I find this an interesting reflection about how a place like Vietnam that we last recall turning into chao and Communism when the Americans bailed and established John McCain as an American hero or not depending upon who you ask and now in a renaissance; a place the asshole Anthony Bourdain goes on one of his food craw with a local guide to sip noodles from a cart to discuss the power of pork and the fall of Communism. Yes that is what his show is supposed to be about but what it really is is a pretentious dude who is one step from falling down drunk (in some cases falling down drunk) eating street food that the local citizenry have been consuming for decades. The premise is as if it is new delight just invented for white people with a Passport. Plus for travelers who find the local food intimidating and confusing this makes it much easier! It is a win-win!
** FYI when I travel the first thing I do is order a club sammie. No matter where you go they are uniquely the same with some minor flair and that is my travel comfort food. I learned that from my Mother who said when you are new somewhere or just arrive order something you know and love and it makes someplace new less so and then once that is done you can jump in. We were never a fast food family so going to the Mickey' Ds or even the Starbucks I would not do as I actually like coffee.
There is of course the issue of cultural appropriation that the Millennial are so keen to point out but in this case it is Vietnamese taking white people hipness and having the audacity to copy the concept in Ho Chi Minh city! How dare they.
Hey we all need a good beer now and then. Next up the Vietnamese version of Diners and Dives
Why hipster culture is the new globalisation – and it’s taking over the world
One of the biggest interior design trends of recent years, experts now say it's on its way out
Craft beer and artisan coffee is leading to homogenised cities the world over, says Helen Coffey
I’m sitting in a craft beer microbrewery-slash-bar-slash-warehouse. You know the scene – stainless steel bar, exposed light fittings, trendily grungy brickwork visible in painstaking patches on the otherwise white walls. “Industrial chic”, I believe they call it. A splash of colour comes in the form of some street art-esque graffiti; the waiters all sport achingly cool facial hair and tattoos. I sip my tasting porter, made even more unbearable by the “notes of coffee and black liquorice”, and feel a deep sadness that has nothing to do with the unsatisfactory drink in my hand.
The hideous new travel trend on social media is flashing your bum
It would be alright if I was in Brooklyn or Portland – although even in those seemingly more appropriate zip codes there might be questions about whether local businesses had been driven out by the ceaseless onslaught of gentrification – but I’m not. I’m in Vietnam; and I can’t help but notice how, thanks to the hipster culture that has swept relentlessly from West to East, everywhere I go feels the same these days.
Step outside, and the reams of mopeds and sweltering night air give away the fact I’m in Ho Chi Minh City rather than New York City. But skip around the corner, into the French-themed all-day brunch place that serves smashed avocado on toast and features a carefully curated boutique shop-cum-gallery downstairs, and I’d be rudderless again, lost in a sea of characterless trendy.
Globalisation used to be synonymous with big chains making everywhere feel homogenous, killing off the local flavour of a neighbourhood store by store. A McDonald’s in the Vatican. A Starbucks in a Japanese ski resort. A Domino’s Pizza in Milan.
But now the opposite creates identikit cities. The businesses in question may be staunchly independent, yet they all look and feel the same: hip, quirky and very, very Western.
That’s the main problem. These “off-beat” brands are often the brainchildren of loveably enthusiastic foreigners, who can’t wait to introduce the joys of artisan coffee/bespoke distilled spirits/an underground speakeasy with a password (delete as appropriate) to whatever new town they’ve decided to call home.
The idea is fine in principle, but there never seems to be any effort to imbue the local culture into these enterprises; to create a harmonious fusion of East and West; to, heck, let the whole concept be inspired and shaped by the place where it is set.
I am part of the problem, of course. Tourists like me love finding that “hidden gem” of a local street-art walking tour or the so hipster-it-hurts vegan café, and consequently these places spring up and thrive, outshining the traditional shops and restaurants with their pleasing familiarity and flattering fallacy that we have become that little bit cooler just by stepping inside.
I, too, fell for their charms at first. But now, when I look down at the exquisite coffee art on the top of my latte, or the perfectly crafted cocktail in front of me served in – what else? – a mason jar, all I feel is empty inside.
Because what’s the point in travelling half-way around the world for the exact same experience you’d get at home?
Back at the craft beer microbrewery-slash-bar-slash-warehouse, I down my porter, feeling vaguely sickened by its hipness and the way it seems to epitomise the stifling of one culture for the glorification of another. Hipster-isation: it might seem innocuous but it’s taking over the world, one craft beer at a time.