Are You a Good Foodie, Or a Bad Foodie?

So, I was cruising through Slashfood this morning and came upon this post by Sarah Gim entitled, “You can’t be a foodie and not like…”, and it got me to thinking. (Gim references a post at Matt Bites, which I hadn’t read yesterday, but which I read today, which also is lively and interesting–I both agree and disagree with his points.)

The whole premise of the post is that Gim doesn’t really like caviar, foie gras or organ meats, and so, does she deserve to be called a foodie?

Of course, this calls into question exactly what a “foodie” is; Gim like me, dislikes the term intensely, but uses it anyway for lack of a better word to describe a lover of food and of culture and material related to food. “Gourmet” used to cover that area, but it got ditched because of the inevitable aura of snobbery attached to its useage; now, inevitably, the diminutitve, dismissive term, “foodie” is acrueing connotations of snobbishness.

So, the question for today is this: can you be a foodie if you don’t like things like caviar, foie gras or innards? Does aversion, based either upon ethical or personal aesthetics exclude a person from the “foodie” club?

Before I go into my answer, let us look at the three foods chosen by Gim to make her point–three things that she personally dislikes intensely. Caviar and foie gras both are luxury foods. They are foods that have a cultural meaning attached to them that bespeaks richness, wealth, and indulgence. They are not, by any stretch of the imagination, everyday foods–even for rich folks.

By contrast, innards, or as she more delicately put it, “other animal internal organs,” while they can be part of the culture of “haute cuisine” meaning the food of the upper classes in various European and Asian countries (note–I am not using “haute cuisine” in the most proper, French useage of the term–yes, I know what it means in that context, but bear with me), in the US, they are most often looked upon as “poor people’s food.” Tripe, tongue, chittlin’s liver and onions and kidneys all are considered to be the foods of the lower socio-economic classes in this country, because, well, organ meats are cheap. And plentiful, because not very darned many people here eat them.

These two very different categories of food–the luxury foods of the very rich, and the necessity foods of the very poor are odd company, if you think about it. I grew up eating liver and such, and not much caring for it, but I ate it because it was cheap, it was what was for dinner and it was good for me. I certainly would never have dreamed that being able to eat and even like such things would put someone on the level of a gourmet who dined on caviar and foie gras. (Though, of course, foie gras is just fancy bird liver….)

Why are these things grouped together, first of all?

I suspect it has to do with two strands of thought. One, is the populist leanings of today’s foodies who want to be conversant with every ethnic food in the entire world, and so they will go out of their way to eat whatever is on the menu, including tongue tacos (which I am sure are quite good–tongue has a great flavor), soy-braised chicken feet (those are good), and uni, which is the uncooked gonads of sea urchins, eaten as sushi (which, when it is good, is good, but when it is bad, is godawful.) I have a lot of sympathy with this adventurous attitude toward food, in large part, because it is one that I personally share. I will try anything once, often twice, just to make sure. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, however–I will not eat grey matter because of my nervousness surrounding prion diseases. Sorry–the idea of my brain turning into a lacy network of holes while I lose my mind and die does put a bit of a damper on my culinary inquisitiveness, so no cow brains for me, thank you.

The other strand of thought on the organ meats has to do with the longstanding traditions of eating these meats extent in other countries around the world. These meats are seeing an upsurge in popularity right now among the fooderati, with chefs such as Fergus Henderson leading the charge, and so in order to seem sophisticated, a foodie “should” evince a liking for such foods as sweetbreads, brains or kidneys.

And here is where the whole thing starts to stick in my craw.

As soon as someone starts telling me I “should” do something or like something or want something or be something, I instantly dig my heels in and shake my head.

Why -should- anyone be required to eat and like something that they don’t like, just so they can be called something that sounds foolish, like “foodie?” It doesn’t make any sense.

And as for caviar, foie gras and other luxury foods like truffles–does one have to be a monied individual in order to be a “true” foodie?

I mean–are we snobs, or aren’t we?

Are we going to eat what the Italians call “cucina povera–” which translates as “poor food–” which is what they call the offal dishes in recognition of the true provenance of these now upscale foods, or are we going to eat that which is considered the “creme de la creme” of eating–the haute cuisine of the past ages? And how exactly, does the eating of these foods confer upon a person “foodiehood?”

Here’s the deal: it doesn’t.

Food does not a foodie make.

