Bourgeois BurgerNicholas R. Jeelvy
I’ve had some good burgers in my time. Uh, I . . . I love a good Swiss, melted Swiss cheese and mush — roasted mushrooms and caramelized onions on a burger. Uh, that is hot stuff. You can get that at, at a number of different places. — Richard B. Spencer
I recently found myself at a classy burger joint. This was not my first time in a “classy” burger joint, but it was the first time I noticed that the burger joint was “classy.” No, there was no chamber orchestra playing soft music, nor was the waiter a stuffy French guy in his mid-to-late 50s (think Jean Rochefort), but there was something about the place that made me feel like it was a haunting ground of the classy. It made me feel underdressed and undergroomed. But it was a burger joint. How could I be underdressed for a burger joint?
While this was not the first time I had gone to such a place, it was the first time I noticed the discrepancy between the classiness of the place and the fact of what it was. I realized this when Mrs. Jeelvy gave up on eating her burger normally and started eating it with a knife and fork. All the other times we’d been to such places I had insisted that the burgers be eaten the way God intended, which is to say picked up in our hands and eaten directly with the mouth. This has led to many instances of the burgers’ ingredients vacating the buns out the other end, necessitating their consumption separately. All of this could obviously be avoided by cutting the burger into slices and eating it with a fork, like a club sandwich, but I had insisted on the traditional way of eating a burger up until that day. Due to a series of circumstances beyond my control, I was too tired and unfocused to enforce burger-eating etiquette on Mrs. Jeelvy, so she just ate hers with a knife and fork.
Then it became apparent to me that while she was violating traditional burger etiquette, she was eating the burger as its maker had intended it to be eaten — in other words, modern, fancy burgers are made in such a way that eating them with your hands is impossible. One has to sit down, place the burger on a plate, fix it in place with a wooden chopstick, cut it to pieces with a knife, and subsequently eat it with a fork. Eating the burger as God intended will mean that, if you’re not sitting down with a plate, its contents will fall to the ground. This is a profound change in the burger as we knew it.
The burger is traditionally a variation of the sandwich. The defining characteristic of a sandwich — and the reason why John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, saw fit to invent it — is that it can be eaten with one hand, leaving the other free for other activities, such as, in the case of Lord Sandwich, playing cards. In keeping with the by now familiar high-low versus middle pattern, this aristocratic invention was rapidly taken up by the working class, specifically because of the convenience and ease of its consumption. A hard-working man who hasn’t got a lot of time to eat can fish one of these “sandwich” things out of his lunchbox and scarf one down standing up, holding a cup of coffee in his free hand while leaning against a wall — indeed, on my way back from the burger joint, I witnessed construction workers doing exactly that.
If a burger cannot be eaten standing up without seriously disrupting the integrity of the burger and risk damaging its contents, then it is no longer a sandwich in any functional way. The sandwich is defined by the ease and convenience of its consumption. A food that requires utensils and a state of being seated to consume it is not a sandwich.
Now let’s move on to a burger’s contents and nutritive functionalities.
The nutritive utility of the sandwich comes from the fact that it can theoretically present a fully-balanced meal in an extremely efficient package. The bun contains carbohydrates, the meat and cheese the necessary protein and fat, and the salad, pickles, or perhaps onions are a source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. In short, a burger or a sandwich should contain everything the human body needs.
Due to its very high energy-to-size ratio, the sandwich has historically been popular with the working class, who may not have much space to carry food with them while working but who expend a large amount of bodily energy in a typical day. The prevailing philosophy in the construction of a sandwich is utilitarianism. This is a food to be eaten by men who haven’t got the time or space to sit down, prepare plates and utensils, and dine properly, but nevertheless require the full macronutritional package such a meal provides. It is simple fare for hardy men.
The very idea of a fancy burger, consisting of mushrooms, melted Swiss cheese, goat cheese, caramelized onions, Thai or Chinese crap, daikons, cashews — anything beyond bread, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and the complex sauces which all pretend to be subtle or forceful; they’re none of those things, and always clash with the hamburger itself — is contrary to the very concept of the burger as a type of sandwich. Indeed, what has happened to the burger in recent decades is a sort of embourgeoisement. No longer is it the quick meal of choice for the working man or aristocratic gambler, but it is now a positional good for upper middle-class hipsters to show off their status and refinement. Why else would a burger require melted Swiss cheese and caramelized onions? Have you tried caramelizing onions? It’s a two-to-three-hour process, for crying out loud. No working man’s wife has the time to produce such a meal, unless it is the main meal of the day –which a sandwich clearly is not.
