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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 www.foodie.com

        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 http://www.outlawcook.com/

            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.


                  1. "Can't we all just get along?" - Rodney King

                    1. I know what I like and I know what I don't like.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jacquelines

                        I'm not sure what your post has to do with this thread. But I can say that I reject the shopworn "I know what I like." Nobody is born liking opera or reading long novels. You have to work your way up to certain things in life, and developing an acquired taste in food is one of them.

                        However, it's not easy. It does take a whole lot of faith that a taste is worth acquiring.

                      2. jfood thinks the first sentence of the second paragraph of the manifesto should be deleted.

                        In HS jfood's pricipal would say, "I do not care if you are white, black, purple or green, get your hat, get your coat, you're going home."

                        Important lesson, labeling others in a derogatory statement is just wrong.

                        1. It is nice to be proud. Of what, though?

                          1. "Going one step further, Chowhound officially denounces the group as people without minds of their own:"

                            Yes - and it's probably the biggest load of old tosh that anyone will ever read on this site.

                            I don't like labels - I don't have one for myself and I don't have one for others. However, if I had to make a choice between describing myself as a foodie or as a Chowhound (as defined by the CH manifesto) - then I choose foodie every time. The CH manifesto is one of the pretentious bits of prose that I can imagine has been written about food. Perhaps that's why, here in the UK, there's more general information/discussions about good places to eat on egullet than CH.

                            41 Replies
                            1. re: Harters

                              "Perhaps that's why, here in the UK, there's more general information/discussions about good places to eat on egullet than CH."

                              I'm not sure what your point is but it could be:
                              A) Popularity = right.
                              B) People in the UK are less pretentious.
                              C) You, Harters, are a far less pretentious person than people who accept the CH Manifesto.

                              What about the CH Manifesto isn't true?

                              1. re: Steve

                                <What about the CH Manifesto isn't true?>

                                This: Foodies eat where they're told. Chowhounds blaze trails.

                                If Chowhounds confined themselves to "blazing trails," then once a Chowhound has eaten at a restaurant, other Chowhounds should not eat there, because the trail is already blazed. Yet an awful lot of posts on the regional boards are by people asking to be told where to eat. Shouldn't these people be off blazing? Did someone let the Foodies in? OMG, OMG, get the pitchforks and torches

                                1. re: small h

                                  The Chowhound Manifesto does not assume a Chowhound has "confined themselves" to anything. Those are your words.

                                  Basically, Jim Leff started his own club and is defining what it is to be a true member. Of course, anybody who signs up can call themselves a Chowhound, but to be a true Chowhound, you have to be willing to explore.

                                  Personally, I explore readily in my own neck of the woods, and to some extent when I travel.

                                  But if I am going to be somewhere unusual, I would like to benefit from someone else's great discovery and insight. That's the sole reason why people post in the first place, so that others can take advantage of the info. Listening to one person wax eloquent about an arepa stand they found can hardly be equated with surveying the four-star restaurant guides.

                                  I am delighted to say that I have met at least 50 people through the DC Chowhound board, everyone of them willing to explore what's out there, go to new places, ask for the secret menu, and try new dishes. Some are more adventurous than others. But I am proud to know them all.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    Fantastic. But you haven't in any way refuted what I wrote (maybe that wasn't your intention). If you eat where someone else tells you to - as you say you do - then you are, by the manifesto's definition, not a Chowhound.

                                    1. re: small h

                                      'If you eat at where someone else tells you to- then you are not a Chowhound."

                                      Why do you have this all or nothing attitude? Are you honestly applying this to every meal for the rest of my life? Again, this is not at all in the CH Manifesto.

                                      You are creating a Straw Man argument. The site is specifically set up to so one can benefit from the tips of others. It's blatant. It doesn't have to apply to every meal forever.

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        <Why do you have this all or nothing attitude?>

                                        *I* don't. The Chowhound manifesto does. Are we reading the same thing? Here it is again: "Foodies eat where they're told. Chowhounds blaze trails."

                                        I appreciate that you're a proud reader of Chowhound and have benefited from it. Me too! But if you can show me one sentence that says - or even implies, that "It doesn't have to apply to every meal forever," I'll concede. 'Cause I can't find that sentence. Can you?

                                        1. re: small h

                                          It doesn't say that chowhounds blaze trails every time, every meal, no matter what. It simply says that they blaze trails.

                                          I think the distinction is somewhat sound. Many people, often including even those who self-identify as foodies, will not go to some place they have never heard about before – especially an ethnic or whole-in-wall type of place. While I think a true chowhound is willing to take the risk in the hope of great food and in the understanding that great food often comes from unexpected places.

                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                            i don't think i agree with that assessment. (i also think all food is ethnic, but that's a different discussion) I think the way chowhound defines a chowhound is exactly how most foodies would describe themselves.

                                            1. re: Atahualpa

                                              You've decided to extrapolate from the text that it means X even though it doesn't say X. I am not willing to do that. "Blaze trails" means "blaze trails," not "blaze trails, only not all the time, duh." If I had written it, the phrase would read "try to blaze trails" or "often blaze trails."

                                              And if a "true chowhound" is someone "willing to take the risk," then Chowhound.com contains about 2% "true chowhounds." The rest of the people here want to know where to eat in the theater district and whether Katz' pastrami is still good.

                                              1. re: Atahualpa

                                                So when they're eating somewhere someone else recommended, they're foodies?

                                                1. re: The Wandering Foodie

                                                  No, that is specious.

