Ever been to a party, and ended up with a group of lawyers, or doctors, or professors of medieval English literature, and they're tossing around professional jargon like a baseball? And not only have you no clue what in holy hell they're yammering about, but you really, truly, and sincerely couldn't care less? So you stand there for a few polite minutes, silently planning your escape.
I've been that person.
But you know what I worry about even more? That I've suddenly become the lawyer, or the doctor, or the professor of medieval English literature. That I've become so oblivious to how much other people know, or care, about food, that non-food people will avoid me like a rabid rodent.
I've recently had two experiences that made me realize how out of touch I am with the larger universe. We went out for breakfast, and a twenty-something couple sat down at the adjacent table and began looking at their menus. When the waiter came over, they asked him what a poached egg was.
I wasn't sure what stunned me more -- that they didn't know what a poached egg was (how quaint! how bizarre!), or the fact that I was so surprised that they didn't know what a poached egg was. Who was out of touch -- was it them, or was it me?
The second experience was a few nights ago. I was out with a bunch of women, and the subject turned to healthful eating. I mentioned Michael Pollan's new book Food Rules. One woman said, "Who's Michael Pollan?" My eyes bugged, though just a little. I looked to my left, I looked to my right, I looked across the table -- all blank stares. Who was out of touch -- was it them, or was it me?
I'd like to think it was them, you know, for not knowing. For not knowing what a poached egg was, or not knowing of Michael Pollan's import, or his stature. But it hit me. It's me.
I'm the professor of medieval English literature.
I'm the outlier.
And I hate to break it to you, but if you're here reading this, then you're probably an outlier, too.