Can you know the measure of a man by the kind of cheese he eats? In a Washington Post study of conservative Red America, Britton Stein fulfills every East Coast liberal's nightmare of middle America: "His truck is a Chevy. His beer is Bud Light. His savior is Jesus Christ."
The long, condescending profile of Stein substitutes a list of consumer products for any actual analysis. I was struck, though, by how important the writer considers Stein's culinary proclivities. Stein loves hamburgers, cooks with a gas grill, and doesn't grind his own coffee. These details, the writer implies, tell us as much about Red America as Stein's church attendance and views on gay marriage. Right wing ideology, it appears, results from bad taste.
It's a silly position, since I bet Stein could make something tasty in his "jumbo smoker" and the Wall Street millionaires who support New York's gourmet establishments probably didn't vote for Gore. When a lazy journalist can offer up a lack of culinary sophistication as a judgment on the culture of half the country, it does show how deeply an interest in gourmet cuisine has penetrated America.
Twenty years ago, would any writer at any paper in the United States even have noticed that someone put American cheese on their hamburger and got their coffee from a can?
Also posted at A Frolic of My Own.