But hey, live and let live. Yglesias and Klein are at least readable, if one foregoes one's devotion to English, and as for McArdle, there's always Roy to read her.
I got there late. Seems the Cool Kids got all hot and bothered by the condescending tone of this Times piece on chain restaurants, though where it is they found the condescension I'm still not clear. It's all handled well by Roy's commenters, who point out, among other things, that the article in question didn't sneer, and wasn't even as critical as it might be, that both the reverse snobbery and the reverse classism [ 1) all snooty New Yorkers are from Peoria 2) chain restaurants are therefore their national cuisine 3) therefore their dislike of chains is simple pretension] is bogus, and, somewhat surprisingly to me, that the delicacies at Olive Garden are one variety of corporately-distributed frozen Boil-In-Bag grub or another.
(Let me explain: maybe I shouldn't find that all that surprising; it's just that it flies in the face of common sense as well as culinary wisdom. Pasta is ages-old fast food. You could cook all the pasta you needed for the weekend Thursday afternoon--excepting the really tiny stuff like capellini, which takes one minute to cook from dry--and drop it in boiling water to reheat when needed. No compromise in quality. Why freeze? The people who run these Concepts will tell you it's quality control and chain-wide uniformity of product, which is bullshit; it's the ability to short labor costs and rampant employee turnover.)
Before we move on to Ezra, honorable mention to Susan of Texas, for this response to "Why would anybody read the Atlantic's columnists?"
When you ignore them they multiply, like little supply-side rats.
So, as to Ezra (because I have no idea why anyone would have me-too'd the piece, unless they're just always doing this). He thinks the Times went too damn far, even if he feels their pain:
I'm pretty much your consummate coastal elite (I biked back from the farmer's market today with a baguette and artisan cheese fastened to my rack)
Y'see, the thing is, Ezra, behaving like a caricature might make you a caricature, or even a paragon of caricature-ness, but it does not make you any more elite than anyone else who reads the same fucking magazines and espouses the same carefully selected "tastes". That comment is twice as condescending as anything in the Times piece, which merely occasionally disdained a group of corporate operators who deserve occasional disdain. You and your cohort grew up in an atmosphere of celebrity chefs and cooking networks and Bon Appétit, and so you imagine that, having inhaled enough culture dust, you're all officially gourmands by now, able and accredited to denounce fusty food snobbery in the name of the Little People.
Pah. It's painless expertise, and unearned (later, seeking an adjectival gotcha to substitute for any evidence supporting his thesis--these folks really ought to learn to keep their opinions about grammar wars and Middle East ground combat to themselves--Ezra will ask, "Can a batter really be 'insipid'?" And rather than point out that "insipid" can mean "lacking vitality or imagination" as well as flavor, we will stick to the subject and note that even batters lacking distinct flavoring agents [beer, brandy] may be designed specifically for meat, fish, vegetables, or fruit, and of varying viscosities, and as such may be horribly misused--obscuring, say, the delicate flavor of seafood, as Ms Cook reported). Palates are born, not made; still, their training is more arduous than cycling to the market. It's possible there are a few out there worth listening to which are attached to people still in their early twenties (the adult palate generally surfaces around age 25; before then you are clamoring for the sweet gooeyness of Not Poison and the, yes, insipid richness of Mother's milk. Afterwards you will long simply for the container) but if so they belong to people raised in the restaurant business or the wealthiest homes, not to everyone who buys Swiss truffles. None of them, I daresay, is yours. Had you dedicated yourself to connoisseurship these would be the early days of your learning to distinguish St. Julien from St. Estèphe, or Nahe from Rheingau, and your tongue would be too busy for any half-assed lecturing.