Foodie Underground: When Food Trends Go Wrong

ColumnWhen simple just doesn’t suffice.

“Why is bone luging a thing?”

It was 3:30 on a Monday afternoon and this had to be the oddest text of the day.

“I did not know if this was a new foodie thing to do,” my friend followed up by way of explanation.

When you write a column on food, your friends and colleagues often take it upon themselves to one-up you on knowing what the latest and hippest thing in the food world is. And they’re often pretty successful.

I had no idea what bone luging was. So I looked it up.

For starters, the fourth Google option upon searching “bone luging” was a site called How Hipsters Date. I clicked hestitantly, slightly turning my head and squinting with both eyes the way you do when you’re watching a scary movie, in fear of what would pop up on the screen. You just never know.

Called “the new drinking fad food writers love to hate,” by Gothamist, bone luging combines the trend of bone marrow with the obsession of taking shots in ways reminiscent of college days. It’s simple: Eat the marrow out of a transected piece of bone, then use the empty bone to direct a shot into your mouth.

Cue disgusted shivering.

Tasting Table claims the trend hails from Portland – the little foodie bubble that I like to call home – and although I have never been to Metrovino which has bone luge on their menu, I can envision several local hot spots offering it sooner or later.

If you’re shaving fennel and serving crispy pig ears, a bone luge is really only so far away.

There is a lot of talk of food trends, but sometimes I wonder if trends are really trends at all, or simply the odd creation of a socially networked generation that’s obsessed with creating more internet fodder. Journalist Felicia Heaton went to the efforts of making a how-to guide:

Bone Luge How-To

Part 1: Order the bone marrow. Scrape it from the bone and eat it by spreading it on toasted bread. Or, if you’re die hard, suck it right off the spoon.

Part 2: Pick a liquor or fortified wine to compliment the marrow.

Part 3: Grab your smart phone in preparation for the obligatory Bone Luge photo.

Part 4: Pick up the bone as a funnel, pouring the drink at the top and watch it flow down the hatch. (Don’t forget to snap the photo!)

Part 5: Share your work via social networking.

Because would a food trend even be a food trend without the internet and people uploading photos of themselves in semi-compromising situations [note: most bone luging photos are not the most becoming, and it’s not because of the 80s ski sweaters]? There is a bone luge Tumblr page and a hashtag. Give it a few weeks and it might end up going the route of bacon. Just read the manifesto. I can’t wait for the “Sh*t Bone Lugers Say” video to come out.

Is anyone else sick of food trends? What happened to regular artisan goat cheese made from happy animals and organic farms with farmers trying to make a difference? Have these admirably foodie foods gotten lost in the mix of smoke-infused cocktails and bartender mustaches?

As the same friend who tipped me off to bone luging in the first place said, “Can’t I just go somewhere that doesn’t serve complicated things?”

Social media and the internet have allowed us to connect with food lovers, influence the discussion on food politics and be inspired to eat better, but it’s also a wide world of cats eating cupcakes, which I am certain isn’t doing a damn thing for advancing the food movement.

Bad trends happen to good people. Keep in mind that taking the joy of food out of the equation and replacing it with the need to jump on the latest bandwagon isn’t hip or underground, it’s just trite and disappointing. When someone offers you some bone marrow and tequila, feel good about saying no. Because when it comes to food, you should keep it simple, stupid.

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s weekly column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground, discovering what’s new and different in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to the culinary avant garde.

Image: thegift73

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.