I don’t know how many of you have followed David Brooks’ stepping in it with his story of introducing a working class friend to an upscale sandwich shop.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

Ace of Ace of Spades has a somewhat different take on it:

By the way, where did David Brooks come by this non-college-educated “friend”? Last time I heard from him, he was asking the government to set up Adult Day Camps where people of different social classes could meet and mingle.

I’m already involved with such an Adult Day Camp, namely my local shooting club. It’s difficult for me to relate to this kind of class anxiety. I think a key part of getting along and enjoying new experiences is just not giving too much of a crap what other people think of you. Now, to a degree, we all care somewhat. I certainly don’t enjoy offending people, and try very hard not to poop in other people’s pools. But I don’t see what the issue is asking what a Padrino is, and couldn’t really care less if someone thinks I’m a rube for not knowing.

My father worked in an office, but only completed some college. My mother only had a high school education and was a full time mom. Both my grandfathers were tradesmen. Most of my father’s friends were either tradesmen or worked for a living. None of my grandmothers had more than a high school education. So I don’t get class anxiety being around wealthy elites or working class people. Both groups of people have their bullshit, even if it’s different bullshit. Both groups engage in “virtue signaling,” it’s just that their virtues are different. But somehow increasingly, the two groups can’t talk to each other. Why?

I blame social media.

32 thoughts on “Sandwichgate”

  1. Caspian, MI is full of non-degreed ladies who know capicola, prosciutto etc. Not only identify them, but make them, and drive in a blizzard, clean a deer, fell a tree et. al. And I bet they would be embarrassed to be around david brooks too.

    1. Yup. Note that Brooks’ didn’t just say “Oh, capocollo is just a type of ham, and soppresatta is a type of salami” in order to help her out. In this way he maintains his pretentiousness, I guess. They could go south across the river and find an unlimited numer of blue collar types who would probably wonder why basic deli stuff is now “upscale”. I’ll have to check with my Jersey-bred “bio”-dad to be sure, but I can guess what he’d say.

      1. Heck, even a simple “I really like this particular sandwich, and I strongly recommend it! I also like this other sandwich and that one over there” would have been helpful.

        This is the most basic way you could help out someone who’s new to *any* kind of restaurant, high class or not.

  2. David Brooks dissed a high school graduate, when all he has is an A.B. from the University of Chicago?

    (See? I can do it too! ;-) )

    BTW, Sebastian: Your ancestors went to high school??

    Speaking of pretentiousness. . . :-)

  3. “. . .the two groups can’t talk to each other. Why?”

    I think it’s called “divide and conquer.” Or at least, control.

  4. I love how everyone gets all virtue signally over this. David Brooks is right. If you haul someone into a place where they aren’t comfortable with the language, they aren’t going to be happy. My old girlfriend once thanked me because I introduced her to Middle Eastern and Thai food because she got posted to Malaysia and would have been lost had I not given her just enough knowledge to be comfortable trying.

    The entire leftist game plan is that everyone else is stupid, uneducated, and provincial. We cannot possibly be capable of running our lives and we require their good offices to keep the world operating. How many times have people been stunned that you, a gun owner, are not a toothless redneck who is married to your cousin? They cannot imagine that you could be smart, educated, and not in total agreement with them. Part of this is to define their tastes as good and yours as common. Then they will do what they can to make you as uncomfortable as possible in “their” spaces.

    You and I can ignore them or laugh in their faces. Most people don’t have the ability to do that. If you speak with a regional accent, you’ll be mocked. If you’d prefer a steak to something with a French name, you’re stupid. And if a non-Italian doesn’t know that sopresata is the best salami out there, then she might not be comfortable in that restaurant.

  5. I don’t get it. I love going to new/different places. I do like to be dressed appropriately but as long as I’m within a reasonable range of those around me I’m just not that self conscious. And could care less if I have to make them explain something.

    We ‘Mericans used to be known for being comfortable with ourselves and bringing our own style everywhere. While it created the “ugly American” image, it was also part of our charm — the brash colonials who were all out of f**ks to give about foreign etiquette.

