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?
"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.
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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.