Snobs are looked down upon in our faux-egalitarian society. We praise vast inequalities in wealth or strength, but when it comes to knowledge, anyone who thinks they have more of it is subject to ridicule. Of course, this gets the order of value exactly backwards. After all a snob is nothing but a geek who knows how to make eye contact.
So I dearly love Snobsite.com: The Online Home of Cultural Snobbery where aficionados of many stripes can find spiritual support and sustenance. .
Author David Camp, proprietor of the site, writes “snob dictionaries” for the culturally challenged that will get your vocabulary up to speed on film, food, wine, and music so you can at least pretend to have knowledge—”fake it till you make it” is of course the motto of aspiring snobs everywhere.
His latest tome is The Food Snob’s Dictionary. He helpfully supplies a lengthy definition of a food snob:
Part groupie, part aesthete, part stark raving loon, the Food Snob is someone who has taken the amateur epicure’s admirable zeal for eating and cooking well to hollandaise-curdling extremes. He wears Bastad chef’s clogs even though he works in publishing or property law. He owns an $8,000 gas range with six burners and a griddle. He’s collected the cookbooks not only of James Beard’s first-tier protégés, Marion Cunningham and Barbrara Kafka, but also of the all-but-forgotten second-tierers John Clancy, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, and Maurice Moore-Betty. He makes his own stocks, has taken a night course in mycology so that he may forage his own mushrooms, casually alludes to the “sugar work” he performed in the course of whipping up his famous homemade Christmas confectionery, and bakes rustic sourdough loaves daily from the pain au levain starter he’s had going since 1996.
And he includes a short history of food snobbery that will serve as a short history of our burgeoning cultural interest in food.
But his greatest contribution is a plea for understanding and empathy that should resonate with households across the world:
Finally, let us express our sincere hope that this brief volume serves not only as a handy reference, but as a tool for understanding. Though they are sometimes impossible to live with and are wont to sharply order us out of the kitchen, Food Snobs are often our friends and loved ones. We must understand that theirs is a heavy burden to bear; uneasy lies the imaginary toque. By letting them select the fingerlings at market, by indulging them as they geekily articulate their fantasies of someday meeting the food-chemistry guru Harold McGee and preparing a capon with him, we not only validate their passions but indulge the little bit of Food Snob in ourselves. For isn’t it true, after all, that every one of us can admit to preferring artisanal bacon over Oscar Meyer?
Well said, Mr. Camp, well said.