Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stop the Peer Pressure

I have talked a lot about how much I love living here in Atlanta. It is the right place for me at this time of my life, and the city and it’s people have treated me really well.

However, there is something about Atlanta’s culture that has begun to irk me a bit.

First, some background on me. Someday, I will live in New York City – whether in the metro area or actually in town. It’s not even a matter of “if” but “when.” One of the biggest things I love about that town is that you can live your entire life in one spot on a city block, and never get close to trying all of the restaurants around you. There are close to 19,000 eating establishments on that little island alone, compared to 12,000 in the entire metro Atlanta area, which spreads some 8000 square miles and 28 counties.

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In New York, sheer volume and turnover rate combine into a never-ending food quest. It’s no wonder sites like Serious Eats have trouble picking just one “favorite bagel” or “favorite cookie shop” in a place with hundreds of choices for each. No one person can say they have eaten at all the best places in town. Everyone can explore on their own agendas.

Here in Atlanta, the “quest” is ... well, not so much. Sure, you can venture thirty minutes OTP and check out places in Milton (cute little area with a great pub, by the way) or Fayetteville. There are adorable mom-and-pop places dying to be found, and some of the best food in the city can be discovered in a historic home somewhere off a city square.

But here’s my issue. Sure, it’s awesome to find those cute little places. But due to the size of our fair city, those places come in relatively small numbers. And thus, every other foodie in town is also headed to that exact same little place. Even worse, if you don’t make it out to said little place (e.g. Me to Miller Union or 4th and Swift ... yet), I have noticed a distinct feeling of being part of an “out” crowd.

My confession: In Atlanta, I feel pressured by food blogs and foodie people on Facebook and Twitter, and whenever talk of restaurants comes up in conversation with foodie friends. This is how those exchanges go: I should have already gone to Super Pan months ago because omg they are the best sandwich place EVER. How have I not been to that fantastic Asian place on Buford Highway? I am missing out!! And that new meat-and-three place on the West Side is juts to-die-for, everyone is loving it and you can't get a reservation for weeks.

And this is me at the end of those conversations: Totally overwhelmed.

I know it is the duty of the restaurant columnists and bloggers to keep us, the public, informed. And I really do love hearing about the latest and greatest in our fair (little) city, especially places with affordable 5-star menus. I just wish the general tone of those conversations would be less haughty about where to eat out. I happen to love my neighborhood pub’s menu, and enjoy hitting up some of my other favorite places over and over. If I don’t make it to that new place with the little plates of trendy food, I don’t want to feel like I am going to be labeled as boring or not hip enough by default.

So fellow foodies, you may not realize you are doing it, but it's gotten to a level of peer pressure. Enjoy your meals, share your tips, but just be aware of how you phrase things in the end. Just because we aren’t brunching with you at that hip new place in town, doesn’t mean we aren’t off enjoying an equally great meal somewhere else, be it at the cheap neighborhood place or in our own cozy homes :)

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4 comments:

Meg said...

I'm totally there with you, Katherine! There are so many places to go out and try, but I have to be mindful of my budget and my waistline. How do we fit it all in but continue to frequent your favorites?

Brittany said...

I sometimes feel that way in SF too! It's the worst. :(

Merideth said...

Katherine,
I totally agree with you. As an amature food blogger, I can't keep up with the real foodies in town.
However, since I started I have noticed trade offs. My shoe, entertainment, and fashion budget has been replaced by restaurants and a gym membership! I love that you take the time to post great recipes so everyone can cook amazing food at home.

Hope you're well :-)

Katherine Malone said...

I am glad you all agree!

Meg - I hear that. And funny you should mention that bc I was highly conscious of trying not to be hypocritical haha :)

I try to balance my own posts about food to be budget and nutritionally healthy (Thanks Merideth!) and also including options to eat at home on your own. A balance is def needed, and I just want to offer options - not make it seem like omg you are missing out if you don't try it :)