My favourite Urban Dictionary definition of ‘hipster toast’ is by a bloke called park_chop, who on Xmas Eve 2015 called it “putting random shit on toast like avocado, goat cheese, or other nasty things, as in: Bro, wanna go get hipster toast? said the dude with the man-bun”. This is hilarious, but wrong, because hipster-signalling even now, post peak-hipster, is still a more self-conscious affair. They’d never walk up and ask for ‘hipster toast’ to go with their deconstructed small-batch flat-white, shit no, they just appear at the counter in their skinny jeans and obscure indie band t-shirts, rubbing their beardy chins and squinting myopically at the selection of fresh-baked artisanal breads from beneath the drooping brim of an ecologically-sustainable fedora: “What? No toasted buttermilk soda farls today? An outrage!” Look at the young pre-hipster below in his oh-so-masculine yet surprisingly practical for a cold climate scarf: “I want my polarbröd, Mummy!” Of course you do, mate. We all do.
I raise this now, all this hipster toast bullshittery, not because it’s anything new but because it’s currently splashed all over Oz media, thanks to a cheeky piece by Bernard Salt in The Weekend Australian a couple of weeks back, in which he opines: “I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more … how can young people afford to eat like this? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.” Wow. Inflammatory stuff, right? Especially as hipsters would have to forgo 38,000 lattes, or 50-years worth of thrice-weekly smashed avo brunches to afford a house in inner swanky-wanky Melbourne. Which is a bad example, tbh, because who the fu*k wants to live in Melbourne? Hipsters who can’t afford to live in Sydney, is who! Quod erat demonstrandum!
But why such a furore over a toasted sandwich? Some have called it the tip of the hipster spear, the overpriced smashed avo on artisanal toast, symptomatic of a lifestyle which Boomers, being the generation that greedily gobbled up all of the property and sold off all the assets, find difficult to reconcile when indulged in by anyone other than themselves. Those poor, beardy young renters should be eating bread, because it is supposed to be cheap. Qu’ils mangent de la brioche! I can hear them shouting; but no, instead, spread some hummus over it and slap on some rough-chopped walnuts and pomegranate and these stupid kids will pay as much for two slices as they would for two loaves at the supermarket. Quelle horreur, right? And if they can afford that, then by god they can afford to pay more rent!
The flip side of this non-issue is that the millenials, whose wages can’t keep up with inflation an/or property prices, don’t want to subsidise Boomer retirement strategies by paying even more rent, and view their smashed avo toast as a symbol of defiance. Small comfort, while they wait for the revolution that will return everything the Boomers have stolen back to the common wealth. Hence, if you suggest to a hipster that something less noble — such as the crass food fetishization of the look-at-me social-media curating generation — might also be at the back of this phenomena, then you’re likely to get clubbed to death by a group of slim young men in Wayfarers wielding dog-eared copies of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook. I say Gwyneth’s book, as opposed to Nigella Lawson’s, for example, because that English domestic goddess is pure Boomer totty AND she sells millions of cookbooks, whereas they’re handing out copies of Gwyneth’s cookbook to homeless people to use as kindling. And therein lies the answer. If the food fads of the younger generation are getting under the Boomer’s skin, all they gotta do is start eating what the hipsters are eating, and then it’s …