Recently I read a lovely entry over at Dessert Comes First about a very classy, very yummy, and very pricey steakhouse in Makati City, Philippines. Sounds like an amazing place, really, but it comes with a steep bill: P2,200 for a steak, which rounds out to about $50 USD. Most of my dinners don’t cost that much. But judging from the experience, the cost is worth it; and you know there are more expensive places out there.
Almost immediately the blogger got this comment:
hmmm… in a country where most people are languishing in poverty, is it even moral to splurge and spend so much? …on a single meal for just one person?
Look, I’m not insensitive to the needs of the poor and downtrodden. My parents taught me to be as generous and kind as I could. I can’t walk past a panhandler without forking over a couple bucks, I’ve worked at soup kitchens, I constantly track the poverty situation in my country and others looking for ways to help. But do I feel guilty if after walking past that panhandler I head into a luxurious restaurant and stuff myself with a $50 dinner? In a word, no. In the same way that I’m concerned with the ethics of agriculture but will never stop eating meat, while I feel for those who can’t afford what I can I’m not going to feel guilty over my ability to eat good food. I work hard for my money; I temper my indulgences with a healthy sense of social responsibility, but plenty of that money is still unquestionably mine to spend on me.
Not so long ago, just enjoying a good meal was considered ostentatious, snobby, wrong in this country. We should do everything we can to minimize the deleterious effects of a nation full of foodies–reducing carbon footprints, using organic ingredients and humanely-raised meat, etc–and spend plenty of time and money helping alleviate the poverty situations here and abroad. But we can’t feel like terrible people any time we take a bite of black truffle or a sip of champagne. Have perspective about your situation? Yes. Loathe yourself for it? No.
Do no harm, help when you can, and treat yourself once in a while; provided you’re not Mr. Burns or that guy who checked out before we could punish him, you should be in the clear.
-Jim reminds everyone that his opinions are not necessarily representative of Recipe4Living