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What is a "Foodie"?

  • k

When I was reading a post on another thread - "(buying)Instant coffee....
I feel like the Food Police are gunna hunt me down at the checkout and remove my "foodie" badge." - it got me thinking what exactly is a foodie?

If you derive great pleasure from eating something, should it matter what others think of it? Does it have to be expensive? Do you have to like offal? Can you be a connoisseur of fast foods or junk foods?

I'm interested in all your thoughts.

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    1. Well my friends started calling me a foodie because of my nosy questions. If they mentioned on the phone for example that they were eating dinner soon I would really want to know what they were having. So for me it's someone who is extremely interested in food, and not just their own food. But how about this: when I found chowhound I felt like I had come home.

      1. There are many definitions, I suppose, some kind and some unkind. I tend to think that foodies are people who "live to eat" instead of "eating to live."

        So in the case of the instant coffee poster, an "eat to live" type, when asked why he was purchasing said coffee, would say "It's quicker and easier and let's me get on with my day. A "foodie" when asked the same question will stare back at the questioner with a deer-in-the-headlights look and say "I just couldn't help myself. I . . I LOVE it!"

        But I'm projecting. That would be my response when caught with Shake 'n Bake. (Stop laughing!) Don't get me wrong, I'm not one-dimensional. No foodie is. I'll betcha that instant-coffee adherant is also helplessly attached to chocolate chip cookies or southern-style barbecue or pho or truffles or the perfect taco. Or all of those or none of those. A big budget does not a foodie make. A foodie is a person who is dedicated to good food. Cheap or pricey, domestic or ethnic, comfort or cutting edge -- these preferences do not exclude you from being a foodie. Ideally, a foodie is willing to try new tastes with an open mind, but we all have our limitations. I am not looking forward to the day when someone offers me durian, but if that day comes I hope I will be brave enough to overcome my innate prejudice against food that smells like dead stuff. Frankly, if the opportunity ever presents itself, I will probably cut and run and scream like a little girl. But I hope I won't, because the person offering it to me would be another foodie, and we should respect eachother. In a perfect foodie world, anyway.

        And to all of the posters who are considering blasting me about my opinion of a foodstuff I've never tried -- I know, I know. I'm sure durian is delicious. I am a flawed and imperfect foodie. As are we all.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chefbeth

          Sigh. I gave up a chance to try homemade chittlins once. I guess I knew deep down that I was a foodie when my favorite character in the Popeye cartoons was Wimpy. Sir I will gladly pay you tuesday for a hamburger today. That guy rocked! Another clue was when I noticed on weekends or other days I didn't absolutely have to leap out of bed I tended to lie there eyes closed slowly untangling myself from my dreams until I would think What delicious food can I eat today??? I would jump out of bed, brush my teeth and start deciding what to sink them into first!

          1. re: givemecarbs

            I think a foodie is interested in all food , high end and low end; for example,
            best hamburger, best foie gras, a true foodie will go out of his way to find both; I consider myself a foodie in theory because the subject interests me greatly, hence reading these forums for entertainment and to acquire knowledge , but deep down, I am not a real foodie, I sit through 2 hour dinners at fine restaurants and wish I could have a piece of grilled chicken and diced carrots and be done with it.

            I am more of a dessert foodie, I'll look at that part of the menu before ordering my main dish, or I'll pick a restaurant based on my knowledge of their great desserts.

          2. re: chefbeth

            Right on ChefBeth. And I am right there with you on the durian - tempted! but eeeewww!!!

            1. re: chefbeth

              Why get into it...however if you must, this is worth looking at, if only for fun, mockery and what not:


              1. It's something you melt with Smores.

                1. Am I the only one who can't stand this term? It's something I hope never to tagged as and I wouldn't use it to describe others either.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    i actually prefer it to "chowhound"

                    tho i kinda like "bellygod"

                    1. re: gloriousfood

                      I loathe it also. It's like "yummy" - a faux child-like word. American speech is too thick with infantalisms.

                      1. re: gloriousfood

                        What would you prefer to use to describe you and your love of food? Just curious.

                        Interestingly, another CHer that I was debating something with referred to me as a "foodie" (he was trying to be sassy) and then pointed out a portion of the CH manifesto which says this:

                        "We're not talking about foodies. Foodies eat where they're told. Chowhounds blaze trails. They comb through neighborhoods for culinary treasure. They despise hype. And while they appreciate ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by flash."

