'Canallitas' restaurants: when the hospitality industry becomes a toy for posh people

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Not long ago, I was invited to a restaurant-club-lounge – the combo is already promising – that left me emotional scars: during dinner, the local DJ played a trance song at full blast, raised his arms as if his arms were burning. swallows, and the world suddenly went crazy. All the waiters began to dance a disturbing choreography that lasted an eternal minute during which I almost spit out the sushi. The ritual was repeated several times during the evening; I still wonder what the hell happened in there. If you have ever ended up in one of these new Instagram-friendly spaces – Anglicisms are necessary to explain well what the thing is about – it is very possible that you have not understood anything either. Well, I bring bad news: you're out. You are a fossil. Because the new dirty restaurants run by rich kids are like that, they are not made for gray people who just want to dine and chat. In this delirious context, perfectly described two months ago by the brilliant Pantomime Full, capitals like Madrid or Barcelona have been filled with restaurants where you don't go to dine, but to live an experience. An experience that will turn your brain into a fried egg. Why do they call them scoundrels when they mean posh? Canallita silveráMoney doesn't buy happiness, they say; Whether true or not, the undeniable thing is that posh people get bored and when they get together, they do things, as Mariano Rajoy said. Restoration has become the playground of these new entrepreneurs. They are young, they are rich and, although most of them have no idea how hospitality works, they have landed in the sector like a Concorde on fire, loaded with groundbreaking ideas and new “concepts” – a word that is repeated a lot. – street food that they have copied from some absurd trend portal. It is what they call being a scoundrel, a word that makes your teeth grind: Carles Armengol, author of Collado: the curse of a restaurant, gets goosebumps when he hears it. “Canalla was the fuse that lit the flame of irreverent naming. Choose any synonym and you will see that a restaurant with that name already exists,” he says. The posh man who aspires to be a badass is a common figure in the Iberian circus: they are the new Pocholos. I try to find out where this drive comes from with the help of Iñaki Domínguez, author of books such as San Vicente Ferrer 34, Macarras interseculares or The true story of the Moco panda. “In Spain there is a long tradition of posh scoundrels, and it still continues: the highest-ranking posh people, aristocrats for example, already have their destiny written. In a way, a plain person is luckier, because they have more freedom of choice, and many posh people rebel against that predetermination through canallism, transgression,» he says. The author also highlights the figure of the black sheep, another constant from Pijolandia. “The family, even if it has a lot of money and seems structured, can have internal problems. And that manifests itself, like a scapegoat, through the black sheep: the family does not function and they act as a symptom,” he concludes. Although the RAE defines scoundrel as “despicable person with bad conduct”, in the hands of this new wave of entrepreneurs, the word has become an irritating wild card: the endearing hooligan. Your fragrance, your rules. Rogue cuisine, rogue experiences, by repeating the word, have emptied it of meaning; When I see that something is scoundrel, my first reaction is suspicion: I only imagine posh people wanting to be bad guys. Total (con)fusionCarles Armengol has ever had to go into scoundrel territory. «If I have done it, it has been out of obligation, for some company dinner in which the boss – who saw himself as a Barça player – took to taking us to tacky places with lots of mirrors, waiters in Hawaiian shirts, sinks with a DJ booth and unnecessary armchairs,” he says. Domínguez assures that the posh man, for whom everything has always gone in his favor in life, believes that he is special and that all of his decisions are great; But the harsh truth is that these businesses want personality so badly that they end up all being the same. The same capacity to cause embarrassment to others, the same bribed influencers, the same abuse of the letter k, the same schizoid decorations, the same obsession with disguising the waiters as extras from a Rauw Alejandro video clip. For these palaces of tacky, Furthermore, there are only two types of cuisine: what is cool and what is not. Forget about ordering a Galician stew, the posh canallitas are living the fusion revolution… The fusion of what is fashionable. Smash burgers, ceviche, dumplings, tacos, tataki, signature sushi, steak tartare, aged meats, wagyu, specialty coffee (sic), mezcalería, signature cocktails (wild), very wild wines and whatever the mood dictates. In fact, on many of these sites, you can find everything on the same menu. They will tell you that it is street food -another empty term-, but you already know how the movie ends: they will NOT charge you exactly at street prices.Canallita and fifth-rangeBetsai EkmeiroAlso, no matter how much