A foodie simply exists, and spends inordinant amounts of time cooking, eating, or thinking about, writing about, dreaming about or otherwise obsessing over food. What food they cook, eat, think about, write about and dream about is immaterial. It is the obsession that makes a foodie, not what exactly they obsess over.

I am an inclusionist, not an exclusionist. I don’t like people who try to exclude others, as if being a food-obsessed geek is some kind of special club that only “certain people” can join.

I have news for these people: everybody eats.

And if you think about what you eat, if you talk about it, wonder about it, dream about it, write about it, compose music inspired by it, make art to express your feelings about it, if you wake up from a dream about the cake your Grandma made for your fifth birthday which you haven’t tasted for years–guess what?

Not only are you human, you are most likely a foodie.

Not a snob.

A foodie.

(And yeah, I still hate that word. It is a diminutive that sounds dismissive and goofy. Rather like “trekkie,” another word that has been used to describe me which I abhor. However, the word, “foodie” is applicable, so I will bear it for now.)

Making up “rules” for foodism is just, well, it is plain old silly. And it is -so- utterly snobby. To say things like, “if you were a true foodie, you would like caviar,” is just so full of bunk. My grandmothers would both qualify as foodies, and neither of them ever tasted caviar, because they couldn’t afford it. And frankly, I don’t think that either of them would like it, but I tell you what–they both could wax poetic over what constituted the best tomato in the world. They both were passionate about growing tomatoes, and cooking and eating, and a good bit of the talk that went on in their kitchens was not only storytelling and gossip, but discussions and arguments over food–that, to me, qualifies them both as foodies.

If you sit at dinner, and discuss the finer points of what you are eating and compare it to other versions of that same food you have eaten in the past, you are a foodie. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about pate de foie gras or chopped chicken liver. Or boudin blanc or hot dogs–if you talk argue about it with your family, y’all are a bunch of foodies.

You may not know it, but you are.

This whole idea of having to like certain things in order to be a foodie is just backwards, too.

I mean, I thought that foodies, in order to discuss food intelligently, had to have discernment. That means that they have to have personal -tastes-. Tastes are nothing but personal likes and dislikes. If we are going to think, talk and write critically about food, then should we not develop our powers of discernment? Shouldn’t we feel free to say that we like or dislike some food, no matter what the prevailing opinion of the fooderati are on the subject?

Meaning, if we have honestly tried caviar and found that it tastes like salty, oily, fishy little nodules, then, isn’t that our opinion, and should we not have the right to express it?

Because, here is the thing–I have had the opportunity, because I went to culinary arts school, to taste the finest caviar. And I did. And I didn’t like it, not even the stuff that retailed at something ungodly like $500.00 an ounce. I found it to be heavy, oily, and way too salty. I didn’t think it was nasty or anything, but I couldn’t see why people went on about the stuff–it was just, well, not all that.

What I did like was salmon roe, which was no big shock to me, because I eat it with sushi all the time. I cleaned that up at seven in the morning on the day of our tasting. The chef instructor thought I was nuts, and finally said that I must have “plebian tastes.” Chef Aukstolis, who had been present at the champagne tasting the night before and had seen me sipping the Dom Perignon heartily and with great glee, disagreed and said, “Nobody who likes Dom Perignon has plebian tastes; she just knows what she likes and doesn’t like. There is nothing wrong with that.”

There you have it. There is nothing wrong with having your own taste, your own opinion about food and expressing same.

Not everyone likes the same things. That is fine–that is what makes life so interesting, the varied cuisines of the world so diverse, and it gives foodies lots of things to talk about and argue over.

What I think is important to do as foodies is to be open-minded about food. To try new things, even if we think we won’t like them, and to honestly report upon our experiences so that others can profit by them. In being open-minded about food, I want foodies to really -think- about what we eat, why we eat it, and how we eat it. I want us to be mindful eaters, and spread the word, and get others to be mindful.

We are what we eat, after all, whether we are eating caviar or tofu, and I want us all to remember that, and ponder it, and find the meaning it.

And then share it.

Because there is nothing better than sharing food, unless it is sharing the idea of food with others.

31 Comments

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  1. Another great commentary!

    And really, wouldn’t it be so boring if we all liked and disliked the same things?

    Comment by Diane — March 27, 2006 #

  2. I really like what you are saying. I think a lot of it is just people trying to make themselves feel better by intimidating others.

