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Nov 16, 2009 07:43 PM

I'm a foodie and I'm proud

I wrote this post today on and I just wanted to take some snippets of it to post here to see what kind response it would get. I think it sums up the animosity behind the word foodie, but also looks at it from the other side. Here are the salient items and those relating to this website:

I have been reading all sorts of blog posts that are anti-foodie lately (of course, they’ve been around for quite some time, they’ve just recently been brought to my attention) and I’d like to clarify some things. The posts say that self-proclaimed foodies are snobby, don’t know much about food, enjoy luxury food because it is luxurious (and to the contrapositive DO NOT enjoy plebeian food because it is plebeian), and care more about the name of the chef, star rating, and exclusivity of the seat than the taste of the food. Going one step further, Chowhound officially denounces the group as people without minds of their own:

-------Foodies eat where they’re told.

This is probably more to stroke the egos of the people on the Chowhound message boards than anything else, since they go on to say, “Chowhounds blaze trails,” and “This discerning, passionate crowd has long been completely invisible and utterly disenfranchised” as if every single @%#$ing one of these underdogs that sign up for usernames on this message board is the first one to experience that special moment at each restaurant for the first time everywhere they go. How’s that for holier-than-thou?

Why would you choose to poo-poo a word at the expense of hypocrisy? Another post on the site again discounts foodies as sheeple, the irony being that it comes from someone so thoroughly taken with his identity in a word that his title at the newsmag is simply Chowhound-at-large. What would that person’s primary job responsibilities be? Despising hype? Not being fooled by flash? To find great food and tell other people about it? OK, so you’re a Chowhound and the rest of the people who read your posts are also Chowhounds; they’re most certainly NOT foodies who only eat where they’re told . . .

Am I missing something here? Jim’s posts on the Chowhound message board lead me to believe the guy is on the right track about bringing people over to the gourmand side, but he’s steering his flock in the wrong direction in his campaign, seducing them into the attribution of negativity to the word in question. I guess I’ll just have to chalk it up to pride in his website (in deference, he has every right to be proud; I use the site religiously).


Do I care where the food comes from? @#%$ yes I care where it comes from. After my first taste, am I about to blindly follow consensus or formulate my own opinion? Come on. Do I allow that there are people who go all Emperor’s New Clothes on each successive trendiest-spot-in-town? Absolutely.

The ascription of the negative foodie to someone is an assignment by a food snob. If they’re right, there are two pompous jerks involved in the transaction; if they’re wrong, only one.

I hope that clears things up.

If you'd like to read the rest of the post - You can check it out here:

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  1. A little bit of perspective:

    Before Chowhound, food media was obsessed with questions like "What are the five Best Restaurants in _____." Most mainstream media emphasized fine European dining. Even today if you look at Top Ten lists in the media, you will find only the most expensive places listed. Chowhound was finally a place you could actually yammer on about that amazing arepa you ate or that a meal in a third world country was equal to that of a temple of gastronomy.

    Yes, I knew a lot of people who talked about food. In my experience, most of those people who called themselves foodies only really cared about a very limited type of food. They weren't discussing ox stomach or even that great hamburger place around the corner.

    To give you one example: In Washington DC, where I live, Egullet was a prominent early food website. Of course it is a national site, but it had a particularly great following in DC. Honestly, almost every post was about "what are the top three restaurants in DC." Almost everyone agreed, and if anyone suggested a chef who wasn't famous, their selection was met with derision. Certainly there was little conversation about what they called 'ethnic' food, which would not have been given serious consideration.

    Flash forward to a few years after Chowhound. A moderator of the DC Egullet broke off with that site and started his own website. Almost everyone followed him to the new website. Slowly over time, the conversation shifted. Most of the posts are now about casual places, taco carts, and exotic food, alongside the posts about some of the most expensive meals around.

    Yeah, foodie was (and still is) a pejorative term in my mind. I think Chowhound has changed the landscape, and it is still the best place for knowledgeable and thorough food info and to encourage people to explore in their own backyard.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Great explaination of why the term foodie is not preferred by people who like to eat without pretension, Steve. You said it much better then I could have.

      I just wanted to chime in and give credit where credit is due. Chowhound came way before egullet. Egullet's founder, Jason Perlow was a frequent poster on the Tri-State and New York City boards and left this site to create egullet in or around 2001.

      1. re: KTinNYC

        I learn something new every day. Thanks for the info.

        I wonder why, if foodie is not inherently pejorative, there is no

        For the OP, try this experiment: If you see posted on another food-oriented website the standard "What is the best restaurant in the city, money is no object" question, respond by suggesting a hole-in-the-wall, a fantastic Korean or Soul Food joint that only you know about. Then see what kind of response you get.

        1. re: Steve

          This reminds me of what Ruth Reichl wrote about in Garlic and Sapphires. She said she'd write about hole in the wall places and was slammed for it.