                                                  I am a photographer (www.iancoxleigh.com ). Even when I am reading, writing, cooking, painting, or singing, I am still a photographer.

                                                  1. re: Atahualpa

                                                    Nothing is permanent. When you read, you are a reader, paint, a painter, you cease to be a photographer for that moment. You may self-identify with the term "photographer" when you are asked, even in the middle of painting or reading.

                                                    Specious reasoning would be to assume one could be either a chowhound or a foodie (by the definition of the manifesto, not mine, of course) and being one would mutually exclude the other. Only without human contact of any type could one claim to be a chowhound at all times.

                                                    In essence, you are saying, even when you are doing things that a chowhound does, you are still a foodie?

                                                2. re: Atahualpa

                                                  "Many people, often including even those who self-identify as foodies, will not go to some place they have never heard about before – especially an ethnic or whole-in-wall type of place. While I think a true chowhound is willing to take the risk in the hope of great food and in the understanding that great food often comes from unexpected places." - I couldn't disagree more. I know many foodies who are willing to try anything but Chowhounds who are not willing to do so. I think a lot of people who call themself Chowhound are more "snobbish" than most foodies (who suppose to be the "snobbish" ones).

                                                3. re: small h

                                                  I think you read the lines differently than I do. I read it is "Foodies ONLY eat where they're told. Chowhounds blaze trails.' A little Lewis and Clark for me but it makes sense. Looking for adventure doesn't mean you only look for adventure. Even Robert Frost, I'm sure, walked some roads that were previously travelled.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    How come you decided to imagine the word "only" only once? Why not throw it into the second sentence, too?

                                                    1. re: small h

                                                      Interpretation. That's what I was saying, we interpret the lines differently. I don't read it to mean CH only blaze trails. That would be impossible because it would mean that you only eat a place once, ever. If I find a restaurant I enjoy, I don't care if it's popular or not. But, a foodie would only go if it were the "in" thing. That's how I read it.

                                                      When you read the Road Less Travelled, do you take it to mean that Robert Frost has never done anything someone else has done? Or that he makes choices others might not have done?

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        We don't interpret the lines differently, because I don't interpret them at all. I read them and understand what they say.

                                                        You've decided that, in order to call yourself a chowhound, you need to widen the definition of a chowhound to include you, even though you sometimes eat at popular restaurants. But that puts you a little too close to the dreaded foodie camp. So you also need to narrow the definition of foodie, to someone who would "only go if it were the 'in' thing." Phew! problem solved.

                                                        When I read The Road Less Travelled, I take it to be a poem. I read it very differently than I would a letter from the IRS. Or the Chowhound Manifesto.

                                                        1. re: small h

                                                          No, YOUR interpretation is still an interpretation. It does NOT say "Chowhounds ONLY blaze trails".

                                                          The sentence does not only have the ability to be understood the way you are understanding it. Your 'understanding' of it constitutes an 'interpretation'.

                                                          If I write "I eat chicken", it does not mean I only eat chicken. If I write "I play chess", it does not mean I will not play soccer. If I write "I blaze trails", it does not mean I will not follow a proven leader's advice.

                                                          Also, you said "And if a "true chowhound" is someone "willing to take the risk," then Chowhound.com contains about 2% "true chowhounds."

                                                          I agree with you here (I might argue the percent a little – I think 2% is low). However, you are on the right track here. I think a great many of the people on these boards would not fit in well with Jim Leff and his personal ethos. They wouldn't have eaten those arepas on the street. I they wouldn't have eaten them having been told they were good, let alone discovered them first. If there are posters who have trouble eating the pizza slice handed to them after the cashier took their money, or who can't put items in the seat portion of their shopping cart for fear of germs, I don't they could handle unregulated street foods – and those are just two examples of only one reason there are a lot of people on here who wouldn't quite fit with Jim's original ideas of what a chowhound is.

                                                          Lastly, I also agree that all food is "ethnic". Good catch.

                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                            <No, YOUR interpretation is still an interpretation. It does NOT say "Chowhounds ONLY blaze trails". >

                                                            Nor does it say "Foodies ONLY eat where they're told." I was never very good at algebra, but I remember the rule about doing the same thing to both sides of an equation. If you mess with one sentence, you have to mess with the other. If you expand both statements so that they read "Chowhounds do this, plus a bunch of other stuff. Foodies do this, plus a bunch of other stuff," it's very difficult to see the bright line that separates them. Yet the manifesto is an attempt to place that line. If you take it literally, it succeeds (but it's false). If you don't take it literally, as you don't, then it fails (but it's less false).

                                                            <I might argue the percent a little – I think 2% is low>
                                                            Yeah, I just made that up. Throw a number at me! I'll use it from now on.

                                                            <Lastly, I also agree that all food is "ethnic". Good catch.>
                                                            I can't take credit, as it wasn't my catch. That's thew's department. Although I agree, too.

                                                            1. re: small h

                                                              Being a mathematician, I don't think the rule of algebra that you're invoking applies here. This is more lawyerly inference from what has been said.

                                                              Logically speaking, though, it's impossible only to blaze trails--that would mean eating only at restaurants that no one has ever eaten at, and never returning--as you're reading it. That sentence does take ability to infer that it is illogical for it to be "only". Perhaps the definition could be more clear for people who don't understand it. Maybe it could read, "Foodies only go where they're told. Chowhounds venture to blaze trails" which is the obvious intent to me and most of us reading this.

