I wrote in my last post about our American food culture and how we tend to relate to food as a source of fuel rather than a source of pleasure and enjoyment. The vast majority of Americans think of eating as a means of filling the tank in order to move on to the next activity. Speed and efficiency overtake any concern for means and substance. Degree of quantity supersedes any measure of quality. We like our food big, and we want it right now.
Framing it this way helps me take inventory of comments I receive via email, or on some of the online food and travel sites, about our restaurant and the way we serve our food. We have deliberately gone “off code” when it comes to the mainstream appreciation for how it wants its food. You could even go so far and say that some of the complaints are my own fault for not giving people what they want. Imagine being invited to a potluck with some new friends and you show up with a juicy fat roasted chicken, only to find out everyone at the gathering is a vegan. You didn’t get the memo. You missed something about culture into which you wandered.
If your agenda is to serve chicken to your new friends, you’re likely not going to get invited back anytime soon. But if the plan is to make a connection with them, then you might still have a doorway open.
If I told you I wanted to sell sushi in Ashland, you’d think I was crazy. Serving raw fish in small town Nebraska? I’d probably have a better chance convincing those vegans to eat chicken. I might as well reply to the email from the lawyer of the Nigerian millionaire while I’m at it. But if I had the ability to personally convince everyone in the county the joys of eating sushi, and had a packed house every day to prove it, you’d call me a genius.
It’s easy to blame the market for not accepting your idea without understanding why you are not connecting with it in the first place. If no one is walking in my doors, do I know why? Do I know from their perspective what it is I am asking them to do? Change is difficult for most, and if I’m asking you to change how you eat, I’m walking to school, uphill, both ways, knee deep in snow.