          1. re: Steve

            The problem is that when money is no object, the decor and service seep into the review. If you put on two identical pairs of shoes and one has a swoosh, what are we subconsciously thinking about quality?

            My point is that "foodie" is a pejorative term because of other food snobs.

            1. re: The Wandering Foodie

              There is nothing subconscious about it. I think everyone is VERY conscious of their enjoyment of things like service, ambience, and plating. Including me.

              I'm not saying I do not enjoy these things or that I am putting down people who enjoy these things. But I am saying that you can receive just as much excitement and satisfaction from the service and ambience and, yes, even the plating of very humble surroundings, but in a different way.

              Outside of Chowhound, most self-proclaimed foodies I've met don't think this way, and I think the Chowhound Manifesto has always served an important purpose in this regard.

              It's just simply a geeky word. I'm a foodie, I'm a trekkie, I'm a sport-ie, I'm a book-ie... I'm a junk-ie?.... yes, there are people who announce it proudly. I immediately wonder if they realize that not everyone thinks it's such a good thing.

        2. re: Steve

          I also think that Jim Leff channeled some of the perspective of the best food writer in the US in the past generation, John Thorne (Simple Cooking; Serious Pig; Pot on the Fire; Outlaw Cook; Mouth Open Wide, et cet.), who had a noticeably different approach to food and restaurants from the food writing establishment (which of course read Thorne assiduously anyway; when Thorne rights about something, the topic and variations thereon often end up in food writing elsewhere for years go come). In the early years of Chowhound, this was at times a reference point.

          1. re: Karl S

            Just found this posting via vanity googling.

            Thorne's a God, and I'd be honored to be accused of channeling him....or even ripping him off. But I was actually late to the party; I'd been writing reviews, articles, and books long before finding him. And thank god, too, because if I'd found him earlier, I'd have found the gravitational field inescapable.

            If by bumping this thread I've drawn attention to Thorne, awesome. Go see his stuff (and definitely subscribe to his must-have newsletter!) at

            1. re: Jim Leff

              I used to enjoy reading "What John Had For Breakfast".

        3. Personally, I find it amusing and pretentious when anyone claims to have the final word on a inherently subjective issue.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jase

            If you think that about this "final word," you didn't read the whole post.

            1. re: The Wandering Foodie

              I read what's here, and don't really have any interest in going to your site to read the rest. If you want to start a discussion here, you can only expect people to be ocmmenting on what you post here. If you want people to read all your thoughts, post them here.

              1. re: Chris VR

                I only indicated that you didn't read the whole post because you must have gone to my website to get the title of the post . . . I guess you could have just moused-over the link, but that wouldn't really serve any purpose.

          2. I don't mind being called a foodie; I think of myself that way. I'm the poorest, least snobby eater there is, but I love and am interested in all aspects of food. I didn't know until the happy day I stumbled on Chowhound that some people look down on people who call themselves foodies. Isn't that kind of snobby?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parrotgal

              parrotgirl, you took the words out of my mouth. I am a foodie, and love everything about food, my restaurants may not be the best in the burg, but expensive does not always mean best. I think that some of these rich, only go to the top rated restos are not foodies, foodies love food whetherr its from a local pizza joint, high end steak house, taco stand, etc as long as its good. We are about the food not atmosphere or chef!

            2. I think disparaging "Foodies" is bogus. What is more recognizable, foodie or chowhound?
              Foodie is slang. It seems that for some it's a word that's hard to pin down. Look at the word. It says, "I like food" or "I like food a lot!"
              I call myself a foodie. I call myself a chowhound. I don't like that the Chowhound Manifesto denigrates foodies; not that anyone seems to think the Manifesto is relevant nowadays...
              Originally there needed to be a label to cast scorn upon, like a catch-phrase or sound bite.
              I think a long, drawn-out explanation of what chowhounding is about is better than "it would be horrible to be a foodie". I mean, after all, we're not Gourmands, are we?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Scargod

                Foodie is not slang, it is an epithet. A very geeky epithet. Like Trekkie.

                But I am with PJ SNS on this, I don't like labels. So if you are going to call me anything, just call me to dinner.

                1. re: Scargod

                  Okay, now, do you or do you not like the CH Manifesto???

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Does a solid manifesto define itself by telling you what it's not?

                    1. re: The Wandering Foodie

                      Definition from Merriam Webster

                      ": a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer"

                      I don't know why it would preclude saying what it's not. Religions and political parties to name just two frequently include what it's not as well as what it is. If I join an organization only to find out that one of their core beliefs (would that be a manifesto?) is opposite mine, then I would just leave that group. No big deal, eh? Plenty more out there, right?

                      And, just fyi, I was replying to Scargod, who has a "thang" for the CH Manifeso. But after posting I found out that he's in the penalty box so won't be able to reply for a while.

                2. Is it really necessary to call yourself a chowhound or a foodie?

                  Perspective: That's coming from a jaded guy who loves all kinds of food but hates cutesy nicknames. I just don't see the need for the labels.