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The First Rule of Raw Milk Club

It’s not easy for me to articulate why, but I hate community (I’m also not fond of the concept of legacy). In theory, likeminded people who do things together or at least operate in overlapping social spheres with common goals would be positive, yet so much fostering of taste and values only ends up feeling inbred and smug to me.

There’s nothing wrong with creating your own chocolate from cacao or butchering your own locally sourced meat or pickling, like everything. I’ll concede that it all sounds very cool. (It’s funny that this is all coming to fruition. Eons ago, ok, in 2000, I worked at a short-lived culinary start-up founded by a respected food writer whose byline you see less regularly than you used to. I distinctly recall a group excursion to long-gone Pearson’s Barbecue where a few of us were jokingly speculating when hipsters would start getting into homemade sausages and charcuterie. Who knew it would be a reality in eight years?)

But pegging this behavior to a particular neighborhood (yes, the Times article is titled “Brooklyn’s New Culinary Movement” but this trend really only thrives in a northwestern swath of the borough among a very narrow segment of Kings County's 2.5 million residents) only serves to mythologize a scene. Maybe it’s scenes that I have issues with not community.

Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Brooklyn stated, “Every person you pass has read Michael Pollan, every person has thought about joining a raw milk club, and if they haven’t made ricotta, they want to.” Really? Raw milk clubs? Exclusive. How does one become a member in this secret dairy society? I’m waiting for a password-protected speakeasy offering unpasteurized delights. It probably already exists somewhere on my block, but you have to look like a daguerreotype come to life to gain entry.

Perhaps I’m just a killjoy. I can’t get into the countless indie cook-offs: pies, chili, casseroles that also a growing Brooklyn staple, any more than I want to be a part of chef worship, the glam other extreme exemplified by the South Beach Food & Wine Festival being covered to death by a certain strata of food blogs this week.

My feelings on this so-called movement can be summed up using the same words Bruni used to describe Buttermilk Channel, the restaurant spitting distance from my apartment that was today’s one-star review (can’t believe I’m using his prose to express my feelings). “It’s laudable and predictable in equal measures.” True that.

Of course I love food; I just find it hard to care about precious foodie fads, and ones so close to home, no less.  One might argue that the problem lies with me rather than those pursuing their supposed culinary passions. It’s very possible that I’m simply jealous of artisanal entrepreneurs because I’m tied to a day job for survival (who could afford $8 bars of chocolate without steady work?) Oh, and that there isn’t a single foodstuff I’d even be inclined to make, perfect and sell.

Hmm, the comments section of the Diner's Journal is getting mildly heated (the space was intended for questions to be passed along to the subjects of the Brooklyn-centric article, but it's filling up with cranky statements instead). I'm surprised that there's surprise over a backlash.

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  1. Jane Minty #

    BWAAA! You quoted Bruni!!

    I know what you mean though…I equally love and hate this scene too. This is partially because of negative childhood impressions of “community,” but also due to the fact that I’d never have the attention span to focus all my energy on just one thing.

    February 27, 2009

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