Mayfield: What deserves praise in food culture, the baguette or cruelty?

Dec 1, 2022, 8:15 AM


Fresh sourdough, left, and baguettes at Rebel Bread November 04, 2021. (Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The baguette is worth preserving! So says the United Nation’s cultural body UNESCO which recognized the “artisanal know-how and culture of the baguette” on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage this week.

UNESCO says the classic French bread is an integral part of human culture. The baguette joins other foods on the protected list, including Neapolitan pizza, kimchi, Belgian beer, and even the Mediterranean diet.

More from Travis Mayfield: Have a little extra empathy in the snow, we could all use it

I say Viva La Baguette! It’s simple. It’s humble. Eating it brings people together. Yet it takes time and heart to bake and create perfectly. It’s worthy of honor and preservation!

Compare that to the other big food headline this week from the New York Times, “The Willows Inn Closes After Abuse allegations and Lawsuits.”

The Willows Inn, located 2 hours north of Seattle on secluded Lummi Island, has been a world-famous culinary destination for years. It’s hard to overstate what a big deal this tiny restaurant was in the uber-rich 1% food universe.

Then along came the investigation that revealed claims of verbal and sexual harassment of employees, sexism, racism, wage theft, and bullying. It all was apparently so widespread 138 employees filed a class action lawsuit against the restaurant which settled for $1.37 million and that was the second such lawsuit.

Willows Inn was such a horror Hollywood producer partially based on that new restaurant horror movie The Menu on it.

This week a Christian social agency in Bellingham announced the entire restaurant, inn, and $2 million property had been donated to them. The owners told employees it was over and announced at a foodie conference they were opening a new farm and restaurant in Mexico.

Fleeing the country, are we?

Which brings us back to the crusty old baguette and the question: what deserves our praise in today’s culture?

Maybe worth should be based more on warmth, trust, honesty, and celebration of all and less on money, power, and cruelty.

The menu lies open on your table, what will you choose?

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Mayfield: What deserves praise in food culture, the baguette or cruelty?