Madonna/Whore Syndrome

The Madonna–Whore complex: “The inability to maintain sexual arousal within a committed, loving relationship. First identified by Sigmund Freud, this psychological complex is said to develop in men who see women as either saintly Madonnas or debased prostitutes. Men with this complex desire a sexual partner who has been degraded (the whore) while they cannot desire the respected partner (the Madonna)”.

The Madonna–Junk Food complex: “The inability to maintain gustatory arousal within a committed, culinary culture…….this is said to develop in people who see food as either a culinary and nutritional delight, or as debased and impure junk. People with this complex desire food which has been processed, branded and marketed, (the whore) while they cannot desire the respected, pure natural and cultivated variety (the Madonna)”.

As Foodies gush about the culinary whores, ‘awesome’ donuts, ‘yummy’ In-N-Out burgers, ‘amazing‘ Poutine’, etc. (Whores), all just in it for the money, they pretend, dutifully to be faithful to the precepts of higher faith―local, fresh, in season―of their pure and adored goddesses, (Madonnas).

The Madonna/Whore syndrome has morphed into a single phenomenon: Madonna has assimilated the whore. Now show business has done us the favor of providing both a face and a name to hang our theories on. The same things that make Culinary Pornography, can turn culture into a whore as well, until finally the whore becomes a Madonna: The burger as fine dining fad, (Mhyrvold’s 30 hour burger, etc.). We develop extravagant rituals and recipes for the simple burger, whose charm is in fact its humbleness. Like taking a hooker to the prom. This can lead to confusion.

Madonna in 1979-Always Ahead Of the Curve, Contemplating The Ascendancy Of The Bush Years

“Freud argued that the Madonna-Whore complex is caused by oedipal castration fears which arise when a man experiences the affection he once felt for his mother with women he now sexually desires. In order to manage this anxiety, the man categorizes women into two groups: women he can admire and women he finds sexually attractive. Whereas the man loves women in the former category, he despises and devalues the latter group.”

And which is exactly what happens when foodies, enamored of the fresh local and seasonal ethos, cavort happily with the most foreign, plastic and out of season ingredients such as:

  • Trueburger in Oakland Ca. Two local sous chefs with actual experience in fine kitchens create a milkshake made with Hostess Twinkies.
  • From Animal in L.A., CA, the Loco Moco Burger, which includes Spam and Fois Gras.
  • And the ubiquitous Iceberg and blue cheese Wedges, trawled from our recent culinary past (to provide comfort to those who fear culinary castration?).

It looks like we have yet to reconcile our youthful indiscretions with more mature desires for beauty and truth.

“Animal’s Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have no limits when it comes to meat. From the chefs now dubbed “carniwhores” comes the latest and tastiest creation: foie gras loco moco ($35), a caloric time bomb that’s worth every heart-clogging moment.”

“Carniwhores”! The secret’s out!

Ingredients, (partial list): foie gras loco moco, quail egg, spam, hamburger, Maple syrup, Teryaki sauce, rice, scallions…Cost: $35

How to be ‘pretty genius’:

“I think anyone that can use Spam on a dish and make it work is pretty genius.”

Is there a definition for “making it work”?

Animal Chef Vinny Dotolo:

“I started wondering out loud what Hawaiians eat. …It eventually sparked this idea of doing a Loco Moco. It is a big thing over there and people weren’t really rocking it too much here. The challenge was to make it both traditional and Animal-esque, which is where the foie gras comes in. I felt it needed some heat, so I added Sriracha, which gives it some acidity as well.

We put seared foie gras and lightly browned Spam on a burger patty, top it with a quail egg, and also scallions, plus we use Carolina Gold rice instead of usual white rice. There are about four sauces here and they can be hard to distinguish as they mix together and form a different flavor. There’s a foie gras sauce with a little maple syrup, a homemade teriyaki sauce, and the Sriracha. The Sriracha really tied it all together, adding heat and acid, otherwise it’d be just a hamburger with foie gras.”

And what we’re left with is the feeling that many young cooks and diners are made uncomfortable by the simplicity, the purity of “Madonna” food, (Fois gras for example), and find comfort in the street-smart confusion of canned, preserved, processed, factory food like Spam and bottled hot sauce, which also, conveniently saves them from having to actually taste or know anything.

Because you know, this is awesome. And Pretty genius.


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