                                                              1. re: small h

                                                                If you want to look at this, from a mathematician standpoint (and taking in the consideration that Jim Leff wants to distinguish between foodies and CH), the possibilities are:

                                                                1) Foodies sometimes go where they are told. Chowhounds sometimes blaze trails. That says nothing about the difference between the two because it means foodies might blaze trails, CH might go where they are told.

                                                                2) Foodies only go where they are told and CH sometimes blaze trails. That makes sense, logically. It distinguishes between the two because, with that statement, it says foodies don't blaze trails. If they did, they'd be chowhounds.

                                                                3/4) Foodies only/sometimes go where they are told. CH only blaze trails. As many people have pointed out, impossible only to blaze trails. So, you're arguing that Jim Leff, for whatever reason, has decided that the CH group is null because no one only blazes trails.

                                                                So, logically, given that Jim Leff wants to distinguish the difference and he doesn't consider CH to be an empty set, #2 makes the most sense.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  <2) Foodies only go where they are told and CH sometimes blaze trails. That makes sense, logically.>

                                                                  It does! If only that was the language used. I wish it were, because then the manifesto would be (to use the OP's phrasing) less holier-than-thou.

                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                    Yes, clarification would be nice but it takes away from the poetic sound of the sentences.:-)

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      I'm too tired to write a sonnet tonight. Please accept this haiku.

                                                                      Oh, Jim Leff, why not
                                                                      clarify your intent so
                                                                      we can all move on.

                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                        He's done it a few times in the past. Here are a couple of examples:

                                                                        If you do a search, you're likely to find more.

                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                          Nice. A logic analogy response:

                                                                          Foodie to Zagat
                                                                          as Chowhound to Robert Frost
                                                                          A bite less travelled.

                                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                                      but we don't have to accept the axiomatic definition as gospel. the question on this thread is not the definition of "chowhound" but of "foodie."

                                                                      some of us do not agree with leff's definition that a foodie is an elitist and a follower, and are happy to apply to ourselves the term with the more common widespread meaning of the world, one who delights in food.

                                                                      Long before i head the word "chowhound" i knew the word foodie, and accepted it as such. Jim leff, for all that i adore this site, has not convinced me that his alternate definition is correct.

                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                          When I was growing up, my entire family adored food. While they were eating one meal, they talked about eating their next meal. They loved going out to restaurants. They had their passions and dislikes.

                                                                          Only problem is, all we ever ate was well-done steak smothered in ketchup. My father subsisted on steak and thin breaded veal cutlet his entire adult life.

                                                                          The trouble with your definition, is that almost everyone adores food. It must be the world's least exclusive club. I have yet to meet someone from the entire continent of Europe who does not adore food. In the Washington, DC area , I meet and work with people from all corners of the globe. They could all talk your ear off about food, whether they are from Kenya, Peru, or Vietnam.

                                                                          Surely there must be something that your definition lacks.

                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                            I don't care either way but was interpreting what Jim Leff said (or what it meant to me). The only time I'll call myself a CH is when I refer to posting on the CH board. I never call myself a foodie. I think both are odd terms, for general verbal conversation.

                                                                          2. re: chowser

                                                                            That's a very interesting sentiment. I think you nail it there.

                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                        "I don't interpret... I read them and understand."

                                                                        Self-aggrandizing statements aside, I do not understand. But I interpret. And my interpretation allows that Jim Leff was right all along. There are a legion of folks out there passionate about sharing their everyday food discoveries. In his manifesto he explains it as "combing neighborhoods for culinary treasures." He created a forum for sharing the info.

                                                                        If you don't like his definition of foodie, then come up with your own; I really don't care. If you are insulted by his definition, then maybe that means you don't fit his definition. But there are people out there who do fit the description, and maybe there are even a lot of people on Chowhound who fit the description, since the site is self-nominating.

                                                                        My interpretation, based on recent comments he has made, is that Jim Leff does not care for the *foodie* talk on Chowhound and all over the web. That he does want more people out there exploring rather than rehashing every bite they take.

                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                          It is difficult for me to express how disinterested I am in how Mr Leff might view me and my opinions. He is entitled to his opinion and to express it. I assume the current commercial owners of the site also take the same view as they leave this nonsense where it is, for us all to see.

                                                                          If these comments are intended by the owners to express that they do not care for the "foodie" talk on Chowhound, then I am happy to accept that. If they are trying to suggest that we should either shut up or take our postings elsewhere, then they should make that clear and issue far more precise guidelines about what is an acceptable post. It is their site for them to do with as they see fit. I may not like the owners, or Mr Leff's view of me but I suspect they, and Mr Leff, wouldnt like my view of them. Such is life

                                                          2. re: Steve

                                                            "I would like to benefit from someone else's great discovery and insight."

                                                            Precisely. Just like the vast majority of folk who post here, on other boards, on local restaurant review sites. It makes a nonsense of the tosh of the CH Manifesto.

                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                              Why is it nonsense? Where in the manifesto does it say you may never read and follow any of the posts on this board? I think a willingness to explore is the essential part.

                                                              Jim Leff blatantly has had some help from others on his Chow Tour. And he also struck out on his own. The best of both worlds.

                                                            2. re: Steve

                                                              >>"Basically, Jim Leff started his own club and is defining what it is to be a true member. Of course, anybody who signs up can call themselves a Chowhound, but to be a true Chowhound, you have to be willing to explore."

                                                              I think it's not so much defining a true member as defining an ideal, like "tell the truth" or "be kind to everyone." Not everyone attains these ideals, and perhaps no one does, but they're there as something to aim for.

