A long, long, long time ago (like, last year) I wrote an obituary for the word Artisanal. It seemed high time to declare the word dead and get on with our lives. And yet, it has become clear in the months that have followed that even if Artisanal did die, Artisanal has a radioactive half-life so powerful that it could for years sustain full-fledged underground communities of humans making bread from hand-picked cornhusks and locally sifted flour. Artisanal is not dead, it's undead, a whole food zombie running around feasting on artisanal brains. Artisanal, regardless of an organic beefsteak tomato through the heart or a hand-hewn bamboo stick to the brain, is eternal. Eternally damned, maybe, but sticking around and torturing us nonetheless.
But, look, according to a search via Google books' Ngram viewer (see at right) we're at slightly less peak artisanal than we were in the late '90s. It's an artisanal dip! So why does everything feel so insufferably artisanal?
Well, because (compare the word to hipster and you'll see the problem) even if artisanal might be ebbing, we are so surrounded by artisanal that it's hard to see the hand-tended forest for the individually planted trees. Let's say we reached peaked use of the phrase (in books) in the '90s and that there hasn't been an epic jump past 2010 that remains uncharted. Artisanal online is a whole other matter, as here there is infinite room for things to be artisanally discussed. And so they are, and with the popularity of the word artisanal comes more artisanal. Is the media's artisanal-hate, and the desire to mock the phrase ironically, simply breeding more artisanal? Quite possibly. This very post uses the word 40-some times. I am part of the problem, not the solution; I am a cog in the artisanal cheese-wheel.