Why the Lard Tub at 826 Valencia Isn’t an Ironic Joke to Poor People

In an interview with local writer Frances Lefkowitz, Bookslut looks at the divide between rich and poor in the Mission:

You identify many such codes in your book. For example, you say why the lard tub at 826 Valencia in San Francisco makes you feel excluded: “It acts as a litmus test for distinguishing the people who ‘get’ the lard — or act as if they do — from the people who don’t. For the Spanish-speaking moms and kids who live in the neighborhood and walk past the keg to get to their tutoring sessions, lard is not an ironic joke; it’s food.”

Read on for the author’s answer, and for further thoughts on gentrification in the Mission.

Frances Lefkowitz’s memoir is called To Have Not, and reflects on a lifetime of feeling poor.



Explore posts in the same categories: Life in the Mission

16 Comments on “Why the Lard Tub at 826 Valencia Isn’t an Ironic Joke to Poor People”

  1. miscdebris Says:

    And the eye patches? 826 has always been to me a community center and pirate store. The pirate store is kind of funny. If a one eyed dude walks in there because it is the only place to get an eye-patch, then does it cease to be an amusing pace to wander? They sell lard at Safeway, eye-patches at Walgreens, bottles for messages at the Container Store. Bring them all together, you have a pirate convenience store. Keep them separate, they are items that people use all the time in a non-ironic way. Remember that next time you bite into a lardwich.

  2. MrEricSir Says:

    As a Pirate American, I’m offended by the store for entirely different reasons.

  3. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

    Uhh. The lard isn’t there as an “ironic joke”, or, rather, it isn’t any more of an ironic joke than any of the rest of the pirate/nautical gear.

    Lard was a pretty standard complement of ship’s gear until relatively recently. It was carried because it can be kept indefinitely without needing to be cooled or requiring other special storage accommodations, and it was used both for food and as a lubricant and sealant.

  4. stix Says:

    Just another example of hyper-sensitive political correctness.

  5. el jefe Says:

    So, let me make sure I understand her point here.

    Is she saying that “Spanish speaking moms and kids” are incapable of understanding (or appreciating) irony?

    Or maybe she’s saying that “Spanish-speaking” people are only capable of seeing lard as food, and nothing else (not even a pirate-ship prop where it was used as…food).

    It would seem that way – well jeez, now that I think of it, this seems kind of fucked up. Maybe even latently racist. I mean, c’mon. If you’re going to challenge the inequities that exist in our neighborhood, there are a lot of easier (and far more appropriate) targets than a tutoring center that helps kids learn for free in the name of pirates.

    The only upsetting irony here is that she could make such a statement while on her “surfing holiday in Martha’s Vineyard.”

    Seriously? Seriously. Read the interview. The whole concept of her memoir seems kind of novel at first, but after reading this interview I’m not inclined spend a cent on it.

    • Freak Says:

      ..It’s a METAPHOR, people. There was no “targetting”. Maybe you have JUST a little too much time on your hands. And perhaps a little education IS an OK thing. Where’s your book, El jefe?….I liked the book and I think I understand the author’s intent, to validate the feelings of a lot of other “have-nots”. And BTW, what’s so ironic about the writer, surfing in a part of the country that ..A.. has .. surf and B, ..is near where she went to school…I think you miss the whole point of the book.

  6. Heather Says:

    Wow. Freaking ridiculous. It’s there as a silly pirate prop for the kids to enjoy. Pirates used lard. I don’t get the irony either, and I’m not a “Spanish speaking mom”.

    People like this make me glad I didn’t go to college.

  7. Kyle Madison Says:

    This is stupid. Who’s wandering in there and looking at the lard thinking “yum”? Nobody is that hard up and it’s stupid and offensive to picture Latinos as poor people licking their lips in the window.

    Fact of the matter is, lard is gross for everyone. In Mexico where it’s expensive and scarce people use it lightly and they’re all healthy looking. Here they heap it on because its plentiful and they turn into the rolly poley stereotypes you see all over town. Lard should be a joke to everyone, because health is serious for everyone. A decent bottle of canola or olive oil will go as far as a tub of lard and it won’t kill you as fast.

    • moderniste Says:

      As an avid baker, there is nothing quite like lard for flaky short pastries like pie crusts. I use it in combination with butter–and a “bottle of canola or olive oil” just wouldn’t cut it. In moderation, lard rules.

      And I strongly agree with most of the other comments regarding the po-faced humorlessness of the author in regards to the tub-o-lard in the Pirate Store. Sheesh–I’ll bet those “poor peepul” are soooo grateful for Mizz Lefkowitz’s brave attempts to protect them from the dread forces of irony–especially where it doesn’t exist. They should be lining up to kiss her sainted feet!

      • Kyle Madison Says:

        You’re basically agreeing with me while trying to disagree. I said that lard, where it is used as a luxury is fine. But when a luxury becomes an everyday product, like used to fry everything you eat, its a health concern.

        BTW, as a vegetarian, I hope you’re labeling your lard crusts if you’re baking commercially. I’d just like to know.

      • No, Kyle, moderniste is agreeing with your first paragraph, while disagreeing with your second paragraph.

        Good luck, by the way, with the labeling of crusts in any way. As a professional baker, I can assure you that that will entirely depend on the attitude of management toward public relations with the vegetarian community — nobody else gives a shit, as long as it tastes good. And pastry always tastes better with butter or lard.

  8. pka Says:

    I think what Frances is saying that it is an irony that food is used a prop (however authentic – thanks for the explanation professor) when people are hungry and even further ironic that no one recognizes the irony except her. Clearly not many of you…. college educated or not. This theme is explained in the book that so many of you have not read. Apparently, it’s okay to be uninformed and comment gratuitously…

  9. boo Says:

    some people are just sensitive to food being used for purposes other than eating, e.g., decorations, games, etc. especially if they have experiences with food scarcity.

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