"(Blank) has gone downhill in the last few years..."
When someone says a menu item, whole restaurant, or grocery item, or any other food-related purchase "has gone downhill in recent years", how much of it do you think is nostalgia for yesteryear, trying to sound discerning, or actual perceived downgrade in quality?
I don't know, it just sounds so cliche and lots of times the person doesn't get into specifics...
We do tend to have selective memories, which might explain why everything from food to movies to music seems to "go downhill."
Surely, some restaurants do actually go downhill. Maybe they expand too fast, or maybe they are forced by economics to take shortcuts. It can be a double-edged sword to become overly popular, because this can put pressure on the very resources you needed to make the things you got famous for.
That said, many eaters project their own perceptions onto things, too. You can't relive the novelty of a new discovery. We come to love a food, we keep going back for more, and eventually become accustomed to it. We may still enjoy it, but it's not going to have that same sense of wonder and awe it did the first time. I do think this phenomenon leads some people to wrongly attribute their shifting experience to the restaurant "going downhill".
Then again, we also change as individuals. Our tastes change. Our experiences accumulate. The best Thai restaurant in the neighborhood might not seem as amazing five years later, after you've sampled Thai in several other cities, or Thailand, even if that original restaurant is still serving the exact same preparations. The fast food you craved and inhaled in high school might just taste like a pile of salt thirty years later, even if the recipe hasn't changed at all.
I do think there is a tendency for us to see ourselves as static and the outside world as ever changing, when in reality, both factors change simultaneously.
>>how much of it do you think is nostalgia for yesteryear, trying to sound discerning, or actual perceived downgrade in quality?
Nostalgia? 'Perceived' downgrade? Oh my, no. It's a real, absolute, 100% downgrade.
I can get into any kind of specifics about anything that I personally note has gone 'downhill'.
The latest is Edy's and Breyer's, now at 48 ounces and the exact same price, the EXACT same price, as the SIXTY FOUR ounce half gallon.
They now call them 'containers'. How clever.