Smug, Preachy, Semi-literate Granola

As we well know, some Smug products subtly reveal their Smugness. Others display it prominently. Now Smug Scout knows there is a third possibility: strident evangelism. What is this craziness?

It all started when Smug Scout was on the prowl in the Silver Lake Cheese Shop, where she of course encountered a breathtakingly Smug local product: Good Habit Homemade Granola from Thousand Oaks, California, a suburb north of L.A. On the surface, this granola looked like your usual Smug granola: local, homemade, slickly packaged, and appropriately overpriced at $10. As she read the package, she gradually realized that she was dealing with the Joel Osteen of granola.

First sermon: “Our Homemade Granola is made by hand, and loaded with almonds, seeds, and dried fruit. Try it sprinkled on thick yogurt, accompanied by fresh berries, or just eat it on it’s own as a snack.”

Well, other than the disgracefully misplaced comma and apostrophe, Smug Scout can live with this one.  She already eats Bircher Müsli every day, so consider her converted.

Second sermon: “Not all habits have to be bad. You can indulge in something sinfully delicious, that is also good for you!”

Well, other than the disgracefully misplaced comma, Smug Scout is just baffled by this one. She does not know what “sin” something as virtuous as local, vegan, gluten-free granola could possibly be committing. At worst this is like a nun who gets overexcited by her measly sip of communion wine. Frankly, when Smug Scout thinks of “sinfully delicious,” she imagines non-Smug indulgences, such as New York pizza from Totonno’s in Coney Island or deep dish pizza from Pequod’s in Chicago, of course washed down with many chalices of non-communion wine. Smug granola is much more likely to be part of a sober post-gorging penance.

Third sermon: “Other GOOD HABIT’s…….”

  • “Enjoying everything in moderation”
  • “Sharing a meal with friends and family”
  • “Planting a garden (even a small one)”
  • “Cooking with someone you love”
  • “Supporting your local farmers”

Well, Smug Scout has had just about enough of the excessive punctuating and mawkish sermonizing. Now she has her own set of demands for “Good Habit.” She doubts the company will want to read this list, but she wanted to have one ready just in case.

  • Give Smug Scout a house. How can you, you proselytizing granola, expect her to have a garden–“even a small one”–when she lives in an apartment barely bigger than a medieval monk’s cell?
  • Give Smug Scout a big kitchen in that house. Just so you know, she prefers European appliances and reclaimed wood for all surfaces. She would not reject Simon Pearce handblown glassware from Vermont.
  • For that matter, get Smug Scout a gardener. Smug Scout likes the idea of growing unheard of heirloom vegetable varietals, but she is turned off by the yucky reality of kneeling in dirt, burning up in the sun, and most of all wearing Crocs.
  • For God’s sake, learn how to punctuate.
Smug Scout is starting to wonder if she would prefer a granola called Bad Habit. At least it would leave her alone.

Smug Farmers’ Market Find: 10/21

This week’s Smug Farmers’ Market find is a green pumpkin called Marina di Chioggia (center of photo).  In Italian this means “Chioggia sea pumpkin,” but Smug Scout prefers to say “Marina di Chioggia” because it is much more Smug to use an Italian name that is totally unknown to most people. She learned this practice from Smug restaurants that refer to ingredients in the most undecipherable way possible in order to make diners feel like dumb Americans abroad. For example, seasonal local expensive restaurants will never offer something so pedestrian as black kale. It is “cavolo nero.”

So now that you have your Marina di Chioggia, what do you do with it? Of course you could spend hours turning these lumpy rocks into gnocchi or some street food from the Adriatic coast. Good luck with that. Smug Scout approves of the Smug recasting  and overcomplicating of unfussy peasant dishes, but she simply does not have an electric chainsaw to cut her Marina di Chioggia. Perhaps you are better with knives than Smug Scout, but Smug Scout knows exactly what would happen if she tried to cut it with even her sharpest knife: she would come close to severing half her fingers while the recalcitrant pumpkin would sail across the room and most certainly crash into her full wine glass. No.

Instead, Smug Scout believes you should use your Marina di Chioggia for an arts and crafts project. Now as you probably know, Smug Scout does not spend a lot of time on arts and crafts. She likes the idea of crafting Smug artisanal products, but a pesky obstacle called her grueling full-time job gets in the way of this ambition. Today, however, she has an easy project to propose to you: a Smug fall harvest tableau.

