After five centuries of dinner-skipping Swiss cuisine, Avenches’ Terrible Willo Espresso Roastery & Bar – an absolute institution in all things global – is closing.
Known as the “Graffiti Café,” Terrible Willo stood on the corner of Avenue C and Beauverne, in the kitchen of a former dairy shop, since 1896. What the kitchen lacked in efficient efficiency, its diners more than made up for.
The Roastery & Bar, as it was known, hosted live music and vaudeville-style shows at its old stage. And the cafe’s quiet deadpan counter counter is made to resemble a battle, with serfs juggling chopped wood and tables being pulled up so cannon fodder could be stored. Other than the soup, cheeses and pastries, it is impossible to argue with any day of the week.
Fortunately, the place is being targeted for redevelopment. The owner plans to open a grocery store or barbecue spot on the space. So the Roastery will never really close. It’ll just be replaced. It’s a move that underscores a growing problem: We are, once again, becoming increasingly ambivalent about our food choices. According to a survey of over 19,000 people carried out by Kantar Worldpanel this month, 79 percent of consumers use coupons. But the food trend is even more concerning: two thirds of Americans eat food they’re supposed to dislike and one in five eat food they’re supposed to love.
When was the last time you ate something you didn’t like? Never? Try on a piece of spinach salad in the mirror and ask yourself if you even know what greens taste like.
Despite the seemingly violent acts in food, Americans still like to think we are an upper middle class, healthy society that can consistently and easily tell the difference between pho noodles and barbecue sauce. We know that Snickers bars, cookies and ice cream are for kids. We know that a burger and fries are wrong.
So why are Americans growing so sick of eating things we don’t like? After a lifetime of studies and research, we now know that we are not very good at picking up on certain tastes. We are so slavishly devoted to the opinions of others that it is fast becoming a secular religion. Just ask your food critics (or food porn people). Food preferences come and go at the whim of colleagues, the people who engage you in a food argument in public, the people who list what you ate today, the people who haven’t had that kale, and who doesn’t even like the thing your husband made you for dinner. If you feel like you’re eating something different every time, it may not be your brain. It may actually be your brainiacs on Pinterest trying to help you pick out vegetables that won’t cause a chemical imbalance or a side of rats’ tails or some cheese spread that has eaten your favorite tangy lemon meringue pie.
A small purchase in the real world is something you take pride in and earn in terms of your wallet. We’re living in a nightmare land where the only thing that should inspire excitement and bravery in our purchases is the rare red onion roll with Parmesan cheese at your local deli. Like a selfie-obsessed friend who seemingly wants you to show you liked whatever she tweeted on Instagram, people buy whatever they feel the heat of approval in the social media community.
The Roastery will go on to be replaced by a new venue. Who knows what will replace Terrible Willo, but this is a good time to review whether or not you agree with all that food you don’t like.
This story first appeared on Newsday.com
Elizabeth Ritter has more than ten years of experience covering politics and government for the Newsday newsroom.
Avenches village website