A little too much coffee and Roberts' Rules.


16 December 2020

Bon(fire of the vanities) Appetit

by Jon

Alexandra DeSanctis (twitter) notes Bon Appetit can't even get the politics of saffron right.

If you praise Afghan saffron, you "deligitimize" Iranian saffron by failing to condemn the US sanctions.

BA is fundamentally an escapist project. It sells a life you do not have, using ingredients and equipment you cannot acquire. At least, you cannot acquire all of it. BA produces videos of Harvard graduates literally reinventing the wheel, reproducing mass market foods from scratch, in a sky-kitchen spreading over Manhattan. Its hosts are artisians -- the ingenuius individusals, devoted to a craft, in a famous locale, with witty friends.

But BA can't soar above mass-market food without commodified publishing and commodified audiences. If it were not for millions of people paying attention -- literally paying with their attention -- and buying ridiculously priced goods from advertisers, only the fantastically wealthy could afford to make gourmet skittles (twelve million views) or one-off instant ramen(eleven million views) in a Manhattan sky-kitchen. And if no one else could watch them being made, it's not clear why the fantastically wealthy would even care.

What new fantasy is BA peddling, then? What dream requires engaging in the realpolitik of saffron? Why must your own nation's sanctions policy (approved by a democratic legislature, to deter widely-hated nuclear war!) be tangentially denounced in an article about the cullinary uses of rare seasoning?

If Conde Naste used to sell BA to temporarily embarrassed millionaires, it now seems to sell to the holier than thou.