Gods above, but snide, bare-teethed cynicism is woefully dull.
Along with the certainties that are death, delayed tubes and taxes, trends are a part of London life. (As a point of order, I make the distinction because in my experience, trends are far more prevalent in the capital than they are outside it. Life in Home County, where wellies are worn solely for gardening and walking the dog, is far less subject to the whims and caprices of fashion than it is traditions, or convenience, or practicality.) And one sector that seems to be particularly slavish to fashions is the restaurant industry.
Over the past years and months, we’ve seen any number of trends come and go – and some come and stay. We’ve had street food, “dude food”, hot dogs, fried chicken, burgers, sharing plates, no bookings restaurants, Peruvian restaurants, imported New York restaurants, noodle bars, resident chefs and we’re apparently on the cusp of pickling (the “next big thing”, if some people are to be believed).
Yes, the whole thing can be slightly mind-boggling. Yes, it can become slightly irksome if the current trend isn’t in line with your own food preferences. And yes, there are always going to be the people who pride themselves on being at the cusp of the trend before it begins, and on to the next thing before everyone else has worked out whether they want their chicken fried in buttermilk, or ramen instead of udon.
But that’s about the extent of the irritation. Because for a trend to be truly successful, enough people have to be doing the same thing well – and surely, if you enjoy food and eating out, then lots of people doing whatever it is they’re doing really well is a good thing?
But for some people, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and recently, the backlash against, well, pretty much everything, seems to have begun. Because no sooner has a trend been born than the detractors come out, sneering at not being able to book (conveniently forgetting that, sometimes, being able to book leaves you with a Dabbous situation on your hands), or at apparently ubiquitous stripped-back Soho décor, or at the fact that someone else is opening a burger place and god, don’t they know burgers are SO winter 2011, how pathetic. It’s not enough for them to be ahead of a trend: they have to be seen to dislike it, and vocally. It’s like Mean Girls with mayonnaise.
I’m all for pointing it out when the Emperor’s wearing new clothes (and gods above if that isn’t the case at the bar where you have to TAKE YOUR OWN BOOZE), and am a big believer in the instructive merits of a little constructive criticism (which The Writer bravely tried out last week on an instance of my punctuation. I had to concede that he was right). But snark, cynicism and bitchiness that serves no purpose other than to be snarky, cynical and bitchy about something from which many others derive pleasure is cheap, hugely lacking in imagination, and enormously boring.
A lot of life – and, indeed, London’s food – is utterly brilliant. We’re lucky enough to live in one of the most vibrant cities in the world: if you can’t find the enjoyment and pleasure in it, how about just backing off altogether? If you so despise the new restaurants that make up the food “scene” and are enjoying a moment in the sun; if they bore you so very much, then the answer’s simple: just don’t get involved – go eat, and whinge, somewhere else.