August 21, 2011

Practicing and Preaching

If there is one singular problem plaguing the luminaries of the supposed food revolution we're undergoing, it's this: A lack of abs.

Perhaps I'd be better off as a vegan until six, or eating "food, not too much, mostly plants". But Mark Bittman (despite running a marathon somewhat recently) is pudgy; Michael Pollan is scrawny; and Jamie Oliver looks like Jamie Oliver.

Perhaps it's not surprising then that America chooses to take its food and fitness advice from the Jillian Michaels' of the world. An erudite and complex review of the issues at hand is not so convincing when compared to abs.

The point is this: Appearances matter. It's a question of practicing and preaching. People want to believe that you have the answers, really; but you have to look like you do first.

This issue of keeping up appearances has been brought to my attention several times recently. I was spotted by a couple customers drinking the coffee of another shop - charlatan! - and even once drinking gas station coffee.

The first matter was, teasing aside, no problem at all. There are a lot of very good shops in Lawrence - too many to limit yourself to just the one that happens to employ you. And despite my monetary allegiance going one direction, there's no clause in the contract that forbids taste-testing the competition.

There may be a rule about gas station coffee, however. Specifically, there may be something in the fine print about the insipid hot-plate variety I consumed. To my great shame. Or so I pretended. For a moment.

The fact is, while I may project the image on occasion, the hat of pompous third-wave barista extraordinaire doesn't fit me too well. It is, well, pompous. And it flattens my hair. More accurately, I'm a kid (though somewhat too old for that title now, I suppose) who likes coffee. And yes, if it's 10 pm, and I'm getting gas at Kwik Shop, I'll drink that broth... er, brew.

So yes, image matters. Yes, Michael Pollan needs to do a few push-ups. Yes, Jamie Oliver is both frustrating to look at and listen to. And yes, I'm quite content to drink bad coffee on occasion.

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