At the top of the list of assumed WASP traits sits our presumed diet, replete with mayonnaise, gin, and all other forms of beige and clear foodstuffs. Go poke around your popular culture venue of choice, look up WASPs, and you’ll see. I’ll wait, you look.
Done? Need help finding the kind of discourse I’m thinking of? Here.
Perhaps we have, traditionally, eaten less spicy food. Perhaps my elderly cousin did, once, tell me that New Mexico was a bit too “ranchero” for him. But let me put forth a conflicting theory, if you permit. Whatever you read about our food choices reflecting a lack of passion is absolutely and thoroughly wrong.
Consider the Wheat Thin.
In the High WASP bible Cheerful Money, Tad Friends confirms the Wheat Thin’s natural habitat. Native to the deep thickets of High WASP family gatherings, most prevalent, of course, in the cocktail hour. Occasionally seen at lunch.
via Google books, here, and so worth a read.
Other observers make rough attempts at deconstructing WASPs’ Wheat Thins relationship . While Mr. Chatterbox, a columnist for Sarasota Magazine is correct in pointing out that Stoned Wheat Thins have replaced Nabisco, here and there, mostly people get it wrong. These guys just don’t understand. For example, High WASPs find Ritz Crackers too decadent. After all, they break without discipline, fairly oozing fat as they cover your chin with flakes.
Nabisco has done its own part to obscure the truth about Wheat Thins. If you trace the evolution of the brand, you see the sad state of affairs. Nabisco now offers so MANY varieties that the construct, “Wheat Thin,” has little meaning any more. The deadly drug of proliferation.
But let us return to the critical issue. Are these crackers bland? In some context, perhaps. In my culture, not at all.
For High WASPs of a certain generation, the secret, sweet, malted taste of Wheat Thins, spattered with salt, was a guilty, sensual pleasure. Anything sensual is guilty in this culture, of course, except heavy breathing from the exertion of a brisk walk. It’s also true that crackers from a box, after decades of food served on platters, felt daring, indulgent. How thrilling! We’re living without servants, we’re eating with our fingers, we’re moving to California.
I would posit that many among us are not bloodless, not without passion. Only, we are overwhelmed by surges of feeling at the smallest of stimuli. It’s always risky to generalize the feelings behind another culture’s habits.
Perhaps each culture has their own secret Wheat Thins. Do we ridicule lovers of xiao long bao? Smoked salmon? Brie. I thought not. Let us now celebrate the Wheat Thin by making our own. The blog, 6bittersweets, offers up this recipe. Reclaim that birthright. Wrest Wheat Thins from the over-marketing hands of their creators and find the salty, malted heart of darkness once again.
Eaten slowly, with a long time on the tongue.
With thanks to the reader who wrote me, saying she now understood her husband’s family better, in all their “Wheat Thins for lunch” glory.