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Pre-holiday rant: I am NOT a snob!

Tangenting off of the new Thanksgiving thread, WHY oh why are people who are passionate about food and recipes and freshness and variety and good quality, etc., often considered to be snobs and/or people to be made "fun" of? Is it an attack fueled by jealousy? I understand that some people just don't care that much about food, but I am equally sure that many of those people have passions that I am ignorant about/don't care about, but I don't make fun of them for it!

Why do I always feel like I need to hide or defend or explain my preferences for fresh vegetables and butter instead of margarine?

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  1. I've apparently missed something... of course the only Thanksgiving thread I've read is the one asking about non-traditional foods 'cause I think "normal" Thanksgiving food is boring and/ or crap. I'm totally cool with being called a snob for that.

    1. I don't bother to talk food to people who I know don't share the interest in food. If you're referring to this site (or other food sites), who on Chow is NOT a "food snob"--that is, someone who cares about the eating experience?

      1. Sometimes it's not even about the food that I'm considered a snob. I take great pleasure in having all of my matching serving dishes for presentation (nothing fancy, it's 13 year old Pfaltzgraff!). I also like things to be matchy matchy even if it's paper plates and napkins for a casual get-together. Some people are so offended! I'll never understand.

        It's like we should be punished or ridiculed if we don't just serve Tostitos and jarred salsa in the respective bag and jar. (Not that there is anything wrong with that but I want it a little fancier!)

        1. I guess the question is why do you feel the need to hide and/or defend yourself?

          Do you routinely talk about freshness, quality? Do you often rave about your latest recipe? Go on about you would never, ever eat XYZ ?

          Often times one's passion can come across as bragging or passing judgement on what another person likes.

          Food is one of those hot topic issues like breast feeding and politics. If your passionate about it you are going to ruffle some feathers. Just check out any of the many TJ, fast food or chain threads on this site alone.

          Be content with who you are and don't try to hide or defend yourself. Chances are you'll just get aggravated and most likely you really won't change their mind.

          1. Dunno. Do you denigrate others for their food choices? Make a big deal about too much sodium in this, too many chemicals in that, too many preservatives in that can of cream of crap soup? In my experience some people find that offensive and will defend themselves against what they perceive as attacks about what they are used to and what they grew up with.

            1. Well, in the context of recurring traditional ritual meals (Thanksgving, Christmas, Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Dia de los Muertos, sundances, et cet.), I totally can understand why: it's social policing.

              Those meals are by their very nature communal affairs, and they have liminal associations that trump personal creativity needs, among other things. Social policing behavior is designed to make sure those dimensions of the meals are honored and respected and not subordinated to other needs.

              Ritual by its nature is boring in the sense that it is repetitive. People who don't get that or resist that are likely to be targeted for social policing.

              Rituals do evolve. Gradually. One dish at a time. Maybe.

              6 Replies
                1. re: Samalicious

                  Possible, but only at the edges, as it were. Recipes that attempt to gourmandize it miss the point: the core combination has liminal associations (mostly good for most Americans; vile for a small minority) that cannot be easily tampered with. About the most one can do with it is add some duxelles to the canned COM soup (no, making a beautiful COM soup from scratch misses the point), maybe some fried shallots with the French's fried onions (not substituted). Maybe a pinch of cayenne. Absolutely no barely cooked green beans, btw.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    I have found that I can get away with good quality frozen green beans instead of canned - provided I make a big deal of them being on sale. I also tend to add a ton of bacon, and thats one addition I haven't seen people object to, well except one relative who is semi-vegetarian.

                    AND . . . don't think their ire is directed at you personally. I remember several years ago when Nancy Reagan was replacing the White House China. The US was coming out of a recession and many people felt the first lady was going a bit Mary-Todd-Lincoln. I remember one "salt-of-the-earth" friend who stated with utmost sincerity "Melmac was good enough for my mother, what is Nancy's problem?"

                    In fact, I believe there is an expression for this . . . ummm . . . oh yeah, "Putting on airs." So if it makes you happy, just plaster a good mannered smile on your face and say "but it just makes me happy", and be done with it. Just don't be disappointed when they don't do it. In fact, find some way to praise their green beans, like the innovative use of great-aunt Selma's crystal punch bowl to serve the casserole in, such a whimsical contrast to the chinet plates. I had no idea that bowl was oven safe. Oh, and look, you found the silver colored plastic-ware. It looks so nice! You got that from Costco didn't you?

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Very well put. And frozen green beans work just right for me. But, sadly, not very fresh green beans (much as I love fresh green beans, and I always cook them tender). The freezing process gives a proper texture.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Frozen hericot vert for me, the best of both worlds!

