Even Symon and Sawyer are in on the act. In addition to Noodlecat, Sawyer’s casual noodle spot inside the West Side Market, he has places in two of Cleveland’s three pro sports venues: Sawyer’s Street Frites in the Browns Stadium and SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe in the Q. Symon, for his part, has four locations of his beloved B Spot.
For me, perhaps the key to understanding Cleveland’s food scene lay in an exhibition I saw at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in late 1990. Called “High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture,” it explored the relationship between the individual artistic imagination and the world of popular and commercial culture in the modern era. From Picasso and Marcel Duchamp to Jenny Holzer and Jeff Koons, it asked probing questions about the differences -- and values -- of popular culture on the one hand, and high culture on the other. It challenged prevailing notions of cultural superiority by highlighting the counterintuitive parallels of each end.
These considerations are inherent in nearly every enjoyable meal any of us will ever eat. Is a Michelin-star tasting dinner more enjoyable -- or objectively better -- than a bowl of the best soup your mother made, one you dearly recall from childhood? Does the chef of a great restaurant actually have a hankering, every once in awhile, for a fast food hamburger? Symon’s B-Spot suggests otherwise.