                                                              1. re: limster

                                                                There are many Chowhounds who go out and explore. I can't tell you it's most of them, but I can tell you there are folks out there who do a pretty good job of it. Plus, Chowhound has had a good deal of influence outside of the board as well.

                                                                It has gotten to the point at which almost every hole-in-the-wall in the DC Metropolitan area gets checked out at some point. Now, this would be more difficult in a place like LA, which has about 100 times more HITWs.

                                                                I agree it's an ideal, but not a fantasy. It's an ideal everyone can and many do put into practice.

                                                            3. re: small h

                                                              >>>"If Chowhounds confined themselves to "blazing trails," then once a Chowhound has eaten at a restaurant, other Chowhounds should not eat there, because the trail is already blazed."

                                                              Ideally that would be the case. There are lots of places in the world to eat at and not enough information about all of them.

                                                              But restaurants can be variable from day to day, or dish to dish. One meal is rarely enough to generalise to the whole restaurant. A kitchen with great pork may not be as skilled with fish. Blaze trails, yes, but to do so in a thorough way -- which may require lots of people sampling dishes over a long period of time when different cooks are on duty, over different seasons when different ingredients become available etc.

                                                              Sure there are lots of people that just come to ask about what's good to eat. There's no reason to be rude to them. Today's questioner may be tomorrow's explorer.

                                                              >>>"Shouldn't these people be off blazing?"
                                                              Absolutely. And we should persuade/encourage them in the most efficient and effective way possible. Give a guy a fish and tell him of all the delicious fishes in the ocean so that he can't resist learning how to fish.

                                                              There's no need for pitchforks and torches -- it's about enouraging a certain type of behavior, which can be changed regardless of who the person is.

                                                              1. re: limster

                                                                It seems as though you read my post without realizing that I was responding to another one upthread. If you review the conversation, what I wrote may make more sense to you.

                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                  Sorry for the confusion. The first point was to clarify what "trail blazing" might involve in practice, which is what you and others were discussing. The second point is a bit of a digression, but I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight an approach that is productive rather than diversive.

                                                          3. re: Harters

                                                            I'm reminded of Humpty Dumpty's famous assertion in Alice in Wonderland: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less." Chowhound would have us accept its definition of "foodie" as gospel, but it's not one person or group that defines how a word is understood, but rather the usage of many people over time. "Foodie" seems to be in that intermediate time period, when there is still a good deal of imprecision regarding its connotation. Some take it as derogatory; others don't.
                                                            Like Harters, I would not be offended if someone called me a foodie. I generally don't find it necessary to use labels, but I can also see why people who are into the same thing might find it convenient to have a word that succinctly describes their mutual interest. And foodie, at least, is a word that's in general circulation. Chowhound is an artificial word invented by the originators of this website. I'm sure that there are thousands, if not millions, of foodies (in the good sense) who don't follow or post on the Chowhound boards and wouldn't have any idea what "Chowhound" refers to.

                                                            The entire manifesto isn't bunk, but I do think that many of its statements come across as pompous or downright silly:

                                                            "A Chowhound is someone who spends nearly every waking minute planning his or her next meal." Oh, pretty please. Can I take a bathroom break?

                                                            Chowhounds "never settle for less than optimal deliciousness." Well, I wish that everything I put in my mouth were optimally delicious (whatever that means), and I suppose it might be if I spent every waking minute planning for my next meal, but alas, I live on planet Earth.

                                                            1. Your post focuses on one interpretation of the manifesto. Here's an alternative interpretation:

                                                              Eat and think critically for yourself. Rather that simply using information that is out there, create new information by exploring and discovering new delicious things to eat.

                                                              20 Replies
                                                              1. re: limster

                                                                This creating new information lark is all well and good - assuming you have the opportunity or money or social networking arrangements to run the risk of eating out "blind" and, presumably, having a fair percentage of less than stellar experiences.

                                                                Me? I dine out with Mrs H on our limited budget perhaps once every two weeks (maybe an extra lunch thrown in now and again). If I'm trying somewhere new, I need all the help I can find to ensure we're going to have a good experience. That helps comes from discussion boards, review sites, newspaper reviews, guidebooks - basically someone who has done the work for me. It does not come from one of us saying "Oooo, I wonder what the food there is like".

                                                                So, returning to the slagging off of "foodies" in the CH manifesto as eating where they are told then, yep, that's me. Much happier to be a foodie, so described, than a Chowhound, so described.

                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                  "It does not come from one of us saying "Oooo, I wonder what the food there is like".

                                                                  Maybe that's a big part of it because that's exactly what we do. I'm almost embarassed to admit how many times, while visiting NYC, we'll wind up at the very place we know not one thing about. The place that we've read nothing about but it's packed. Or the menu just looks so interesting. And are rarely disappointed. And we'll take that chance in order to enjoy the road less traveled. This world is full of different people with different ways of approaching food and lots of other things. Hurray.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    My greatest foodie/chowhound moment happened about 30 years ago in a small Italian town near Lake Como. My husband and I and another couple were touring Italy, armed with all kinds of guide books to good food. We happened to find ourselves at lunchtime in a town with no listings in any book. We stumbled upon a little restaurant in a former stable that had the best damn Italian food I've eaten before or since. Whenever the four of us get together, we still marvel at the wonder of it all.

                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      Now that to me is the ultimate, but not the only, Chowhound moment even if ya never heard of the damn site :) A comparable meal - not that you've had one of the Italian sort - that was tried and true would probably not elicit those wonderful memories - and always will. Thanks for sharing that.

