Alison Garwood Jones

Food trend: face plants

July 20, 2012

I’ve noticed a food trend. It’s not sexy like figs with warm honey, or technically brilliant and tasteless like foam. It’s definitely not healthy. And it’s more a style of eating than any new culinary concoction.

It involves doing a face plant in clouds of takeout wrapping paper. Anyone watching you eat like this has no idea what you’re working on — we can’t  see through all the paper and foil. Usually it involves a burrito, but not always. All your audience knows is that you’re going in, coming up to chew, then going back in, and that you’re  breathing heavily through your nose while your cheeks gather skid marks of sauce and vegetable detritus. I give it zero out of five stars for style.

The first time I witnessed it I couldn’t help thinking, ‘You’re ramming that food down one hole until it comes out another.’ It’s that crass to watch.

Has anyone else noticed that people have stopped directly touching their food? Fear of germs and the rise of hand sanitizing gels have probably contributed to this. So did the necessary changes to environmental packaging standards, from Styrofoam boxes back to waxed paper. Remember this olde delivery systeme that gave you no choice but to directly pick up the contents?

McDonald’s Styrofoam Big Mac container, circa 1990

Back in the day when I ordered a McDonald’s cheeseburger (sans box, but with paper), I’d completely remove the damp sandwich from its yellow wrapper and chomp my way through, occasionally losing a plop or three of ketchup. Most times, though, it was too dry and too old to drip. Still, mess is the biggest reason why folks today don’t remove the wrapping on big production numbers like burritos. It would be like slicing open an intestine.

The Breakfast Burrito. There’s that cloud of paper!

Alien anyone?

But the trend is spreading. I’ve seen people refuse to touch “clean food” like granola bars (the dry ones, not the sticky honey or chocolate-coated ones). They eat them like toothpaste, by pushing the product up from the bottom of the wrapper until it’s safely in their mouth. And when it comes to burgers, they’re only half-unwrapping them, even at the table. They slowly push or peel the paper back until they’ve consumed the whole thing. Not once do they pick it up, feel the weight of it, engage with it. NEWSFLASH: ten minutes after posting this, I got a message from my friend, Carolyn. She had a Whopper at Burger King last night and said it’s now being served in a half wrapper inside the box. “I only touched the burger when it became absolutely necessary,” she said.

This is not a diss against junk food. It’s just that I’m all in favour of getting intimate with every hamburger I encounter. I like rolling up my sleeves in advance of the condiment stream down my arm.

Our relationship to food is sacred, or it should be. I’d just like to see us honouring this special occasion where our senses converge.

The naked hamburger

 

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