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whatever happened to the general distaste for the 'foodie' label?

i feel like gramps sitting by a fire, muttering into his beard: 'used to be a big deal not to be a 'foodie'. foodies ate where zagats told them to and eagerly chased trends. foodies knew what was trendy, what the buzz was. foodies faithfully parroted restaurant critics. but now people proudly label themselves as foodie. the worlds gone mad.'

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  1. Maybe it's because us foodies grew up and gained the discernment needed to trash their Zagat guides and formulate their own opinions. Also, frequent feedback from the hounds, egullet, etc. have helped develop our naive enthusiasm into a full-fledged and well-developed passion.

    Since first becoming a "foodie" post-college, I've managed to spend some time at the CIA, work in the restaurant business, and have come to personally understand that the moniker "celebrity chef" doesn't mean crap when it comes to talent, respect for women and overall value as a human being.

    That's my story, at least. And I will wear the name proudly for as long as I can provide value to to the label.

    1. How about because only the creaters of Chowhound actually believed that crap about the definition of foodie that they use.

      4 Replies
      1. re: dinwiddie

        Indeed! All of the people I know who call themselves "foodies" (myself included) do so because they love food! We love to eat, to cook, to find out about restaurants, different foods, etc. It's never been about following trends, celebrity chefs, etc. Only around this website is "foodie" a bad word.

        1. re: wyf4lyf

          I agree. The derogatory term is "trendies."

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I agree. The only place I've heard that derogatory definition of foodie is by the creators of this board. The cutesy aspect of the word kind of bugs me but I don't have a better term (I also dislike the cutesyness of the term chowhound).

          2. re: wyf4lyf

            I'm glad to hear you say that "only around this website is "foodie" a bad word." After joining this site and seeing how people on here despised the term (and thinking..."if the Hounds think this way, it must be so") I insisted that my husband stop referring to me as a "foodie" when he told friends/family/coworkers about my passion for food, my food blog, my cooking etc. He thought I was insane because, like you, he thought it meant being someone who "loves to eat, to cook, to find out about restaurants, different foods, etc."

        2. While "foodie" sounds a bit too cute for my taste, I would rather be called a foodie than a "food whore," a term which describes a few people I've encountered.

          5 Replies
          1. re: jillp

            To me a food snob is worse. They would never eat at a roach coach. They only can love truffles and pate. Any food prepared well is good food.

            1. re: Janet

              I agree about "food snob". To me a "food snob" cares more for the atmosphere, ambiance and frou factor than the food itself.

              1. re: muimi07

                "Snob" is about looking down on something. I call myself a fruit snob, since I find most of what's available unripe, inedible, and an offense against the natural order.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I guess Iam a fruit snob, too. Can't stand bad fruit. I am from the Boston area, and was in North CArolina for vacation earlier this summer- brought back lots and lots of peaches. Best I ever had. Bought some awesome Maine blueberries this weekend, tiny and sweet, and have been enjoying them ever since.
                  I also will have to admit that I am a french fry snob. Don't eat them that often, usually cook them myself at home when I do have them.

              2. re: Janet

                Oooh, I'd forgotten about food snobs, and I know a few of those folks, too.

            2. forget this board and their demonic creators for a second, don't you just cringe saying 'foodie'? it is SUCH a ghastly word, it even vaguely rhymes with 'puppy' in a poetic licensy kinda way. 'hound' is so much better, so much more evocative of sniffing the air for interesting scents.

              and fyi, we had a discussion about this a long, long time ago on the boards if i remember well. 'chowhound' turned out to have its honorable roots in hipster talk. foodie sounds so close to gluttony as a word and is so wine spectatorish as a concept that it puts me in a positively vile mood thinking of all you good people proudly using it.

              i think i'll once again go read the feature on chow that tells me how to prepare for a great meal to recover.

              2 Replies
              1. re: howler

                I cringe when I hear "foodie." It's that "-ie" diminutive I find irritating, like Trekkie.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  Exactly! If you've ever seen the film "Trekkers" , and seen the hilarious discussion amoung the biggest freakin' geeks on the entire planet about why they need to be called "Trekkers" instead of the offensive "Trekkies"...then it becomes embarrassing to debate the foodie lable.

