Thursday, January 9, 2014

Steve Sailer, Lately

Steve Sailer has really been burning up the blogosphere lately, being eclectic as a Japanese filmmaker and finding interesting patterns and relationships that most of us miss. Steve has called himself a "people nerd," meaning that his main interests are what people do and why they do it. And that's one of my primary interests, too, so I read Steve every day. Currently, he's attacking a bunch of topics (immigration, Saudi Arabia, Abe Lincoln meeting Indian chiefs, the New York Review of Books, baked potatoes — See what I  mean?) on his OWN SITE, which I recommend you go and look at for yourself (I can't do everything), but he's also over at Taki Mag, where he takes on the whole "white bread" thing and tells me a whole bunch of interesting things that I never suspected, another reason I read him every day.  Enjoy:

White Food

In 2002, on the tenth anniversary of the Rodney King riots, I drove down to the intersection of Florence and
Normandie in South-Central LA where all hell had broken loose. To see if the locals were suffering from a “food desert,” I stopped at a nearby supermarket. Yet the main difference from a suburban supermarket was found not in the fresh produce section but in the bread aisle: The good folks of the ‘hood would only buy white bread, such as Wonder Bread.

That struck me as curious because it didn’t fit the popular notion in the media that white suburbanites are “white bread” people.

A few stand-up comics are trying to “reappropriate” this ethnic epithet: Jim Gaffigan, for example, is currently on his “White Bread Tour.” But it remains one of the few ethnic slurs that’s acceptable—indeed, almost unquestioned—in the 21st century.

Of course, blacks didn’t make up the “white bread” insult.

As an interesting Slate article by David Merritt Johns called “Why Do Jews Hate Mayonnaise?” recounts, the late Milton Berle used to joke, “Anytime somebody orders a corned beef sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise, somewhere in the world, a Jew dies.”

Johns recounts similar ethnically charged jokes about white bread and mayonnaise from Jackie Mason, Harry Shearer, and Woody Allen. (Alvy Singer is contemptuous yet intrigued when Annie Hall orders her pastrami shiksa-style: on white bread with mayonnaise.)

Comparable ethnic connotations of boring blandness have been attached to a variety of white foods such as vanilla ice cream, milk, and mashed potatoes. Mel Brooks claimed that a typical Midwesterner “drives a white Ford station wagon, eats white bread, vanilla milkshakes, and mayonnaise.”

While some of those white foods are indeed dull, others are not. Vanilla, for instance, is a superb flavor. It lacks the oomph and caffeine kick of chocolate, but to a discerning palate, vanilla is more exquisite.
At the other end of the subtlety spectrum, mayonnaise, while slightly disgusting, is delicious, offering a far richer flavor than its Germanic competitor mustard. If mayonnaise were a condiment from Kyrgyzstan only recently introduced to America, it would be a sensation among foodies.

Then again, the Borscht Belt jokesters did have a point: Average American whites in the middle of the 20th century sure did consume a lot of literally white stuff.

How come?

I finally started to understand when my wife mentioned that sometime before WWII her grandfather had worked inside a Chicago ice-cream factory. He came home and told his children, “After what I saw today, never eat any flavor of ice cream other than vanilla.”

The shift from homemade to store-bought food did much to liberate women from household drudgery, but it brought about new worries.
(Read the rest HERE.)


  1. The bottom link doesn't work; looks like it's just the text of the article linked at top and not a URL.

  2. Steve Sailer is probably the most under-rated public intellectual in the US.