“Foodie” – Yet another opinion of the oddly controversial title

March 10, 2009 at 1:07 pm (My Propaganda, Of interest to Foodies, Rants) (, , , , )

Tattoo pic by Lady Luck tm on flickr, "Taking Photo" pic by adactio on flickr, "Baked goods smell awesome" pic by fd on flickr, "Cheese bread and grapes" pic by fd on flickr.

Tattoo pic by Lady Luck tm on flickr, "Taking Photo" pic by adactio on flickr, "Baked goods smell awesome" & "Cheese bread and grapes" pic by fd on flickr.

So the food-loving online community is apparently in an uproar over this little word. After poking around, I’ve concluded there are 3 main camps:  

1: Those who wear it as a badge of slightly-silly honor, “I love good food, and I think knowing about food is neat!”

2: Those who think the word “Foodie” is too silly. “Why are we putting -ie on the ends of words? Goofballs.”

3: Those who’ve come to know the word in a negative light. “Saying you’re a foodie is saying you’re a horrific food snob.”

I belong firmly in the first group, and kind of stare in surprised wonder at the other two. Camp #2 doesn’t upset me much. The existance of camp #3 bothers me quite a bit. Clearly, there have been some obnoxious and stuck-up people in certain parts of the country walking around calling themselves “foodie” and it’s tainted the word for huge swathes of the population. Shame, I say! Shame!

Early on in the word’s popularity, I looked up the definition on the web. It was difficult to find these same articles now, since there has been a veritable explosion of discussion on the topic, but I finally rooted them out for reference in this post.  http://www.slashfood.com/2006/02/10/what-is-a-foodie-anyway/ A rather long quote from the above short article:

“To be a foodie is not only to like food, but to be interested in it. Just as a good student will have a thirst for knowledge, a foodie wants to learn about food. A foodie will never answer the question “What are you eating” with “I don’t know.” There are some basic traits of being a foodie, as there are basic traits that come with all labels. Generally, you have to know what you like, why you like it, recognize why some foods are better than others and want to have good tasting food all or certainly most of the time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat “Flaming Hot Cheetos” every now and again, but it does mean that you don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s a nutritionally balanced meal.”

This was published in 2006.  Here is an excerpt from http://www.foodieprints.com/item/167/catid/22 , published in mid-2007:

“Like gourmets, foodies collectively can make or break a restaurant. They have created a large complement of blogs, wikis, and even magazines where large online and off line communities pour over reviews. However, foodies will embark on activities that gourmets will not. For instance, foodies will spend time looking for the “perfect” taco or hamburger, honest everyday foods. Whereas, self-identified gourmets find such pursuits beneath them.”

I consider this to be the essence of the matter. A gourmet, just like a foodie, COULD  be a snob. Doesn’t have to be! He or she may simply be well-off and addicted to the traditional finer foods available in high-end restaurants, and be a super-nice person. But it’s possible for a foodie to be inappropriately aloof also. Just the same as anyone. I don’t believe that any of the words in question:  gourmet, foodie, epicure, etc. should immediately bring bile-inducing snobbery to mind. foodsnob

Anyone can be a snooty jackass, their love for food is not an indicator one way or the other.  I am not aware of a term that refers only to the snobby sector of food lovers. But as commented in the above quotes, gourmets are more interested in traditional and ‘refined’ food, for the most part, whereas the Foodie is interested in a wide range of food topics, to include both Smoked Salmon Pate and/or the most fabulous tasting elephant ear at the fair and what type of oil is used to fry it.

In my opinion, foodies (And gourmets, for that matter) may or may not be occupied with the actual preparation of foods. You don’t have to be skilled in food prep to be either one. But it is often the case! I’m good with cooking and baking, and it seems that many Foodies are. After all, if you have an opinion about the right way to do something… and if you want something done right…. you do it yourself! Heh.

Here is a blog post about the title “foodie” and why this chap has decided that he doesn’t like foodies, or the term. It seems like he’s determined that the amazingness of food should be played down, and that social and economic concerns in developing countries should prevent westerners from romanticizing and writing cookbooks about said country’s cuisine. He’s clearly got a lot more going on than just disliking the term “foodie”, but it is a good example, I think, of the stigma that a lot of people feel is attached to the title. http://mightyminnow.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/dawn-of-the-foodies-americas-most-obnoxious-clique/ Here’s an excerpt:

A superb example of "How not to be", weather your passion is organics, or just good food in general.

A superb example of "How not to be", whether your passion is organics, or just good food in general.

“Of course, you will never see a foodie at the local Sudanese joint—which, by the way is where I spend most of my time—banging on about how zesty, moist, and tender the lamb is. You will catch a foodie nowhere near the Sierra Leonean place asking whether the fufu is made from yams, plantains, or cassava (my favorite), and which of the three is best. No! The foodie would not be caught dead anywhere near where real people eat.”

