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What makes a foodie?

What are the top qualities that make someone a foodie?

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  1. They love to eat. And as soon as they eat something they love, they instinctually begin wondering what's in it and how was it made.

    1. Interesting question.

      I see an online dictionary definition as "an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food".

      Certainly works for me as a definition and I'd be more than happy to define myself in those terms.

      I'm not sure that I regard myself as having any particular qualities that you ask about. Although, you'd have to have a way of knowing if you are eating "good" food or not. It's a bit like the old saying about art appreciation - I may not know much about it, but I know what I like when I see it.

      I like the "enthusiastic interest" in that definition. Certainly it sets the foody apart from the non-foody as it sets apart folk who are dedicated followers of whatever is their hobby, from the folk who have little or no interest in the subject.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        >>> I may not know much about it, but I know what I like when I see it. <<<

        Change "see" to "taste" and that pretty much describes me and wine.

      2. We all need to come up with a working and worthy definition PDQ: I read a letter to an advice columnist yesterday in which someone was saying that a friend she sees every so often is a "foodie," and always insists that they go out to a restaurant. But then this "foodie" proceeds to be nasty and condescending to the staff, making difficult demands and treating them like errant slaves. Please, folks, how can such a jerk be a "foodie"?

        I'm in agreement with both sherrib and Harters here. There was some argument on CH back in the Jim Leff days – I think it might have been he who didn't like that term, because he thought it described some sort of insufferable food snob – but I've considered myself one ever since I encountered the term. The only downside is that our interest in food can become obsessive, to the point that we can't feed the squirrels without thinking of Brunswick stew!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Will Owen

          We don't need to agree on a definition. It's only a slang term, not standard English, and slang tends to be more fluid than standard English. In any case, words become defined by usage, not by agreement. I have a "working and worthy definition," but it need work only for me. Others may use what works for them.

          As for your example, a foodie may or may not be a churl. I don't see a problem, linguistically speaking.

        2. Thanks Harters, sherrib and Will Owen. I've come across so many different uses (derogatory and positive) and groups that cross over like Chef Groupies, Whole Foodies, BBQs and a zillion others. YOur feedback is helpful and I'm still laughing about the Brunswick Stew :-)

          3 Replies
          1. re: foodiery

            Oh, indeed. Foody/foodie is one of those words that folk can use to be insulting by their own definition, but are happily used for self-definition by a group.

            I'm sure we can all think of others of those words in common (non-food) use. You know the sort of thing - OK, say, for someone from a minority ethnic group to use a word to describe themselves. Not OK, if it's used by someone from the majority ethinic group.

            Acceptablity will differ by culture. Where I am, being called a "foody" would not generally be regarded as an insult. It may not accurately describe me, but it's accurate enough by our general understanding of the word.

            1. re: Harters

              Yeah, I wouldn't describe myself that way cause, said out loud, it seems weird or something. I'll say something like "I'm kinda into food."

              1. re: c oliver

                In the ordinary course of events, I'd never actually describe myself as a foody.

                That said, in the opening sentences of my latest (as yet unpublished ) book, I do - "It was, perhaps, inevitable that I would write this book. In recent years, my interest in both the Great War and food has developed. I confess to having become something of a foody and something of a war “anorak”."

          2. In my lexicon, a "foodie" is obsessed with keeping up with trends in eating, at home or in restaurants. I've written on this before, so will leave it at that for now.

            13 Replies
            1. re: GH1618

              I think that was Leff's idea also. I think a lot of us have moved beyond that. And also know that a "chowhound" means nothing to anyone who isn't one.

              1. re: c oliver

                "And also know that a "chowhound" means nothing to anyone who isn't one."


                1. re: c oliver

                  I may use this discussion board extensively, but I would never describe myself as a "chowhound", not even to other users of the board.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Actually "chowhound" is a term used by many to describe someone who enjoys eating, with an implication of quantity over quality. Merriam-Webster definition: "a person who likes to eat." It existed long before Jeff Leff came along.

                    1. re: 512window

                      While true, that would be Jim Leff. The term chowhound is currently in use by a number of food businesses.

                      1. re: 512window

                        I was referring to "foodie" which Leff held in low regards but the times they have a changed.

                        1. re: 512window

                          "Chowhound" would be meaningless in the part of the world that I inhabit - where "chow" is not generally used as slang for food.

                      2. re: GH1618

                        Thank you! Can you send links to things you've written on this?

                          1. re: GH1618

                            Could you link to the particular comments please? I've skimmed but not finding it easily.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Thanks! This is a great post. So true!

                        1. What's your definition of a "foodie"?

                          You might be interested in this, if you haven't already seen it:


                          1. Boy, one of those things where each person has their own definition. Being from the SF bay area, "foodie" invariably includes an aspect of food "politics," but I hesitate to go there.