The upper middle class showing off their status with positional goods and behaviors is nothing new, but what’s interesting to me is their appropriation of this quintessentially working-class meal for the specific purpose of showcasing their “worldliness.” The burger represents something raw and authentic, even when it is so frou-frou and inauthentic that it no longer has the functionality or utilitarianism of a burger. The reason why the upper middle class now feel the need to eat structurally and nutritionally complex burgers which have to be consumed sitting down and with utensils is that they crave the “rawness” and “authenticity” of the working class. This is why everyone and their mother is so concerned with being working class.
As was noted by a friend during the 2020 election campaign, the so-called “working class” supporting Donald Trump were actually the lower middle class trying to pass themselves off as working class (because they work, unlike those lazy libtards, get it?). The actual working class, meaning men selling their labor and working with tools or their hands, were largely apolitical, while a minority in the Rust Belt states were the mysterious “Obama/Trump” voters: people who voted for Obama in 2008/12 and Trump in 2016. The idea of the working class has a sainted position while having close to no actual voice in politics or culture. It is there to stand as a passive receptacle of policy and cultural tropes while its own culture is appropriated and mutated beyond all recognition by both Leftist upper middle class hipsters and Rightist lower middle class suburbanites. The role of the working class here is just to provide passive affirmation of the two politically-activated bougie demographics — a sort of authentication service, a rubber-stamp of working-class kosher certification.
The reason behind this is simple for anyone who’s a regular in these parts. Because ours is an egalitarian civilization whose core tenet is that All Men Are Created Equal, any specificity of biology which separates man from man has to be denied, and therefore all divisions between man and man (which cannot be done away with) have to be declared artificial. That which is artificial — created by artifice — is inauthentic and not “raw.” All high culture therefore has to go, because all high culture is artifice and removal of man from nature.
But here’s the problem. You still have the middle class and their desire to put on airs and strut around, reminding everyone that they’re wealthier and better-educated than the lower class while at the same time more moral and better-behaved than the upper class (“That Lord Sandwich, he gambles, you know”). In a culture which despises artifice, they will find ways to express their sophistication and morality in the language of naturism, rawness, and working class worship. Hence, the “raw and authentic” burger stacked so high that it cannot be bitten into. The middle class’ sophistication and wealth has to be expressed through the form of the burger — a form invented by an aristocrat, inspired by Greek peasants, and used primarily by the working class.
The great irony here is that the much-hated globalist corporations like McDonald’s and Burger King have kept, at least in form, the burger as it was and should be. In a world of hipster burgeries, McDonald’s stands as an unlikely beacon of authenticity — just good, hearty fare. The burger, as presented by the Clown, was what the burger was always meant to be: minced meat between two slices of bread and cheese, with optional vegetables. McDonald’s doesn’t try to sell me the experience of an authentic burger, but somehow it’s what I get there. It doesn’t try to sell me gourmet, “perfectly made,” “expertly crafted” burgers — but somehow, through the use of unknown dark magicks, its burgers remain intact when I hold them with my hands and bite into them.
Does this mean I’ll stop eating fancy burgers? Maybe. If the same ingredients were arranged in any way except a burger, I’d have no problem with the meal. I like Angus beef, I even like goat cheese (I could eat it by the carload, to be frank). The combination of the typical fancy burger ingredients is something that can be readily made into an exquisite meal by a qualified chef. It is the empty form of the burger that is symbolic of degenerate mores and the fetishization of the poor, as well as a desperate search for “authenticity” by people who are profoundly fake. But more to the point, if you like fancy foods, just bite the bullet and admit that you’re a highfaluting fancy-food enjoyer and eat fancy foods without dressing them up as “raw and authentic” working-class foods.