Materials required:

  1. One large Marina di Chioggia
  2. One small table

Instructions:

  1. Pick up large Marina di Chioggia
  2. Place on small table

Smug Scout saw this Smug fall harvest tableau at one of Santa Monica’s Smug epicenters, a cafe called Huckleberry. She will review it in a future post, but in the meantime you can replicate its Smug fall harvest tableau in your own home. Just do not let any rude visitors insult it. Here is a sample dialogue to follow in case anyone does.

  • Rude Visitor: So where’s the so-called “Smug fall harvest tableau”?
  • Smug Scout: Right in front of you!
  • Rude Visitor: You mean that ugly green pumpkin on the table? How could you possibly call that a “tableau”? You must think “tableau” means table in French!
  • Smug Scout: Please forgive me. It seems I have insulted you.
  • Rude Visitor: What?
  • Smug Scout: Obviously the bumpy skin of my local organic Marina di Chioggia reminds you of the cystic acne that plagued you all through high school. Probably college, too.
  • Rude Visitor: I did not have cystic acne!
  • Smug Scout: Fine, call it an accident with battery acid. Look, just go get some cheap plastic tableau from Target. You must think that is American for Tar-ZHAY.
Remember: you are not Smug if you prefer vapid beauty in your vegetables.

Smug Farmers’ Market Find: 10/14

This week’s Smug Farmers’ Market find, Hawaiian eggplant, comes not from the usual Sunday Mar Vista market but rather the Saturday Silver Lake market. Smug Scout was excited to visit a market in L.A.’s Smug epicenter but then was a bit dismayed to find that it was not all that Smug and has no chance of knocking the Portsmouth FM from its throne.  Smug Scout is sure that Smug Portsmouth residents will feel righteous pleasure at the thought that the state of New Hampshire, despite its short fertile season (July), hardscrabble land (thin and rocky soil, scoured by glaciers), limited produce options (mostly flowers and greens), and homogenous farmers (a diverse mix of tenth generation Northern Europeans), offers a market much more Smug than anything in California, the country’s agricultural center and home to more FMs than anywhere in the world. You lose, Cali!

So how exactly did this Silver Lake market lose? Well, aside from Smug Scout’s Smug Eastside friend (pictured), many of the other shoppers did not look either affluent or its local variant, affluent in poor backwoods communist clothing. In fact, if Smug Scout were asked to free-associate, she would use words such as “slovenly,” “cretinous,” and “ghoulish” to describe many of the characters she observed. Seeing them walking on pavement painted like an all green Twister board did not help.

Furthermore, unlike in Portsmouth, this market really is just a place to buy produce, not one to “see and be seen” (at least Smug Scout fervently hopes that is the case). There was no entertainment for the Smug under five set unless you count a JonBenét Ramsey wanna-be (probably aside from the getting murdered part) who was singing and dancing in a way most of us would call obscenely mature. Her only audience was her agent (who may have also been her mother), an oily photographer (who did not appear to work for any legal publication), and a dog (who according to market rules should not have been there in the first place). Smug Scout does not believe this “entertainment” would be wholesome enough, let alone sufficiently law-abiding, to take place in Portsmouth.

But finally one of the crucial reasons this market is not that Smug is its prices. They are simply too low. The produce quality and variety would qualify for Smug status everywhere else in the world, but here the gorgeous vegetables and fruit are tastelessly displayed on synthetic golf putting mats. The prices match these cheap and unsightly tableaux. And this brings Smug Scout back to the beginning, back to the Hawaiian eggplant. She got a gigantic bag of those sexy bi-color phallic nightshades for one dollar.

Ultimately Smug Scout is sold on the Silver Lake FM and her delightful Hawaiian eggplant. She got that eggplant, multicultural organic heirloom tomatoes, puffy sugar snap peas, and beautifully deformed bell peppers with parasitic attachments–all for the price of one shrunken head of conventionally grown lettuce in Portsmouth.

Still, whatever money Smug Scout may have saved on vegetables she then immediately spent in triplicate at an outrageously Smug lunch spot called Forage. “Forage” is about as Smug a restaurant name as anyone could craft. Can you beat that, Portsmouth?

