Monday, September 5, 2011

Food Courts: The Unsung Heroes Of Modern Life

The new twenty-first century food court at the Eaton Centre

There's a lot of hating on food courts.  People are always dumping on them like they're a symbol or manifestation of everything that's wrong with capitalism and consumer culture.

But if you could just improve the food and get rid of the styrofoam containers, the food court is a wonderful thing and a triumph of modernity.

They're egalitarian.  At the food court, everyone sits next to everyone else.  Mr. Subway is next to Madame Poutine; Ms. Sushi is next to little Sbarro.

They're community oriented.  Have you noticed how much people like to be near other people?  One of the best and nicest things about people them.  Hilariously, for many people, their favorite way to be alone is to be with a bunch of other people they don't know.  Why read or surf at home when you can do it at Starbucks with a million strangers? 

I'm not making fun of anyone here: I love the feeling of being alone with my thoughts and surrounded by a bunch of people I don't know.

But most importantly, they're accepting.  Often at the food court I see various kinds of social misfits, or just people who are alone in life and don't have other people around them who love them.  Maybe they don't want to cook.  Maybe they don't have someone to cook for them.  Maybe they just don't have anyone to share their meals with.

These people are sitting alone at the food court.  But it seems they're having an OK time: they're enjoying some Chinese food, maybe having some coffee after, and watching the scene.  At a real restaurant, it would be awkward and expensive, and weird to be alone.  But at the food court, it's totally normal.

Wouldn't it be so much worse if the social misfits of the world had to eat alone at home, day after day?  Doing what, watching TV?

I was prompted in these reflections by having just been to the new food court in the North part of the Eaton Centre.  The picture is above.  I didn't even know this was in the works, but it's like the food court of the twenty-first century:  beautiful, gleaming, with fancy espresso places right next to the MacDonald's.  There's good food.   There's even a special room just for nursing moms.

And the crowning glory:  real plates and reusable silverware! 

Gods of the food court:  I thank you.


ianofthegulf said...

I have always made a hobby of despising food courts. I never liked the cattle market feel of them during the busy lunch periods. Yet, I admit to frequenting them when I am somewhere away from home. I tend to find that I enjoy going to the local mall food court for exactly the reasons you wrote about.
No more will I despise food courts. Instead I am going to start ranking them on some of the criteria you identified.

Patricia said...

Hi ianofthegulf,
Excellent! If you find one that serves wine let me know - then we'll really be in business...

ianofthegulf said...

I'm sure I've been to malls in France where wine was served. Just think how our malls in Canada would be different if the French had won on the Plains of Abraham.