17 May, 2009

Too Many Cons Spoil the Broth

Apparently, poor people are supposed to survive on hardtack and swill:

Tonight I read a post by DougJ at balloon-juice, who linked to a post by Matt Yglesias at Thinkprogress complaining about a post by Julie Gunlock on the National Review. (that's a lot of blogospheric navelgazing, but bear with me).

So what does Julie Gunlock, a former Republican congressional staffer who is now on the wingnut welfare circuit, complain about?

Let's just quote Matt:

Julie Gunlock complains at NRO that "food snobs" are ruining America by serving unduly fancy food at soup kitchens. It’s actually rare that conservatives get to combined their hatred of poor people with their hatred of "cultural elites" in a single argument, so Gunlock gets so busy dishing out the sarcasm that she can’t quite seem to deliver the "so what?" point where we see who is being harmed by this alleged trend.

And one of the arguments Julie makes is:

This attitude is not limited to the shelters in our nation’s capital. A recent meal served at the Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) kitchen in Pacoima, Calif., included pumpkin soup seasoned with browned butter and sage, red-wine barbecue beef on handmade puff pastry, artichoke hearts with meatballs marinara, roasted-garlic-and-turnip mashed potatoes, all topped off with fresh blueberries and sour cream. No wonder these places need a bailout.

Of course research is not the wingnuts' strongest point, since that involves education and logic and sciency stuff, so a quick trip by poster Zuzu's Petals to the MEND website tells us that MEND is

Privately funded - NO government grants

So much for needing a bailout, then.

This culinary miracle of gourmet-on-a-budget is made possible by Richard Weinroth, a former restaurant chef who uses ingredients donated from local markets to whip up decent meals for the less fortunate among us. Despite what the Cons think, just because you're down on your luck doesn't mean you have to eat shit. Especially not when there's someone like Richard there to whip up a little something nice.

The whole diary's worth reading, but I just want to carry the motion of the diarist and one of the commenters. They pointed out that the ingredients involved aren't expensive. We're talking simple stuff - chicken, garlic, pumpkins, and so on. Wine good enough to cook with is super cheap. Spices, ditto. Give me twenty bucks, and I can cook for an army. Okay, merely a platoon. But still. It doesn't take a lot of money to make good, wholesome food that'll fill a lot of bellies, even without the generosity of the local food markets. There's no economic reason a food kitchen can't serve really tasty meals. It takes a little extra effort at the stove, but a caring, compassionate cook like Richard doesn't mind putting in the time.

So. Privately-funded kitchen. Private charity, not government welfare, just like the wingnuts tell us it's supposed to happen. So why so pissed off? The only possible reason I can fathom is that they believe poor people don't deserve tasty food.

Way to show off that Christian compassion, Cons.

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