“Just like the music of, say, Drag City bands on a nineties campus, food is now viewed as a legitimate option for a hobby, a topic of endless discussion, a playground of one-upmanship, and a measuring stick of cool” – Michael Idov
Our generation’s relationship with food and dining has shifted from pure nutrition to a kind of cultural capital. Food has become a way for people to meet, interact, and prove that they are in the know. Michael Idov explores this hipster food culture through his case study of Diane Chang, “When Did Young People Start Spending 25% of Their Paychecks on Pickled Lamb’s Tongues?”Chang is a young New York woman who despises being called a foodie as she explains, “When I hear the word foodie, I think of Yelp. I don’t want to be lumped in with Yelp” (102). Idov chronicles this movement from the old and fusty discussing fine dining to the “Generation X ethic” as a two-pronged endeavor: the growing use of social media and cell phone technology, but also the restaurant revolution in terms of aesthetic dining (102). The restaurants changed and so the culture around the food changed, too.
Diane Chang is the epitome of this new youth culture movement; she spends her paychecks on rent and food, searches for restaurants no one’s written about, and like a true food hipster, she immerses herself in everything food culture – she even prints her own food publication. Idov seems amused and drawn in by Chang’s antics, yet recognizes that he may never truly know the extent of Chang’s passion as, “at age 35, [he experiences] the full extent of feeling old and out of touch” (104).
Chang’s food obsession is also intriguing to me. While I do not personally know anyone with her level of food passion, food and food culture have continued to sneak into my life. Whether it’s through different cities’ food Instagrams, the fast-moving “Tasty” videos that have become all the rage on Facebook, or even mason jar recipes on Pinterest, this new kind of food culture has permeated most of our lives.
This new relationship with food does not equate to just a type of nourishment that fills us up anymore. Now, food must satisfy a list of requirements: image, look, taste, backstory, spirituality. It seems like today, fulfilling hunger often comes in last. The best example of a current food fad is kale. Kale was a mystical vegetable that was supposed to cure every health concern while also being environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, it had the taste of an old rubber soled shoe and turned out to horrible for you in large quantities.
Even I have even fallen victim to this hipster ideal. I spent last summer interning in Charleston and quickly became wrapped up in the vibrant Charleston food scene. Too afraid to go eat alone, I spent three weeks fantasizing about all the meals I could be eating until my boyfriend came and visited me. I forced him to the nicest, hippest restaurant I could find only to eat crumbling, flavorless miniature snap pea waffles and chase crispy duck wings around my plate with a fork (I was too afraid to eat it with my hands).
After that debacle, I swore off food trends.
Until, that is, I found one that I could get behind. The somewhat tongue-in-cheek Taco Cleanse offers a “diet” of solely tacos, for all three meals of the day. It actually does help you lose weight while also employing a kind of dogma that the spiritual foodies out there could get behind. For this recipe, I employed another food trend of vegetarian substitutes with my new favorite food, buffalo cauliflower. The spice of the sauce and the crunch of the cauliflower leave me satisfied in the areas I find important: taste, texture, and keeping me full. This recipe allows for a great deal of interpretation and plenty of opportunities to Instagram.
Buffalo Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos
Recipe adapted from Making Thyme for Health
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 8 small or 6 large tacos
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium-size head cauliflower, florets chopped
3 tablespoons hot sauce or sriracha
1 tablespoon olive oil or other high heat oil
juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large tortillas or 8 small
suggested toppings: sliced cabbage, diced green onions, avocado, hot sauce/Sriracha, diced jalapeno
- Preheat oven to 425°F and grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the hot sauce with the olive oil and seasonings. Add the chickpeas and the cauliflower and to the bowl and toss until evenly coated. Transfer to the baking sheet and cook in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Once cauliflower and chickpeas are done, remove from the oven. Top tortillas with cabbage, and then layer with the chickpeas and cauliflower. Serve warm with suggested toppings and enjoy!
––By Alyx Eva