I Gave My Dad the Gift of a Knuckle Sandwich

The Knuckle Sandwich knife set is by Guy Fieri. I bought my dad one in the series because, like me, he enjoys wielding a big, sharp knife. (In the kitchen, mostly.) I also enjoy the sheer flashiness of the Knuckle Sandwich design. They’re knives that make a statement.

Why I am bringing this up now? Well, it seems there’s a review of the new Guy Fieri restaurant in Times Square, and it is, um, not effusive. Which makes me kinda sad, because Guy Fieri has always struck me as a perfectly nice guy with a genuine appreciation for the homestyle and artisanal-style cooking he samples on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” I have a soft spot for people who have a coked-up-puppy-style appreciation for their passions, and Guy has always seemed over-the-moon happy about the fact that he gets to sample so much mom and pop cooking from around the country. I relate to that; I’d love to do the same.

I read the hit piece with a bit of hesitation, because Guy Fieri is a popular celebrity chef/dude-bro kinda guy and I was afraid that this would cloud the reviewer’s judgement. But I was relieved that Mr. Wells condemned the food and the service and didn’t make any “cult of personality” accusations about Guy or his fans. It was not a cheap shot at people who might like the man. (Not because I am a huge fan myself. I’ve actually never tasted his food or tried his recipes, mostly because they all contain about 1,000 ingredients, which is a big pet peeve of mine. I don’t think you need to stick your pantry in a dish to make it taste good.) I appreciated the straightforward review because hatin’ on folks from The Food Network can sometimes morph into a kind of snobbery I don’t have much of an appreciation for. But this was a fair critique.

Snobbery’s a funny thing, because I think some forms of it can be good. Snobbery can be a stand-in for discernment; snobbery can be in instructive. But I find the best way to be instructive using snobbery is to be a good snob: like what you like firmly and pleasantly, and say why you like things in a way that avoids hyperbole and trashing others’ likes. That’s not to say you can’t dislike something unabashedly. I just feel certain there’s a way to trash a restaurant or a movie or an artist without trashing its fans.
Which in a very, very convoluted, roundabout way brings me to this discussion, which seems to have evolved into a conversation about hipsters and the concepts of hipness and coolness. Why does this particular discussion never fail to fascinate and generate such impassioned responses?

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25 thoughts on “I Gave My Dad the Gift of a Knuckle Sandwich

  1. Why does this particular discussion never fail to fascinate and generate such impassioned responses?

    Isn’t it all just the latest “You kids get offa my lawn!!!”?
    ~

  2. To be clear: insofar as my post was “impassioned” (and I didn’t particularly feel as though I was writing something impassioned, but I’ll leave that judgment to the reader), it has nothing whatsoever to do with the meaning of coolness or hipness or “hipsters” or anything like that; these are all subjects I find tiresome at best. What I care about here–where you can find my wholly unironic sincerity and commitment–is my opposition to the high school style of nastiness at the heart of the Wampole’s article: the practice of classifying people by how people dress, the music they like, the kind of jokes they tell, and so on, and the lazy conviction that such classifications can tell us what’s wrong with Those People, and why we’re better than them. She’s hardly alone in that mentality, but it’s pervasiveness is an impediment to a decent, empathetic society. While some people do this openly and directly, she attempts to mask it with a a heavy layer of pseudo-intellectual cultural criticism, which makes it all the more annoying. .

    If she’s got something interesting to say about irony (and she might!), losing the bullshit hipster-bashing remains a necessary but not sufficient step to figuring out what it is.

    • I was actually mainly referring to the thread’s commenters…and when I say people have an impassioned response I was definitely including myself in that description. I ABSOLUTELY get swept up in these sorts of philosophical debates.

      I actually didn’t have a big problem with your post. Just felt like some folks just kinda responded to it in a kind of over-the-top way.

      • Wampole was hating on hipsters before it was cool… whoa, would that make her a meta-hipster?

        My friend Margaret and I had a conversation about the definition of hipsters just last week. It’s funny, for a guy who spends a decent amount of time in Brooklyn, I still have no clear idea of what a hipster actually is. I guess it’s like obscenity, you know it when you see it.

        That being said, hipsters have been with us since the dawn of time.

      • I’m still not quite sure what makes a hipster either. I know there are markers like hats and tats and such, but my definition would probably be a bit broader. In the end, I guess I just don’t really care all that much who’s hip and who’s not. What’s hip and what’s not. But I will always having a *thing* for people like you are sincerely passionate about stuff.

  3. My culinary pet-peeve is taking a few simple ingredients like carrots, potatoes, and onions to make a dish with four hours of preparation time. Laurel of Laurel’s Kitchen was the master of time consuming, tedious, laborious recipes.

  4. “Coked up puppy” describes exactly how I feel about my new OS – & Ubuntu is a notorious hallmark of textbook neckbeard hipsterism from way back, although as it becomes popular it’s apparently being infected with Mainstreamitis. It’s pretty jocular to go on community fora & see the oldschool geeks WAAAAAH about bloat & eye-candy, because a massive menu of options & ZOMGWTFBBQ optical sexiness are what keeps me giddy as a smitten bobbysoxer even after more than a month.

    Up until now, I have never had the “Ooh La La” experience with compooters that Apple users are known for. Other systems (I’ve tried all the major ones now) are for me without exception either repulsive or frighteningly insecure or infuriatingly limiting … or just flat-out inscrutable. This one continues to charm the pants off me – & best of all, I know I still haven’t touched bottom in regards to its ability to perform space-age magic on my Interwebs Box.

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  6. One could call the review excessive, even cruel. And one could argue that it’s simply a case of foodie snobbery, a highfalutin critic wrinkling his delicate nose at the down-home cookery that Fieri celebrates on his shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. But if Wells’ impressions of the food are right—I haven’t eaten at the restaurant—it’s not that Fieri is serving an unworthy, declassé kind of food. It’s that he’s taken the kind of authentic, lusty American foods that he’s showcased in his Food Network eating tours, used it to build a personal brand and used that brand to pass off a lousy imitation. Again, I have not eaten at Guy’s myself, but as an argument, Wells’ review isn’t an insult to diner-and-dive food but a defense of it.

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