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food / travel

Snob's Privilege: On Whining About The Price Of A Fancy Restaurant

Complaining out loud (and on social media) about the high prices at exclusive restaurants is the epitome of upper class lack of self-awareness. A VIP case study in Bogota.

Exclusive in Bogota
Exclusive in Bogota
Juan Lopez de Mesa Samudio

BOGOTÁ — Which came first, snobs or restaurants for snobs?

This fundamental question reemerged the other day in Colombia when one of our more high-born journalists, Daniel Samper Ospina (nephew of former President Ernesto Samper), tweeted his outrage about a recent restaurant bill. He urged "the people" to rise up against the scandalous prices certain establishments charge out of sheer snobbery. Who could possibly justify, he asked, a restaurant charging him, a simple human being, an ordinary Colombian if ever there was one, 800,000 pesos ($242) for a dinner for four?

What Samper clearly didn't understand is that the restaurant he complained about exists because of, and for, people precisely like him. He chose to take his guests to dinner there, no doubt fully aware that it was a restaurant with a certain cachet. It is typical of social elites — he and Colombian presenter Julio Sánchez Cristo are perfect examples — to complain chronically and express indignation about the failings of others, which are nothing if not clear mirrors of their own shortcomings.

Though he has made a career of publicly mocking his friends and relatives, Samper Ospina is admittedly amusing. His family is too, and always has been. Who, after all, doesn't laugh every time former President Samper opens his mouth? His nephew's biting wit has given him a privileged position in the world of Colombian press gossip, and as the years go by his words are increasingly venerated by a small but influential part of the urban elite.

So while Samper Ospina is right to say that some restaurants are exorbitantly expensive, he's not the best messenger for this news. In any case, nobody forces Samper Ospina and his fellow clique of city snobs to go to the same two or three restaurants, where they are sure to feel safe and comfortable. The target customer niche, like so many new places in Bogotá, includes those whose social aspirations have demanded such plush eateries. He and people like him foment the demand for these overpriced venues as their need to see and be seen grows ever more insatiable.

The snob, by his nature, wants to have his cake and to eat it too: exclusivity, sumptuous surroundings, beautiful people and the kind of sizzling gossip that ends up in Samper's columns all at a price the snob would like to pay, and not a penny more. The tantrums that follow are no less typical of their delusions.

So the answer to the question is that Samper and his fellow snobs came first, and then the restaurants that cater to their whims. Reap what you sow.

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