                                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                                    >> assuming you have the opportunity or money or social networking arrangements

                                                                    In no particular order:
                                                                    Sometimes eating certain places take a lot of effort, other times it doesn't. Wealth isn't a prerequisite -- one of the best chowhounds on the UK board who has uncovered a good number of places is a student with next to nothing in the money department. Places vary in price range, more expensive doesn't always mean more delicious.

                                                                    As for opportunity, it's a bit like exercise, one works it into one's routine. Walk a different route to work, drive down a different road to visit a friend. Stop by a different sandwich place. Try a different salad. Drink a different brand of milk or juice. Use a different jam made by a different person. Little things matter -- they add up. Rome wasn't built in a day. I know chowhounds with insane work schedules, or mostly eat at home.

                                                                    "Social networking"
                                                                    I eat by myself ~50% of the time. I'm happy to contribute what I thought about the 2 dishes that I ate out of a 100. Boards like chowhound are ideal for such scenarios because hundreds of people sharing information about 1 or 2 dishes from a place = hundreds of data points about that place. The boards are a networking opportunity.

                                                                    With all the accusations of snobbishness, the boards here actually present a very egalitarian opportunity for anyone and everyone to share new information that they have uncovered.

                                                                    >>to run the risk of eating out "blind" and, presumably, having a fair percentage of less than stellar experiences."

                                                                    Yep - to separate the wheat from the chaff means trying both "wheat"s and "chaff"s. There are potentially ways of biasing one's chances, but there's no substitute for exploration; it comes with the territory, and it makes the finds more exciting.

                                                                    And the boards aren't restricted to eating out. The home cooking board is really active.

                                                                    >>"So, returning to the slagging off of "foodies" in the CH manifesto as eating where they are told then, yep, that's me. Much happier to be a foodie, so described, than a Chowhound, so described."

                                                                    The goal of the board is not to slag off on anyone, but rather to share information about what is delicious to eat. As I and others have mentioned in prior posts, some of which I've linked to in this thread, the manifesto is about getting people to go out and try stuff and discover delicious food. One may not like how that goal is presented, but the presentation is a separate issue from the goal itself.

                                                                    Be whatever make you happy, it depends on your priorities in life. But if what you want to do is to find the most delicious stuff to eat, the approach you describe is insufficient. That's why sites like this exist, so that everyone can go out and find their own deliciousness and share whatever information they have, because it's easier for everyone as a collective effort.

                                                                    1. re: limster

                                                                      Well, limster, you & I have never agreed when this and similar discussions have taken place in the past, and it's reassuring to see we're both running true to form. You have your interpretation of the manifesto and I have mine. I suspect they are at opposite ends of the spectrum - as always when you and I touch on CH issues.

                                                                      I fully accept, however, that you want to search out the most delicious food available and that's is the focus of your eating out decisions. You are also absolutely right about me - I do not want to search out the most delicious food available - all I want to do is to have a nice time with my partner.

                                                                      You mention the home cooking board. It's the board on which I'm most active as I find the dialogue interesting - not least because I'm European and am cooking in Europe, not north America. On the other hand, I find it more useful for two way dialogue to post my restaurants reviews to egullet, rather than Chowhound. Or to a local board, or even Trip Advisor if I'm holidaying in Europe.

                                                                      1. re: limster

                                                                        One of my observations is that the "Chowhound" definition/mantra can result in the opposite outcome when trying to find the most delicious thing to eat. Some of the best food (any definition will do) is found in well reviewed, critically acclaimed restaurants, so by not including these types of restaurants in the universe of dining options is, as the UK expression goes: “like cutting off your nose to spite your face".

                                                                        OK some of the well-reviewed places are hyped, some live off past reputations etc etc. But it doesn't take a lot of effort to filter through the hype and the noise and choose ones whose reputation is solid and which produce sublime food. I find that when I do this I am rewarded with a good experience. To me denying this "foodie" possibility is counter productive.

                                                                        On the other hand seeking out the unknown hole in the wall can pay dividends. But I am suspicious: do many Chowhounds really stumble on the deserted restaurant which no one has found, only to find the cook who is producing stunning food? Or do we/they use common sense, local knowledge and intelligence and work out that the hole in the wall that is full of people (c oliver above) is likely to be doing something good or it wouldn’t be full.

                                                                        I know in Sydney (where I now live) I tend to keep an eye open for the busy new restaurant, or the new fit out of a shop space that looks interesting, or talk to friends etc. Sometimes this results in finding a hidden gem; often it results in another below average experience. So I am a good Chowhound. But then the, dilemma, my hidden gem becomes everyone’s hidden gem. Blogs have the all the details; newspapers review it; my hidden gem goes mainstream and is suddenly full of foodies. As a Chowhound can I continue to post about it, after all it is now mainstream, or should I continue the lottery of exploration? Food is such a hot topic with a plethora of blogs, magazines, TV shows and newspaper columns to fill; the cycle time for hidden gem to make the mainstream is very fast. Has technology made the difference between an informed/inquisitive/intelligent foodie and a Chowhound so miniscule as to make no difference?

