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Nov 30, 2009 02:24 PM

Non-foodies' reactions to foodie behavior

I was watching Iron Chef the other day with my fiancee. I tend to get a little carried away with these things. ("Ooh! Hearts! Use the hearts! Fry the hearts!" "You vile animal, you put turkey in a goddamned sorbet!") She thought it was hilarious. I was a little surprised because I'm used to watching these shows with my family, a bunch of committed foodies. If my mom had been there, she'd been yelling at the screen about butter and chicken stock right along with me. But my fiancee finds my food-centrism kinda hilarious. She tells me that watching me cook is like watching someone have sex on her kitchen counters. She also laughs whenever I mention the word "butter." It's become our little joke. (She's a great cook and loves food, but it's not her religion as it is mine. It doesn't help that her relatives spray their bagels with Pam. Shudder.)

What have your experiences been with non-foodies' reactions to your, well, foodism? What's your favorite "non-foodies-just-don't-get-it" story?

(I forgot to mention that she also thinks it's hilarious that I belong to a site called "Chowhound.")

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  1. With me it's just the every day stuff. I ask everyone what they had for lunch or dinner whenever I can slide it into the conversation. And I really really want to know. Apparently it's kind of off-putting. :) But it can be even scarier when I manage to connect with someone this way. I used to play this online game called warhammer that involves lots of fights and action. A guy in my guild is a detective in Las Vegas who also loves food and cooking. He started it (I swear) by talking about going afk to start dinner. Well one thing led to another and before we knew it we kept talking about recipes and how much we love our dutch ovens and what we were making that night and we kept getting our characters killed because we were busy typing when we should have been fighting. We finally had to knock it off, the guild was getting mad. My example is kind of the opposite of what you asked for but oh my gosh, connecting with someone who does get it can be more exciting than killing dragons and enemy soldiers!

    1 Reply
    1. re: givemecarbs

      My story isn't TV bases but after going through for chef training, I learned a bit about food. My aunt thinks shes a 'foodie' and thinks she knows it all, however there is no trained knowledge behind her. While attending thanksgiving, she was trying to make homemade whipped cream to amaze us all and the cream just wouldnt whip. Turns out she poured the whipping cream into everyones coffee and tries to whip coffee cream. like get it right if ya wanna show us somthing show us

    2. Two of my SIL's have foodie inclinations, not so much the third one. One summer, we rented adjacent cottages for a week. We foodies were all planning who would bring the EVOO and balsamic vinegar, I was bringing fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden along with fresh mozzarella and foccaccia bread, and other fun ingredients. Non foodie SIL pooh-poohed us with "that's too much work. I've got coupons from Subway, we'll just get that--it's just as good".

      No Subway sandwiches made it to the cottages!

      1. Well I guess it depends upon what you definition of a foodie is.

        I have 45 years of professional chef/restaurateur experience. My vacations are planned around culinary tours and learning their cultures. I have been to every continent on the planet in search of unique of interesting food (except Antarctic of course).

        I have retired and have built my dream house in the Pacific NW because I feel that it has the best ingredients available in the US. My wife calls our behemoth indoor kitchen “Stadium Kitchen” and my outdoor kitchen the shrine.

        Although I have never been arrested I have been busted by the US Customs service sneaking in food contraband. To this date I get packages from throughout the world with unique ingredients that are not available to us.

        AM I A FOODIE?

        The only reason I ask is that I don’t mean to be rude, please don’t take offense, but I would find your reactions pretty funny too. Iron Chef is to cooking as professional wrestling is to the sports world. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the outcomes are pre-determined, but the rest of the show is pretty well scripted. (Full disclosure I have some inside knowledge because I was asked to be a contestant, catch 22 for me because in order to learn about it I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so you can take my comments for what you think they are worth.)

        I also don’t watch many Food Network shows, especially as of late, they have become highly commercialized, they have dumped the real chefs for TV Personalities many of whom make egregious errors and obviously don’t know their cuisine but only read a cue card that some intern has written up after goggling a few sites.

        I have personally watched an explosion of neophyte’s who have a true interest and zeal about cooking think they are getting a real and factual education about the in’s and out’s of regional cuisine X from Celebrity Chef Y all because his or her last name sound’s like they should know about this cuisine.

        My main concern is that today’s consumer believes what they see on TV, it is a very powerful medium so it set the standards of what truth is and what isn’t. I and several colleagues have witnessed people who dine at a restaurant that specializes in a certain cuisine, where the chef was born and raised and cooked in that area for 40 years and then moved to the US bringing authentic cooking styles and ingredients to the states, only to be told by patrons that Celebrity Chef Y who lives 6000 miles away says it’s cooked a different way. It’s frustrating to try to explain to someone that the TV star got it wrong only to be told that they are the expert, even thought they never lived in the region, and might have only traveled there for a video shoot and spent all of 3 days becoming the “true” expert on this cuisine.

