Bursting With Signifiers of Hipster Cool: A Cranky, Slightly Hilarious Review of the ‘Kinfolk Table’ Cookbook

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Beware the book reviewer who reads and writes while suffering from a cold and an intestinal parasite in one of the ten poorest countries on the planet…

In the new Kinfolk Table cookbook–an offshoot of the hip indie ‘lifestyle’ magazine Kinfolk, recipe contributors (based mainly in Brooklyn, Portland, Copenhagen, and the English countryside) are a mostly young-ish, mostly beautiful collection of creative types: printmakers and photographers and designers of one sort or another; chefs and ‘artisanal’ makers of cheese, ice cream, and syrups. Their homes and gardens are as relentlessly art-directed as everything else in the book and described in rapturous tones: one woman’s home is “brimming with art books and vintage furniture”; another’s is “an oasis of greenery, vintage glassware, and beloved old kitchen items from her family.” The aesthetic is strongly value-laden; in one mini-essay, someone’s grandmother’s “vintage cast-iron saucepot” is said to be an “apt parallel” for the whole family’s way of life. (Thank heavens it wasn’t a vintage chamberpot.) This and other phrases push the bounds of credulity: one home is described as

“a place where a casual evening dinner with friends extends into another day of sipping wine with neighbors on the back porch.”

Sounds cozy and fun, but only if you don’t think too hard about it. Do those friends ever leave after dinner is over? Do the hosts go to bed between dinner and the wine sipping the next day? Are they in fact doing that back porch wine sipping in the morning? Elsewhere, the descriptions go well beyond twee: we are told that we might explore one woman’s garden and “make friends with her bees.” Hold onto your epi-pen and your insulin pump, folks.

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{Read this review in full at the Englewood Review’s website by clicking here. This here is not the best part.}

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6 thoughts on “Bursting With Signifiers of Hipster Cool: A Cranky, Slightly Hilarious Review of the ‘Kinfolk Table’ Cookbook

  1. I LOVE your review! Sometimes I when I see articles/books like that where they try so hard to be “unique” or whatever it is they try to be, I wonder what they would do in our shoes. When using “old” pots is all you have and when you are eating soup 2 or 3 times a week and having meatless Monday’s because you are stretching the budget and not because you are being “cool”. Well said.

  2. Brilliant. When “holier than thou” begins to merge with “hipper than thou” it is definitely time for the old barf bag, regardless of how the paper was sourced…

    • If we were b.s.ing about this book over beer, I would tell you it reminds me of those hideous stores in the Hamptons with vaguely fake-Buddhist names and claims to simplicity, with a single $700 dress draped just so over a perfect bamboo hanging rod in the window. So spiritual.

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Indeed.

        Some years back there was a restaurant down there with an authentic Irish pub sort of feel. Good food, and prices still within the reach of plebeians like us. Then one day we drove by and saw that it had morphed into one of those ghastly monuments to minimalist cool. I warned Grandma that it was more than a mere change of decor, but she insisted on going anyway.

        Upon entering our mere presence disrupted the carefully crafted feng shui. I suppose I blended about as well as Vinny Gambini, Esq. The decor was cold, minimalist hip, and I whispered to my mother that I didn’t think it was going to be a very good dining experience. She stubbornly insisted on staying, no doubt believing that the old pub would somehow magically reappear.

        When the anorexic and affected waiter alighted at our table with a menu in which we could recognize nothing, she at last realized that it was time to go. Another decent place had been thoroughly Hamptonized.

  3. Come to think of it, when I was young we really did have friends from the night before sipping wine on the back porch in the morning. Straight from the bottle, often still in the paper bag. There was nothing hip about it.

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