Once, I was blown off by a guy who makes pickles for a living. We were both alone at a bar in Park Slope one afternoon and he asked me what I was reading. He was an art director or something before but now he spent his days knee-deep in brine. "I love it," he said, doing something weird with his eyes to let me know how sincere he was being. He talked about his pickles for about 45 minutes, during which I was able to conclude not only that they are much more flavorful as a garnish than a subject but that it is possible to have an extremely large ego even while you discuss the merits of canning.
“So, what do you do?” he asked absently while waving down the bartender for another beer.
“I write articles,” I said shyly, and in this short break from talking about him and his cucumbers, he had pivoted so his back was toward me and he was facing another woman.
“Sorry,” he tossed over his shoulder. “Food friend”
This is when I started to hate foodies, especially foodie men, who somehow making even preparing simple foods a macho, one-sided event. If a dude who makes pickles for a living can ask you if you’ve heard of his spicy asparagus with the same sort of smugness as a guy in Williamsburg who asks you if you’ve heard of his band then, women, we are in trouble.
The thing is I happen to love pickles. I will buy a jar of eight dollar McClure’s from the farmer’s market just like the next shmuck (damn those samples!) But the beauty of things like pickles is their inherent down-to-earthness.
It is the same with men who are just buying the food. I used to have daydreams about walking around the farmer’s market with a man and picking out food to cook together. In my fantasy I am wearing a sundress and we are stopping to laugh at some misshapen squash or feeding each other a sugar snap pea. In reality the men I’ve found who want to linger at farmer’s markets are like obsessive teenage boys at a vinyl shop.
“What kind of soil were these grown in,” they’ll demand, brandishing a clump of radishes at a sexily disheveled Brooklyn rooftop gardener. “This is a rare one,” they can be heard murmuring softly to a lumpy heirloom tomato. I knew a guy who practically went berserk during ramps season. “It’s. Only. One week. A. Year,” he said, breathing as though he needed the aid of a paper bag.
We will be doing men a favor if we don’t let this become a thing any more than it already has. For those men who neurotically look at the origin of every ingredient, who regularly order things like pork belly and make fun of how I say “radicchio” (you know who you are asshole), it’s fine to eat healthy and homegrown food but you can be quieter and nicer about it. Last time I checked, you just bought it and assembled it. I didn’t think I was Mies Van der Rohe when I put together my Ikea dresser.
For those men who actually do grow and butcher and preserve the stuff we buy on the weekend to impress people, it would be nice to remind them that food is vital and growing it is sexy because it makes you seem down to earth.
In other words: Hey buddy, you smell like vinegar, lose the attitude.