                                                                        But another disturbing manifestation of the doctrine of Chowhound does worry me. There is a pervasive inverted snobbery prevalent in many boards i.e. cheap holes in the wall are better than mainstream. OK you don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat well, but it definitely helps, after all good ingredients do cost more than poor ones. Restaurants don’t need to be smart with million dollar fit outs to be good, but ones in poor repair, which are not especially clean, often give an insight into the standards in the kitchen. This inverted snobbery results in boards that are often skewed towards the lower end of the market; cheap and grungy is preferred to expensive and slick. But in reality this creates a narrow and false representation of where to find good food in that area. The mantra of “cheap eats” is as dangerous as the mantra of Michelin stars.

                                                                        I appreciate the whole spectrum of good food and try not to pigeon hole myself (or others), but I am afraid the evangelical nature of true Chowhound’s (as per the manifesto) is divisive and does result in a skewed discussions and ultimately a less accurate representation of the good/delicious food that is available in an area. Maybe it is time for the manifesto to change and become more inclusive?

                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                          Could it be you are over-thinking this? Settle down and have a banana milkshake.

                                                                          Which brings me to my point.

                                                                          To paraphrase Jim Leff: You like wine, you like banana milkshakes. Is one 'better' than the other? Chowhound is all about breaking down barriers. The place serving a fantastic banana milkshake is just as valuable to a Chowhound as the four star restaurant.

                                                                          Yes, you should not blindly follow the crowds to the most recent four star, all the while passing by what could be the greatest empanada on Earth.

                                                                          But you could consider it an appetizer.

                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                            Steve you are right, after all it is only food.... ;-)

                                                                            I agree with the Milkshake/Wine example, but only as far as it goes. And in some ways it leads us to a core issue i.e. one "type" of food isn't better than another because of background and price. In reality the majority of foods within a segment are often better with quality ingredients, prepared by highly skilled staff, and served with lots of attention to detail. Thus, a milkshake made with the best freshest milk, high quality bananas in their prime etc etc is going to be far better than one made up with instant milkshake powder.....and it isn't going to be the cheapest.

                                                                            The problem I see is that this manifests itself in the food commentary. And I see this manifesting itself in a number of ways. First, lots of novel food is "at the boundaries" of society i.e. recent immigrants bringing in tastes of home. But generally it doesn't stay at the boundary for ever. So cheap immigrant food gets better, the immigrants get established, rent better premises, hire better staff, buy better ingredients, cook better food, and charge higher prices. For me the food is often better as a result; the food is what the people would have cooked if the immigrants hadn't been economically disadvantaged when they arrived. And here is where the inverted snobbery comes in, some seem to believe it is about cheap food done well rather than food done well, if it heads upmarket it loses its cachet, it is no longer real.

                                                                            Second, the banana milkshake example often manifests itself as only banana milkshakes can be good and is better than wine because it is more accessible (a mistaken interpretation). The quest for the Chowhound, becomes a quest, to find good examples of cheap and/or obscure food rather than appreciate the qualities of indigenous food, or other foods that have become established. Certainly lots of cities have very exciting cooking at the margins, and it is great to explore and appreciate it. But often this seems to be to the exclusion of good established local cuisines.

                                                                            To give an example, if you look at the UK/London board a visitor would quickly form the impression that the best, most happening food in London is cheap Sichuan, Bengali, Vietnamese or from market stalls. But the reality is that traditional British food in London has been through a renaissance over he last decade, and some of the most exciting cooking and food is traditional British (albeit not cheap). Unfortunately for visitors to the UK/London board that will be difficult to discern because it isn't very Chowhoundish to get to grips with "not cheap" indigenous food; no to be "true" to the Chow manifesto you need to be at the extremes of food culture, you need to be trail blazing. Luckily Foodies don't have such hang-ups and thus there are places where you can find out about less obscure food.

                                                                            So what has this got to do with the OP? IMO I think the manifesto and dichotomy between Foodie and Chowhound is unhealthy. For me the board should be about food lovers finding the best food. The Chowhound/Foodie debate and the Manifesto brings in evangelical slant that is counterproductive and that weakens the quality of debate on the board.

                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                              Perfect summary of the useless discussion to distinguish between Foodie or Chowhound

                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                Perfect? Your idea of perfection is clearly different from mine.

                                                                                One of the best things I've eaten in my life was a tripe taco from a dive (Rincon Alteno) next to a 7-11 in Carpinteria, CA.

                                                                                How does this correlate with "cheap immigrant food gets better, the immigrants get established, rent better premises, hire better staff, buy better ingredients, cook better food, and charge higher prices"? How do you suggest they improve upon this tripe taco? With staff?

                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                  Why should it not be possible to improve this tripe taco ? Not by adding staff but perhaps by getting better quality ingredients, access to different cooking methods etc. PhilD never mentioned that it has to improve but that there might be a possible way forward to improve/change it. Just because something was great doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed to try to improve it.
                                                                                  That's the same when I discuss with people about music and they tell me that after Elvis Rock music couldn't be improved which I completely disagree

                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                    Oh, it's not necessarily the best in the world, just the best one I've had so far. My guess is, if there are better, it's probably got nothing to do with upscale or more expensive ingredients. Maybe spreading pork lard on the tortilla before grilling....

                                                                                  2. re: Steve

                                                                                    Steve - funnily I was reflecting on this point this morning. I was wondering which foods can't be improved upon by spending more money on them; maybe the tripe taco is one of them. I could only really come up with simple pizza (base, tomato sauce and mozzarella - although even here I think better quality mozzarella makes a lot of difference).

                                                                                    I imagine this isn't the case if you eat simple food at its source. So for example a peasant dish, made with a chicken from the back yard, home ground maize, and vegetables straight from the garden is going to be pretty good, because, in simple food, the quality of the raw materials is so critical.

