Thursday, August 21, 2014
Everything old is new again: Mason jars
Nothing illustrates the dubiousness, if not disgust, that we automatically extend toward others, as opposed to the warm glow of affection that we lather over ourselves, quite like a bag lunch.
There's something disreputable about somebody else's lunch, if not revolting. It can be in a crisp brown paper bag, the sandwich neatly prepared, tucked perfectly into a Baggie. There's still something off-putting, even sad, about it. We don't want to see it, never mind eat it. We avert our eyes as the lunchroom fridge swings open, avoiding the dismal vista of squishy sacks, odd Tupperware bowls containing murky piles of glop, and streaked wax-carton leftovers of our peers—containers we'd happily and gratefully dig into were they our own doing, but that we wince to glance at when they belong to others.
At least I hope other people feel that way; maybe it's just me, being a priss. People do steal lunches at work, which boggles my mind, not only ethically, but gustatorily as well. It would be like picking somebody else's nose.
Or to be brief, if there's a thumbprint in your sandwich, it had better be of your thumb.
Thus it is very rare that we see a coworker's lunch and marvel, as I did, about how beautiful it is, and then rush to snap its picture, as I did a few weeks back. It was ... well, no need to try to paint a picture in words here. I have the photograph:
Isn't that gorgeous? I think it's the first lunch that didn't belong to me that I could describe as enticing. I'd eat it. I quizzed my co-worker—who, as so often happens with those employed by newspapers, did not want to be identified by the great publication that pays her salary ("Of course," I wanted to reply, but somehow resisted saying, "you wouldn't want to associate your REAL NAME with anything as controversial as having an ATTRACTIVE LUNCH!!! Now THERE's a profile in courage...")
"Martha Stewart taught you that, right?" is what I actually said.
Exuding the kind of humility that causes one to shy from the light — well, either that or exuding timidity— she said that no, she did not dream up the salad-in-a-jar, but was inspired by one of those how-to-live-splendidly life web sites.
She sent me a link to a page called "the kitchn" (vowels are so 2000, apparently) which claims that large glass Mason or Ball jars "have become ubiquitous across the blogosphere" and credits a woman identified only as "Kathy" at something called "Happy Healthy Life" with creating the layered jar salads on display (apparently living that happy, healthy life also demands that you don't link yourself publicly with your creations, which I suppose goes to explain why my life is the way it is. Maybe I should start a blog page called "Sad Sickly Life," so I have it up and running when I need it. I just can't sympathize with someone who can't cop to creating a jar salad. I once signed my name to a column claiming that the mayor had gone insane).
Anyway, this was three weeks ago. Then I went on vacation. On Sunday, the New York Times, loping nearly a month behind "the kitchn", announced that millennials have "fetishized" the jars for the authenticity, which of course they all lack, as a "symbol of hipness." (Being the NYT, that could mean two web sites and four designers have gulled them into believing they representing some kind of global movement. The Gray Lady falls for that kind of thing frequently. At the least, they're guilty of exaggeration, using "fetishizing" when they really mean "liking" — I guess they got tired of calling every preference an "addiction.")
Anyway, I use those round cheapie Glad containers, so as not to lug around a thick glass jar I would invariably break. And I lost out on my chance to scoop the Times by going on vacation, but wanted to share the idea with you, just in case you want to make your life more fabulous by using them. The trend is too much of a bother to last, and will go the route of all beautiful but cumbersome and expensive things. But it's worth trying once. And if anyone asks you, "Who made the lovely salad in the fridge?" you can just deny everything.