This can also be applied to fashion. If you want to dress luxuriously, just wear fancy clothes, don’t wear designer sports shoes or jeans. Be honest about yourself and your class positioning. If you’re going to flaunt wealth and status, flaunt it, boast, eat sirloin and fillet mignon, cover your wife in diamonds and your mistresses in gold. But because our civilization hates the idea of differences between man and man, these old-school status symbols are hated and considered vulgar. When rich Arabs, Russians, and Indians do it, they’re considered crass and nouveau riche, even though when a fat sheikh shows up in a solid-gold Lamborghini, at least he’s not offending the form of the Italian sports car the way that fancy burgers offend the form of the burger.
If we are to build a dissident high culture, it will have to be honest about its artificial nature, because high culture is always a product of artifice and a product of refining the human tastes and predilections. It is not “raw and authentic,” but on the contrary, refined and sophisticated. It is polished, dainty, and removed from convenience and utilitarianism. Its artefacts aren’t convenient to use; its foods have to be consumed sitting down using special utensils; its fashion doesn’t prioritize comfort or mobility; and its literature, film, and art depend on understanding insider jargon, references to things that must be learned, and the internalization of principles alien to both the common man and rival high cultures. Since we are dissidents, and we oppose the current age of lies, we will offer our truthfulness, our earnest elitism, and our unabashed refinement.
We will not eat haute cuisine posing as a burger. We will call burgers only those foods which are functionally and nutritionally burgers.
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Ugh … did Spencer really say this? Anyone know the context?
“I’ve had some good burgers in my time. Uh, I . . . I love a good Swiss, melted Swiss cheese and mush — roasted mushrooms and caramelized onions on a burger. Uh, that is hot stuff. You can get that at, at a number of different places.”
He sure did. Don’t remember the context though.
There’s a link to it right in Spencer’s name.
Ah, yes. Thank you.
Spengler observed that even in his time that the term “working class” had become a political catch phrase which encompassed large swathes of people who wanted to LARP as being the same as factory workers for political expediency, but who were totally dissimilar.
The dialectial materialism of fast food – good one! Anyway, I’ll have to say that there’s an exception to the rule that high culture appropriating low culture being pretentious. Quite a few classical music composers have raided folk music and produced good results.
But they never presented it as folk music.
I’ve watched burgers get bigger and bigger here in the U.S., and as a ‘working girl’ — a secretary office drone with a 0ne-hour lunch — I didn’t have time for ‘sit-down’ luxury with plates and utensils. With the ever-bigger burger, I just picked the bread off a half inch at a time, ate the meat, cheese, onions, etc. as daintily as possible, and then repeat, layer by layer — and several napkins. Also, American fast-food burgers are usually wrapped in wax-paper halfway up so ingredients don’t drip. Those places are ‘onto us’ and our needs for speed and neatness together. And I also choose Burger King over Micky-D.
But before I go, I have to give a shout-out to the best burger in L.A., in Culver City where the movie studios are — Father’s Office. Absolutely the best ever cheeseburger, and I think I managed it aloft in my dainy bourgeoise hands.
In the 90s a ‘premium’ burger meant somewhere like Fuddruckers or Beck’s Prime which offered patties made from prime cuts, customisation and ‘fast casual’ service before the major chains offered such things.
The reason hipsters took over burgers is the same reason they took over craft beer – anyone can come up with a half decent burger recipe or brew a half decent beer. It doesn’t take years of training or practice and the marketing and adornment are half the appeal of which hipsters are experts. The perfect vocation for hipsters who don’t want to get “a real job”.
This particular bar didn’t have its own craft beer but served local craft beer and also doubled as a bike repair shop. Needless to say it was the local hipster hot spot. It of course had WiFi so it was next to impossible to try to pick up girls there because they were all on their laptops doing stuff.
I’ve had my fair share of burgers from fast food to gourmet burgers. I have to say the best burger I ever had was at the local bowling alley. The griddle was probably as old as the bowling alley itself so it had decades worth of burger grease that seasoned the griddle. This was back when you could smoke in a bowling alley and I think the tobacco smoke from the cigarettes in the air paired well with the burger some how. There was this whole sort of white working class gastronomy going on in that bowling alley burger I had as a kid that I’ll always remember being the best burger I ever had.
I would post a smiley face but I don’t know how.
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