Fusing foodie fare with fancy film houses: A recipe for disaster – and salad

By Charley Gordon

One of those fancy movie houses has opened in Ottawa, where you can order food and wine and have them brought to your seat. Many people, not thinking it through, think this represents sophistication, but it doesn’t. It represents doom.

And not just for the reasons you think. Drunkenness will be a bit of problem, but more of an inconvenience than anything. It just means that when people say: “What did he say?” they’ll say it louder, and similarly with: “Hey that’s the guy who was in that other movie, with the that woman who ran off with that other guy!”

There may be bit of vomiting too but you’re probably used to that by now.

There are published assurances that all is working well. You can believe those if you want. It is reassuring that for some movies, you can avoid the so-called VIP experience if you choose, and just watch the movie in the traditional way, without wine and calamari. It’s also reassuring that the wine-and-calamari cinemas are adults-only.

That’s because it spares kids the horror of trying to watch a movie while all around them the adults are talking about food. Because isn’t that what’s going to happen? Isn’t that the real danger of the fancy movie house?

In every crowd these days lurk foodies and there is no reason to suspect that the fancy movie house is going to be any different. Now, instead of people hissing at the villain or loudly shushing those who are hissing at the villain or talking on their cellphones, they’ll be discussing the cinema cuisine. They’ll be discussing the cinema cuisine on their cellphones.

Why has no one anticipated this? Loud arguments over whether this poutine is tastier than the one in that cinema in Manhattan in 2013, wine experts chatting about fruitiness and whether the slight hints of leather go with the salad, all talking place while people are trying to shoot each other on the screen.

There will be excited complaints that the calamari tastes like squid, requests that someone pass the salt and not very well muffled exclamations when poutine and artisanal beer land on someone’s shirt.

As a society we need to recognize that people have an impulse to talk about food. In earlier days there was an implicit understanding that such conversation would be restricted, in order that other, more important topics could be discussed. So food was only discussed at the dinner table and in restaurants.

In other venues, food was not mentioned. In some of those other venues, such as ballparks, food was not mentioned because it was not worth mentioning. You might say, “This hotdog is good,” or “This hotdog is cold” or “I dropped my hotdog on your shoe”. But after that the conversation would move on to more worthy subjects, like whether the ump was stupid.

Then, suddenly, ballparks started serving more exotic food — tacos and pulled pork and things with fish in them. And salad.

Once salad began to appear in public places, all was lost. People began to go to the ballpark because they liked the salad. They would talk about the salad instead of the umpire. They would call the umpire the ref. They would ask to taste the wine.

All of this is coming to a theatre near you. Like many horrible innovations, it represents itself as progress. Don’t be fooled. Stay home, turn on the DVD, eat a hotdog and wait for it to pass.


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