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Is there such a thing as a "great eater"? And if there is, what does it mean?

When someone says, "she's a great cook" we all sort of know what that means -- at least generally.

But what about the phrase "great eater"?

Does that phrase even make sense? If it does, what does it really mean?

How does a person define what a "great eater" is?

Is it someone like Andrew Zimmern who's intrepid and unabashedly curious?

A glutton like, say, Paula Deen or Adam Richman?

A (supposed?) savant like Frank Bruni or Ruth Reichl?

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  1. The phrases "great eater" and "good eater" are used in reference to children who are not picky about what they eat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: thomas64

      That's the context in which I've heard the phrase "good eater" used too.

      1. re: CanadaGirl

        Excellent, but I may say it also apply to puppies.

    2. "Great" is too general and imprecise a term. Why not use a word such as "epicure" or "gourmand" if that is what is meant?

      3 Replies
      1. re: GH1618

        If "great" is too general and imprecise, then why do we use it to describe cooks?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          "We" use it to describe a lot of things, but it doesn't convey much information. In contect, a word without much intrinsic meaning can be understood to mean a little more. So a "great" cook is just one whose food is generally considered much better than average, I suppose. That's not saying much. Someone who is educated in both food and language could do better.

          1. re: GH1618

            See, you just disproved your point.

        1. I would describe a great eater as someone who enthusiastically enjoys eating food for its own sake, who is willing and eager to try new things, has a broad range of likes and few dislikes, has a reasonable breadth of knowledge and experience about food and cuisines, and is able to appreciate foods from different classes - from plebian standards to frou-frou gourmet, to earnestly granola.

          This would exclude people who are more interested in talking/reading/debating about food than actually eating it, picky eaters, and people who fit obsessively in one extreme - the only chicken nuggets and french fry eaters, the obsessively locavore, hand picked by virgins under a full moon crowd, and those who figure the more you pay, the better it is. It would also exclude those with serious food restrictions, whether voluntary or not.

          1. "My doctor advised me to stop ordering intimate dinners for four unless there were three other people." -Orson Welles

            Now that's a great eater.

            Humor aside, I'd say that last post laid out a pretty good set of parameters.