                                                                                    But translate that peasant to a big metropolis as an economic or political migrant. All the ingredients will be bought from the cheapest cash and carry, the chicken will be factory farmed, the maize will be low quality and the vegetables pumped full of fertiliser , etc.

                                                                                    To produce the same quality as before the poor migrant now needs heritage bred free range chicken, organic stone ground single varietal maize and organic, low food miles, vegetables from the local farmers market. All these are priced at a premium; so naturally the result is a higher priced dish. The more I thought about it the more obvious that all seemed, most food is ingredient driven, and access to quality ingredients is usually driven by price, thus as people get more economically secure quality can rise (but not always, not everyone is altruistic).

                                                                                    Your trip taco may be immune from this because tripe is tripe, or it could simply be that no-one has yet pushed it up market due to limited demand. Are you ready for Wagu tripe tacos?

                                                                                    But what other dishes would be impervious to economics of ingredients?

                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                      There is already an upscale version of the tripe taco. Remove the tripe and replace it with carne asada.

                                                                                2. re: PhilD

                                                                                  Well, I don't agree with about 100% of what you said.

                                                                                  However, if I can stick to the core issue, then it is wrong to put down someone for posting about an expensive restaurant. But if that person claims that a taco stand couldn't possibly be the most amazing place in town, or that an inexpensive restaurant couldn't be a great place to eat, then I can assure you there are a legion of well traveled people on Chowhound who have posted differently.

                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                    I think nobody disagrees with you that anybody who has said "...that an inexpensive restaurant couldn't be a great place to eat..." hasn't understood what food is all about. But a lot of people would disagree that "foodies" would make that assumption

                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                      again - self proclaimed foodie. love the inexpensive hole in the wall places.

                                                                                      i thinks leff's defnition of a foodie is at odds with the general use of the word, and was done just to create an us and them dichotomy

                                                                                    2. re: Steve

                                                                                      Steve, maybe I wasn't clear but I didn't intend to say anything along the lines of: "But if that person claims that a taco stand couldn't possibly be the most amazing place in town, or that an inexpensive restaurant couldn't be a great place to eat".

                                                                                      I see a place for both and I love eating quality food at all price points. But when I reflect on my eating experiences I generally get a 70% hit rate at the upper end and a 30% hit rate at the lower end. I still like food at the lower end but I need to be realistic.

                                                                                      I wish I could comment on the Taco but the general rule for Mexican food is that quality is inversely proportional to the distance from Mexico, the cost of the restaurant makes no difference. I know I live in Sydney!

                                                                                3. re: PhilD

                                                                                  I'd generally agree with Phil. My home board is the UK & Ireland one. Many of the threads there are from visiting north American tourists wanting recommendations for places to eat in London. They get a fairly well defined set of responses, often from fellow tourists, to their fairly well defined set of questions. There's not much seeking out going on or blazing of trails. And there's certainly not too much of folk starting a thread to report back on their meals.

                                                                                  Of course, that's not the complete story. A small number of users of the board post information about places previously unmentioned on the board. Can this really be described as "trail blazing"? Well, perhaps it can, if your thinking starts and finishes with Chowhound. But , if the place is already well known but simply hasnt been mentioned on CH I don't see this as blazing. How many times will that "new discovery" already be very well known to local residents and, no doubt, discussed for months if not years on local review sites.

                                                                                  I hadnt really considered the inverted snobbery point before Phil wrote the above. But I think there's a point here. The UK Ireland board is very London-centric. No problem with that as such - it's where Americans visit. I don't live in London and only visit it rarely for business or as a tourist. The hole-in-the-wall recommendations are of little use to me as they are not the sort of place my partner and I are going for, say, a post-theatre dinner. Of the restricted number of mid-range places recommended, many offer the same style of cuisine that is readily available to me near home. Fine for visiting foreigners who are not going to get outside of London and who want to sample local cuisine but not fine for visiting Brits. Put the two issues together and it means I don't find Chowhound a very useful resource and will usually rely of guidebooks, local review sites and, indeed, the much more UK-focussed board on egullet.

                                                                          2. I get the discussion, but why does anyone need to refer to themselves as one or the other, or both? Why is there a need to call yourself anything other than someone who loves food and loves to share information with other people who love food? I'm sorry, but I think both of the labels are just plain silly, therefore I don't refer to myself as either one. That's just one guy's preference and opinion. To each his/her own, but is it really worth re-hashing this over and over when it's already been beaten into submission? Maybe we should all go volunteer at a soup kitchen instead of chasing our collective tails...

                                                                            1. im willing to explore. i've eaten at the fanciest places and the diviest holes. ive explored top michelin places in europe and street vendors in asia. I've taught myself to cook and to eat. i know food, i think food, i understand food.

                                                                              i call myself a foodie far more often than id ever call myself a chowhound. (then i called myself a trekkie too)

                                                                              the manifesto almost turned me off to this site when i first found it. i'm glad it didn't, but it does reek of self congratulatory smarm.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                That's exactly how I feel.

                                                                                The problem is the denigration of the word. From this perspective, to make fun or demean people that refer to themselves as "foodies" doesn't make a "Chowhound" seem more knowledgeable, it makes him seem more foolish.

                                                                                I would guess that this is true for 99.99% of the food community; if a one feels negativity associated with the word "foodie," someone else put that negativity there, and that person is just parroting the sentiment without having thought for themselves about what the word means.

