So let me get this straight: A greasy hamburger made by a minimum wage teenager is “fast food” but an equally greasy pork bun with onion rings made by some tattooed hipster is “dude food”. That’s the lesson I took from Sunday night’s episode of MasterChef.
Dude food is the apparently “junk food for hard-core foodies, evocatively tasty snacks such as fried chicken, mini-burgers and pork buns, meticulously made with only the best ingredients”. I’d call it something else but I can’t think of anything that rhymes with wanker.
An example of dude food in Perth is The Greenhouse on St Georges Terrace, which serves fish miniburger with aioli and lamb’s brain nuggets in crispy chicken batter. Of course, you could by a Fillet-O-Fish with mayonnaise and Chicken McNuggets for a lot less, but that would mean mingling with the common folk at McDonald’s
Dude food is aimed at the same insufferable demographic which blames global warming on cashed up bogans buying Chinese-made plasma screens but thinks nothing of buying an iPad made in the factory next door.
Being seen in a fast food restaurant is the second worst thing that could happen to them – after being outed as a fan of Two and A Half Men – yet they still crave the fat and salt junk food provides.
Fortunately, dude food allows them to indulge their guilty pleasure while maintaining the illusion they are somehow better than the zombies piloting their V8 utes along the drive-through.
Despite obviously being upmarket junk food, I don’t believe dude food will attract as much criticism from public health experts as its lower-class cousins.
Writing for News Limited, Masterchef’s Matt Preston admitted it would “blow your diet out of the water with the amount of fried food, butter, mayo and sugar being used”.
Yet it was the KFC Double Down that received condemnation from nutritionist Rosemary Stanton not the Greenhouse’s fried lamb’s brain nuggets in salty batter. That got a glowing write up by the West Australian’s restaurant reviewer Rob Broadfield.
To quote Chief Protector of Aborigines AO Neville, it seems the only those who eat at KFC or McDonald’s “have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not”.
According to the New York Sun newspaper, the term dude was first used in 1883 to denote a man who aped the style of clothing favoured by the excessive upper classes. Today’s dudes turn their gaze downwards, appropriating the tattoos and junk food of what use to be called the working class.
They are happy to eat like the common man just as long as everyone is aware they are in no way common themselves. By increasing the price and using exotic ingredients like kimichi and wagyu beef, dudes can have their cake and eat it too.
But like all trends, dude foods contains the seeds of its own destruction, even if said seeds are grown on a certified organic fair-trade workers co-op.
Now that dude food has featured on MasterChef, some fiendishly pony-tailed advertising executive is undoubtedly working on the McDude Burger with hipster relish. And once dude food is popular with the masses, it’s trendy supporters will drop it like a cold meat pie. Dude food at Maccas? There goes the neighbourhood.