Poison pixels are raging over at the Times, where food editor Amanda Hesser sat down to talk with Virginia Heffernan, who writes about pop culture and the Internet. Heffernan drew ire from her recent post on “the great clash” between foodies and techies, and the conversation with Hesser is apparently intended to calm the rising tide of angry comments.
Let’s ignore for a moment that Heffernan traffics in false opposites, pitting foodies against techies when it’s quite possible to be both. Let’s forget that the class divide over food is one-sided: no foodie thinks they’re sticking it to your average joe when they buy farmstand eggs. Let’s even ignore that Heffernan herself is not clearly in the cake-mix and fast-food camp: she shops organic, and her idea of convenience food are perfectly healthy canned chick peas and rotisserie chicken.
What does their talk have to do with music? Heffernan brought it up herself.
She suggests that foodies like food because they are hard-wired for material things and “3D stuff” – I think she’s trying to say that Hesser and other foodies are materialistic. Heffernan, on the other hand, seeks refuge in abstract things: “literature, philosophy, music, film, TV, and especially digitization.”
Judging from the attitude Heffernan takes to food – easy is always better, and eating thoughtfully is needlessly time-consuming and elitist – one can only guess that her playlist doesn’t include classical music. It’s not what we’re used to, it takes too much effort to figure out what’s good, it’s expensive, it takes work to like it, you could hear her arguing. Wait, am I talking about music or leafy greens?
Classical music used to be marketed as something that’s good for you, and now as something that’s fun. When will marketers take a page out of the food movement’s play book and call it what it is: a meaningful activity that takes some work to fully enjoy, just like anything else worth doing? Classical music – like broccoli, wine, stinky cheese, and for that matter literature and philosophy – is an acquired taste. And thanks to digitization, classical music is cheaper and more convenient than ever.