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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    Entries in MCH (106)


    Maslow’s hierarchy of Cat Food

    The British have a peculiar relationship with their pets, whom they often treat, and feed, better than themselves. The idea of keeping an animal purely for companionship rather than to work or to be eaten is in itself a first-world luxury. But of the UK’s 8 million cats, who’s eating what?

    Self-actualisation – Royal Canin
    You’ve arrived in the icy world of cat breeders and their highly-strung pedigree cats. This isn’t about folksy hand-drawn packaging,  but an expectation you’re prepared to get your head around the correct nutrient measures to the nearest mg. While other products cater to age and obesity, Royal Canin can provide you with a food specifically tailored to your breed. If you can’t stand the heat, step down to Lily’s Kitchen.

    Esteem – Lily’s Kitchen
    One urban farm shop located in a particularly MC London borough told us that this organic pet food is their top selling product – more popular than their food for humans. Cats who eat Lily’s generally refer to their owners as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ (yes, these cats can talk). The company website is as cute and cuddly as your fluffy feline friend, inviting owners to post pictures of their pets and comments. When Innocent get round to tapping the lucrative pet food market, this will be their template. 

    Love/Belonging – Hills Science Plan
    Follows a high-end distribution model requiring a trip to a specialist pet shop to make the purchase, but if you do manage to get your dirty paws on a packet, it shows you are giving your cat’s diet the same consideration that you would your own. While at the pet shop, you can indulge in your favourite hobby of talking with the owner about your cat’s funny habits, in the way that other people talk about their children. Please allow time for the vet’s spiel about cats needing high protein dry food, which naturally costs more and which, coincidentally, they sell at the surgery.

    Safety – Iams
    When, about 10 years ago, middle class pet owners started switching in large numbers to dry cat food (a result of both marketing and the fact it doesn’t stink your kitchen out), Iams was up there as a premium brand. But it has since been superseded by more exclusive products that increasingly feed on our love of specialty. Nowadays a bag of Iams is only bought as part of the weekly shop – which is fine (read lazy), we are all busy, but it doesn’t earn you many MC pet-foodie points.

    Physiological – Go-Cat
    Almost retro, Go-Cat is the pet equivalent of feeding your offspring frozen pizza. It’s easy, and they’ll wolf it down, but it’s also a tad common. (Just between us cats: the food itself is multicoloured). Oh. The. Horror.  

    Bubbling under – The Campaign for Real Pet Food
    Right now on a trading floor somewhere in the City there’s a bored banker dreaming of quitting the rat race and making a go of an artisanal pet food business. The Campaign for Real Pet Food already lists Pet’s Kitchen (from TV vet Joe Inglis) and über-cute Meowing Heads. Expect first sightings at your local farmers’ market.


    maslow's hierarchy of tomatoes

    Never in living memory have there been so many sizes, shapes and even colours of tomato on offer in any self-respecting middle class high street. Your fridge may have at least two types of tomato – possibly a punnet of cherry tomatoes for snacking and lazy salads, and half a dozen larger tomatoes – probably on the vine – for slicing, not to mention the jars of passata, tubes of purée and tins of chopped tomatoes multiplying in your food cupboard. We can’t tell you which ones to buy, but we can help you navigate the psychology of your choices.

    Self-actualisation – Heritage tomatoes
    Also known as heirloom tomatoes, these score highly on the middle class snob-o-meter. The term encompasses many varieties (the Isle of Wight seems to be the MC on-trend heritage tomato this summer – and only the MCs could have an on-trend tomato) in many shapes and, most notably, colours, but what they have in common is that they are all pure varieties, grown from seed generation after generation (not hybrids like the more common uniform round tomatoes). They taste sweeter, yes, but their attraction is as much in the concept – in-bred and individual, with a proven pedigree, brought to you by small producers and sold for a suitably exclusive price.

    Esteem – San Marzano
    The ultimate cooking tomato comes with its own DOPO (denomination of protected origin). These are not any-old plum tomatoes, they are grown outside Naples, around Mt Vesuvius. Slightly longer and slightly thinner, their thicker flesh and less-watery insides contribute to the perfect pasata. Because even if you’re just knocking together some cheap Italian peasant food, it should be authentic cheap Italian peasant food.