                  My mother calls me a foodie, my friends call me a food snob, and I'm pretty sure the guy at the Whole Foods meat counter calls me "that bitch who has to smell everything first".

              2. "I've been a foodie all of my life (the part that I remember, at least) and proud of it! This website is cool, but the "chowhound" label is rather cutesy and contrived. We know who we are: people who are serious about good, authentic food. What we call ourselves is a matter of supreme indfference to most of us, I suspect.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pikawicca

                  Agreed! I have no shame in being labled or calling myself a foodie. I have for many many years.

                2. Even before Chowhound, I felt 'foodie' is perjorative.

                  And I still think so.

                  1. I apologize in advance for not having the specific info at my fingertips, but I believe "foodie" is a pejorative term coined by a restaurant critic/food writer in the early 80's. Personally, I can't stand the word(for other reasons than the above---it's cutesy and bandwagonesque), but, then, I'm aware of it's origins. Most are not. I have friends who consider themselves "foodies." Who am I to burst their bubble? It's harmless, really.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: aelph

                      aelph, you're mostly right. The word was coined synchronously by Gael Greene and by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, co-authors of The Official Foodie Handbook (1984). Greene is a restaurant critic - mostly known for her work with New York Magazine.

                      Whether or not you consider yourself a foodie really seems to depend on which side of the fence you fall regarding its controversial synonym with the term gourmet.

                      I find it surprising that other than this board, folks seem to be shocked that foodie is a pejorative term. Elsewhere than chowhound, this term has connotations. The wonderful thing about language is that different words mean different things to different folks. If you're happy being a foodie, go with it. As for me, I find the term incredibly distasteful and, to agree with aelph, "bandwagonesq."

                      1. re: gini

                        Maybe it's a regional thing. In the San Francisco area, being a foodie is a pretty average thing.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Also, I'm very skeptical that the term was coined by those writers. I suspect it was in common use and they picked it up. I'm pretty sure my crowd was using it circa 1980 in San Francisco, and that we didn't think of it as a pejorative.

                          Certainly in New York things might have been different, since so many people there had their priorities out of whack. "All you people ever do is talk about what to eat, eat, and talk about what you've eaten!" as one acquaintance from those days said before moving back to the East Coast.

                          Oh, wait, here's one of the Official Foodie Handbook's authors on the matter:

                          "First question: who invented the F word? 'We don't know,' he says. 'I thought I did, Ann thought I did, a lot of the people around the office claimed it - Ann and I certainly published it first. It was probably a product of the collective unconscious.'"

                          Also, the beginning of that book:

                          "What is a Foodie? You are probably. A Foodie is a person who is very very very interested in food. Foodies are the ones interested in food in any gathering - salivating over restaurants, recipes and radicchio. They don't think they are being trivial - Foodies consider food to be an art, on a level with painting and drama. It's actually your favourite art form."

                          If that's pejorative, it's extremely tongue-in-cheek.


                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Well that (thankfully) counts me out because food is NOT an art form.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              While Ann and Paul were first noted with using the word in print, it was Gael Greene who began describing "foodies" in the way in which we're talking.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Which of the ways we're talking? Descriptively, pejoratively, or halfway-between ironically?

                              2. re: gini

                                Thank you for doing the legwork!

                                I find it quite interesting that this initially pejorative term has translated across time to something celebrated...an avatar, almost. I don't employ "foodie" as a personal descriptor.
                                However, even though I'd like to share my knowledge of the term's origins with my self-described foodie friends, I hesitate in so doing; I'm afraid I'd color their descriptor with displeasure when my intent is merely to inform.

