I was listening to a podcast yesterday, specifically: The Nerdist interview of JJ Abrams. In the interview, JJ implied that we miss the days of bookstores and record shops, and have tried to replace those with other things, like restaurants. I never thought about it in those terms. There is no doubt we have seen a surge in "foodie-ism" over the last decade or so, and we have also seen the disappearance of record shops and bookstores. Is this possible? Have we taken the vacuum that was created by amazon and itunes and filled it with bacon and pinot?
It's certainly possible.
There was something about the feeling of community, being in the record shops or bookstores all those years ago. They offered a personal, yet shared tactile experience. Now that the tactility of media has practically vanished (save a movie or concert experience), apparently, we need that sense of a shared tangible experience. Since food and wine is an experience that begins visually, we can share amazing photos of our foodie journeys throughout the inter-tubes. Some people don't get this and think that it's about gloating or showing off. Maybe that's a hidden part of it, but people that are into great wine and food love to share experiences both ways.
Not only do you have the shared e-meal (I like this term!), you also, probably, physically go to restaurants to share the experience with patrons around you. It's almost like an unspoken common energy, so reminiscent of the Saturday morning visits to the record stores with coffee in hand.
As I'm sorting all of this out, I also realize that something else has changed: restaurants look and act more like those record and book stores from back in the day. The wait staffs wear "chucks" and are tatted up, something that would have only been seen in the aforementioned shops 15 years ago. The music is hip, and the best food doesn't necessarily come served on a tablecloth. Picnic tables and rolls of paper towels are just as likely. Convention has been broken by the needs of the people to have this progressing conversation about the art and love of food and wine. One that has outgrown the boundaries and expectation of the privileged and has found itself squarely in the lap of the literate, art loving, thoughtful bohemians.
While I'm sad that record stores and bookstores have largely gone the way of the dodo, music and books haven't disappeared, they've just jumped mediums. Next time you wax nostalgic about the disappearance of these places, celebrate the restaurants and food culture that have risen from their ashes, subconsciously replacing that need.