I find these statements to be completely off the mark, because not one foodie I know (or have heard of online) wouldn’t leap at the chance to try Sudanese food, or, if they had the blessing of knowing the various ingredient variations of fufu, wouldn’t cheerfully ask which was used, and subsequently devour it with relish! Being a foodie is about being hungry to know more about food, and cuisine that comes from a different culture is treated with special respect and particularly keen interest!  It’s also interesting that the foodie definitions he cites at the bottom of the article, though, do not seem to strongly support his assertions that foodies are melodramatic ethnocentric snobs.

So.

Camp #3: Simmer down some! It’s very likely not your fault that you have a bad impression of the word. But this is something that a great many people consider to be great fun (Fresh new title!), a friendly and bright interest that involves zero snobbery, and if the word is a tad silly sounding, hey – – We’re cool with that, you know? (Camp #2, that bit’s for you guys!)

I am a foodie. I’m proud to wear the title, even if I risk being assumed a snob by some, -I truly hope the stigma will wear off with time. In the meantime, I will do my best to model the correct, accepting, and fun-loving meaning of the term.  Thanks for reading!

Foodie definition What is a foodie What does foodie mean

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5 Comments

  1. Abdul Kargbo said,

    Sy,

    Thank you so much for linking to my foodie post. I have to admit I caught more flak—from friends and strangers alike—for that post than for any other post I’ve written. It just goes to show how seriously people take their food. :-)

    My problem with the term foodie certainly covers Camps 1, 2, and 3, but for different reasons and to different extents. I don’t mind the silliness of the term, but I do think it glosses over the class issue. In the US (and presumably Britain, where the term “foodie” was coined in reference to rich London restaurant patrons), there’s no doubt that a certain minimum level of comfort or material abundance is required before one can proclaim themselves a foodie. For sure, there may be less affluent people in, say, New England or Oklahoma who love steamed mussels and barbecue ribs (or really any other type of food) respectively but these people do not spring to mind when I think of foodies. This is partly because I’ve never met a foodie who was not well off, and the self-declared foodies I see on TV (Food Network, anyone) do not exactly come off as people of the earth. Now I’m not saying my view is singularly correct: it’s just where I’m coming from.

    And I do take some issue with the people who wear the term foodie as a badge of honor, simply because they are not the only ones who like good food. In fact, everyone likes good food. It’s just that for the majority of the world’s population, the ability to choose “good” food is a luxury. Most of the world’s people eat to avoid starvation, to stay alive. Yes, everyone enjoys good food and most people (I hope) enjoy the food they have to eat. Some—like impoverished Haitians who have to eat mud cakes (made from actual mud)—presumably do not enjoy eating what they must in order to survive. But the notion that a foodie is simply someone who likes good food is a bit . . . dare I say it? . . . silly. It’s not like there’s a group of people there that does not like good food. Or even food for that matter (OK, not counting people with eating disorders). So what sets a self-proclaimed foodie apart from the rest of humanity? Let’s see. Everyone likes good food, but foodies are the ones who announce to the world that they like good food. It would be like a group of people deciding that they like air. Everyone needs air to survive, but these people—let’s call them “airies”—decide to make their love of air a defining attribute.

    At the end of the day, everyone—not just foodies—likes food and, those of us who can, will seek out more interesting and exotic foods. But most people eat to stay alive. And yes, while most societies and families have created elaborate rituals around eating, food is just food and those of us who are fortunate enough to not have to eat merely to survive ought to remember that. And we should also be sensitive and honest enough to recognize that we are indeed very fortunate that food and eating have become, for many of us, a luxury, a leisure activity whose pursuit inspires people to label themselves foodies.

    Thanks again for linking to my blog, and for giving me the chance to weigh in.

  2. 3clair said,

    Hello foodie girl :D

    First.. thanks a lot for your visit.

    Second.. It’s my first time to know about the term “foodie”, so thanks again.

    Third.. I’m Indonesian, though not a Sundanese, I live in the Sundanese region (a real good coincidence right??). There are a ton of kinds of food here, so when you a have a chance to visit Indonesia, try everything. But of course, in my opinion, you should avoid eating in a big restaurant or cafe, they usually would serve you some European or American food, and rarely Indonesian one. And you should a strong stomach too, for Indonesian food usually really hot (use a lot of chili); and when you search for traditional food, maybe you would find that the cleanliness standard here not as high as yours. But they’re tasty and also unique.

    Fourth.. Have you heard about “lotek” or “gado-gado”?? They are Indonesian style of salad. Very tasty, healthy, and of course cheap :D

  3. spring said,

    :-) love it

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