    Comment by Carla — March 27, 2006 #

  3. I’m amused at the fact that being obsessed with food has suddenly become a badge of honor that people want to wear and exclude others from wearing.

    Being extremely interested in food and nutrition, I sometimes feel like a dork because I dislike alcohol. It’s not that I have a moral aversion to the substance (though I do maintain it’s more harmful than some of the criminalized narcotics), but just that I’d rather have a good cup of herbal tea or fresh juice. I don’t dig wine. I don’t dig beer. While in grad school, when my pals were getting excited at the prospect of cheap beer somewhere, I would think “oy”.

    The new upper-middle-class in Israel has been raised to taste and appreciate wine. There are wine-tastings in the Galillee and elsewhere, lots of small boutique wineries, etc. And after having gone to all sorts of professional events, if I do drink some wine I can usually tell if it’s good or bad, shake my glass like everyone else to see the “legs”, and say comprehensible things about the aroma, the tones and the bouquet. I take very little pleasure in it, and I can’t do the same for beer. It all tastes kind of bitter to me. I understand there must be something to it, since folks are obsessing about breweries and stuff, but pour me a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice instead, will ya?

    So, does that make me into a person who’s not obsessed with food? I, who think every morning on what I’ll eat today, and where, and what we’ll get in the market, and how we’ll cook it? I, who actually volunteered (o, insanity) to host the giant Passover dinner because the prospect of feeding twelve people a creative meal makes me happy? Naaaaah. I just dislike alcohol. So sue me.

    Not that I think that being called a “foodie” is anything to fight for. There’s room for everyone, folks, and anyway, may we remember that others, who go about their day giving minimal thought to what they consume (how can they?!) don’t necessarily revere and elate us for incessantly thinking and dreaming about food. But since the label is so ridiculously meaningless, why not have as many or as few people as self-identify with it, or with some version of ir, adopt it?

    Comment by Hadar — March 27, 2006 #

  4. A rose is a rose is a rose….

    I really can’t understand why all this labelling is suddenly so important.

    Here’s what’s important to me: “What’s for dinner?” and “Will someone who is passionate about flavours prepare it?” It can be baked beans on toast or cassoulet. I don’t really care; as long as it’s good.

    -Elizabeth, who also really dislikes the term “foodie” but probably is one

    Comment by ejm — March 27, 2006 #

  5. Hear, hear! Nothing makes me lose my appetite quite like being called a foodie. Fooderati, not so bad. I think maybe we should adopt it, and let the wars begin. I can see it now- The Foodies Vs. The Fooderati.

    Thanks for the thoughts Barbara. As always, a good read.

    Comment by Raspberry Sour — March 27, 2006 #

  6. Heh. See… I’ve got a term I really don’t mind describing me. And I doubt anyone else here would either… ;)

    “Hungry.”

    Comment by Bastlynn — March 28, 2006 #

  7. Well said!

    I don’t like caviar much either, but flying fish roe = mmm. Salmon roe = okay.

    Part of my problem with any sort of definition of a particular food as “high-class” is that it’s totally arbitrary and context-dependent. White sugar was very high-class in medieval Europe, but modern Americans eat insane amounts of it. White bread was a luxury in Scandinavia until relatively recently, but people here buy expensive dark rye breads that would be considered poor people food in Scandinavia and Russia. Sheep thorax was a delicacy in the Mongol Empire, but how many self-described “foodies” now even know sheep have thoraces (I always associated the term with, well, insects)? The Ming emperors dined on fetal leopards (yes, fetal leopards). Etc. etc.

    And to suggest that you can’t love food if you don’t love EVERY food is just silly. I find it puzzling that people think that.

    Comment by Mel — March 28, 2006 #

  8. LOL. another lovely piece, barbara. i don’t know what this thing is with “foodie” these days, i was calling myself one 20 years ago, and now i have to *qualify* for the label? not everyone can be jeffrey steingarten. like i said over at matt’s blog (which gim referenced), it’s personal preference, that’s all.

    Comment by stef — March 28, 2006 #

  9. Bravo, well said!

    I like being called a foodie, it agrees with me. Slightly silly and spot on.

    Thanks for the commentary.

    Comment by Scott — March 28, 2006 #

  10. well put…I couödn’t agree more.

