What makes a foodie?
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.
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!
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.
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 :-)
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.
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”."
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).
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.
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
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?
Well, I really doubt I qualify as a foodie. I only like to:
- 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.
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.