What makes something "Gourmet" [moved from General Topics]
- bolivianita Nov 2, 2006 06:41 PM
I would like help defining this. Was going to post some recipes to "gourmet casserole" in home cooking but is a casserole "gourmet"? A mac and cheese casserole makes me very happy. And mac and cheese is very "in" right now. Does that make it gourmet? Does it have to be in a gourmet cook book or mag. to be gourmet. I don't know. Just wondered...
A gourmet is a person with a discriminating palate and who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink. The word is a corruption of the French word gourmet, a valet in charge of the wines. It is often used as an adjective for meals of especially high quality, whose makers or preparers have used especial effort or art in presentation or cooking the meal, or for facilities equipped for preparing such meals, such as a restaurant.
Gourmet is often used to modify another noun: gourmet cooking; gourmet restaurants. [French, from Old French, alteration (influenced by gourmand, glutton; see GOURMAND) of groumet, servant, valet in charge of wines, from Middle English grom, boy, valet.] USAGE NOTE: A gourmet is a person with discriminating taste in food and wine, as is a gourmand. Gourmand can also mean one who enjoys food in great quantities. An epicure is much the same as a gourmet, but the word may sometimes carry overtones of excessive refinement.
Foodie is often used by the media as a conversational synonym for gourmet. The word was coined synchronously by Gael Greene and by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, co-authors of The Official Foodie Handbook (1984). But there are important distinctions to be made between the two terms. Some gourmets would not consider themseleves foodies and many foodies would not consider themselves gourmets. A foodie might easily get caught up in a taco hunt—a search for the best taco stands and trucks in an area.  But this would not be an adventure for a gourmet, strictly speaking. Generally speaking, a foodie is a person who has a special interest in food, even foods that a self-identified gourmet would turn his or her nose up at.
Certain events cater to people who consider themselves gourmets or foodies, such as wine tastings and Gourmet magazine. Publications often serve gourmets with food columns and features.
When you've got a chain called Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, I'm not sure the word has any meaning left.
Agreed. 40 years ago it meant something, same with de luxe. Now it's so overused it is meaningless, empty, and pretentious.
Respectfully disagree with the two above postings.
The fact that a word is abused doesn't deprive it of its meaning.
Case in mind, the word FRESH. Tomato cans carry it on the label, as well as restaurant chains. However we all agree (I assume) the word has a meaning of its own.
Some dishes take excruciating labors to concoct, or exquisite ingredients, or family secrets, or all of the above combined, and whenever tasted become a life changing experience. I'll always call that a GOURMET experience, irrespective of present and future marketing abuses of the word.
One possible way to think about it:
Mac and Cheese - from a box.
Gourmet mac and cheese - handmade noodles, perfectly aged gruyere cheese, Hungarian paprika, shredded Vidalia onions.
IMHO many who like to give the impression that they are gormet's really are not, its only gormet to them if you need a wheelbarrow of cash and a magnifing glass to see your food!
I saw the "Gourmet Casserole" topic in the Home Cooking board, where the title made me think that it was a recipe from Gourmet magazine. Which is about the only place I see the word any more.
It's whatever these things have in common:
Mille Lacs Gourmet Foods Beer Cheese Keg
Javafit Burn Functional Gourmet Coffee
Dave's Gourmet Insanity Salsa
Great Gourmet Super Surfer Country Crispy Clam Strips
Backpackers Pantry Gourmet Food Bag - Spicy cheese omelette
Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn
Best Friends Gourmet Dog Food
Gourmet, I think, molds to whatever it may be modifying, as an adjective. As I generally hear it, gourmet restaurant tends to imply higher quality ingredients, well-thought out/planned/intended preparation, and perhaps more exotic and innovative ingredients and prep. Gourmet dishes to me also imply higher quality or unusual ingredients or combinations of ingredients, and in the context of a gourmet dish for a dinner party, using ingredients that are often trendy. Gourmet dog food... less filler, less organs, more meat and untreated ingredients?
I think the advantage of using the word "gourmet," tacking it on gratuitously to whatever noun to increase that nouns's desirability, is the ability to automatically double the price. In my opinion, at this point, gourmet is merely a marketing strategy that succeeds on both ends-- it allows producers/sellers to charge higher prices, and it enables customers to feel like they are receiving a superior product (which inevitably often justifies to them the higher price).
Language is a living/changing things. Meanings and definitions change over time due to many factors, including marketing (which in the U.S. is a cultural phenomenon). Blame the new meaning of gourmet on marketing and culture.
The original definition is the best explanation of Gourmet I have come across. Yet ... Gourmet has been so OVER used that IMHO has lost it's value. ( Much like the word eclectic in describing a restaurant. Come on people,just because you can say the word doesn't mean 1: you're using it correctly, 2: or make you look smart.)