    I just saw Jamies Italian Escape on TV, and he wonders about every Italian being kind of an expert when it comes to food (as opposed to teh British, I guess). And I thought, WTH, everybody has to eat each day of his/her life, so we’d better be pros when it comes to food…

    Comment by Foodfreak — March 28, 2006 #

  11. Thank you everyone, for the great comments!

    Carla–there is an element of one-upmanship in it, I think. “I’m better, because -I- like thus and so….” Gah. Silliness.

    Hadar, thank you very much for your comment! I was going to fess up in this post to feeling the same way you do about wine, but I figured I’d write a second post all about how I really don’t reach wine. I don’t dislike alcohol, per se, but I just don’t get the whole wine thing. I can tell good from bad, and there is wine that I like, but is there wine that I like enough to seek out on purpose and worry about pairing food with it? No.

    I am a habitual drinker of water, tea, and coffee by nature, so there we are.

    Elizsbeth–I don’t actually think it is important per se–I just think it is odd that some would exclude others from the foodie fold just because they don’t like certain necessary foods. It is silly.

    Bastlynn–that is a good one! ;-)

    Mel–mmmm tobiko! You make a very good point about the arbitraryness of what is considered “high class” food and what is “poor food” in a given time and place. And I doubt that people think about that much–and it certainly affects our perceptions of food.

    Stef–yeah, well. I don’t think anyone has to “qualify” for foodie–just be who you are, and if someone argues, tell ‘em to shut up and eat cake or something.

    Foodfreak–you are right. If we eat every day of our lives, we’d be well served to become good at food. But you are right–Jamie Oliver was contrasting the British attitude toward food with the Italian–and the Brits are rather like many Americans about food–clueless. Compared to the Italians, who are all crazy about food, we Anglos, both here and in the UK are just bloody incompetent….

    Comment by Barbara — March 28, 2006 #

  12. thanks for the article
    i am picky so somehow that has made me an outcast in the foodie circle
    just becuase i dont like certain foods doesnt mean i am not insanely in love with other foods, like cheese :)

    On another note, I like wine. I don’t know very much about it and I admit my choice usually has much to do with the label and the price. I have actually had people (wine snobs if you will) make me feel as if i could’t say im a wine drinker because I dont know about it. I learn a little with every bottle I purchase.

    That’s my two cents

    Comment by peepytwwp — March 28, 2006 #

  13. Oh my… Whatever we call them/us, I would rather have them dine at my table than the alternative: my siblings.

    See, my siblings call me a “Foodie.” Honestly, it’s perhaps one of the nicest things they have called me in my life. :) And in that context, I am glad to have the title. As a “foodie” I like to think that I APPRECIATE good food and drink more than the average folk, with my siblings being the case in point. There is nothing that makes me feel more deflated or more sad than to cook up a nice meal, even if it’s just pasta and homemade sauce, and have one of these “non-foodies” say to me, “Did you make this sauce? I like Ragu better.” Sadly, my explaination of how I grew my own tomatoes and herbs for this labour of love they are consuming would fall on deaf ears.

    *Sigh* we should all be so lucky to have “Foodies” dine with us. It certainly empowers those of us who really are so passionate about food that we take the time to create gastronimic delights – not just open a jar and microwave its contents.

    Comment by Maggi — March 28, 2006 #

  14. “A foodie simply exists, and spends inordinant amounts of time cooking, eating, or thinking about, writing about, dreaming about or otherwise obsessing over food. What food they cook, eat, think about, write about and dream about is immaterial. It is the obsession that makes a foodie, not what exactly they obsess over.

    I am an inclusionist, not an exclusionist. I don’t like people who try to exclude others, as if being a food-obsessed geek is some kind of special club that only “certain people” can join. ”

    —Totally agree with you ! All this snobbery over what is or is not ‘the real thing’ or what one should or should not do, is just narrow mindedness in one form or the other. I dont like it either.

    Comment by Sonali — March 28, 2006 #

  15. I’ll admit, I describe myself as a foodie, if only because it’s the only word I have to describe myself as someone interested in food, cooking, cookbooks, food policy, kitchen culture, and all. that. jazz. If something better comes along, I’ll use it, but for now, “foodie” is close enough and enough people know what it means.

    This is a great post. I’d never really thought about *having* to like one thing or another. I can’t imagine. There have been plenty of high-end foods that.. I just did not like. What are you gonna do?

