Katherine Boo and Artisanal Pickles

In today's Slate, Matt Ygelsias talks about my two favorite topics: Katherine Boo and artisanal pickles

I've been keeping an eye on Katherine Boo's new book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity. Boo is one of my favorite New Yorker writers. Her article about families in poverty in Louisiana was just fantastic. Her new book received rave reviews in this Sunday's New York Times, and I can't wait to read it. 

Ygelsias refers to a column by Adam Davidson, "Don't Mock the Artisanal Pickle Makers." Davidson says that there is money to be made in the new economy by appealing to wealthy consumers who crave hand produced items. The artisanal pickle makers may be on the forefront of a new movement. 

Ygelsias tries to reconcile these two worlds: garbage pickers in India and hipsters in Brooklyn hand making pickles. I'm not sure he succeeds. 


10 thoughts on “Katherine Boo and Artisanal Pickles

  1. I wonder if the appeal of artisanal goods will spread beyond the wealthy. Similar to how the expensive latte is mainstream – simple luxuries that many can afford even if you can’t afford a house or larger big ticket items.


  2. My teen and her friends have an interesting contempt for “hipster.” It leads to interesting discussions, but I’m not sure I can give you a definition of how they define hipster. “Someone who likes a band which isn’t popular–and when others like it, they no longer like it.”
    Fancy beers took off. I don’t think the market for fancy pickles is quite as large. How much money can you make off of very, very small markets?


  3. How much money can you make off of very, very small markets?
    I always assumed that a non-trivial number of small-scale food producers were really growing pot and needed a cover.


  4. “How much money can you make off of very, very small markets?”
    My question is whether it’s enough to keep body & soul together. If it is, then it is enough. It’s not a new idea, selling hand made small-batch work as art. there’s no resale market, since artisanal pickles can’t have much of a resale value (well, I hope, or we’ll have to deal with pickle hording).


  5. Buddy of mine was doing nicely in a business which went to other businesses and maintained their indoor plants. Call him a ficus-whisperer. Well, come the recession, and the ficus line was the first one to come out of the budget. I remain convinced that harder times are on us for a good while to come, and I expect the artisanal pickle line will come out of the budget, too.


  6. dave s.,
    After MH’s speculation, I thought that story was going to go in a completely different direction.
    Who really, truly likes ficus, anyway?


  7. I remember my first visit to a big city skyscraper office. My uncle worked for an oil company in Texas. The only thing I learned that I can now recall is that the plants were rented.


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