Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s clever sketches on Portlandia never fail to make me laugh. The show touches on a wide variety of Portland’s quirks, including its foodie culture. However, many of the foodie trends they poke fun at are definitely not exclusive to Portland. From the artisanal food craze to ridiculous brunch lines, these moments are both hilarious and painfully relatable for foodies everywhere.
1. Artisan Movie Theater Food (Season 3, Episode 9)
No foodie can ever escape the words “artisan” or “rustic,” both of which have lost a lot of their meaning and tend to be used as buzzwords in restaurant menus and food product labels. Portlandia brings artisanal food to the last place you would expect it: the movie theater. Two employees try to sell their new artisanal line of food, including artisan popcorn served in a wrapped up newspaper to “infuse the grittiness.” With the popularity of artisan food still on the rise, I’m sure it won’t be long before artisan popcorn becomes a movie theater staple.
2. Splitting the Bill (Season 3, Episode 4)
Now this is a moment just about everyone has experienced: the horror of paying at a large group dinner. In this episode, Nina has a birthday dinner at a nice tapas place. When it comes time to pay, the nightmare of splitting the bill looms. One couple at the table suggests calling “a guy they know that does this kind of thing.” A tough looking, no-nonsense, man in a suit joins their table and quickly figures out how much each person will pay by asking a few questions.
3. Tapas (Season 3, Episode 4)
This one goes out to that friend that studied abroad and comes back as an expert on foreign food and culture — and doesn’t stop talking about it. One of the couples that attends Nina’s party, Cath and Dave, have just returned from a trip to Spain. So, of course, they believe they’re resident experts at the tapas restaurant. From the food to the atmosphere, they spend the entire dinner telling everyone how inauthentic everything is.
4. Pasta Addict (Season 3, Episode 1)
Anyone who loves pasta (so, everyone?) or has tried cutting something out of their diet can relate to this sketch. After Peter comes to the conclusion that he could stand to eat a little healthier, he and his wife decide that the problem is pasta, and that he needs to quit cold turkey.
Throughout the episode, Fred slowly goes insane. He sneaks off to Olive Garden and The Spaghetti Factory, looks up photos of pasta, and has a pasta stash in the back of the toilet. While cutting down on pasta can be a healthy choice, maybe Peter should just eat the delicious stuff in moderation instead of cutting it out completely.
5. “Is It Local?” (Season 1, Episode 1)
One of the most popular, and most widely criticized, foodie trends in recent years is the farm to table movement. Fred and Carrie parody just how far some people go to ensure that their food is local in this hilarious sketch. They start out by asking if the chicken is local, but this quickly escalates to seeing the chicken’s records, which includes information like his name (Colin, if you were wondering), health information, and what the chicken was fed. Finally, the two end up leaving the restaurant in the middle of ordering to see the farm that Colin came from.
6. Mixologist (Season 2, Episode 1)
Bartenders aren’t just bartenders anymore — they’re artists. Cocktails are becoming more and more intricate, and garnish goes way beyond a salted rim, lime, or paper umbrella. Fred and Carrie encounter the magic of mixology when they run into a bartender (played by the ever-charming Andy Samberg), who crafts a specialty drink for Carrie. The cocktail includes homemade bitters, an eggshell, and a rotten banana that the bar was “just trying to get rid of.” While this sounds ridiculous, it isn’t too far off from the crazy things you can find on the most popular and trendy cocktails.
7. The Brunch Special (Season 2, Episode 10)
Perhaps the most relatable food moment on Portlandia is the Brunch Special episode. Any foodie can relate to the excitement of finally going to that trendy brunch place that’s been all over Instagram, only to arrive on Sunday morning to a possibly hours long wait. Portlandia takes the brunch craze to new heights when Fred, Carrie, the mayor of Portland, and just about everyone else in the city decide to line up at the trendiest brunch spot, Fisherman’s Porch.
The episode also pokes fun at the hype that gets built up around trendy, unique dishes. In the episode, this dish is Fisherman Porch’s famous Marionberry Pancakes. Fun fact: Marionberries are a type of blackberry that is native to Oregon. In a “behind-the-scenes clip” with director Jonathan Krisel, he consults celebrity chef Bobby Flay to make pancakes that would be worth waiting six hours in line for. Bobby Flay is not amused, and points out the unnecessary hype around marionberries (which, in his opinion, are just blackberries).