Smug Farmers’ Market Find: 10/7

Smug Scout was tickled to go to the Mar Vista farmers’ market this morning and see that one of her favorite backyard farmers had a massive pile of oyster mushrooms. She bought one pound of them because she has made a miraculous discovery: when she marinates them in local organic olive oil and Santa Maria BBQ spices, then roasts them in the oven till they are dark, shrunken, and brittle, they taste very similar to bacon. This is important because Smug Scout does not eat pigs. She does not eat pigs because pigs are smarter than most American voters. She is sorry for pigs that their stomachs are so delicious. She is also sorry for pigs because a manic, insatiable bacon craze has struck Smug big city restaurants (not so much in L.A. due to the greater popularity of anorexia) and forced chefs to corrupt formerly meat-free dishes, such as salads, vegetable sides, and even desserts, with that one ingredient whose first name is spelled every single way except O-S-C-A-R.  Hipsters and gimmicky chefs do not say bacon; it is pork belly, smoked jowl, fatback,  pancetta, porcetta, prosciutto, guanciale, lardo, lardons, serrano, or Speck. Sometimes it is even pig’s tail, snout, trotter, or eyeball for a very special genus of hipsters, those unique Smug-epicenter-dwelling male specimens who suffer from what Dr. Smug Scout has diagnosed as “toothless machismo.” This condition leads them to believe they would go out and kill their own animals if only they were not pale, spineless, and glued to their MacBooks all day.

Frankly, Smug Scout wonders what could happen if this bacon-by-any-other-name furor continues to grow. She imagines the following nightmarish scenario at  a favorite Smug restaurant:

  • Smug Server: Good evening. Do you have any questions about the menu?
  • Smug Scout: Yes, I see you have a multi-national array of bacon products in every dish I can comprehendThat does not strike me as very inventive.
  • Smug Server: I did not hear a question.
  • Smug Scout: Correct; you heard a critique. Here’s the question. I am wondering what this is: “Candy-striped beet salad with goat cheese, organic micro-greens, and бекон.”
  • Smug Server: That is a beet salad with Russian bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Does it taste like vodka?
  • Smug Server: Actually, most customers think it tastes like bacon.
  • Smug Scout: I see. How about this one: “Wok sautéed long beans with purple cauldron garlic and 熏肉.”
  • Smug Server: That is beans with Chinese bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Does it taste like soy sauce?
  • Smug Server: Actually, most customers think it tastes like bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Oh, really. How about “Grilled local lemongrass tofu with red quinoa and เบคอน”?
  • Smug Server: That is tofu with Thai bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Let me guess: most customers think it tastes like bacon. I will be having a liquid dinner. Please bring me a Knob Creek Bourbon Manhattan. Please try not to put any bacon in it.

Final reminder: To be on the cutting edge of Smug, cut yourself loose from that slavish, shopworn Brooklyn hipster cliché and eat local organic oyster mushrooms. Just do not eat them raw. You will not think you are eating bacon. You will think you are eating a sponge.

 

Open your own Smug coffee shop: Silver Lake model

Smug Scout feels sorry for you if you do not live near a Smug epicenter that has a Smug coffee shop. Perhaps you live in a flyover state. Perhaps you live somewhere that only has soulless and charmless chains like Starbucks. Perhaps you do not care about overpriced coffee, but you are interested in a profitable business model. Whatever the case, Smug Scout will help you open your own Smug coffee shop.  Smug Scout does have one warning before she starts to share her vast expertise: she is not a businesswoman and really has no idea how anyone would actually open a Smug coffee shop or even how profitable it is. She does not know, for example, if residents of flyover states would like to pay extortionate prices for superior single-source coffee. Smug Scout does know that there are people out there who pay under $5 for a single cup of coffee, but she does not know exactly where, how, or why. Still, she is a Smug Scout, not a bargain or budget or cut-rate scout.  And when she recently visited Intelligentsia in Silver Lake, she learned some lessons she will happily pass along to you.

Lesson 1: You do not need to spend much money on interior design as long as you have some Smug arts and crafts friends who can do a little tile work. A small, high visibility area of beauty in the front, for example under your Rolls Royce espresso machine, will compensate for the fact that the rest of the place looks like a makeshift 70s rec room. Note: make sure that the plywood planks that line the walls are reclaimed. Tip: go to your local ghetto or low-income neighborhood and “reclaim” the wood from a house that bears a sign advertising reclaimed wood.  The sign will read “foreclosed” or “bank owned.” That way, your Smug coffee shop will have authentic rundown touches that fit with your bunker style dangling bare light bulbs.

