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Food stylist: Val McArthur The gourmand who spends his holiday combing Brooklyn for the best slice of pizza. The vegetarian who purchases only the organic kale from a local biodynamic farm at her weekly food market. The home cook who devotes years of his life to perfecting complicated, multi-step recipes for croissants, or ketchup, or sourdough bread.
Do you know these people? Are you these people? Do you think about food, all the time? Do you care where it came from and who made it or grew it or killed it, and how? Do you derive meaning from eating? If so, chances are you are an adherent of one kind or another worshipping at the altar of food. Food's various gospels are spreading like wildfire across the small segment of humanity wealthy enough to care about what we put in our bodies and to endow it with a significance greater than mere fuel.
We privileged few have exalted food to a transcendent position, and have made of it something holy. We create idols out of chefs. We make pilgrimages to the great restaurants.
We commune, we perform rituals, we pore over holy texts, we proselytise. We celebrate and sacrifice. And of course, we make war. Think I'm being flippant, clever, blasphemous, worse? I'm not. I was a true believer once, too. An acolyte. Maybe even a fundamentalist. But then I fell. I was expelled from the congregation of the worthy. I want nothing but to believe, to worship again, to be let back in.
But it's not going to happen. Born, and born-again Danville, Illinois , circa A Ponderosa Steakhouse, one of a chain of mid-priced restaurants stretching across the American Midwest, their uniformity part of what draws people to them: the vinyl booths, the wrung-out waitresses.