                        I don't think the CH powers that be can define the term "foodie" and differeniate it from the term "chowhound" in this way... not that it really matters one way or another. I think the terms mean the same thing.

                        You can call me foodie, gourmand, food-lover, Chowhounder - whatever. Just don't stand between me and my food! :--)

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          I'm someone who loves to eat. Period. So I guess "food lover" best sums it up.

                          The Chowhound manifesto doesn't describe me, b/c I HAVE been "fooled by flash" and don't necessarily "despise hype." Sometimes, a place more than lives up to its hype, and indeed, exceeds it.

                          But like you, just don't get in the way between me and my food! Don't poke the bear.

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Right on, It's not complicated a foodie is someone who at the core loves food. That love results in knowledge. When someone raves about the wonderful meal they had at Olive Garden they are not a foodie, they are a sheep following the shepherd of mass merchandising. The foodie finds the mom and pop place that serves the most amazing rice ball, noodle, taco, steak, pie, tapas, soup, lox, egg cream, bagel or biscuit. It's not a chore or a burden it comes naturally for us foodies. So I'm with you! I say call me what you will. Just don't call me late for dinner

                            1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                              While the chowhound might strive to find what's best at the Olive Garden and recommend that to fellow hounds who are required to be in attendance there. In fact, that has happened many times on these boards. Olive Garden is a reality, and hounds adapt as required, being less brittle than foodies in that regard.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                i respectfully disagree, but as i've said here already and other places as well, i do not go along with CH's negative definition of foodie, which i define the CH defines,well, a CH. Which is a word i'm not enamored with in the 1st place.

                                1. re: thew

                                  I find the difference instructive because it captures a reality that I illustrated. There is a difference, and it's helpful to have a word that captures it.

                                  1. re: thew

                                    Forget the ch v. foodie debate - once again, we're arguing semantics - labels. The question remains whether appreciating Olive Garden as much as possible is a good thing to do from the perspective of a person who loves to eat/lives to eat. The fact that it is a reality doesn't mean that it needs to be a part of the goals and aspirations of what makes us what we are. We're not going to learn anything. It is not deliciousness, we're not going out of our way to find it. We all have to do things out of obligation and the need for social interaction - so, yes it's reality that we might end up there. But to say that we should strive to somehow find deliciousness there is something else. It's something we have to do that just isn't part of our foodie/CH life. I would be sitting there thinking about how delicious a really good Italian meal would be... how each bite I was taking there is such a waste, and sad at how I had failed at steering these people over to something really worthwhile.

                                    1. re: applehome

                                      then you would be making any chance of enjoying yourself nearly impossible. I never eat in chain restaurants if i can help, don't get me wrong, but if i find myself in such a situation i would not spend my time bemoaning my fate, i'd be looking for the silver lining.

                                      I'm not saying to throw your taste out the window, and lose the distinction between olive garden and babbo. I'm saying that, to some degree, what you put into it determines what you get out of it.

                                      my 2ยข

                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          well... I'm certainly glad I brought you two together!

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            isn't it great fun and complete satisfaction to find that one item in a restaurant that they can do correctly or brings back a moment in your life that makes you feel good.

                                            Others may not like the following but it was a lunch that jfood looked forward to growing up. And it's not anything that most CHers appeciate or approve of, but fo jfood it is a warm hug from his childhood.

                                            And that hug comes from a BK Cheese Whopper no onions.

                                            So if you are in a place where you do not feel the food is perfect across the menu try to scan and give it your best shot. Hey, you never know.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              I understand all this - and I'm not nearly as much of a sourpuss as I make out to be when dragged along to these places.

                                              But the one tenet I hold true in all this, is the discovery of deliciousness. As Chowhounds or Foodies or whatever, we ought to be hunting down new places, new dishes, gaining new insights and learning what wonders there are out there.

                                              Eating at a chain is about the furthest you can get from discovery. Yes- there's great joy and I guess, "hugs" to be gained from familiarity. But what are we doing here on this site, telling each other what great hugs we get from BK whatevers over, and over again?

                                              I'm happy, honestly, that people, whether foodies or not, get great pleasure from these kinds of places - that they can find a fulfilling meal in their search for deliciousness at a chain. But you know what? That very same delicious meal is going to be there and at every location of that chain from here to China. It's not news. It's not an experience that teaches you anything more about food.