    Love/Belonging – on-the-vine
    Whatever variety of tomato you are eating, the presence of the vine allows you to feel a connection to the growing process. As if you’ve just picked them fresh from the greenhouse, not fresh from Clerkenwell Waitrose. Opening the packet also affords a whiff of tomato plant – so reassuringly summery.

    Safety – cherry/baby plum/pomodorino
    This is the go-to salad tomato of choice, partly because they are sweet and juicy, partly because they just look so adorable. Even kids will eat them. What’s frightening is just how recently it was that cherry tomatoes seemed exotic.

    Physiological – supermarket generic
    Yawn. Boring and bland. Bred to ripen uniformly and look nice in the shops, but messing with the genetics has also messed with the sugar content – these are a merely a receptacle for salad dressing at best. The fact that you can pick them up for £1 a plastic carton tells you all you need to know about how they might taste.

    Bubbling under – beefsteak
    There’s something no-nonsense and back-to-basics about a beef tomato. It’s not pretending to be fancy, it’s just doing its (very tasty) job. And the gourmet burger revolution could be just the boost it needs.

    Flickr: hflournoy1, Kristen Bonardi Rapp, plindberg, Gudlyf, Bitterjug



    We're mad for them, especially in cordial form

    Making it yourself from elderflowers picked from your own garden

    Bonus points, obviously

    Mixed with sparkling mineral water and put into a lolly mould, it makes delicious ices

    Heads up from @simonpjbest

    Wearing shorts to work

    Sadly, unacceptable

    Many more of us seem to be referring to berries just using the first syllable: strawbs, bluebs

    What has become of us? So lazy

    Around a fifth of Britain’s debit and credit card holders don’t know the difference between them


    Tesco in Newquay has put up a sign asking patrons to keep their tops and shoes on

    Quite right!

    There used to be signs: no shirt, no shoes, no service

    So there did, @cathrynjbrown. Let's bring them back

    Who on earth would buy somebody a Nando's gift card?!

    V.G. question, @MartynHett

    The hot weather is playing havoc with Britain's tea drinking routine

    You're not alone, @tottster



    News and natter

    Giant statue of Colin Firth's Mr Darcy in London's Hyde Park

    Deeply naff

    Pimms. Salad. Crudité. Pickles. Salsa. Gazpacho

    The humble cucumber. So many uses, says @nicky_t

    Britain doesn't recognise its tree types

    Not even the oak. We all need to do much better

    Writing "reached out to x for comment"

    Stop it, says @Tinpotgamer. "Contacted" will do fine

    The woman who said "tough titty" on BBC Radio 4

    Let's hear it for her, says @keridavies

    Greggs going all posh

    No! We liked it better before!

    Ice cream vans allowed to sound their chimes a bit longer

    Hurray for the sound of British summer

    Paying a premium for houses with a sea view

    We just can't get enough of an estuary

    Red wine "detox" holiday in south-west France

    Don't mind if we do


    MC Eating Habits: Talk at London's House of St Barnabas

    One of the Middle Class Handbook editors, Richard Benson, is speaking about new middle class eating habits at a talk at London’s House of St Barnabas on July 16, and if any MCH readers would like to come, we would love to see you there. The event is intended to raise money for the HOSB’s work with London’s homeless.

    Richard will be talking about middle-class topics such as the lunchtime sandwich run, the etiquette of eating breakfast at work, and whether the Saturday night takeaway is edging out the Sunday roast as the week’s most enjoyable meal. He may even digress into such old favourites as cupcakes and the correct way to pronounce “scone” and “chorizo”. Other guests include Tom Viney, co-editor of a new magazine called Special Request, and Rosie Lovel, founder of Rosie’s Deli Café in Brixton. Another MCH associate Miranda Sawyer is chair for the evening.

    Tickets – all in a good cause are available here.

    And if you want to really get involved, you can upload pictures of your lunch to the Facebook link above. All the images will be compiled in a video display on the evening, apparently. Lovely.

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