Playing With Food, Big Time

High-end food store chain Eataly has announced that it plans to open a food-based theme park in Bologna called “Fico Eataly World”, a 20-acre $55 million park that’s being described as a “Disneyland for gourmets”. If all goes according to plan the park will open in November of next year. As a member of the food-entertainment complex I suppose I should be excited about that, though the whole idea leaves something of a, oh what’s the idiom I’m looking for here…a bad…I don’t know. Something.

I had the same feeling when I heard that Alton Brown — who’s something of a hero of mine — is in Chicago refining a live show that’s almost certainly intended for Broadway. Looks like sort of a Good Eats meets Blue Man Group type of affair that’s probably a whole lot of fun.

Still it left me sort of, well, embarrassed I supposed is the word. To think that we’ve arrived at a point of abundance where we can engage in this sort of grand-scale food play…it’s unprecedented. Human beings have always revered food, built rituals around it, made it sacred. When we start to flaunt our abundance and Disney-fy it, aren’t we tempting the fates just a teeny wee little bit? Or have I been drinking too much?

10 thoughts on “Playing With Food, Big Time”

  1. The theme park sounds like the worlds largest, independent Food Court! Maybe, instead of hotels sprouting up around it..Malls will! Oh, how we digress!

    This sort of put me to mind of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I live up the freeway from Gilroy and had wanted to go to that festival for ages. The freeway gets so clogged with garlic fans that it seemed too daunting to make the me anyway. Finally we braved the worst traffic I’d ever been in and went. What a disappointment. They had all the food booths and weird specialties I’d read about, but it was just not what I’d expected. I felt like I was at a county fair. Crowds of people. Food hurriedly prepared and slapped on paper plates. Dirty picnic tables. It was too hot and there were few places to sit in shade unless you were paying to eat (at the dirty picnic tables). That experience leads me to think that Foodneyland is going to end up in a similar way. Hope I’m wrong, but I don’t know what they could do to give people enough varied experiences to make it more than a one trip wonder.

    1. HI Susan!

      I do love food festivals, though they can get a little rough around the edges as you say. My trouble is with a theme park-type treatment of, well…food in general. Just seems weird to me!

      Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

  2. I appreciate your viewpoint on this. I’m very much a fan of food; I work in a bakery in addition to my full time job, and when I’m not working at either of those places, I’m cooking at home or watching Food Network. But it’s important that we have reminders that our abundance is not something to look at as common. And food ought not to be seen as merely entertainment. There are people all over the world that treat food with reverence because it’s scarce. And we should be reminded that our food should be shared… not thrown out after the big spectacle.

    If you’ve read Hunger Games… it sure reminds me of the scene that discusses the fact that the rich would eat too much, drink a special vomit-inducing liquid, and then keep eating. I sure hope we don’t get to that point of not caring…

    1. Thanks, Ashley!

      It’s always a little sad when the sacred gets demoted to the everyday, isn’t it? I appreciate the comment.

      Your friend,

      – Joe

  3. Is it just me, or should the words “gourmet” and “scale” never appear in the same sentence? Unless it’s “scales”… 😉 Love “Night of the Hunter” by the way. Mitchum is always a pleasure to watch. So much presence, and his face so expressive and graphic that he’s so good even when the film is so bad, Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” being a good example of such an instance…Can you name one American actor of the past 30 years that could pull off the following look with such ease???

    1. Hey OB!

      Great stuff and no, no I can’t! He made a great bad guy…or good guy if he was in the mood. Cheers and thanks!

      – Joe

      1. Woops! I actually meant Michael Winner’s “The Big Sleep”. It’s not like me to make such mistakes, I keep telling myself 😉 I actually wanted to write another comment correcting that, but it was a Sunday and I thought you were probably having a big sleep of your own 😉 Sorry about that, and keep it up Joe – great blog!!!

  4. I agree with you completely.

    I think this is obscene, actually, given the want and need in the world.

    In general, I find myself often very uncomfortable with a lot focus in the food media, much as I’m drawn to it.

    There is something gluttonous about it – as unpopular as that word is these days.

    1. Yes I think that’s a good word here. I don’t want to be a kill joy, but making a spectacle of food and cooking seems like a very bad idea to me.

      Thanks, Mary!

      – Joe

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