Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the whole food

This is something you will not see in Mexico.  At least, not in my neck of the jungle.

That Barnum and Baileyesque sign is in front of the Whole Foods store in Bend.  If you have not wandered the aisles of consumerism lately, you may not know the name.  But Whole Foods is to the upwardly-mobile foodie set as Aspen is to the Hollywood set.

Food has become an American defining factor in establishing one's class status.  At least, how shoppers want to portray themselves.

The phenomenon is not entirely new.  Reagan-leaning yuppies did their best to cover up their family origins by buying BMW convertibles and flashy condominiums.

Little has changed.  Now, Obama-leaning professionals cover up their family origins through their food choices.  You can spot them with their mating calls of "my mother boiled all of her vegetables" or "I never knew arugula existed until I attended Bryn Mawr."

I know all of that because I went through both phases.  With my red BMW and now my craving for Boar's Head pepperoni.

But there is no getting around the fact that foodie Meccas lend themselves to self-parody.  I can only imagine what my Mexican neighbors would make of this sign. 

Jason satin body wash?  It sounds vaguely like a service in a San Francisco bath house.

Even when the signs are clever, they are just a bit too precious by half.

I am not a cupcake fan.  Never have been.  But, while I have been living in Mexico, something happened to the little treats we ate in grade school.  They are now the size of bundt cakes and decorated as if they were about to set foot on the Folies Bergère stage.

Where I come from in Mexico, goat milk is a food product.  In Bend, it appears to be what you use when you run out of lye.

In Melaque, a man rides by my house daily offering freshly-made tamales for about 10 pesos -- less than a dollar.  In Bend, they cost $5 each.  And I am willing to bet which one is tastier.  Even that allergy warning on the glass will not help the northern version beat out the authentic tamale.

My Mexican neighbors may be bemused by this sign.  But no more than I am.  And I am not even going to attempt any metaphors.  I can see those wave-off lights ten miles away.

Maybe Whole Foods is simply an ironic street theater created by Oscar Wilde.  It can certainly be enjoyed at that level.  But I will miss the cheeses when I return to Mexico.

Especially, the hodgepodge of fromage.  As silly as it sounds.


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