“I’m afraid we’ve become terrible salt snobs,” joked the late food writer Alan Davidson when he and his wife Jane had me round for lunch one day in the early 2000s. On the table were a panoply of special salts, from pink Himalayan to damp, grey fleur de sel from France. Announcing himself as a salt snob was a form of gentle self-mockery, something Alan was good at. He knew how absurd it was to have all these salts, when he could have made do with a cheap tub of Saxa. But it was also a modest kind of boastfulness. Alan wanted me to notice how superior his salt collection was, which I duly did.
The concept of snobbery is deeply complex, as the literary critic and biographer DJ Taylor cleverly explores in his “definitive guide” to snobs. Snobbery is a form of social superiority, but it can also be a moral failing. Snobs may laud it over others, but we, in turn, despise and punish them for it. Taylor starts his book with the “Plebgate” affair of 2012, in which the government chief whip Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign his official post, and later pay substantial damages, after it emerged that he had rebuked a police officer who asked him not to cycle through the gates of 10 Downing Street with the words: “Best you learn your fucking place … You’re fucking plebs.” As Taylor notes, Mitchell’s sin was not to swear, but his use of the word “plebs”, which, in ancient Rome, simply meant the common people.
In modern times, very few snobs are snobs all the time. To be a salt snob does not necessarily mean that you will be a snob in any other area of your life. Taylor confesses that he becomes a snob whenever he hears Adele on the radio or hears a Channel 4 presenter “tumbling over her glottal stops”, but hopes that he is not a snob per se. He is the son of a grammar school boy from a council estate and feels that he knew “all about petty social distinctions from an early age”. He is fascinated by the many forms snobbery takes, from the garden snobs who despise hanging baskets and patios (the correct word, apparently, is terrace) to the inverse snobs who feel superior to anything that smacks too much of “middle-class” behaviour. Taylor also identifies the film snob, a perverse individual who may consider Brian de Palma’s Body Double wildly underrated and sees no point in Meryl Streep.
In his The Book of Snobs (1846-7), the novelist WM Thackeray noted that some people were snobs “only in certain circumstances and relations of life”. Others, however, were what Thackeray called positive snobs, who were “snobs everywhere, in all companies, from morning to night, from youth to grave”. Thackeray argued that in the Victorian society in which he lived, many people could not help being positive snobs, because the whole of British national life was founded on the principle of hereditary privilege. The true snob, in Thackeray’s book, would find, as Taylor explains, that “his entire existence is governed by its logic: wife, house, career, recreations”. The Victorian snobs depicted by Thackeray might ruin themselves to pay for a fashionable hat or a pianoforte in the back parlour or an absurdly expensive truffle-laden dinner. This was because they felt it was social death to dine with people of the wrong class, such as doctors or lawyers, instead of “the country families”....MORE
Trifecta: We Have a Hot Sauce Sommelier To Go Along With The Mustard Sommelier and the Water Sommelier
Yes, ma'am, the Satan's Saliva small barrel Special Reserve sauce is made from Scotch Bonnet peppers grown exclusively on a tiny island off the coast of another island, Antigua.Or does this type of mockery make me the snob?
The peppers are picked at the peak of their short lives to ensure the characteristic citrus and battery acid top notes contrast with the charred peat and road tar bottom to create a complex tease, flamboyant enough to be called the scamp of the
vineyardpepper pot but finishing as cigar box and C4.
In case of overdose the usual cold milk treatment is insufficient and one should go deeper into the butterfat realm, whipping cream at minimum, preferably a hunk of cream cheese to gnaw on as you search for the nearest burn unit.
Perfect when paired with artisanal small batch lard or any of the kicky tallows now making the scene.
From the Globe and Mail:...
Entering that wilderness of mirrors is the slow road to snooty madness so I'll just answer 'no'.