Giants won the second World Series in three years. Niners went to the Super Bowl. Warriors are in the playoffs. There has been a lot of smack talk about bandwagoning and Bay Area teams in the past few seasons. Bona fide sports fans, your points are valid. Bandwagoning is a real issue. But I’m here to expose posers in the San Francisco food scene, an epidemic like that of Bay Area sports.
I came to SF State from the humble suburbia of Castro Valley in the East Bay. My senior year of high school, the first Indian restaurant opened. Thai food was becoming more accepted. I was suffocating in a suburbia of families and retirees who didn’t venture much further than the Italian chain restaurant Rigatoni’s and tart frozen yogurt. My family and I would eat out in the city, Oakland or Berkeley as much as we could for special occasions. Castro Valley just didn’t cut it.
When I came to San Francisco for college, I was excited to dive into the food scene — to be with others like me. I wanted cohorts willing to search for the freshest ciabatta and unafraid to venture the Tenderloin for Pakistani kebabs.
But what I found was worse than the small-town, picky eaters at home: foodie posers. Foodie posers feign food knowledge and adoration for their own recognition.
With every young, trendy city and a growing food culture comes the annoying, inescapable problem of foodie posers. Who isn’t a self-proclaimed foodie in San Francisco? Anyone who has taste buds and can write a Yelp review is a foodie. Anyone who enjoys going to Off the Grid on Friday nights is a foodie. Anyone who Instagrams their plated salad is a foodie. Anyone who buys organic is a foodie.
People back home don’t act like they’re foodies. They eat crap, and aren’t ashamed of it. Here, being a foodie is “cool” and makes you “cultured,” so everyone pretends to be one.
I’m willing to bet half of self-proclaimed foodies don’t even like to cook. They are young people with enough cash to buy expensive, beautifully plated food and then tweet about it.
Just because this salmon blends Japanese, French and Californian cuisine, doesn’t mean it tastes good. Just because the interior of this restaurant is charming with a chalk board menu, reclaimed wood tables and mismatched dining ware means the setting will be perfect for Instagram, but doesn’t mean the food will be cooked properly.
Here’s my deal. Since being a foodie makes you “cool” and “cultured,” everyone latches onto food trends. Suddenly, any place that serves a certain cuisine or dish is incredible. Ramen is a popular food. But every new ramen house will not necessarily be the bomb. It will most likely be some joe trying to make a dime off of a food trend; imitating an art in the cheapest, most efficient way possible, but charging extravagant prices.
Bona fide foodies will know this and spot fakers in a second. Foodie posers will not and be fooled into writing positive Yelp reviews, bragging about their transcendental experience.
I appreciate the wide curiosity and genuine interest San Francisco has in new, unusual foods. It gives exotic cuisines a fighting chance. It allows the small, divey restaurants to stay alive.
What I’m annoyed at is the pretention around “cool” foods that don’t deserve the hype and praise. I’m annoyed at the people who parade them around for their own recognition. And dammit, will you stop Instagraming your burrito? (How different can this Instagramed burrito be than the last?)
Where are the tastemakers at? Where are my bona fide foodies? I know you’re out there. I still have hope. I will dig through the Instagram rubbish and amateur Yelp reviews to find you.