Lesson 2: While you can skimp on decorating costs, you  do need a La Marzocca Strada Mechanical Paddle Commercial Espresso Machine so that your Smug customers will know you have the utmost control of the extraction rate of their single-source Ethiopian coffee. This is the most expensive thing you will buy for your Smug coffee shop, and it will cost you $15,000 because it is made by unionized Italian craftspeople in a workshop (you will not call it a factory) near Florence.
Lesson 3Okay, now that you are feeling shellshocked about the purchase of your Strada Mechanical Paddle, you can relax because you will not have to spend any money on uniforms for your staff.  You will only be hiring hipsters to work there, so just make sure they understand they have to maintain Grizzly Adams beards and wear hats and plaid shirts every day. Do not expect women to have facial hair; do not hire any who do. Unlike the men, the women need to be pretty, wear clean clothes, and appear to look in a mirror from time to time.

Lesson 4:  Because this is a Smug coffee shop and you will have Smug regular customers, you need to have a menu, printed on obviously recycled paper, that changes every day or at least seems to because you have a date on it. You will probably have the same coffee all the time, but if the third world region where your single-source coffee comes from begins a civil war that leaves the purebred coffee plantations in ruins, you will need to find a less war-torn banana republic to source from.  It does not matter; Smug customers will insist on Sub-Saharan African and Central American single-origin coffee, but which specific country is of no consequence. They do not know where those countries are and do not plan to visit them. It is much more important that you use reclaimed plywood clipboards to display your menus.

Lesson 5:  Try to think up other Smug touches so that you do not look crassly commercial. Of course you want to sell a lot of preciously priced coffee beans, faux-handcrafted architectural coffee cups, espresso machines vastly inferior to your Strada Mechanical Paddle, and branded t-shirts made by American Apparel, but it is bad if every object you place is for sale. You need at least one object that is not for sale. You may want to consider an antique steel test tube holder. Tip: do not get test tubes for it. That is the domain of those pretentious, now passé “molecular” restaurants. Get clear glass bottles instead, pour some filtered water in there, and get some local backyard flowers no one will know the name of. Native grasses with blossoms, which you previously knew as weeds, will be perfect. 

Lesson 6: You will have no problem attracting Smug customers as long as you have one rule and one rule only: all customers must bring a MacBook Pro. Post this rule if you wish.  You will get even more customers if you align your Smug coffee shop with Smug Apple products.

Smug Scout is finished teaching for today. However, she will go back to Intelligentsia soon to refresh her knowledge. She loves everything about that place!

Smug Farmers’ Market Find: 9/30

Today’s Smug farmers’ market find is this Compostables depository. Now technically Smug Scout has known about and used this Compostables depository for several years, so it may not be a new find, but it is still an important one to highlight, especially because Smug Scout was unusually grateful to have it there today. Part of being Smug is not putting food waste in the trash with the very, very few non-recyclable items you purchase. Smug Scout first saw compost many years ago in Germany, where it is called Biomüll (“biological” garbage) and has its own bins on the street to be picked up with trash and recyclables.  She always remembers how disgusting and rank those Biomüll bins were.

But now she is Smug and has her own problem with Biomüll.  It is still rank and disgusting, but now it is in her kitchen. She keeps a plastic bag under her sink, which she brings to the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market and empties every Sunday. That sounds easy and virtuous.

Too bad it is also rank and disgusting. This morning when Smug Scout reached under the sink to get the compost bag, she thought she smelled a rotting corpse. (She has actually never smelled a rotting corpse, but she now understands why people on TV throw up violently after exposure to one.) Then, to make matters more vile, she realized the bag, a bag she may have reused one time too many, had a leak, and a loathsome brown trail was crawling across her kitchen floor.  She shook her head in horror at the idea that her beautiful Gerbera daisies, Fuerte avocados, September Bright nectarines, and Lompoc asparagus could leave such unspeakable remains, that all those inedible stems and pits could metamorphose into such a stinking, seething mass.

