“Food simply tastes better when it is supposed to say something about the time and place that birthed it. The process of consuming food is more fun when it says something about the consumer.
For food substitute drink, substitute whisky. Everyone who writes about whisky would say the same: it is simply more fun when we can create a story, make comparisons and associations and say something about our own discernment. But sometimes we whisky drinkers can be a bit sniffy (pun intended) about this. We can pretend social superiority, claim that there are some 400 flavour compounds that have been identified, making the whisky not only the most complex sprit but all more complex than wine. We can look back to a rich history and a national mythology and we can console ourselves by thinking we are knowledgable and discerning.
This was brought home to me in an amusing way when Derek De Souza of the Dallas based Single Malt Whisky Society attempted to rebut (https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/the-way-i-see-it/13881/whisky-s-elitist-snobbery-a-response/) an article by ‘A Whisky Insider’ that suggested that the whisky world can sometimes be too up itself (https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/the-way-i-see-it/13577/whisky-s-elitist-snobbery-must-stop/). Whilst trying to argue to the contrary his article oozed the very attitudes the ‘Whisky Insider’ had complained about, from the haughty disdain in suggesting that she didn’t fully understand what was involved in making a great whisky to the ludicrous idea that her pointing out that a meeting was packed with middle aged men in suits was somehow sexists. A wonderful lack of awareness when one of the incidents in the Whisky Insider’s article was someone looking at her legs and saying “you’re ravishing. I bet you wake up like that”.
Instead of being a rebuttal it confirmed everything in the Whisky Insider’s article. He obviously felt under personal attack but was unable to say: ‘the event cost a small fortune so what sort of audience do you expect’. Instead he felt he had to wade into the swamp of sexism and snobbishness without showing the slightest sign of recognising that the ground was a bit sticky.
We really shouldn’t get too superior about our whisky preferences.
That is why I chose the particular quote used at the head of this post. It doesn’t come from an article about about fine cuisine or a meditation on a deep and complex food culture. It comes from an article about doughnuts ( http://bittersoutherner.com/hot-sticky-and-sweet-doughnuts-krispy-kreme-dunkin ). That’s right: the sweet, fatty balls of dough that we can all look down on. It’s 7,000 words long and it is about doughnuts, identity, cultural distinctions, the American South, as well as the difference between Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Things that have, up till now, passed me by; for example I had no idea that doughnuts could even be a breakfast food! Put aside any prejudices you might hold about this sugar laden foodstuff the article is well worth your time and it carries more interesting arguments than most of the articles I read about whisky.
Culture and identity is what defines us as individuals and it is something that is fought over and disputed in every newspaper and internet forum. Mostly the battles rage over the big ticket items such as faith and belief – or the way we think we think about the world – but much more is revealed in our unconscious actions and preferences. Our attitude to whisky or what we have for breakfast are part of this and reveal multitudes.
Mr De Souza attempts to take the cultural high ground but has had his arse handed to him by a doughnut.
P.S. The image for this post was found on Google at https://stjohnshamptonwick.org/youth-1/#new-page-1. I have no idea if it was their own