent pie and only he knew where to get worthy seasonings in the state.
I’m sure his culinary training has helped him discern a spectacular pie from a mediocre pie and I have no doubt that Andrew Zimmerman isn’t lying when he tells you not to miss out on that cafe when you’re in Florence. But if only a select few seasoned professionals can tell the good from the great, is it actually great? In the form of the age-old fallen-tree-in-the-forest adage, if a steak is cooked and the plate isn’t cleared, was it actually good?
The beauty of food, and what separates it from many other forms of art, is that it is made for the commoner – quite literally because we need it to survive. You don’t need a degree to tell the world that you know what tastes good – you have taste buds for that.
Sometimes, in a community of accomplished foodies, I feel like I’m the only one feels this way, while also being the only one in a room full of suited people who can’t discern the $300 wine from the $30 one.
But, I also sometimes feel like I’m the only one who knows that the best sushi place around is right down the street, and you can get authentic Korean barbecue from a restaurant with a half-lit sign from a shady joint in Edison. And taking a bite from these little-known secret spots after a long day makes it all worth it.