John Rawls said, famously, that the way to judge a society was to look at the condition of its worst-off.1 It doesn’t matter how rich or well-educated the people at the top are. The best society is the one that best treats the people at the bottom.
Let me suggest a corollary: the Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture. The Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture says that, if you want to judge the quality of a food culture, don’t look at its finest restaurants and best food. Look to its low-end. Look to its street carts, its gas-station snacks. Look to what you can get in the airport at 2 AM. Any community can spit up a few nice places to eat, if they throw enough money at it. What shows real love for food, and real caring, is when people make good food when they could get away with making crap.