                            2. I say, much like the queer community, let us embrace the pejorative and make it our own!

                              1 Reply
                              1. reverse-approbation "foodie" style!

                                1. We are Food Lords. What's more to say...?

                                  1. LOL - I got all the way to Morton's post - thought I'd be the first old radical to raise the banner of "reclaiming" a perjorative. I remember my lesbian friends talking earnestly about "reclaiming the color pink" - guess they were tired of lavendar. Now we even have the S/O/L/E movement - love it! Sustainable/Organic/Local/Ethical...

                                    I dislike cutesy stuff like others above - have never signed my name with a happy face - ever. But, gourmet often sounds exclusionary or snobbish I think to many.

                                    Personally, at this point, you can call me what you like, just don't call me late for dinner!

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: jacquelinec

                                      You made the point I was going to (there is a reason to read replies before posting!) -- "gourmet" and for that matter, "gourmand" sound stilted and annoying. I don't want to eat with a "gourmet" -- I want to eat with someone who loves food.

                                      My dislike for "foodie" isn't so much intellectual or ideological -- it's visceral -- I think it sounds ugly, even reads ugly. The sound of the word is grating to me, and always has.

                                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                                        A gourmand is someone who eats too much. Or at least, that's what it means in French. I guess in English it's synonymous with gourmet. That's too bad.

                                        1. re: gini

                                          A gourmand is someone who eats *a lot*. It doesn't necessarily have a negative connotation.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Actually, gourmand has two meaning, according to our friend webster:

                                            Etymology: Middle English gourmaunt, from Middle French gourmant
                                            1 : one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking
                                            2 : one who is heartily interested in good food and drink

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              That's the American spin on it. Anything hedonistic smacks of sin.

                                      2. yeah it used to bother me but now i take pride in it, because i think it's said by non-chowhounds defensively, as if they subconsciously sense that they're lacking in taste and our knowledge in food is threatening.

                                        but what i CAN'T STAND is high-maintenance. Am I high maintenance for asking for dressing on the side?!?!? In a nation where lettuce and accoutrements are drowned into indistinction by fatty dressing?!?!

                                        there is no better way to label yourself as insecure than by using pejorative labels on other people.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: amandine

                                          Or how about picky?!? I really, really hate that!

                                        2. There are those who love delicious food, and those who love to discover new delicious food. It's not about the love for food but about a certain kind of intellectual independence, seeking out and deciding for oneself.

                                          1. Robert,

                                            I agree that Gael Greene was perhaps the greatest popularizer of "foodie" in the mass media. I'm not aware of her ever using the term pejoratively, and she definitely included herself in that category.

                                            1. I have always called myself a foodie. Why is that a bad word anyway? I have never owned a Zagat book, and have hardly used one to find a restaurant.

                                              I am a foodie, but for some reason Chowhound has a different definition.

                                              I am not a gourmet however, which I personally think has a negative connotation.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Parrot Fish

                                                apart from whatever connotation the word 'foodie' has picked up, the very SOUND of it is nasty. its - and i admit this isn't the strongest analogy - like calling dessert 'sweeties'.

                                                "and our sweeties special tonight is ...." ugh.

                                                you see what i mean. cutesy. nerve scrapingly shudderingly cutesy. i'd almost go so far as to say that your chowradar needs a complete overhaul if you don't automatically cringe at the word.

                                                1. re: howler

                                                  I personally don't like to be referred to as foodie or chowhound or whatnot as it seems to be used as some sort of elitist badge of honour. Can't I just say I love eating and cooking?

                                                  1. re: Blueicus

                                                    Not unless you want to out yourself as a foodie.

                                                2. I would consider myself, at times, a food snob, which I have always felt was someone that paled at the thought of Applebees and the ilk. I love diners and some roach coaches, but I know my way around a French menu.

                                                  The term "chowhound" sounds a lot more gluttonous and dirty to me than foodie. My dog is a chow hound, she is certainly not a foodie, food snob or gourmand.

                                                  We have to label ourselves some way and I understand wanting to separate ourselves from our French cousins.

                                                  An earlier poster mentioned that foodie is a perjorative in the same way as liberal is, that's no problem for me.

