Social Snobbery delicately lampooned: “The underdone bottom of the uppercrust.” by Erwin A. Thompson
At dinnertime recently, my father recalled this story, and I asked him to share it with us. What follows is his author's note from his novel "The Upper Crust." ---JGR
THE UPPER CRUST
An explanation of the title might be helpful. I was raised by three maiden aunts and my maternal grandfather. They had their own way of expressing things, which was always quite picturesque and also quite accurate!
When they were speaking of people who were a part of the top of the social scale they often referred to them as being a part of "the upper crust." I never questioned the origin of this expression at that time, but in later years I think it referred to a pie that was covered by a layer of crust on top of the peach, apple, rhubarb, or whatever kind of fruit was being used. This upper crust was a luxury. When someone acted as if they thought they were at the top of the social scale and really were not, my aunts said that they were "the underdone bottom of the uppercrust."
To properly understand this expression one needs to remember that in rural America in the nineteen twenties and thirties baking was not the exact science that it is today with electric and gas ranges on which the oven temperature can be controlled by the turn of the control knob. The oven temperature in the country kitchen range was regulated by the amount of split wood or coal that the cook (who was almost always also the "fire person") put into the fire box. The results thereof were governed by the skill of the cook. This was also sometimes further complicated by the wind, or a damp morning when the "draft" up the chimney would be affected considerably.
The upper crust of the pie was the last thing to get done, and sometimes it didn't!
Tagged as: connection, Daddy 'n Me, Erwin A. Thompson, folk sayings, folk wisdom, pretension, snobbery, social class, social status