    My only food “requirement” is that people be open to trying new things. Just try it. Once. For me. If you don’t like it, I’ll never ask you to try it again. But I appreciate an openness to new things. (And honestly, that can be food, travel, books, movies, what have you.) It does grate when friends/family won’t even *try* something new, or disparage a food that they’ve never tasted.

    Comment by Bomboniera — March 28, 2006 #

  16. Sometimes I am a good foodie..
    and other times I am a very baaad one…
    and other times I am a little goblin…

    :)

    -=Bryian=-

    Comment by Bryian — March 28, 2006 #

  17. The word foodie is utterly stupid. Let us all stop using it FORTHWITH.

    There are surely a zillion food sub-cultures, some of which we would find completely unappetising. I personally found it enlightening when visiting PRChina to discover that I’m absolutely a picky eater – when it comes to Chinese grub.

    During my visit I refused to even taste with the tip of my tongue the hardboiled chick foetuses or the dog carpaccio served with love and pomp and circumstance. I sat at a dinner where my colleagues and I offended our hosts undescribably by not eating live fish and then proceeded to scream as it flopped all over the place writhing in pain. When the ‘sashimi’ returned to the table, we ate it gladly, but the fish without flesh was still flopping around the kitchen.

    Your entry today reminds me of a little song written by the man I wanted to marry when I was 7. Only today I sing it for its meta-meaning.

    I guess the moral of the story is to not care so much what other folks think and how they categorise and judge you. That said, folks will totally categorise and judge you as this is completely fun and it sets them apart from you.
    ___________________________________
    Without going out of my door
    I can know all things on earth
    Without looking out of my window
    I could know the ways of heaven

    The farther one travels
    The less one knows
    The less one really knows

    Without going out of your door
    You can know all things on earth
    Without looking out of your window
    You can know the ways of heaven

    The farther one travels
    The less one knows
    The less one really knows

    Arrive without travelling
    See all without looking
    Do all without doing
    ________________________________

    Comment by Debra van Culiblog — March 28, 2006 #

  18. First, I found your site about 2 weeks ago and have been browsing (and grazing) ever since. Your essays are frequently spot on!

    Second:

    foodie = One who thinks, plans, cooks, and tries many manners of dishes prepared from primarily unprocessed foods. Such a person may also be a compulsive gardener and will occassionally find themselves obsessively planning menus at the risk of loosing sleep and usually throws lovely parties.

    I like the term in so far as it is an irreverent description of a hobby that can be endulged at all economic levels. (Shrimp and fish at the beginning of the month and egg/scallion/onion fried rice at the end of the month :).

    Comment by susa — March 28, 2006 #

  19. Dear Barbara
    Great writing, as usual. Both me and my husband are passionate about food. He is a great cook and in our S/R apartment, the main room is the kitchen. We consider kitchen our prime domain and spend time there to relax.

    We do eat out regularly, and depend on bread and jam to survive on busy mornings. (We live in Kerala, where bread and jam is considered as a lazy one’s breakfast !)

    Though both of us have busy schedules, we make sure that at least one meal, usually the dinner, is cooked at home. Usually, we have at least one or two friends over for dinner everyday. And he really enjoys inviting people over and cooking for them. We hate people, especially the male ‘intelligentsia’ who think talking of food is a mean activity, as a ‘women’s area.’ And, once even threatened to throw out somebody for referring to the kitchen as an ‘unimportant’ place !

    Aren’t we foodies ?

    Comment by renu — March 29, 2006 #

  20. I can’t make up my mind whether I’m a “foodie” or not. I certainly don’t obsess over food (unless you call trying a new recipe EVERY DAY obsession). And I don’t only talk about food…sometimes my friends and I talk about gardening. And just because my memories are centered around holidays (and food) doesn’t mean that it’s all I remember about my family. And just because I’m on EVERY fundraising soup and pie luncheon in town, not to mention helping to put together the Sesquicentennial cookbook, doesn’t mean that I don’t work and am not busy with other things. Then there’s the annual New Year’s Day party we throw for about 20 or so friends that I cook up a storm for. And the Chili Cook-off contest every year. Wait. I’ve made up my mind – I’m a foodie! Yeah!!!

    Oh, and I’m of the mind that you should try new things at least once. Unless of course it’s a live, flopping fish!! I probably would have vomited right on the plate. Think THAT would have insulted your hosts? Uh huh.

    Great post, by the way, Barbara. Thanks!

    Comment by Sally — March 29, 2006 #

  21. I’m a food snob. I’ve been one for quite some time and only within the last 5 years have felt better about it.
    I’m a food snob and I’m, Okay.