                        1. re: coll

                          I like barely-steamed green beans, sauteed mushrooms with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, either a bechamel or (heaven forbid) some jarred alfredo sauce, mixed together and put in a casserole with some fried onions on top and baked. Sort of a justification, or food snobbery, maybe, but that's how I like it. It's one of my favorites, in fact.

                          I suspect that the word "casserole" attached to a dish tends to draw sneers and scornful titters from dilettantish food snobs who subscribe to a blanket disdain for most of that which came before them.

              1. Do you talk about your passion so much that people are annoyed, or talk down to them because they don't have the same passion as you do? Many times, people don't realize that they sound like they are talking down to those who don't share the same love of food/wine/cigars as they do. Let them enjoy their margarine, and you enjoy your butter.

                1. Yea, my friends call me Martha Stewart. But I kinda just embrace it - it's a complement, they are not really 'making fun' of me. It's a bit of respect -not jealousy, I think.

                  I know when to shut up about food. Recently got some blank looks from my close friends when I told them how excited I was to participate in CH Cookbook of the Month for the first time.
                  That's why we have each other at CH...we get it.

                  Appreciating good food can be a social issue. Some co-workers keep inviting me to a mexican restaurant after work. I went once and it was terrible! Disgusting! They like it because it's cheap, but I would pay NOT to go there. Since they seem to like it, I shut up about why I won't go but have suggested we go to another (better) place. I will probably join them again just to be social but will have to find something edible on the menu.

                  I agree with boogie baby, we have to be careful how we share our love for food, so we don't make others feel inferior for their choices.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodcompletesme

                    I agree with you. I don't talk to the vast majority of my IRL friends about food in any detail because they're just not into it to the same degree. That is why I'm here.

                    No one has ever, to my face, ragged on my cooking or desire to use fresh, local, interesting ingredients. In fact, they mostly gobble what I make. My harshest critics, foodwise, are my kids!

                  2. My mom loves white zin and I have learned over the years to just keep my trap shut because it is a battle I will never win.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Kat

                      My mother was a wine snob. She would only drink Carlo Rossi chablis.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          Back in the day, Gallo and Carlo Rossi was as good as it got, mostly.

                      1. None of my friends or acquaintances has ever criticized my food choices. Nor I theirs. Some, you could call 'foodies', and others just eat.
                        I have friends and relatives who eat vegetarian, gluten free, Southern, or any number of preferences, but never have I heard a word of disparagement from any of them. In fact, we all have made a point to cook *for* one another's needs and likes.
                        Guess I am lucky!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                          Well maybe (lucky) More likely is you have friends/relatives who are adults (emotionally/psych) . Can I find a way to replace
                          mine? People are perpetually 'keeping score' - and are almost always doing the 'snarky' comment.. I try to do as your f/f do - but its consistently one-way. Be thankful for these people.

                          1. re: kitchengardengal

                            I think you have good friends because you are one fyi

                          2. Honestly, I have never experienced this. However, I also don't criticize anyone's food choices (in front of them). My secret thoughts about health, freshness and taste....I keep to myself and not make it an instant topic of conversation. If I am served something I don't want to eat...I just say "no thank you" or maybe I take a spoonful and smile.

                            My goal is a no drama thanksgiving meal...it is a goal....not always possible with family ;)

                            1. i'm with you.
                              have found many more kindred souls on the Los Angeles board.
                              the "not about food" board and the "general topics" board seem much more centered on and accepting of commercial/highly-processed "food."

                              1. I don't think I've ever actually been made fun of or accused of snobbery, but my boyfriend's family definitely doesn't understand me. A few comments have been made, but none were particularly disheartening.

                                However, knowing them, they save the nasty comments for when I'm not around. :)

                                1. I am NOT a snob. I'm a foochebag who needs to learn to keep his mouth shut.

                                  (what I said once to a cousin: "oh yeah I found this great Chinese restaurant, but I doubt it's the kind you'd like" (what I shoulda said) "oh yeah I found this great Chinese restaurant, they cook all kinds of weird parts and it's so spicy it'll snap your cap"

                                  1. I don't know. Why are some people who are so passionate about food the first to tell me that I'm a snob because I'm the same way about wine?

                                    1. Look anyone who is very "into" anything is gonna bore everyone else when they start talking about it. I really love medieval history, but I don't inflict that on other people because I know it's a dry subject for most. Likewise my close friends do me the courtesy of not going on about indie bands or professional sports when they're around me.

                                      Consider how you present your interest to others in conversation. If you are consistently being labeled a snob by diverse groups of people then the only common denominator is you, yourself.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                        I agree. I can go on and on with a fellow colleague who loves food as much as I do while others are rolling their eyes so I reserve the conversations for him and not for others.

                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                          You may have just drilled down to the core of the matter. Bravo.

