Name-calling: Foodie

There have been many names I’ve been called over the years, but the one I refuse to acknowledge is the title of “Foodie”.

For those of you who don’t have foodie friends, or haven’t heard the term before, the urban dictionary definitions offer some insight:

A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation.  A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie.

Various dictionaries define it as (some paraphrasing):

A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet:

The other definitions go along the same line, but I found this one funny, so I thought I’d add it:

A fat kid pretentious enough to think up a special word to describe their desperate longing for anything to shove down their face.  They’ll often claim to be “food enthusiasts” or to have “refined tastes,” but they’re usually lying.

The origin of the term foodie is described here, but it seems it was used a handful of times, and then all of a sudden with the “food network tidal wave”, became a vernacular monster. The general idea of the several definitions is that foodies appreciate food and enjoy preparing food. What I am finding is a lot of people who call themselves foodies mostly do the “appreciate food” part and don’t prepare next to anything.  I haven’t eaten nearly anything my “foodie” friends make – much less hear of them cooking at all.  For me, saying you have refined tastes and appreciate good food without understanding the preparation involved is just eating.

Congratulations, Foodie, you’re just another eater.

Of the food critics I like a lot (Steingarten, Reichl, Pollan, etc), the things they have in common is that they cook. Steingarten didn’t just want to review a Peking duck, he wanted to make his own the same way the restaurants did. He wanted to see how complicated (or not complicated) recipes were to be able to see where the pitfalls of preparation lie. He tried making food regardless of how many times he failed, for a failure provided information/insight on the limitations of his food.  This makes his reviews more rich, his opinion more wholesome – in general, something worth reading. I’d be willing to bet these writers would call themselves food writers, food critics, or even food experts before they resorted to calling themselves foodies.

I think what bothers me the most is the inherent pretentiousness I hear when someone tells me they’re “such a foodie”. there are foodies who cook, and probably cook well.  But the self-proclaimed foodie tends to have the same characteristics (taken from The Delicious Life):

- Food snobbery. “Kraft macaroni and cheese? That’s for the dogs, I only eat my fusili with freshly grated fontina and aged white irish cheddar with shaved white truffles”.  It’s ok to be picky, but when you call yourself a foodie AND make retarded comments about food that’s beneath you, you’re asking to be made fun of.   Get off your high horse. When shit hits the fan, you’ll be eating the same Kraft mac n’ cheese as the rest of us.

- All bark no bite. This refers to the foodies who seem to know everything about every food, especially the more luxurious items like truffles or wagyu or langoustines – but have never had them before – OR even worse, are scared to try them.  They just spout out information and recite what others have written to make themselves seem like food officionados.  They’re the ones that know all about xanthum gum or agar, but don’t have the imagination/creativity to apply it to food – much less know where to buy it.

- Cooking. Not just cooking, but cooking safely.  People who prepare food must have an understanding of proper food preparation and sanitation. This includes but is definitely not limited to the following:

  • Maintaining your “clean” and “dirty” hand when handling raw meat
  • Washing your cutting board and work surface after handling raw meat
  • Cooking food to temperature
  • Do not wear jewelry and use your hands to handle food. its gross. rings and bracelets and long nails are good places for bacteria to hide.
  • 1/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water is your basic sanitation mixture. you can use it to sanitize most anything.

So yes, there is a lot of irony in this post. I expect to be called a foodie in a casual setting, but I’ll never use it as a reference for myself or as a positive reference to anyone else. It is definitely ironic because the foodies which all these things apply won’t recognize it in themselves because they will be too self-centered to see that they are just eaters.

Oh well, can’t fix ‘em all.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted August 5, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Found this post through DC Blogs and glad I did! I too dislike the term Foodie and all the “foodies” I know usually label themselves that way.

    Foodie: Yeah, I’m such a foodie!
    Me: Nice. So what does a foodie eat at home?
    Foodie: Mostly spam and rice

  2. Posted August 6, 2010 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    thanks! not to say spam can’t be desirable, though – but it definitely isn’t the haute style you’d imagine a foodie to have

One Trackback

  • By The Levels of Foodies | Wade Chi on November 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    [...] I am so glad people are writing about the “foodie phenomenon”. As you know from my earlier post, I very much dislike being called a foodie. Although the term is not really controversial, I think [...]

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