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Everything comes in flavors these days, even things you see while waiting in drugstores that you don’t want to think or talk about, and so when I first glimpsed the phrase “Artisanal Coffee Movement” two years or so ago I thought of colonoscopies and purgatives rather than lovingly made lattes.

A month later I went to a business dinner at the Four Seasons restaurant. Come dessert, listed among the expensive delicacies was

“Artisinal Cheese” (sic).

I had never heard of the “Artisinal Cheese Company”, but, not having grown up in America, I still hadn’t completely forgotten how to spell, and so I eventually convinced my colleagues of my superior syntactical skills by having the waiter to bring us the cheese, which, sure enough, had a label that announced “Artisanal Cheese.” I still have the memento in my suit pocket. Since then I’ve noticed that “artisanal” has become a hot word. If you google most adjectives in the language, you end up in Wikipedia or a dictionary. If you google “artisanal”, amazingly enough, the first hit is Artisanal Fromagerie. Not far behind comes “artisanal chocolate”, followed shortly thereafter by “artisanal meth” from Wasilla and “artisanal soy”.

Now Godiva has a sign on Columbus Avenue that says “Artisanal Chocolate”. Although I called the bottom of the current stock market on October 10 (I was ultimately wrong and I couldn’t be sorrier), I take a chance and guess again that when Godiva (made by Hershey’s??) starts to use the word “artisanal” it’s very likely past the top of the artisanal market.

It’s the kind of word you shouldn’t use to describe yourself, only others. If you use it, you aren’t one.


Postscript. In my daughter’s ex-college town in Minnesota there was a coffee shop called Goodbye Blue Monday. The students working there made the best-looking best-tasting cappuccinos I’ve ever had. The foam on the cappuccino was beautiful. When I read beyond the headline in the article about the artisanal coffee movement…, I realized it described what they made there, and it tasted and looked very good.

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