If I were smarter, I’d write a little list of key travel etiquette tips, and see what Google and social media would do to drive people here to read it. (Like this blog, this blog, this blog and this blog did.) Actually I did that once, while at Lonely Planet, with this series of such articles that actually landed us on the Today Show once. (Did you know in Armenia it’s rude to not finish a bottle of wine in your own glass?) Anyway, I’m not smart enough to go that route here.
But I have a question.
It is rude, right?
Yet food-in-your-face-sharing has become epidemic recently (and not just the drunk man with grapes, above left). Peppering our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds these days are more and more photos taken 15 inches above about-to-be-eaten meals — then shared in mass. I’ll admit, it’s nearly driven me to become anti-food.
Maybe it’s Tulsa’s fault. Growing up there, I’d learn at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary (which is now a mosque) that lunch time was about admiring each others’ lunch-boxes (Chris Costa got mocked for his Walton’s lunch pail, but it was cool — see #17). No one cared whether Jay Ullman’s mom put his bologna sandwich in a sealed baggie or foil. Or whether Mark Hardin’s had a slice of American cheese on it or not. We didn’t trade. We didn’t look at each other’s food. We ate our own food, and went on to more important topics — like the nudie shots in the art book on the other side of the Tulsa public schools’ dual-purpose cafeteria/library.
Around the same time, I turned anti-cafeteria altogether. I never knew why, but my parents used to take us to Furr’s at the Farm Shopping Center, where an organ guy played. By the dozenth time there I started complaining that “cafeterias are where old people go to watch young people eat.” And they did. Every bite of green bean I’d take, they’d be looking at me. Looking at me eat.
I didn’t watch them eat then. Why should I stare at food people I know virtually are about to eat in these modern times (in which we live)?
Don’t get me wrong: I actually LIKE FOOD. I eat it all the time. And food is increasingly the biggest slice of the “travel” media world too. Somewhere in America recently, I met someone talking about that funny bald guy eating bugs on the “food channel” — actually the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern (easy mistake). I’ve long called the typical travel experiences — like visiting museums or shopping for snow globes — as just the “space between meals.” No matter where we go, it’s the food that anchors our day. We may or may not see that out-of-place Monet, but we will definitely eat.
So screw it.
Those constant stream of shots of banh mi, salmon filets and Thai curries — delivered fresh on street-stall stools half a world away — have eroded my defenses. I’m in guys. I’m joining the food bandwagon.
And hence, I’m introducing the first-ever Plate of Food Travel Museum.
I will share a snack, meal or sandwich on occasion via Instagram while pairing it with some actual “travel” relics like bad brochures, questionable post cards, dodgy t-shirts and old 35mm photos.
Celebrate the beauty with me. “Travel,” as accompanied by plates of food.