                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                            Wow ! You have friends who DON'T go on and on about sports because they know you're not all that interested? I find that spouting names, stats, history, and sportscaster-like opinion is one of the few things most of the men I wind up in social situations with DO talk about....... while I mostly just listen. I've always thought it was a guy thing.

                                            1. re: Midlife

                                              It's a sports oriented guy thing, but I assure you it's not all men; hopefully they do have a few other, however minor, interests to bring to the table?

                                          2. I think because they interpret our "need" for good quality/freshness as meaning that what they cook/like as not being "good enough". I'm not sure how to get around that dynamic.

                                            Along the Thanksgiving angle - I've long ago realized that people don't like their "Thanksgiving" meal messed with, so I only do one, maybe two, "gourmet" or "new" dishes, the rest is very traditional and keeping in line with what most of America grew up with. My guests (even the foodies) want nostalgia for Thanksgiving, so they get Pepperidge Farms cubed herb stuffing (what the S.O. grew up eating) and a smaller side of a home-made stuffing that I get to experiment with from year to year.

                                              1. This is truly Not About Food. You are being targeted not because of the value of your preferences, but because they don't match the shared values of the majority of the group.

                                                You are outnumbered, and you are being bullied.

                                                1. The Mr. refers to a certain type as "gun geeks." These are the guys (mostly men) that can quote every detail about a fine gun but can't hit the wide side of a barn. To me that defines the food snob, all knowledge no practical skills.
                                                  The folks I love on this site are curious, knowledgeable and eager to share and learn.
                                                  As for the ones who make fun, as others have said, I simply do not engage them in conversations on food. Heck, our football team is 8 and 0. I can talk about the Chiefs and start another kind of ridicule.
                                                  We love who and what we love. Sometimes it is better just to STFU.
                                                  Happy Halloween!

                                                  1. Ever stop and think maybe you *are* a snob?

                                                    And, in fact, maybe we are all snobs here?

                                                    After all, when you are conversing with people speaking the same language, no one in that conversation is ever really aware that they are speaking a foreign tongue to those who are not fluent in their dialect.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      My foodie friend and I are always telling each other stories of how our families don't understand us and think we're uppity/snobby/etc, and then we stop and think.... "But I guess we are?" :)

                                                      I'm really not, though, because I'll eat anything a host puts in front of me, I'll never judge someone else's cooking (at least not out loud), and I'm not exactly working with truffles and foie gras. I just take more pride in what I produce than those around me.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

                                                        -David Foster Wallace, commencement speech at Kenyon College 2005

                                                      2. I don't think I am a snob. I'm pretty open to any type of cooking. If it requires a canned soup, so be it. If I can make it myself, so be it. I don't always know the exact wine to do in a braise, but I keep trying. I'm not, by any means, a "chef". But I cook what I like and most times, I like what I cook. My family agrees (mostly). So I don't consider myself a snob. BUT - I'll put in my 2 cents from experience and I don't mind getting criticized for it. Tomorrow is another day. I still plan to cook what I cook. Be it canned, boxed or frozen. I think we all at some time or other, use some of those products. And yes, when it is in season, I will buy fresh. Otherwise, if I wasn't able to can/freeze it ahead of time, you'll get what you get.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                                          I have no problem using cream of mushroom soup from a can sometimes. But I'll also drive 15 miles to the product market with fresher produce than going to the 5-6 markets within 2 miles of my house. Sometimes, you want that green bean casserole from canned green beans and canned soup, and sometimes you want fresh sautéed green beans with toasted almonds. Yes, I know I can make refried beans from scratch, and yes, I know they are so easy. But sometimes, you just don't want to. :) We aren't a Chef Boyardee family, but we are a Campbell's condensed soup and canned refried beans kind of family.

                                                        2. I don't get that (being considered a food snob) a lot- primarily because I keep my mouth shut. But I honestly think I am kind of a food snob. When someone tells me about a great recipe involving cream of *fill in the blank* soup, I just cringe inside. My biggest cringe moments (one of) are recipes for garlic bread that involve garlic salt. But cooking and gardening (and hunting and foraging) are my interests so I figure I can't fault anyone else for not being just like me.
                                                          I know what you mean and your rant was quite amusing :-)

                                                            1. A snob is generally someone who tends to look down on others for not sharing their passion.

                                                              How would you like to spend a whole evening listening to someone going on all night about their butterfly collection and implying that you are somehow deficient because you don't share their enthusiasm.

                                                              i love food, but I realise that not everyone will share the same passion so it doesn't totally take over my life.

                                                              I dislike food/wine/coffee snobs especially the braggers. I get a lot of visitors to my blog from people who have googled "Food Snob" so clearly it is an issue out there.

                                                              There is a fine line between sharing and bragging.