In 1895 the New York Times published a lengthy article of no little sophistication and humour in which it claimed:
…to take a serious view of eating is commonly considered in all Anglo-Saxon communities as the mark of a frivolous, if not depraved, mind.
The article stated that refined eating is a foreign notion to such communities who hew more to quantity, heterogeneity regardless of harmony and a public feasting element inherited from primitive times.
The article contrasted favourably the precise delineations of cuisine in France, e.g., bourgeois, peasant, haute, and the refinements evolved in dining in that country.
The American barbeque is cited as deriving from raucous English public entertainments. In and of itself, this is an acute observation, as is the comment that Boston baked beans is a “cisAtlantic” variation of Albion’s “pork and pease pudding”.
But now, more than 120 years later, is the Times’ view still accurate?
Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, Graham Kerr, and many more tried in their time to amend the cultural disposition noted. Did they succeed?
An apt subject for public debate, surely. The Oxford Union, or a similar body, should take it on. It could go like this:
“Proposition. In 1895 a New York Times article stated, ‘To take a serious view of eating is commonly considered in all Anglo-Saxon communities as the mark of a frivolous, if not depraved, mind’. The statement is no less true today”.
What say you?