What is a Foodie, anyway?

https://burninlovebbq.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/foodie-crossing-close-up.jpg?w=648I read a very interesting post over at Chicago Bites today titled, “What Makes a Foodie?”

The author’s premise seems to be that there is a growing misconception that people who consider themselves “Foodies” must have a passion for cooking or be a professional in the food industry (which is a high-falutin’ way of saying…your a cook.)

First, some definitions:

Foodie is an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook.” (From Wikipedia)

Nicole Weston, in her article, “What is a foodie, anyway” (February 10, 2006), says, “Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news.”

UrbanDictionary brings the conflict to a whole new level:

“A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation. A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie.”

So…back to the original article. The author states:

“I’m surprised by a prevailing assumption I often come across that being a foodie means having an overwhelming desire to cook — to recreate the work of masters in one’s own kitchen. I think that’s pretty presumptuous and in some ways, devalues the art of fine dining. Being a foodie is more about appreciation than recreation. It’s about being adventurous enough to try new things and to savor flavor combinations you never dreamed of.”

Unfortunately, the comment box was closed.

Well, if you hang around here much you know it takes more than that kind of thing to shut me up. So, I’m moving the conversation over here to explore a little deeper.

Here’s my completely subjective .02 –

If you’ve seen the Pixar classic, Rattatooie, then you may remember one of the critic Anton Ego’s lines, following his “enlightenment” near the end of the movie. “Not everyone can be a great chef, but a great chef can come from anywhere.”

I think that the foodie/cook issue may be a similar juxtaposition – in that, you don’t have to be a great chef (or even like to cook) to be a Foodie, but most Foodies become passionate about cooking. I do know one thing, of the dozen or so friends and acquaintances that I consider to be hardcore foodies in my own little world, every single one of them loves to cook.

So, do you consider yourself a “foodie?”

If so…why? What do YOU think the defining characteristics of a Foodie are, and do they include a passion or interest in cooking…or are there any the defining characteristics at all?

Okay, I’m gonna go make a sandwich.


Looking for a great book on the subject of Foodies?

Here’s my favorite:

How to Be a Better Foodie: A Bulging Little Book for the Truly Epicurious – Sudi Pigott

Bulging with information, this little book is a delightful celebration of food that will appeal to anyone who is fiercely dedicated to finding the finest, latest, rarest, and most delicious culinary knowledge.

How To Be a Better Foodie serves up entertaining and informative morsels to satisfy even the most insatiable cravings, such as:

• Unusual delicacies—prawn shells, radish leaves, parmigiano reggiano rind and more
• The latest in culinary trends such as belly pork, wagyu beef, lotus root crisps, green tea iced meringue, and sousvide preparation
• International foodie pilgrimages and an almanac of seasonal delicacies

With quizzes to test the reader’s foodie prowess, illustrations throughout, and page after page of compelling food facts, this book offers revelations for even the most advanced foodie as well as a wealth of tidbits for the eager novice.

Interested in further online reading? Check out:

What is a foodie? from Slashfood
Foodies and Food Snobbery from the NY Daily News
Rachael Ray: Anti Foodie? from Slate
I’d rather be an amateur by The Gluten Free Girl
The Anti-Foodie Foodie Manifesto from The Porcini Chronicles with a shout out to Food Snobbery from Julie of Julie/Julia

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