                                                                              2. The word foodie often has a number of connotations attached to it that are quite negative. These usually include pretentiousness, fussiness, and elitism. Arguing that these associations should not exist because they are not inherent to the word is foolishness.

                                                                                There is nothing inherently wrong with the N* word either. All of the negative associations with that word are not part of the original etymology of the term. Perhaps squaw is an even better example as it truly, originally, simply meant female native as derived from an Anglicization of the Algonquin morpheme. However, I would not fathom using this term casually and without considered discussion today thanks to its history of derogatory misuse.

                                                                                I do not mean to suggest that foodie is even in the same realm of offensiveness as these terms – it isn't even necessarily derogatory in most contexts. However, it has some of these issues of misappropriation. I certainly do not like being called a foodie if I do not know what the speaker understands that term to mean.

                                                                                I also do not like the term chowhound. It smacks of cliquishness and sounds self-important due to its obscurity. It requires explanation almost as often as it is used. Perhaps we can fight to take back foodie – the battle to regain queer has been so successful that even heterosexual people can use it today.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                  All right! That's what I'm talking about! We're always going to have ignorant fools who call people queer, but we don't have to accept that person's views as the gospel.

                                                                                2. So what I can gather from this thread is that the chowhound manifesto is poorly worded

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: The Wandering Foodie

                                                                                    Not necessarily. It may be worded exactly as its author intended.

                                                                                    Which is not to say that I find it any less pretentious tosh.

                                                                                    1. re: The Wandering Foodie

                                                                                      The intent of the Manifesto should be obvious to anyone spending time on Chowhound. However, the Manifesto posted now is an abbreviated version. The original began with an illustrative story about Jim Leff sharing food tips with someone he runs into while in a dry-cleaning (?) shop.

                                                                                      Chowhound has always been about sharing food tips. But while the mainstream media was sending foodies scurrying to multi-star restaurants, Chowhounds were stopping off on their way at unsung mom n' pops and sharing tips about their favorites. This is very clearly what he meant by blazing trails.

                                                                                      Among the best things I've read recently is Jim Leff's blog series about his efforts to find a happy resolution for Chowhound. It is in fifteen parts (so far) and is fascinating and extremely well-written. Anyone reading this thread should read this series. Among other subjects, it talks about the unique content of Chowhound. It's a matter of record that the Manifesto, like it or not, helped define the content.


                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                        the problem was never the idea of the chowhound, it was the rebranding of foodie, and creating an us vs them mentality that i didnt like

                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                          Exactly. Foodie has always had (and continues to have) positive connotations for me, despite Mr. Leff's attempt to turn it into a term that can only be spoken with a sneer. Unfortunately, because it's slang, everyone gets to define it however they like.

                                                                                        2. re: Steve

                                                                                          "This is very clearly what he meant by blazing trails."

                                                                                          That's your choice of interpretation. It's not mine.

                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                            One thing to consider - and I have to confess that I've not read every post on this thread - is when the manifesto was written. As Steve mentions (and at least in the U.S.), there were, at the time, no forums (that I knew of) where posters sought out and posted about new places that were hidden gems, particular those that were not selling "American" food.

                                                                                            I actually detest the word foodie - for reasons I've posted before, I have a visceral reaction to it, but nor do I go around calling myself a Chowhound. Frankly, I don't think of myself as a trail blazer, and actually had a "conversation" about it w/ Mr. Leff on an earlier Site Talk thread.

                                                                                            At the end of the day, I care about finding and making delicious food, not what I choose to call myself or others choose to call me.

                                                                                      2. orthogonal to the discussion, but no less relevant:

                                                                                        don't you find "foodie" an ugly word? just the sound of it, its spelling, its assertiveness? whereas "chowhound" is so much nicer, with that slight indulgent "poor fellow can't help it" amused tolerance about it.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: howler

                                                                                          Exactly - you've put it so well. And now I know a new word.

                                                                                          1. re: howler

                                                                                            Perhaps, howler, in countries where the word "chow" is generally understood to mean "food". Here in the UK, if I said to someone that I was a "chowhound", I suspect I would get some very strange looks. The raised eyebrow; the quizzical "Eh?"; and so on.

                                                                                            Whereas, if I said I was a "foodie", most folk would know exactly what I meant.

                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                              True - and, to be clear, I don't run around calling myself a chowhound either.

                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                fair enough. but that doesn't help the ugliness of the word.

                                                                                                funnily, i've never had occasion to use either word in social discourse.

                                                                                                1. re: howler

                                                                                                  I have to disagree - I don't find foodie to be ugly at all. Rhymes with cutie. And nudie. And... I'll stop there ;-)

                                                                                                  But really, it's just a matter of personal preference. Please feel free to despise the word as much as you like.

                                                                                                  Personally I never use the term chowhound except when I'm referring specifically to this board. I don't use the term foodie a lot either, but have heard people use it when referring to me and don't mind at all.

                                                                                            2. There's a great discussion of the term "foodie" on the most recent episode of America's Test Kitchen Radio interview with Dana Goodyear, author of "Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture".

                                                                                              At one point the discussion, they discuss how the term "foodie" reflects an infantile, juvenile perspective on food which matches lockstep with the American awareness and appreciation of good food and cooking, which is also still very much in its infancy. I thought that was an interesting observation.


                                                                                              The discussion begins at about 19:40 into the episode.

                                                                                              I particularly like the comment about how, before the term "foodie" was coined, Julia Child referred to food amateurs as "fluffies".


                                                                                              Mr Taster