Unpalatable Values: Culture as Gastronomy

To American readers the name A.A. Gill may mean nothing, but in England the restaurant and television critic of the Sunday Times is a cultural force to be reckoned with.  A witty autodidact, with plenty of disdain for the pieties of the moment, to easily deafened ears he is a Jeremiah of the petit-four and British journalism’s loosest cannon.

To my own callous ears, Gill is a typical New York neoconservative.  What betrays him, I dare say, is the compulsion to appear forever young by espousing opinions that old fogeys are unlikely to hold in order to appeal to the tall blondes in tight jeans and pearly cashmere sweaters whom he vaguely imagines smiling in liberated approval over the morning’s skinny lattes.  Scratch a neoconservative, and you will find the Nordic dream.

The other day Gill disgorged his frustration on a television program, entitled From Farm to Pharma, in which a former food critic from the New Statesman by the name of Bee Wilson, apparently neither tall nor a blonde, was found guilty of “a partisan kicking of manufactured food.”  Gill had even looked up the hapless woman’s thesis at Cambridge, “on something like French utopian socialism,” as well as a book she had written, “on adulteration, which is like adultery but with cheese.”  I did say Gill was witty.  On the other hand, we all know the type of woman he...

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