    When I go to Starbucks I order a large or medium or small. Do I know their ordering code? Of course. I just don’t want to do it as it sounds ridiculous to me. When I go to a Japanese or Chinese restaurant I ask for a fork even though everyone else at the table is trying to look sophisticated with their chopsticks (and generally looking ridiculous). I’m actually pretty good with chopsticks (had Japanese roommates in college) but why not get a damned fork? I’m a red neck American — we don’t eat with sticks (though if Japanese or Chinese American’s do, more power to ’em).

    If you go to a restaurant with fancy names, make them explain to you or tell them what you want and expect them to translate.

    I don’t get to shoot much, but I am an avid off-roader. And one cool thing about that … when you’re waiting in line for an obstacle you start bullshitting with the other drivers. of the people there, there may be a few lawyers/doctors from a range rover club, several engineering types with our built rigs, and the rest are pretty much blue collars guys who are mechanics or whatever. But since we’re all talking trucks and obstacles … we all have a good time together.

    American men in particular used to be pretty good about finding common denominators that crossed cultural lines. Like sports. how did we lose that? And when did we start giving so many f**ks about what other’s thought?

  6. “American men in particular used to be pretty good about finding common denominators that crossed cultural lines…”

    Possibly you are over-generalizing in suggesting that is no longer true, but if it is, I would suggest perhaps there are just fewer common denominators.

    I’ve always observed “small talk” signals as an interesting subject, as strangers cast around for common denominators to make conversation about. Sports are almost always a first try, but for my (boomer) and earlier generations, alluding to military service was usually next. Women of my generation always roll their eyes and walk away when the boys get into “war stories,” and wearing a veteran’s hat or T-shirt is an open invitation for total strangers who also are veterans, to walk up and start a conversation.

    Military service is no longer even close to being a common denominator in our culture, so that will be disappearing soon.

    Going back to my “youth” era, almost every guy was a gearhead to some extent, so talking about cars and/or motorcycles was always good small talk. Perhaps that was a subset of “sports.” Now, talking about the cars we had 50 years ago is a common denominator; there’s not much to be said about the cars we have now.

    I personally found my parents’ generation of working class people fascinating, since the majority of them were children of recent immigrants; their common denominators often had to be at odds with the cultures they had grown up in; and yet the common denominators existed.

    1. My parents were from the WWII generation. Men of that age often started conversations with “so where did you serve” because it was assumed they did. Women more often with household stuff like cooking.

      There used to be more common denominators because as a member of a culture you made sure you could talk about things that were considered “manly” or whatever where you lived. From my experience younger generations are more focused on what they want. Maybe because they can find a more specialized community online than we used to be able to find when we had to talk to the people in our local community?

    2. I just thought I’d add, that one of my favorite occasional pastimes is to sit in my favorite pub for a few pints, listening to and engaging in the bar banter. What has fascinated me for a long time is, discovering how many of the people I had assessed as “regular working guys” (based on the “three Bs”, beards, bellies and ball caps) actually had advanced degrees; including the bartender who I’d figured for a biker — and maybe he is.

      I don’t know what I may be saying about myself with that, but one thing I’m saying is I don’t think there is all that much correlation between education and appreciation (or identification) of fine cuisine; a lot very professional people are pounding shots and beers and eating hotdogs out of the crockpot in the dart room.

    3. there’s not much to be said about the cars we have now.

      Except that they’re better in every way (except possibly styling, which is a matter of taste).

      Seriously, we’ve lived in a golden age of automotive technology/production/quality for at least 20 years now.

      Cars now are infinitely safer than the Classic Era or Muscle Car Era, handle better, are generally significantly faster, travel farther on less fuel, last longer, are quieter inside.

      They’re often cheaper while doing it, too.

      Golden age, I say.

      1. Not only are they better in all those ways, the “sports cars” of previous eras can get smoked by commuter boxes of the current era. And you don’t have to be a amateur mechanic to keep them running, or be taken for a ride by the guy in the service station you were forced to stop at because something blew up unexpectedly.

        (Are you the same Sigivald I see elsewhere?)

