Food Fighters

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Don’t whisper the words ‘foodie’, ‘sustainable farming’, or ‘concept dining’. With hundreds of food and word enthusiasts seated in Town Hall all here to discuss food and dining, the demand could prove a little troublesome.

Last night Alecia and I went to the culinary conference Food Fighters with A. A. Gill and Anthony Bourdain, as hosted by Tony Bilson for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. As gentle Bilson began with the question ‘Are you an eater or a diner’ Gill quickly interrupted him demanding he define both terms before proclaiming his own disdain for fine dining. And so the night of lacerating wit begun.

No topic was too taboo or no comment too unpolitically correct. Vegetarianism was one of the first targets. “People say to me ‘But would you eat a human?’” said Bourdain. “But let me tell you, I were on a lifeboat and one person wasn’t pulling their weight with the rowing, I think some human flesh would go down pretty well.” Environmentally friendly agriculture is just a status statement believed Gill as he claimed “Organic farming is just rich urban people telling farmers how to do their job.”

After the debates on animal cruelty and praise of the Japanese fish market Tsukiji, the trio agreed that food is the one thing that links us the world over. “If you want to know a community, you eat their food” said Bourdain. Finally A. A. Gill concluded “We are the one animal that can keep eye contact while we’re eating, and that is what food is about – sharing.”

Yolanda de Groot

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