                            I like sherrib's definition: "as soon as they eat something they love, they instinctually begin wondering what's in it and how was it made." Although I'd also add that the foodie label has to include a sense of aventurousness: foodies are also curious about trying all different types of food and different restaurants.

                            I'm not sure I agree with GH1618 that a foodie is obsessed with keeping up with trends. Although, I'd say foodies are certainly aware of the trends. In fact, in some ways it is the opposite: foodies do not jump aboard fad diets, for example. Another example, I, who considers myself something of a "foodie," enjoy kale, but then, I always have. I do not look for it any more now than I did before (in fact, I'm a bit sick of it).

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MagicMarkR

                              "Obsession" is perhaps too strong a word. I certainly agree that fad diets, for the most part, have nothing to do with foodieness.

                            2. They enjoy food. I enjoy the difference in food and try to understand the components (materials) and cooking methods....etc.

                              1. No matter what type of store you enter (clothing, book, general merchandise) you will find the foodie wandering over to that 'food section' of that store. They'll buy a jar of pickles before buying a hat, book or ink cartridge....

                                1. As a foodie I will go to Chinatown to get takeout for dinner and go to three different restaurants to get all of my favorites from each place.
                                  I stop at restaurant #1, place my order, go to #2, place my order and on to #3 to place my order. By that time the first one is ready to be picked up. It helps if you have a co-pilot to stay in the car.
                                  Notice I did not use Restaurant #456 an actual restaurant in C-Town.

                                  1. everyone sees it differently, it appears.
                                    most "foodies" I know like bland food.
                                    they love unseasoned and unsalted food with every opportunity to empty a salt shaker on their plate.
                                    this is in contrast to some non-foodies who carry their own salt in their pocket for the unseasoned food they most often encounter.
                                    and salt is NOT the only seasoning on earth, or in the kitchen, at all...
                                    whether we discuss the ancient ritual of displaying herbs in a bottle of soy oil called olive oil, or the over-salting of food by chefs, or the culinary wonderland of QSRs, we are falling for the foodie trap.

                                    not a good place to be

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                      I don't know any self-described "foodie" who like "bland food." None. Where do you find these people?

                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          Someone from NJ who likes bland food would call himself a "foodie"? I'm not getting this. Sorry

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            That was a joke. An answer to "where do you find these people?"

                                    2. I come from a Jewish family that would talk about food constantly. While we were eating one meal, we talked about where we would eat the next. Or compare it to places we already ate.

                                      But here's the thing: we all ate a strictly meat-and-potatoes diet. My father didn't eat cheese, so no pizza. No chicken on the bone. No seafood. Hardly any vegetables. No mayo. Every Tuesday, we had Swiss Steak. Every Wednesday, Brisket. Each day of the week was another variation on beef- and- potatoes, and the same for every day of the week. One day a week we had chicken hash, which was pan-fried chopped chicken breast and onions.

                                      Going out to dinner, it was chicken chow mein (no noodles!) or steak, or veal cutlet. Every Sunday it was dinner at Howard Johnson's.

                                      We thought non-stop about food. So were we foodies?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Steve

                                        "So were we foodies?"

                                        Absolutely. Without question.

                                      2. Well, I really doubt I qualify as a foodie. I only like to:

                                        - eat
                                        - experiment
                                        - think about food 24/7
                                        - check out restaurants, old and new
                                        - ask restaurant staff about their ingredients and prep methods
                                        - try to befriend restaurant staff
                                        - take cooking classes; save all my class notes and handouts
                                        - buy more kitchen tools and gadgets than I need
                                        - buy more cookbooks than I need
                                        - spend umpteen hours on food blogs and write comments
                                        - write restaurant feedback comments on Urbanspoon
                                        - gravitate to cookbooks, magazines, foods and kitchenware sections of any store I go to.
                                        - talk food & restaurants with people
                                        - watch cooking shows on TV more than other programming

                                        Nope, I don't think I'm a foodie. Far from it.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                          I think there may be a parallel universe where you are me, or I am you.

                                        2. They don't eat to live they live to eat. Cliche I know but it's really the crux of what separates foodies from others

                                          1. I think a key factor is a desire for experimentation and exploration in foods.

                                            I once had a girlfriend who was very reluctant to order any food at a restaurant that she wasn't sure she would like. But I am always inclined to try things I've never experienced--not just ingredients, but preparations, cost levels, locations. I think she felt the dinner is ruined if she doesn't like the food. For me, the more important thing is what I learn. I can find more food later if I can't stomach something.

                                            1. For me personally it means adventurousness and a deep enjoyment of all things food.

                                              For my parents it means "Anyone who doesn't cook from a box or package."