What do you mean, poor people should have tasty food?

Pretty regularly you get not poor people all over (social) media being upset at the idea that poor people might eat something other than oats. Like buying a birthday cake on food stamps or the whole rule where you cannot buy hot food on food stamps which is only good for punishing people who may not even have cooking facilities. Or the recent scandal in the UK where the families that qualify for free school lunch got food hampers instead of a voucher, because they might buy something the Tories don’t approve of. Basically the same people who will tell you that all Cubans receiving staples of rice and beans is a horrible sign of socialism will demand that poor people in capitalism never eat anything but staples.


But sometimes “the left” isn’t any better and all signs of people enjoying food is seen as decadence. Last summer somebody dared to post a picture of her lunch, doing basically the thing social media was invented for, and received hate and harsh criticism for, checks note, basically having an unconstructed sandwich for lunch. Now, the ultimate irony is of course that in France a charcuterie board is probably the most “paysanne”  (rural and down to earth) lunch ever and nobody in the country of foi gras would think it bourgeois, but I guess for some people anybody having food that is not shitty (and has been that shitty for at least three generations) must be condemned as a sign of being a member of the elites.

You think that’s funny? Here’s one even funnier: You take an item that used to be present in every kitchen like the good old cast iron skillet, but got often thrown away as “new” things like teflon coated frying pans came up (making their descendants have to buy them again, thank you, grandma…) and declare them to be bourgeois. I mean, unless you decide you need Le Creuset in your life, they are not even expensive new and you can get them second hand because they are practically indestructible (unlike the silly teflon coated ones).

Which gets me to a hypothesis: The people attacking others for enjoying food are simply bad cooks. They themselves have no idea about how to prepare a tasty meal, regardless of whether the ingredients are cheap or expensive (tonight’s dinner: griddle cakes. Most expensive item: an avocado as a side dish. Cost per person: 1.50, including the avocado). And because they can only get good food when eating out, they equate good food with luxury. They would totally buy a cast iron skillet just to let it rust  (and put it in the dishwasher occasionally because it looks icky), but then they get angry at not being able to use it, so they have to declare it a “hallmark of bourgeois life”.


So, what’s the food or cooking item you’ve been shamed for because it was deemed “too bourgeois” (for a commoner like you)?

YouTube Video: 5 Biggest Lies of Knife Sharpening

In my opinion, every household should have at least one person who knows how to sharpen a knife and occasionally does so. Not that good knives need to be sharpened very often, but even the best knife will get a bit dull at some point and it will need to be sharpened.

But most of my friends do not know how to sharpen knives, some are even afraid of it. There is in my opinion absolutely no need to be afraid of sharpening knives, and you do not need any fancy or expensive equipment either. And when searching for knife sharpening info online, one can encounter some pretty wild stuff, sometimes stuff that is not true.

Two-three years ago during one of my yearly get-together with friends from university, I was (as usual) dismayed by the state of knives in the communal kitchen at our lodging, so I have decided to sharpen at least one knife to a state when it will cut and not squish. However, on this particular trip, I have forgotten to take a whetstone, so I had to do without it.

I went on a walk in the forest and I have checked the geology on the wayside, where the bare rock was exposed. It was granite, which is of no use. However, where is granite, there often are metamorphic shales nearby, so I went further – and it was indeed just a few km further (about a half-hour walk). This particular metamorphic shale was phyllite, which is suitable for making a whetstone. So I took two stones to a nearby stream and I ground them against each other until I got perfectly flat surfaces.

And thus obtained whetstone worked perfectly well. The knife did not have the best edge it could get, but it was good enough for cutting safely and comfortably. I have even managed to teach one of my friends how to sharpen with it, and I did recommend to him to buy a professionally made one afterward.

And what did I recommend to him to buy? A cheap two-layer whetstone for 10,-€, 100 and 300 grit. The same one with which my father was sharpening knives his whole life and which I sometimes take with me on my travels.

If you are interested in learning how to sharpen a knife, I do recommend the above mentioned Burrfection YouTube channel. He does explain the principles well, without exaggerating. And he supports his claims with empirical evidence. For example, I have said to my friend that sharpening angle more or less does not matter if it is between 10-20° and constant throughout the blade. That claim was based on nothing more than my subjective experience, which could be mistaken. But Burrfection did say the same and he has the equipment to test the said claim. So he did.

Do not be afraid of knife sharpening. The basics are easy and more than enough for a typical store-bought mass-produced western knife.

The Art of …

… flowers, by  Raku Inoue

This Montreal-based artist uses fresh flowers to create images. The pictures below are from his Natura Insects series, and you can read more about it at My Modern Met. You can also visit the artist’s web site, Reikan Creations, or his Instagram page, where you will find even more awesome whimsicality.

Kabutomushi (Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle), by Raku Inoue. Image from My Modern Met.

Black Widow, by Raku Inoue. Image from My Modern Met.

Butterfly, by Raku Inoue. Image from My Modern Met.