A Misanthrope’s Dream Job
I love the casualness of blogging. I don’t have to introduce my thesis before I drop it your lap.
Thesis: There is a too-large subset of our society, the members of which claim to have taste they provably lack.
I’ll flush out my thesis with a few examples from the culinary realm, where I believe the phenomena is most prevalent. Whom am I baselessly attacking? They have many names: sommelier, critic, water specialist, foodie, gourmet. They claim to separate the finer foods and beverages of this world from the cheap stuff. They are found wherever money is abundant and boredom flourishes. While some possess real skill, most are fake shills who dance a subjective dance of subjectivity. Blindfolded, they rate hose water above triple-filtered, reverse-osmosified, dolphin-approved water from the springs of Fiji. Without a label, they rate a cheap cream sherry above the kind one can only find in a gold bottle.
Mark linked me to an article in The Times about a coffee bar owner who purchased a $20,000 machine to brew coffee with halogen bulbs and siphon action. One of the steps in the brewing process must be done by hand. Consider this mouth-vomit-inducing quote,
“The whirlpool, it messes with your mind,” said Mr. Freeman, who practiced stirring plain water for months to develop muscle memory before he brewed his first cup of siphon coffee. “There’s no way to rush it.”
I bet he makes delicious coffee.
I bet it tastes amazing.
I’d love to try some.
You know what else I bet? I bet he irreversibly wasted months of his life practicing his water stir. The scientist in me wants to rant right now. I want to rant about the folly of his attempt to control a process affected by myriad factors which are out of his control. I want to rant about the legions of double-blind, placebo-controlled tasters who would not distinguish his expertly-stirred brew from that of a trained monkey. I want to somehow steal his wasted months and give them to myself (to waste on blog posts). I want the fakeness to stop. I want people to stop claiming artisanship where there is none.
Hence we arrive at my fiendish, closeted dream job: I wish to travel the country and perform scientific studies to demolish the fake. I will sever the disgusting connoisseurship of the upper crust. I will turn subjective critics into objective failures at life. The water on the right is the Evian? WRONG. The water on the right was my urine. Wine #3 is the one of true, French origin? WRONG. All the wines you just tasted were my urine. The coffee in the black mug is artisan-stirred siphon brew? WRONG. Urine again.
I may sound a little harsh here. Please know that my anger does not apply to honest people with real skills. If you can pass my rigorous battery of objective tests, I will gladly submit to your authority and praise you for the hard, tedious, careful work which imparted your skill in you. If not, I am more than happy to write an inflammatory blog post calling your silly skills into question.