This is not a pity party. This is what goes inside my head when scrolling on facebook and Instagram, and I see stories and sponsored posts.
Food topics are something that will always get me going. If the talk didn’t start there, it will go there eventually. TRY ME. It is something I am very passionate about and I’m always looking for ways to learn more and share the knowledge to my circles, the actual or virtual ones.
We can all agree that this year has been a very shitty one, and particularly being in Lebanon has not made things a little more digestible. Now that lockdown is not enforced anymore, and social distancing is not being practiced except in establishments that might get fined for violations, I am seeing little changes in behaviors related to food, and some behaviors that have not changed, and in my opinion they should.
If this pandemic had taught us anything, it is how important food essentials are… and toilet paper to others. I am always fascinated by how reliant we are on boxed and ready-made goods. And I don’t mean the ultra-processing. Lockdown helped people find the joy of cooking and baking and making things from scratch. From preparing lunches and dinners to making banana bread and cinnamon rolls. Sourdough starter was for the more adventurous. We learned about food again. About the value of ingredients. How much time things take to prepare. The effort put into making one single dish. And how many ingredients go into a sauce we take for granted. It is beautiful to see facebook groups asking about making preserves and jams and pickles again from their homegrown produce. I am afraid though that this will be lost as we go back to “NORMAL”, and I see it already fading away again.
Being a person on the internet, and being someone whose words are seen and opinion is asked for on the internet (I am trying to avoid the term influencer) I feel that I have a responsibility of reflecting the culture I am in. In the same authenticity that I always presented. With the current times we are going through, especially the skyrocketing prices of goods in Lebanon, I have been cutting costs as much as possible even on food stuff to make whatever money I make last the longest in the face of probably the worst economic situation we’ve ever had as a country in the past few decades.
With that said, I’ll tell you about some of the amendments and measures we took at home at the start of the crisis, even before lockdown. We reduced –close to none– going to restaurants (knowing that we didn’t frequent them much anyways), we started comparing prices in supermarkets and looking for alternatives, we started looking for the sources (factories and makers) and contacting them directly, for example we found a man who sells dairy products in bulk and started buying 5kgs of yogurt per week and making our own Labneh, we stopped buying butter and cream and yellow cheeses that doubled and tripled in price, beef and lamb too and looked for bulk or wholesale vendors instead, same for grains and flour and other home products.
We have managed to reduce spending on food, even though we are now cooking everyday for 5 persons as opposed to when we used to go to work and not eat in every day. These changes have been reflected in my posts, mainly on instagram as I haven’t been active here. No more restaurants or coffee shops or bars. Less fancy home-cooked foods and more archive stuff or humble cooking lifted up with pretty photos that I create. We found ways to do activities in which we don’t have to spend a lot of money and we’d take our food with us from home.
I am not mad at these measures as this is what is happening in people’s homes away from the show-off of Instagram.
The video above is a compilation of clips from the most well-known Chef in Lebanon Chef Antoine explaining that he’s not using certain ingredients because they became super expensive, which made me love him even more
Culture adapts to the times. And clinging to the same habits in these times is a sign of being detached and out of place. Which brings me to my point. Online food habits. I am not talking here about foodies abroad who are not that affected by something like our inflation and collapsed economy. I have a strong opinion about the behavior of our beloved foodies whom I feel are so out of touch with reality for their abundant table spreads of restaurant foods or luxury home food items that are now out of reach to more people. It’s like rubbing it to people’s faces and saying “Enjoy looking at me eating what you can’t have and that’s how close you’ll get to it“.
That’s not to mention that some of the food that these foodies lay on the table and are supposed to eat goes to waste. Hadn’t I seen that with my own eyes, I would have dismissed it. A year or so ago, a 60k+ instagram foodie had a table filled with plates of food untouched for more than two hours while my friends and I had and finished multiple servings at the food bar. We left and their table remained untouched. We saw the photos and videos of the abundant table later as stories on their instagram.
Those are the same people flaunting their “luxury” lifestyle now from resorts and rooftops and desperately waiting for the airport to open to go to their vacations. All while cursing the country and the situation with a glass of Prosecco in their hand. I have to also mention those who cursed people online and called them names for being out during lockdown and now they’re out and about with large crowds in resorts and parties like there’s nothing going on.
That doesn’t mean I am against leisure and finding time to treat yourself to whatever you find suitable. And I am not against eating out when you can afford it as it is also a way to support the economy and the few remaining jobs, and maybe I’m too paranoid, but duuuuuuuude!!!! Some things don’t add up.
Is it only me who sees this and facepalms so hard?
The overdone cheese pulls. The burgers drowned in cheese. The confectionary soggy-soaked in syrups. The horribly neon-colored foods. Ultra-processing and excessive sugars. The fake abundance. The pretentiousness of food. The disgusting sloppy munching. The horrible photos of food, emphasized by atrocious sharpening and saturation.
And on top of it all, food recommendations coming from people who can’t cook. You are not Anthony Bourdain.
Those are among the many trends I cannot stand in today’s food culture.
And I was hoping that after the sense of shortage we are still going through in Lebanon, things would be humbled down. But I am not very optimistic.
It is time to reconsider our food culture, our food consumption culture. To give more attention the humbleness of food, of the simple yet rich ingredients at hand locally. Appreciate available food. Reduce waste, and limit show-off excessiveness.
How do you think things should do?
What behaviors get on your nerves, other than bloggers ranting about other influencers like I just did?