Many of my food-loving friends don’t consider themselves foodie. Many of my food-loving friends do consider themselves foodies. Restauranteurs hate foodies. My cousin hates foodies. I asked him why.
– They don’t cook and they sit around discussing how the food should be done.
He hit the nail on the head right there. I don’t cook, and I sit around saying this needs more salt and that needs less sugar. Does that mean I’m a foodie?
I’ve always thought that anyone who loves to eat as a hobby is a foodie. But apparently the term has grown to encompass more meanings, like the city of Houston that keeps annexing its neighbors. Here’s the list of reasons that Michael Procopio of Food for the Thoughtless does not consider himself a foodie:
1. Unless there is something truly interesting/odd/horrible about the food that is put in front of me, I tend not to Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, Pin(terest) or otherwise broadcast the food which is served to me in public spaces.
2. I couldn’t care less about the latest ingredient du jour. There is nothing inherently wrong with kale or quinoa or burrata, but they are things I could never get truly excited about. And I want to give anyone who hails any of these things as “amazing” a time out. Preferably in an undetonated Cambodian mine field.
3. Though I am not an avid follower of food trucks, I wish their owners all the success they can muster, chiefly so that they can one day afford a stationary home with a couple of tables, a few chairs, and a liquor license so that I might enjoy their culinary delights in relative comfort.
4. I think canning and jamming are marvelous, but I haven’t the patience or the cupboard space to perfect my techniques. The only pickling I do in the privacy of my own home is that which I do to my liver.
5. I eat ice cream over the sink in my underwear. And it is not necessarily locally made. Nor is my underwear, for that matter.
6. I happen to think that anything which calls itself “underground” isn’t.
7. I think organic is ideal, but I don’t always pay attention. Sometimes, I go for the bananas which are less expensive, but my enjoyment of said bananas is diminished when my Catholic guilt forces me to consider the person who labored to pick them. And not to think of them in their underwear.
8. I don’t feel like getting up at 7am to go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays and I’d rather stick leeches on my eyelids than go there during peak hours.
9. I love to cook in other people’s’ houses, but at home I often don’t cook unless I have to.
10. I don’t read cookbooks for their porn value. In fact, I rarely read them at all.
11. As the operator of a blog, I do not believe the food I make and consume part of my “lifestyle brand.” What I do believe is that this term and the people who use it deserve to be driven out to the nearest food desert and abandoned.
In this list, Number 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 apply to me exactly to the letter (except the Catholic guilt, I’m not Catholic). The other 3 items partially apply:
1. I blog about food, so naturally I Facebook and Tweet my posts. But I don’t Instagram and Pin(terest) because: (a) I don’t have a smartphone, (b) to take a picture of your food with your smartphone and upload it one second later is laziness. It requires no thought, it presents no opinion of what your food tastes like, and in most cases, your unedited smartphone picture actually makes the food look unappetizing.
4. I’ve pickled. Twice. The first time to prove to myself that I can pickle. The second time to compete (and won). But like Procopio, I have “neither the patience or the cupboard space to perfect my techniques.”
11. What does “lifestyle brand” mean? “You are what you eat”? As the operator of a blog, I do believe that my blog, and therefore the food I consume, is part of my lifestyle brand. A very integral part in fact, because every time it got hacked I went crazy (I couldn’t sleep, and I got mean over the phone with the Help Desk people). But what I eat at restaurants and what I eat in my apartment are two entirely different worlds (see #5 and #7). My alone dinners are often packaged ramen, microwaveable mac n’ cheese and microwaveable frozen pizza (because oven takes time). So I’ll be fine in a food desert. Does that mean I have multiple personalities?
If these 11 points define a “foodie”, then I conclude two things: 1. I’m not a foodie, and 2. unlike the lazy appearance of the word, being a foodie is hard work.
It takes time to figure out the trend and to follow it, then to abandon it for a new trend. It takes time to know the name of the chef who most recently entered stardom. As a physicist, I can understand why restauranteurs hate foodies. I often get asked about black holes, dark matter, string theory, parallel universe the moment someone finds out that I study physics. If the person acts like they know more physics than me when they don’t, at first I won’t be in my best mood. But physicists are also trained to welcome the public with open arms in their pursuit for knowledge. At least, they like it enough to read about it and to remember it, so we should encourage them and show them the things they haven’t known, not hate them.
As a food blogger, I hate Yelp reviews. There is a small number of good reviews in Yelp, and I think those reviewers should have their own blogs instead of wasting their effort in that wasteland of ignorance. But the ignorance is not a result of their inexperience in cooking. Sommeliers don’t necessarily make wines, art critics don’t necessarily paint, sports commentators are not necessarily athletes, so why do food critics have to cook? Just because cooking is something one can do at home doesn’t mean a food critic has to cook before she can taste. The only thing a connoisseur needs is a discerning palate. If your creation doesn’t taste good to me, it’s because it doesn’t taste good, not because I don’t know how many hours went into making it. Appreciating the effort should not have anything to do with appreciating the taste.
I don’t call myself an epicure, a gourmet or anything fancy like that because one should be modest about oneself. I call myself a food writer. And although it doesn’t seem like I fit the definition of a foodie, I won’t be offended if you call me a foodie.
My friends and cousin won’t hate me too much, I hope. 😉