I was recently waiting in line at Porter Road Butcher and the women in front of me casually addressed the two men behind the counter.
“So is this just like a pork roast from Kroger?” she asked while confidently chewing her gum.
One man just stared at her with disdain and annoyance. The silence was long and uncomfortable. Finally his colleague jumped in and replied:
“Yes Mam, you would cook it in the exact same way, but the flavor and nutritional benefits are better.”
This conversation has had me thinking for days. The slow food movement is a refreshing and wonderful surprise in our culture after decades of TV dinners and the Fast Food uprising. However there is one huge problem with our new craft cocktail, boutique butcher, food blogger nation: condescending assholes.
Ok, yes, the women’s question to the butcher initially caused my eyes to roll and I was slightly dumbfounded like butcher #1, however I realized something. This is a movement that we want to spread, not cease. By making the uneducated feel intimidated to ask questions, we are pulling the reins on the important process of empowering small farms, encouraging our children to learn about where their food comes from and therefore helping them to make healthier choices…not to mention putting a dent in the everlasting David and Goliath battle between Mom and Pop and (insert big bad corporation here). Butcher #2 gave the women a simple answer without any level of superiority, ensuring her return as well as coddling her potential curiosities about local, organic meat.
Every server, bartender, boutique butcher, or savvy food blogger, needs to rethink that arrogant expression that involuntarily envelopes your face every time a newer, greener diner asks for an order of pom-as-frytes, or if they don’t know what a Jerusalem Artichoke is. At least they are trying something outside of their comfort zone, I appreciate them for that, and your snarky tone isn’t making it any easier on them. Oh, and bar keep, not everyone wants a twenty minute lesson on Peruvian Pisco. If they want to slam that cocktail without dissecting the minutia of every one of those thirty-six ingredients and order another, guess what….that’s a good thing! Build that bar tab babe. Almost nobody gives a fuck if you just got back from a four day seminar in New Orleans on Amaro, and you should be able to recognize your customers who do. Using care in your selection of when, where and with who you choose to share your knowledge with takes great maturity, reading people is an important part of the human condition, and the more you nurture that skill, the more rewarding your relationships can be.
A good friend has always said that the most important phrase a human can admit is “I don’t know”. I agree with him, sharing this candid fact, all though difficult and sometimes embarrassing, is what will ensure that individuals continue to learn, rather than stifle their opportunities to grow. I appreciate every man, woman, child, and animal that has contributed to the warm, thoughtful and inspiring love that is the slow food movement. Please, let’s not pollute its purity with shameless ego that has no place in what is suppose to be the world’s only truly nourishing art.