  7. Let’s be honest here. Assuming Brooks didn’t make the whole thing up, then he is demonstrably an asshole.

    Not only was he unwilling to help his “friend” out by explaining that those were just fancy names for lunch meat, but then he took his “friend” to a Mexican restaurant in NYC, which, last time I checked, has no decent Mexican restaurants.

    He then proceeds to talk about her lack of sophistication in the New York Times. Presumably he just assumes she’s too much of a rube to read the NYT, and see his snobbery on display.

    David Brooks is a clueless assholewho thinks that his college degree and job as a columnist for a newspaper somehow gives him deep insight into things about which he is completely clueless.

    1. I absolutely assume he made the entire thing up. It’s total bullshit.

      I’ve crossed that imaginary boundary between college educated professional types and blue collar guys my whole life. This is just one man’s pretentious daydream.

  8. I confess: Last night I wrapped chunks of Beemster 18-month Gouda in soppressata friuli and ate them with my fingers.

    1. Yeah, but I’ve seen the restaurants you have in your neighborhood. You regularly annoy my jelly.

      1. You can get soppressata in North Jersey. That’s guinea central!* You can probably get better Italian cold cuts than she can if you know where to look. Wegmans also has that brand of Gouda.

        * Note: Italian are now white and largely vote Republican, so it’s now acceptable to use this term.

        1. “… it’s now acceptable to use this term.”

          It depends on context. I’d stay away from ethnicity completely, unless it was my own ethnicity.

          I knew a guy who would always tell “ethnic” jokes using my ethnicity, in a setting where he knew I’d have to be a “good sport” and take it. Thirty-plus years later I’d still tear his throat out, if you gave me the chance.

          Just because people grin and bear what you’re saying doesn’t mean it’s OK with them.

          (Hope I’m not making this too serious, but the point is, it can be bad if other people are taking what you say more seriously than you are.)

            1. I know that, and knew I was taking it too seriously. Still I think what I said, was worth saying, even if I know some people will label it “political correctness.” I like to think I’ve made practically all the mistakes that can be made, at one time or another.

        2. I can get soppressata and capocollo at my local walmart, they are not exactly exotic.

          1. Unless your Walmart is an unusually ghetto one, you can get Beemster 18-month Gouda there, too.

            1. I’ve stepped foot in the local Walmart perhaps twice. It’s not ghetto, but it is unkempt and did not have The Thing I was looking for either time. There is an adequate Target at the other end of the strip mall (I have no idea what either of their Real Estate Departments were thinking), and Trader Joe’s is closer than either one. Hell, I might be able to get it at Stop and Shop, I haven’t checked.

  9. Me and my BSEE say WTF is a Padrino? I heard it said recently that if it wasn’t for double standards, liberals wouldn’t have any standards at all

  10. Also his facts on that anticdote are really light. Was it the “Exotic language”. (I’m with everybody above, the deli In my grocery store sells all that stuff), or did she just not like the restaurant.

    If you took my wife into a Chinese Restaurant she’d ask to leave, not because all the Chinese lingo, just for reasons we can’t explain, Chinese upsets her stomach, but she’ll eat Thai all day.

    My Dad would be the opposite of this lady, he HATES Mexican food, but loves a good sandwich.

    Maybe it’s like some fancy restaurants I’ve been to where everything has a million ingredients and there’s something I don’t like in EVERY option….could be she was fine with a Cappicola Panini, but the fact that it came with a wild mushroom Pesto was just distasteful, and she wasn’t in the mood to ask for a substitute or a subtraction.

  11. This article has been like a rorschach test everywhere I’ve seen reactions to it, and the results don’t line up neatly with any sort of prior affiliation that I can usefully predict.

  12. Whatever may be true about the episode, Brooks is from NYC and is the way the NYT pretends it has a conservative. That is the root of the problem right there.

  13. “the NYT pretends it has a conservative.”

    Who isn’t “pretending?” Breitbart? WND? Give us a list of authentic conservative authors, and tell us how to detect others.

    (For the record, I think Brooks sounds like a garden variety horse’s ass, independent of and transcending ideology.)

Comments are closed.