The XX Factor

Rich Women Eat Lunch, New York Times Reports

Waiting for their salads as part of a ritual known as lunch

Lunch: It’s not just for men anymore. In the New York Times today, reporter Jeff Gordinier draws back the curtain on the women who are participating in “the crucial information-gathering and idea-generating ritual known as lunch.” In New York City, even the most wealthy, powerful, and beautiful women are now eating, sometimes in the middle of the day. Explains Gordinier: “For culinary, aesthetic and economic reasons, some of the most influential editors, fashion designers, filmmakers, actresses, media executives and thought leaders can reliably be found at a sisterhood of restaurants scattered in and around Greenwich Village and TriBeCa, NoHo and SoHo.” Even Sofia Coppola, noted woman, is getting in on this.

But why? Perhaps it is because humans require energy in order to sustain life, and in urban areas where wildlife and farmland are scarce, it is customary for them to trade goods and services for food instead of growing or hunting it themselves. Sometimes, these people are so busy earning money to buy food that they find it economical to work and eat at the same time.

Or maybe it’s because ABC Kitchen has a roasted carrot and avocado salad that is “virtuously healthful,” yet “tastes luxurious,” and rich women love salad and luxury almost as much as the New York Times loves writing about rich women. “It’s my favorite,” one woman told Gordinier in a fascinating quote that anchors his piece. “I always eat that.”

Well-to-do women are such an obsession of the New York Times that all they need to do is engage in normal human biological functions, like having sex or consuming food, to launch a “trend” worth charting in obsessive detail. When rich women eat, they eat food that suggests “the veneer of healthiness.” They eat to achieve a “balance between premium lightness and stealth indulgence.” They eat on “elfin, wobbly tables.” They eat near “quirky tchotchkes.” They always eat it. It is their favorite.

This type of out-of-touch New York Times trend piece ostensibly caters to the tastes of the newspaper’s target demo—after all, middle-aged professionals of above-average incomes do need to know today’s trendy quinoa topping (it’s a fried egg). But it’s unclear why stories like this tend to isolate women as a group while men are left to eat in peace. In this story, men appear as ghosts of power lunches past: They dine at stuffy steakhouses and are represented almost exclusively by Henry Kissinger (who is 90). It might seem like a compliment to position ladies as an of-the-moment trend while viewing men as too boring to be mentioned, but it really just turns women into another commodity to sell to the rich.

Correction, September 4, 2013: This post originally misspelled Sofia Coppola’s first name.