        I don’t mean to bust your bubble or rain on your parade, but I thought another perspective might be warranted here. I also don’t mean to imply that these shows are solely a fountain of dis-information that would be wrong too. Take food network for what it is, an entertainment network that showcases food. If you are entertained with it than they have done their job and you are receiving a valuable service – enjoy it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: RetiredChef

          Couldnt agree more. If you really want to be honest one could carry further to cookbook authors.. Some of the "icons" of the last 20 plus years do not really seem to know as much as they think they do in their particular "area of expertise." But yet we see them quoted on these boards and others every day.

          1. re: RetiredChef

            I completely agree with you about celebrity chef shows -- Iron Chef is really more like a cross between porn and Fear Factor for me -- some beautiful food plus a little "oh, that's gross" thrown in for good measure. (The various ass-tasting turkey/crab/avocado/bacon desserts are a good laugh. Some things just shouldn't make it into a sorbet.)

            Actually, what strikes me as particularly obnoxious are the cooking reality shows, particularly since shows like Hell's Kitchen and Chopped tend to recruit the biggest whiners and prima donnas for entertainment value. To me, that takes away from the enjoyment of the cooking and eating. A lot of the time they barely even show the food or discuss its preparation in favor of showing some reality show nut trying to salvage pasta from the trash. (Ew. That was when I stopped watching Hell's Kitchen.)

            That said, I do appreciate the good, solid cooking shows that give laypeople a chance to make things we might never find in a cookbook or learn from relatives. This stuff was a gateway to cooking when my brothers and I were little -- I will never forget hearing my adorable little brother refer to his "mise en place." (Everybody now: awwwww.) There's something about television that really lets cooking come alive.

              1. re: RetiredChef

                I agree re: FN shows; I was a contestant on one of their competition shows last season...not only do they not pick the best recipes or contestants in their competition shows, they already have their winner picked out before you ever step on the set...I know how it works behind the scenes and I was surprisingly shocked....and so that you don't get it twisted, I'm not a disgruntled ex-contestant; just stating the facts (LOL)..I only watch Barefoot Contessa and Diners Drive Ins & Dives for the most part.

                But back to the subject, I get excited when I find someone I can talk "shop" with; it can be the mailman, the teller at the bank or whoever, just never know where a foodie lie...And I've also been around people who just don't get it. mother, a good country cook, just never gets as excited as I do when I find a new "toy" in the stores I can take home to my kitchen, like a new seasoning or my new pressure cooker...

                1. re: RetiredChef

                  Iron Chef is to cooking as professional wrestling is to the sports world.

                  How many times have I told the wife.."It's like watching Saturday Night "Rasslin" :))

                2. The most common thing I hear from my friends and family is that I have to get a better job so that I can afford my 'foodism'. My Gf makes fun of me all the time about being a hound. She also complains that it takes to long for me to make dinner and I use to many dishes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: haggisdragon

                    That makes us two haha, on the get a better job so we can afford our "foodism" Just this month I got a Stand-mixer, 6 cookbooks and i'm trying new recipes weekly, so it takes all my little $$$ =(

                    The few times I get to talk to someone who's crazy about food just as I am, it's a blessing. I even made a friend and one day I asked him about his opinion about food, he said food is just energy and he doesn't give too much thought to it... that's when i realized than the brunch i prepared for him was a waste since for him it was the same having my black-bean soup with pancetta... endives salad, Paella and Upside Down Pineapple and the same going to Subway =(

                    I just don't connect with people who don't enjoy food...

                    I even met a friend who hated to eat, she would just drink Pepsi, she said it was too much hassle to eat... I almost cried. lol. (She started to eat when the doctor told her she was going to start loosing her teeth and weak bones).

                    My grandmother never had money, or good men, or good children (except for my mom =), but she said she always has cooking... and so do I...

                    cooking and food keeps me sane =)

                  2. Sorry, my eyes snagged on "spray their bagels with Pam" and I lost my train of thought there...

                    Ok. I have a friend who is not a foodie at all. She's an Eat to Live type whereas I am a Live to Eat person. She doesn't spend much time even tasting her food, let alone savoring the flavor and texture. She shovels in the right amount of food to keep her going during the day and that's that. It seems to me to be as mechanical and enjoyable as filling up a gas tank.

                    The fact that I love to read cookbooks and watch cooking shows mystifies her, although she did enjoy the Sandra Lee show I made her watch. She said that even she would not put together some of the concoctions Sandra did.

                    However, she views my interest in food and cooking as "obsessive" and "unhealthy," yet I cook healthy meals made from scratch and she's content to load up on processed food-stuffs.

                    She views the idea of comfort foods as pathological, and while eating your emotions instead of dealing with them is not healthy, there is nothing wrong with a culture of cuisine, in which food is more than simply a fuel.