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Feb 4, 2012 12:12 PM

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.

      2. The original comment has been removed
          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.