they boast of original and ground-breaking menus, the pattern is repeated in almost all of them: you will not see them change to the rhythm of the seasonal product, because this is the league of tuna maki with strawberries and Peta Zetas . The food, like the decoration – including some irreverent sinks – and lighting, is designed in a selfie key. It's a boutique hooliganism that prioritizes photogenicity and coolness even in the kitchen: you haven't come here to eat, you've come to have fun. For Armengol, these are urban theme parks whose theme is human indecency and bad taste. “If I have to go, I look for the best corner to observe everything that happens. Stuffed-up bosses, Qatari families eating broken eggs with straw potatoes, groups of friends who have studied at Esade and only get high once a year at Primavera Sound taking photos of the merry-go-round at the entrance looking like 'fuah, this is very crazy'. How disgusting everything makes me, but how happy it makes me to be there to contemplate it”, he says.Shake before usingFor some reason, the new crapulites with potential believe that a divine power has entrusted them with the mission of shaking up the boring gastronomic scene of their city : If you go to any of their websites, you will find rants that only a freak would dare to write. Manifestos, philosophies, ideas, all explained in shameless jargon full of anglicisms, bordering on crypto bro dialectics. “Informal and casual hospitality is popular; Have the waiter or waitress have their neck tattooed and sit at the table to take your order. I imagine a meeting between three friends with pasta making the decision to call themselves 'BELLACO MIDA' and saying 'we'll rock it', and it makes me want to show up on the opening day with a flamethrower,» says Armengol. In this broth of «good vibrate”, floats the most important message: life is a party, little bastards. How can it not be, when you have enough money to set up a gastrobar with your rich friends. The endless late afternoon, the open Bottega Veneta shirts, horny mixology tables, does anyone care about responsibilities? To make matters worse, the fantasy of living in an eternal party comes accompanied by an irrational allergy to silence, and that can only be solved by the big turra, that is: a house DJ dressed as Peaky Blinder with a volume that prevents you from having a conversation. As Armengol points out: “The music plays very loudly to fill the emotional void that exists between so much design designed to please the algorithm.”They have a good time, you don't so muchThey have a good time, not so much youRobert Daly (Getty Images)In this conceptual hodgepodge, it turns out that now the most hooligan thing is to use very outdated feminine adjectives for the names of the establishments. The Chula, The Spoiled, The Chunga, The Bossy, The Indomitable, The Dangerous and The Laziness that give. I don't know what reason is behind this fever, but it gives me mental hives. Are we in time to stop it? The neighborhood kids Okay, maybe we've gone too far. It is inevitable to take these businesses at face value (thanks Pantomime Full), but it is still disturbing that there are more and more posh people with little experience and naughty fantasies opening bars and colonizing the city with their tacky ravings: in the face of such a proliferation, it is worth asking if These hot spots contribute something to the neighborhoods that give them shelter. The answer is no. In the social fabric of their environment, they will never have the same weight as, for example, a daily menu restaurant: they are there, but they are invisible in the eyes of the neighbors, like dark matter; Their goal is not to put down roots in the neighborhood, but to occupy it. A veil separates the mileurista from these magical worlds to which only tourists with money, expats, digital nomads and cool people willing to spend 18 euros for a creative cocktail can access: what would be of the scoundrels without their little bit of gentrification. “They are usually projects with a lot of marketing and little craft: the injection of dough with which they start is exorbitant,” points out the author of Collado, who is especially concerned about the comparative grievance. “On the other side, traditional neighborhood bars have a hard time complying with the demands and limitations of their license, while they can barely afford the cost of a renovation: they illuminate the city and fill it with identity. We must take care of them,” he says. For Domínguez, in Madrid the problem is that land is expensive everywhere, even in the working-class neighborhoods, where you can already see luxury buildings and apartments. “These restaurants do not have an organic relationship with the environment, since it all comes down to who has all that money to buy or rent.” He no longer sets foot in a center “where everything is tourists with suitcases and brunch restaurants: many don't work, but that's okay, because they'll invest in something else.” “Once I ended up in one of these places: I couldn't eat because I don't have a smartphone and I couldn't order or do anything,” he remembers. A “Directed by Robert W. Weide” book. Follow El Comidista on TikTok, Instagram, xFacebook or YouTube.