Ezra Klein asks:
When did arugula become the new latte? Newsweek is using it as the counterpoint to beer (which, though drunk by hipsters and sold in Trader Joe's, apparently denotes blue collar cred), but does that register with folks? Arugula just looks like...lettuce. I couldn't even identify it offhand. Sushi, frappucinos, "SmartWater" -- all that I could see. But a sort of obscure salad ingredient? That's a more advanced degree in in yuppie than even I have. Which sort of suggests the folks behind Newsweek's coverage of Obama's elitism aren't exactly machinists themselves.
I think I actually know the answer to this one! Arugula became the new latte because the word arugula passed Obama's lips (in combination with the dreaded words "Whole Foods") last July when, speaking to some farmers in Iowa, he said:
“Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula? I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.”
But I agree with Ezra that arugula isn't the best cultural signifier. Personally, I wish the media would choose Kombucha as its elitist weenie counterpoint to proletarian beer. I mean, even I'm not yuppie enough to figure out that one. It smells (not to mention tastes) like dirty socks.