I have oft highlighted the interesting writing of Dr. Fabio Parasecoli, who will speaking as a part of the Bite! series on Wednesday November 14th. This time around, he has commented on the upcoming reality TV series called Around the World in 80 Plates, which is currently airing on the Bravo network. While the premise of this series is intriguing, Parasecoli considers how it is somewhat troubling to think that one can obtain some level of expertise in local, traditional cuisine in a short visit to a particular region. However, as Parasecoli states:
…it is exhilarating to assume that a few mouthfuls can make you a culinary expert, and that’s the fantasy the show is selling.
While it may be exhilarating, it is this fast-version of tradition that is arguably at the root of a current obsession with “authenticity” that can often be described as shallow and fleeting. While chefs might argue (and certainly with good reason) that it is impossible to understand and create these dishes effectively and authentically after only a few hours in the territory, it is also important to note the broader social implication that we can quickly mimic tradition without understanding the broader contexts within which it was developed. This is both disingenuous to the original, and deleterious to our own traditions.
We could stand to examine our own food traditions a bit more deeply, a bit more slowly, and to savor those as we might the frenetic version of that of a faraway, exotic territory.
But, yeah, I’ll still watch.