Thursday, 11 January 2018

"You're fat and your food's a joke" - elite attitudes to out-of-town dinners

So you head off to the big city from rural America. Anything is better than the dull world of backwoods Indiana - you even write a screed saying how dreadful the old place was. And then you find out what people in the shiny city think of folk from your backwood:
Friends at work one day called her over to ask about Cracker Barrel. “It’s just like a chain restaurant we go to treat ourselves,” Ms. Cronkhite said.

A co-worker jumped in: “It’s this really white-trash restaurant that overweight Midwesterners go to.”

Then came the invitation to join some friends at Butter. The San Francisco bar is decorated as a sendup of rural white America, complete with the front end of a Winnebago RV. The menu included such cocktails as the Whitetrash Driver, vodka and SunnyD; Bitchin’ Camaro, spiced rum and Dr Pepper; and After School Special, vodka and grape soda.

“It was, all of the sudden, in my face,” Ms. Cronkhite said. “Things at home we thought were nice or parts of our culture were treated with open scorn and disdain and like a joke.”
This attitude is commonplace (and not new either) - here's Aesop from about 600BC:
A country mouse invited his cousin who lived in the city to come visit him. The city mouse was so disappointed with the sparse meal which was nothing more than a few kernels of corn and a couple of dried berries.
The disdain of city dwellers for the culinary choices of folk from the sticks is reciprocated but there's still a tendency to see those upcountry, working class dishes as an ironic joke, something a bit naff or, worst of all, unhealthy, unpleasant muck. There is a snooty distaste from our metropolitan elite for Wetherspoons, Harvester and other pub eateries selling Sunday lunches, cheap steaks and jumbo fish all washed down with beer, cheap white wine and Coca-Cola. We're better than that is the tone and you're fat is the message.

To some in that metropolitan elite all this is just a bit "Brexit-y" - scotch eggs, corned beef, cheap lager, sandwich spread, spam, value baked beans and, of course, salad cream:

It's not, however, about Brexit just that leaving the EU acts as a sort of conduit for some of that snobbish disdain - typified by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown using 'shops filled with pie and chips' as a sort of anti-Brexit dog whistle, a position so snobbish that Iain Martin's conclusion is the best antidote:
This shows that Vote Leave missed a trick in June 2016. If they had promised on the side of their bus that Britain post-Brexit would have “shops full of pies” I suspect that Leave would have won the EU referendum by a bigger margin. If chips were also provided, it would have been a landslide among British men.



Jonathan Bagley said...

Well Yasmin is no Audrey Hepburn; or as she, with her Europhile sophistication might prefer, "Pas étranger à la chariot de dessert."

Bill Sticker said...

It's the sheer arrogance that galls. A form of Dunning-Kruger which afflicts otherwise supposedly intelligent people.

The Stigler said...

Yasmin Alabhai-Brown is a gift. She's a snobby idiot that can't even write well. To go after the British people for eating pie and chips will only keep the public supporting Brexit.

It also shows the ignorance of people like this, that she still thinks this is about racist Little Englanders not wanting "greasy foreign muck". The fact is, the people of this country are more cosmopolitan in their flavours than most places in Europe. Wetherspoons menu includes dishes from the UK, Italy, Greece, Mexico, America and India. Supermarkets are full of wine from across the globe, and sauces from those countries plus Spain, Thailand, China and Jamaica. You don't get this in France. The restaurants are almost entirely French food. Same with Spain and Italy.

The biggest problem with pies in pubs is the poor quality of many. Too much thin gravy, not enough meat.