Tuesday, April 17, 2012


What the fresh freaking hell is with this trend to call EVERYTHING "artisanal"?

Here we are in the middle of what is, depending on which politician you talk to, a "recession" or a "weak recovery" but which if you check your wallet you can only call a tough time. People have less money but things keep getting more expensive, and it makes no sense that demand drops but price goes up. I guess there has to be some effort to justify this, or something. Ergo, this "artisanal" everything bullcrap.

Some things deserve the appellation. "Artisanal" mainly means "made by hand in small quantities by skilled craftsmen"(called artisans) with an eye toward extreme quality. There is artisinal furniture made from the finest woods and fabrics, lovingly made by hand (and costing a fortune). There is artisanal beef, made from cattle raised and tended as if they were gold-egg laying geese.

A shop across the street from my house sells "artisanal cheeses", and I do enjoy some of them. Stirring and pressing curds with elbow grease does seem to produce a product a cut or two above Velveeta.

One thing - to me - that disqualifies something as "artisanal" is having it shipped across the country by a fleet of 18-wheel semi rigs with the name of the product and "artisanal" on the side.  But here we are.

Of all things, Domino's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts have recently seen fit to call parts of their product lines "artisanal", and I don't know which is the more risible.

Domino's has come out with a line of "artisanal" pizzas. They are not made by artisans, they are made by kids with zits who have one eye on the clock. So what, according to the ads, makes these pizzas "artisanal"?

Well, it's the fact that the toppings are "carefully selected" and cannot be changed. You can't have sausage on your "ham and tuscan roast vegetable" "artisan" pizza. Some guy in some office in some skyscraper halfway across the country decides what you'll get on your pizza, and that makes it artisan? Holy...

To me the most laughable incarnation is Dunkin' Donuts selling artisan bagels. ARTISAN FUCKING BAGELS?

The big joke is that a true bagel made in a true bagel shop is something of an artisan affair. The dough needs to be kneaded, shaped, and then boiled and then baked. hundreds can be made in one batch, but it's still a lot of work.  Still, a bagel is a humble and pedestrian thing - albeit mighty good especially with some cream cheese and smoked salmon - and in times past, a bagel maker would have laughed to scorn anyone who called him an artisan.

These "artisan" bagels are made in some factory and shipped on a truck to your local Fuckin' Gonuts, where they are heated up. As the ads explain, "artisan" means "pretty good bagel". Right.

Well, all this gives me a great idea. What I think I shall do is market fertilizer to the small farmers and home gardeners who produce "heirloom" (another word that is getting to be tiresomely overused) vegetables .

I'll call it "artisanal bullshit"  (and talk about trendy, bullshit is organic even!) I'll make millions.  Look out, world.

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