Friday, January 1, 2010

Another half-baked conspiracy is toast

George Waters column for Sunday, April 6, 2014:

In our technologically glutted age, there is a hunger to return to days of yore, when we tribes tattooed our loyalties on our skin, pierced our flesh to attract a mate, and savored simple food, like toast. Toast is humanity's touchstone, and so it was inevitable that toast would become an overpriced hipster trend.

Put a bone through your nose and don't forget the most important meal of the day.

Gourmet toast shops have sprung up all over, from San Francisco, where the fad understandably began, to London. Four dollar cinnamon toast. Seven dollar brioche, topped with 'house made ricotta," because god forbid you aren't able to track down the source of your cheese.

Some might say this is the middle class's way of buoying its spirits after the Great Recession, to reassure itself that as long as it can afford seven dollar toast it must be doing all right. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Toast is the canary in the coal mine. Toast is the test.

First, the corporate overlords convinced us four dollar coffee was nothing to rebel against, nothing to get our little wooden swizzle sticks in a swirl about. Then they got us used to pizza with cheese stuffed right inside the crust like some sort of gooey albino serpent.

(Biblical symbolism intended.)

There was a time when we knew, as a people, that cheese went ON pizza. That coffee was a buck with infinite refills. That toast was that thing we ate only if we were still hungry after the eggs and the slab of ham the size of Beyonce's Benz.

If they can convince us seven dollar toast is normal, how long until we don't even flinch as they start fracking our back yards?

This trend even has a name. They call it "artisanal" toast. This conjures up the image of an aproned, bewhiskered craftsman with muscled forearms hunched over a butcher block table, fiercely concentrating. A lock of curly hair teases his forehead. You would date him if he existed.

He does not. Your artisan is a 31 year old aspiring screenwriter, making minimum wage spreading butter and cinnamon sugar on bread. He is blameless. He cannot see the machine from within the gears.

Take a bite out of this, doubters: the letters in "artisanal" are an anagram for the phrase "liar Satan." Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm pretty sure at the bottom of this is some very sourdough.