    Comment by Dr. Biggles — March 29, 2006 #

  22. The issue I take is not with the terms, but with the attitude–the snobbery.

    I’m know for cooking fantastic foods, meals that people rave on for years after in some cases. I love to cook and I love to feed people and my big dinners show that. I’ll spend days thinking about menus, shopping for ingredients and then start cooking long before the event so that I can enjoy the night as well. Prep ahead what can be done and save only the last minute stuff for the last minute. Eight or ten courses is not uncommon.

    And I’ve realized that with this reputation amongst friends, those who’ve taken special note of when I have gone out of my way to get exotic ingredients, that they assume that everything is special and exotic. No, hardly, I just know how to balance the flavors and textures and sights of a properly prepared food.

    The people who seek out all these expensive and exotic ingredients are just practicing the same sort of elitism that any sub-genre of society does. Like the “adventurer” sort who can only be satisfied with a vacation if it’s an exotic locale, traveling there only to act like the people there were back home and do the same things. Travel many thousands of miles to fall asleep on a beach when the same experience can be had in a closer and less expensive destination? Travel to Europe and eat at chain restaurants. Even just thinking that the only way to experience another culture is to travel far away while ignoring those other cultures nearby? Living in an American tourist city I boggle when people don’t take advantage of what’s here just to travel to another American city to do all the things they could here.

    The same with food. I snicker at the grass is greener mentality that makes any common ingredient from another culture’s cuisine suddenly and radically more magical than their own. And the idea that scarcity mean desirability. The $500 caviar is priced as such because it’s rare, not necessarily because it’s the best. Same with wine. If a low yield wine gets mention in Wine Spectator and demand is high then the price will be crazy and the pretentious wine snobs will be proclaiming it the best thing ever. Yet, they’ll turn their nose down at an equally pleasing bottle if it only costs $7 because of the vineyards high yield.

    I was asked once to make the world’s best Mac-n-Cheese. Not wanting to waste time with a fully from scratch preparation as I was making a number of other things in a short time window I started with a jar of alfredo sauce and just some pre-shredded cheeses into that. Boil some noodles, mix, pan, top with bread crumbs and more cheese, bake. I still hear about this years later on how amazing it was. Like there was some magic. But it was really just a could steps more difficult than the box of Kraft.

    So I really don’t care if people use foodie, fooderati or gourmand or whatever. The crazy attitude is what gets me. I’ll spend insane amounts of time and money on food, but I’m also aware of the sublime pleasures of a particularly nice pot of fifty cent ramen.

    Comment by Andy — March 29, 2006 #

  23. peepytwwp–all those wine snobs started out not knowing anything about wine. When you get interested in something, you aren’t born knowing about it–you learn about it. Some learn about it by reading about it and studying it, while others learn by experiencing it. You learn by experienceing.

    Next time someone says you can’t really appreciate wine, tell ‘em to bugger off, you are learning, and enjoying yourself along the way. What pompousity!

    Oh, dear, Maggi. Your siblings remind me of a cousin who berated me for “messing up” the green bean/mushroom soup/Durkee fried onion casserole by using fresh green beans, homemade mushroom sauce, and freshly fried and sauteed onions in it. “Gee–you go to culinary school and then mess up something easy like green bean casserole. What’s wrong with you?”

    Ai ya.

    Sonali–narrow-mindedness bespeaks a narrow view of the world, and inflexible thought. I don’t much care for it. Rigidity is not a good personality trait for me to get along with.

    Bomboniera–I am pretty good at getting timid eaters to try new foods. And I have plenty of friends and a husband who are supposedly picky eaters who eat everything at my house, even if it is supposedly something they don’t like. They eat it with great glee when I cook it.

    Of course, when my Dad does this, it drives my Mom crazy, because he was never so flexible an eater when I was growing up. But if I cook it and put it in front of him, he gamely dives in and eats heartily.

    Bry–

    Or, Merlin, the Happy Pig.

    Debra–I like the song!

    I don’t really care how people categorize me–I gave up a long time ago really giving a damned what people thought about me. I am who I am, I present myself honestly as who I am, and I recognize that not everyone in the world is going to like me. I do hope, however, that my honesty and integrity will lead them to respect me, if not like me. But your words are good advice for anyone.

    Susa–foodies also may be compulsive cookbook and food book collectors.