                                                  1. the word "foodie" makes me think of rachael ray saying " E-V-O-O". they both share an e and two o's. shudder...i dislike descriptors like this that end in "ie," as people have noted. not so much because it's cutesy, but because i think of hippies and yuppies, and other hideous things. however, unlike someone earlier in the thread, i would be proud to be called a "food whore."

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: augustiner

                                                      Hey, I'm also the proud daughter of two hippies. I'd hardly call them hideous things. Guess that's why I don't mind the foodie moniker. Though I am alternately known as a "food whore" and "restaurant slut" - again, two names I'll wear proudly for my passion.

                                                    2. forget the connotation of the word 'foodie'. don't you just hate how it sounds?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: howler

                                                        it sounds like it always has quotation marks around it - but them, so does "chowhound" enunciated at the intro of the chow tour bits.

                                                      2. Gosh, if I were thin-skinned, I could take this whole discussion personally.

                                                        I chose this moniker when the new software prevented me from being e.d. which I had used for years.

                                                        I pretty much figured that no one even remembered the Jim Leff silliness about chowhounds and foodies, so I was surprised to find it reprinted again at this version of the site. Oooops.

                                                        I didn't spend a long time coming up with the handle as I was in a hurry to post. Also I kindof liked how Phoo D punned on my academic degree. In addition, there were problems with other names I thought about: Al Pastor (which I love, but someone else had used it in the past), Al Fresco (again, the same problem), Jimmy Chonga (except I prefer my burritos not to be deep fried), or Dim Somebody (which is perhaps too self-deprecating).

                                                        Anyway, since I hate to use a word that so upsets some people and gets howler howling again, I will send a request into the folks here at chowhound to change me over to Ed Dibble, which at least preserves the old e.d. sortof.


                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Phoo D

                                                          Eh... I liked the old name better!

                                                          1. re: Phoo D

                                                            "Piled Higher and Deeper" was already taken? (vbg)

                                                          2. lol

                                                            here i was worried you were going to be tay stee.

                                                            1. I am proud to call myself a foodie, a chowhound, and a foodpornaholic!

                                                              1. I don't mind being called a foodie... I think most of us use that because we don't really know how to describe ourselves. Also, most of the general population I know, don't know what the hell a "foodie" is!!

                                                                I usually just say that I'm obsessed with food, cooking, and restaurants, which I guess could have a negative connotation, but no one ever takes it as that.

                                                                I don't like gourmet or gourmand because that insinuates that I only like gourmet food, when in fact I love the best greasy cheeseburger in town just as much as I like a good seared scallop, or whatever!

                                                                1. Foodie was never a negative term. Not on the westcoast anyway.

                                                                  1. I don't know why, but I cringe a little when I hear the word "foodie" and that was before I knew Jim Leff's feelings on the term. I'm not sure what I like instead, however. Maybe it's the self-appointed labeling to set yourself apart that I don't like. I would rather hear someone briefly describe themselves relative to their relationship with, and appreciation of, food rather than use a moniker. It seems so non-specific. Then again, I don't like to hear the infantile "yummy" to describe anything from foie gras to a pop-tart.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: SunnysideUp

                                                                      The labels come after the fact. What sets us apart is insisting on walking or driving the extra 15 minutes or hour or two hours to get to the better food.

                                                                      I stop reading when I encounter "sammy."

                                                                    2. To me and many of my friends here in SF, "foodie" is negative, akin to being a groupie. As in being focused on the superficial, not the substance. Just like a groupie doesn't really care about the music or the particular band member they're with as long as he or she can get backstage, a foodie is less concerned about the quality of the food and more concerned about being a scoop junkie and hitting all the newest restaurants.

                                                                      But it takes a thriving food scene to create these people. If you don't have that kind of scene, I can see how "foodie" might just mean someone who cares and knows about food.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Grubbjunkie

                                                                        My friends and I started self-identifying as foodies around 25 years ago, when the SF food scene was arguably thriving even more than it is today.

                                                                        I wonder if the attitude that "foodie" is pejorative wasn't brought here by more recent arrivals.