I love Helen Rosner, the New Yorker’s food writer, and this interview is great.
On the challenges that come with developing taste:
“I think of that as the cliff of connoisseurship. When you start paying attention to something, the margins become much, much, much smaller – you know, the more knowledge and expertise you have, the more experience you have. And these tiny margins start mattering more and more and more and more and more until you’re effectively communicating in a language that is unintelligible to anybody who is outside of your micro subreddit, or whatever it might be.
“And you know, it’s nice to be obsessed. It’s nice to find joy in knowledge and mastery and expertise.”
On the idea of “elevating” (typically non-European) cuisines (typically by making them more closely resemble European foods):
“Even if we accept ‘elevation’ as a term, and even if we sort of engage with the idea on its own, in its own context, I think that elevating is not the same as fixing. I think one way of thinking about elevating is saying, ‘Here’s something that you have perhaps failed to appreciate because of its context.’
“And so, when somebody is doing that with food… I think that that can be quite powerful. We can debate the merits of whether culinary diplomacy is successful… but it might be a way of reaching the culture, the moneyed people and saying, ‘Hey, pay attention to this thing that you’ve previously dismissed as food that does not rise to your level, and recognize that not only are you worthy of it, but perhaps we’re not even worthy of it, it is greater than you had previously imagined.’”