If you needed any further indication that some people might take Brooklyn a little too seriously, it would be this: Moscow-based burger-makers Ferma & Williamsburg are set to make their Brooklyn debut at Smorgasburg this Saturday.
Chefs Fedor Tadatyan and Maxim Livsi joined forces to start the company “amid a wave of Brooklyn lovers and copycats,” Eater reports, and started as a “catering company that featured bearded, flannel-clad waitstaff serving food cooked on a grill and plated on distressed wooden planks.” This turned into a burger stand in Moscow’s Gorky Park, where the two sling burgers and other Brooklyn (or just American?) fare.
Ferma & Williamsburg also operate a “back alley social club” that serves “Brooklyn-esque” food like “burgers and Cafe Habana-inspired grilled corn.” Both restaurants are decorated with objects found at, yes, the Brooklyn Flea. The two also told Eater that they’re modifying their name to simply “Ferma Corporation” because, well, they’ll be in Brooklyn.
I should remind you that Cafe Habana’s corn is not specific to that restaurant. It is—gasp—home-style Mexican food. Anyway, this post isn’t here to talk shit on appropriating food per se, I’m just a little concerned about the levels of remove happening here. In one light, this is another example of how New Brooklyn’s effects continue to spiral further and further out intp the Ironic Galaxy. It’s so ironic it’s on the level of Don Quixote ironic. I can’t keep track.
But in another light, Ferma & Williamsburg is another sign of the commodified life. Since when did beards and flannel become specific to Brooklyn? You don’t have to answer that, the point I am trying to make isn’t found only in flannel. There’s a lot of appropriation and fusion happening in Brooklyn cuisine (and clothes, music, and…just about every other industry), which isn’t bad in and of itself. But that kind of fusion industry has contributed to the establishment of one of the many Brooklyn stereotypes, which Ferma & Williamsburg reappropriated into a commodity, and now sell as a lifestyle. And it’s a very specific kind of lifestyle at that: rosemary aioli caters to a relatively small section of the Brooklyn population. You want to use Williamsburg’s name as a brand, fine, but don’t pretend it’s any different from another chef out in the world making elderflower lemonade just because it’s bought in the 11211 zip code.