The next problem is the disposal of this putrid bag of death. While Smug Scout does not shy away from performing Smug acts in public, the exception is when she is dealing with this gruesome, if ecologically high-minded, business. Now Smug Scout always arrives at the FM shortly before it opens at 9am, and while her main reasons are to get the prime produce and to avoid the murderous parking lot gridlock, her previously unacknowledged reason is to dump her compost without anyone nearby wondering if she is unloading half-decomposed body parts. When she emptied her repugnant load of organic sludge this morning, she also put the leaky plastic bag in the neighboring bin, the one for all other recyclables (yes, including plastic bags, you Smug San Franciscans!). That bag just had its final reuse.

Now you must all wish your farmers’ market had a Compostables depository! Smug Scout is sorry for you if you do not have such an opportunity to compost.

Smug SmackDown: Reclaimed Wood Cutting Boards

Smug Scout does not care about professional wrestling, nor does she understand how anyone would choose to watch bulging roughnecks attack each other. However, Smug Scout does care about and understand reclaimed wood cutting boards, and she has noticed so many of them recently that she has put together her own Smug match for you to determine which of some recently spotted reclaimed wood cutting boards is the Smug heavyweight. Smug Scout will sideline the silly mixed sports idioms while you look at three contenders for most Smug reclaimed wood cutting board. Smug Scout asks you to read the descriptions, study the pictures, make a selection, and see if you agree with Smug Scout’s winner below. If you disagree, you lose.

1. This is a reclaimed wood cutting board from Ravensburg, Germany. Smug Scout bought it over the summer at a farmers’ market in Oberstdorf, a town not too far from the reclaimed wood site.

2.  This is a reclaimed wood cutting board on which a wine bar called Covell in Silver Lake serves its cheese assortment.

3. This is one of a few sets of hanging reclaimed wood cutting boards on display in some boutique on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica (L.A.’s other Smug epicenter after Silver Lake). Smug Scout cannot tell you the name of the store.

Smug Scout hopes it is obvious to you that #3 is the winner of most Smug reclaimed wood cutting board(s).  First she will explain why the runners-up lost.

  1. This German reclaimed wood cutting board was purchased in Germany where such products are not Smug but rather traditional, ordinary, and even cheaper than their mass-produced Chinese counterparts. Smug Scout only paid about $7 for this numbered reclaimed wood cutting board (19 out of only 25 crafted!), and she was the only customer who asked if the wood was local, sustainable, and of course reclaimed. The brisk German wood woman showed no interest in boasting about the provenance of the wood; she simply said “near Ravensburg” (“in der Nähe von Ravensburg” if you insist on the original) and gave Smug Scout a brochure in exchange for her 5 Euros and immediate departure.  Smug Scout asks you to study the German Economic Miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) to understand why “Made in Germany” makes pragmatic economic sense rather than puffed up Smug sense.
  2. This Silver Lake reclaimed wood cutting board was used to serve cheese and “accoutrements” (which is just a Smug way of attempting to transform apple slices and pistachios into an exotic French delicacy).
  3. This Santa Monica hanging set of reclaimed wood cutting boards is the clear winner because it is used for nothing other than a frivolous store window decoration.  As we know, an object’s Smug quotient rises in an inverse proportion to its actual utility. If that sounds repellently mathematical, how about some realistic household examples? If you have a knotty pine plank that you “reclaimed” under cover of night from a White Mountain hayseed’s firewood stockpile and you hang it horizontally above your architectural couch, you are very Smug, but if you use that “reclaimed” knotty pine plank as a TV tray, you are much less Smug. By the same token, if you have a set of antlers you “reclaimed” from a White Mountain hayseed’s hunting cabin and you hang it above your decorative fireplace, you are very Smug, but if you use those “reclaimed” antlers as a hatrack, you are much less Smug.

If Smug Scout may be honest, she is ever-so-slightly charmed by the hanging reclaimed wood cutting board tableau.  She thinks it is ever-so-slightly clever to attach colorful paper fake tree growth rings to this hanging reclaimed wood cutting board tableau. However, she does not see any utility.  Well, maybe she can think of one. She wonders if the colorful paper fake tree growth rings could be used to fixate the gaze of someone on an acid trip. On second thought, that is not a likely consideration of the hipster logger who slices fallen trees into reclaimed wood cutting boards. Thus, the prize must go to #3.

Stay tuned for the next Smug SmackDown: Men in Kilts!