                                              Is it really great fun and complete satisfaction, when compared to eating at a Tapas bar in Spain or the best steak house in America? If it really is, perhaps your foodie/ch sites are just set too low.

                                              When I go to these places, I am eating to live (not just basic nutrition but most often in a social sense), I am not living to eat.

                                              1. re: applehome

                                                Agreed but then there are those posts that say "how dare they take me, the grand poobah of food to an Applebees", or there was one post who stated they would not go to a freind's BBQ because they dared to serve hot dogs and hamburgers.

                                                One must play the hand they are dealt and given the choice, a hand of 5-aces or a new found spot for great food is the best. But when you are placed in a situation at an Applebees or CF, you have to use those skills honed through finding the best falaffel to find the best they can offer at the time.

                                                Then go home and plan to hit that perfect hole in the wall the next day.

                                        2. re: applehome

                                          I agree. I occasionally have to go to chain establishments and I make the best of it. I wouldn't, however, waste my time posting about it on CH. I reserve that energy for posting about good food experiences.

                                          That's not to say that I can't enjoy a chic-fil-a chicken sandwich or a double cheeseburger at BK. I can and do on occasion. But I'd much rather hit a roadside shack slinging pork bbq & hushpuppies then give my $$$ to Olive Garden. I'm not going to encourage anyone to visit a chain resto when there are so many great mom & pop places out there struggling to stay open.

                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                            Sure we all end up in these places from time to time. Sure it's not always awful. Sometimes its even tasty. BK, Mickey D's, Olive Garden, Applebees- they all must please the masses or they could not exist. Its what I think of as "lowest common denominator" food. I aspire for more, I don't want a life of the common. I don't want to exist on pablum. I yearn for elevated experiences in my food and in my life. We can reach for the epicurean stars or settle for the slums of fast food-dom. GFL says go for it!

                                            1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                              Well, I don't want to reach for epicurean stars all the time, or even most of the time. My arms would sure be tired. I normally reach for high quality within the bands of the prosaic and quotidian.

                                              Usually, it's not a choice between stars vs slums; nor is the common necessarily pablum (in fact, it often isn't).

                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                As I said it's not always awful.. "prosaic and quotidian" Oh my you should have no trouble reaching high. Just stand on your dictionary.

                              2. A foodie, at risk of being overly officious, wanders constantly into his/her host's kitchen and peeks into the pots and asks questions. A foodie will walk 3 extra blocks in the rain for a better meal. A foodie will perfect a dish after 6 trials-and -errors at home. A foodie will find a modest no-name restaurant in a third-world country and sing praise from a mountaintop...foodies suffer heartburn, also.

                                1. 6 trials and errors would make him a foodie second class. A foodie first class gets it in three. A foodie sergeant gets heartburn and takes no tums! He takes it like a man (or woman...). A foodie captain, will gladly suffer dysentery and a hangover for that summer night out slurping oysters and chewing up cherrystones - and washing it all down with enough single malt to float back to Scotland (the disproved theory being: enough alcohol, and what bug could survive?).

                                  The foodie general... the foodie general searches the world, eating the best of every region. Truffles in the Piedmont. Tin cans of mussels and sardines in Barcelona. The most authentic sushi in Tokyo. He also cooks up incredibly delicious steak frites.

                                  If this were true, Anthony Bourdain would be a foodie general. The truth is that you could do worse than to watch his show (No Reservations on the Travel Channel) to get an understanding of what living to eat can be. If he ain't a foodie - more to the point - if he doesn't embody the foodie ideals, then nobody does, (although as a professional, he must be a gourmet rather than a foodie, based on wiki's definitions).

                                  To be serious for a moment, learning more and more about food is a big part of it. Constant curiosity and an open mind are absolute musts for a foodie. One sign of a foodie is a person that reads a lot about food - everything from cook books to biographies, food science and lore, and even novels about food.

                                  Check out Michael Ruhlman's blog to get another real foodie's insight into the love of food and cooking, (another wiki professional gourmet - ah heck with that distinction - he's a foodie). Checking out his books would be even better - but start with the blog. Bourdain actually posts on Ruhlman's page once in a while. Here's a link to his last post while he was filming his Spain episode. You'll have to go a ways to find something more expressive about the love of the food he was experiencing (and don't be fooled by the anonymous shtick - it's him). Look around the site while there, at Ruhlman's posts: