Pretentious posers taint San Francisco's food scene

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.

8 Comments on "Pretentious posers taint San Francisco's food scene"

  1. The real foodies aren’t on Yelp or Instagram, because they’re not trying to show off what they’ve eaten, they’re enjoying it in the moment that they’re eating it.

  2. While I agree with the author’s point that there is a rise in food enthusiasm in the last five or so years, I got a stronger sense that the author decided take an otherwise generally positive development in contemporary society – increased business activity, rise of alternative businesses, sharing of culture, more opportunities for social gatherings, and in general, innovation — and spin it like it’s a really, really dire thing (in fact, the author called it an “epidemic”) that must be stopped. Like seriously? Was she simply peeved that it took her 40 minutes to get her earl gray at Bi-Rite last weekend and she couldn’t think of anything else to write about?

    Maybe my disagreement stems from the fact that I do tend to get really excited over the new ramen shop. And I do take pictures of my food. And I do follow all the food and cooking blogs galore. But I don’t think that makes me a “foodie poser”? And I have no idea what that even means. I’m fine with condemning people who are straight up snobby. If that’s who the author is after, then just say that. The problem with this article is that it’s too essentialist. It’s supported by anecdotal observations of people taking pictures of their food, tweeting about their food, going to Off the Grid, getting excited about the new ramen shop, or enjoying some Franco-Californian-Japanese salmon. And what is really wrong with that? Does it really bother the author to no end that someone enjoys cataloguing their food experiences? Is it bad form that I love to go to Off the Grid to get my chicken tikka masala burrito?

    And in general, I take issue with the word “foodie.” As this article points out, it has gotten such a bad rep and simply because everyone is so into food these days. Does the author just want to be the only person who knows about and is into food? The only negative externality that has come out of all of this is rise in incredibly long lines at beloved restaurants.

    The food atmosphere these days is obviously a trend well-worth pointing out and even make fun of! I enjoy gifs, Internet spoofs, and memes about people waiting an hour or more for weekend brunch. But to sit down and publish a piece of writing to criticize or attempt to make an intellectual argument against “foodie posers” is quite silly and a waste of time.

    • If you don’t like what you’re reading here about foodie posers, there’s always the Bold Italic

  3. Is it just me or the term foodie just tacky? Also kids these days still use a term like: the bomb? Are people who use ” ” around words cool and cultured or are they ” ” posers? Haven’t we already read numerous articles about the “food culture” (I used it for everyone’s enjoyment) for the past oh I don’t know 30 years? Also is a person who calls oneself a foodie really a foodie? Or are they a poser foodie? Who is anyone? I’ve been to Off the Grid once, am I a foodie? How serious of an issue is bandwagoning? Should we contact the mayor, the governor or the motherf**king President? Perhaps the FBI, and the CIA and the motherf**king congressmen?

  4. I LOVE this article. It brings out conflict and color in a foodie article…Bravo! And I can relate to posers shadowing your mojo. Ha!

  5. Great article!

    SF is a great city — but let’s face it, it’s culture has gotten watered-down by wealthy yuppie transplants, while native San Franciscans and blue-collar residents have been priced out years ago.

    The “foodie” culture and culture in general is more real and genuine in Oakland and the East Bay for better or for worse. Well said about SF and its fake sports fans…Most Giants’ fans are such lame bandwagon tools.

    SF used to be so cultured, liberal and down to earth…Now as you say it’s nothing but “pretentious posers” and fake “liberal” moderate conservatives. Transplants simply looking for trendy social status. It will only get worse as rent and housing prices in SF continue rise.

  6. Chimp out | May 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

    Some people are perfectly fine with wolfing down on fried chicken, watermelons and bananas. I know how to spot these affirmative action chimps on yelp and steer clear away of those restaurants.

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