    And I think that most foodies use mostly unprocessed ingredients, but I don’t eschew them completely. Sometimes, they create the right flavor more easily than the alternatives, and not all processed foods are evil. Pasta is a great example.

    Renu, not only are you and your husband foodies, but anybody who threatens to put someone out of their house for saying that the kitchen is unimportant, well, y’all can come over to my place anytime! You are certainly my kind of people!

    Doc, I think we all harbor some amount of food snobbery in ourselves. I think it is human nature. I know I tend to be quite a democratic populist when it comes to food, but there are some things I still look down on.

    McDonald’s for instance.

    Andy–I hear you.

    I also tend to agree that the pricier “gourmet” foods are often nothing more than status symbols–they are signs of wealth and power at a party, not good flavor or taste. That pisses me off to no end.

    And, like you–I will spend a heap of money on food if I believe it to be worth the money. But I won’t buy something of low quality just because it is expensive and “hip” nor will I eschew cheap foods just because they are “lowbrow.”

    I like a good pot of ramen, too. Though, mine usually cost around seventy-five cents–I like the slightly more expensive Korean and Japanese brands. ;-)

    And–I always add goodies to them….

    Comment by Barbara — March 29, 2006 #

  24. mine usually cost around seventy-five

    I must shop at places with steeper discounts. I’m in Asia Central here with a gazillion shops within blocks. My favorite is a Korean kimchi flavored brand that’s usually $.59 USD at most places through I’ve seen it as high as $.79.

    Comment by Andy — March 29, 2006 #

  25. Thanks for the posting Barbara!

    Comment by Pamela — March 30, 2006 #

  26. Great post! I’m one of those “bad” foodies because while I love expensive snobby foods, I hate foods that everyone loves like meatloaf, stews/soups, and lots of other favorites with foodies. It’s embarassing how picky I am. Actually, I should rephrase that..picky when spending a lot of money on food.

    Thanks for sticking up for those of us who don’t eat anything but do at least try things. I’ve been thinking about this topic for such a long time and it’s great to hear your view!

    Comment by Kady — March 30, 2006 #

  27. As always, Barbara, well stated! I don’t see why we need labels to begin with. I take a great interest in the food I eat, the food I want to eat and the food that others eat. Call me whatever you like … I’m just a girl who likes to eat!

    Comment by Ivonne — March 30, 2006 #

  28. Andy–I can get the deep discounts on the good ramen in Columbus, but not always in Athens. ;-) I like the peppered beef and the kimchee flavor best, too. Morganna likes the mushroom pork flavor a lot, but I think she is coming around on the kimchee….

    You are welcome, Pamela, and thank you.

    Kady–Welcome, and I am glad you enjoyed the post. I am pretty unusual because I like all kinds of stuff, both humble and haute. I mean, the first time I had risotto with a white truffle shaved into it I thought I was going to float away on a cloud of happiness, it was so darned wonderful. And I loved my first bite of pate de foie gras, too.

    It was weird, for a while, after I got out of culinary school, some folks were really scared to cook for me. Like my Mom would put her pork pot roast with mashed potatoes and the -best- gravy in the world on the table and apologize for it because it wasn’t fancy. Some friends wouldn’t even cook for me–they thought I would be too critical.

    No way.

    My Mom would apologize and say, “Well, it isn’t fancy, but here it is.” I think that she stopped doing that after she saw that I ate just as much roast pork, mashed potatoes and gravy after culinary school as I did before.

    To me, good food is good food, whether it is simple, or so fancy it is stacked three stories high and is full of ingredients I can’t pronounce. If it is good, it is good, and I will eat it cheerfully, and talk about how good it is the whole time.

    And if I can, I’ll get seconds.

    But you don’t have to love everything like I do. I appreciate that you -try- stuff. Keep trying–you never know, you might find a version of meatloaf or stew or soup that you actually like.

    Wouldn’t that be fun?

    Comment by Barbara — March 30, 2006 #

  29. Hey, Ivonne–we posted at the same time.

    I’m just a girl who likes to eat, too.

    Which is probably why I am not skinny.

    But that is okay, because I am happy.

    (I used to be skinny, but I managed that by not eating at all, and exercising compulsively until I blew out my knees–this did not make me happy, so I stopped.)

    Comment by Barbara — March 30, 2006 #

  30. Great post, Barbara. Personally, I can’t stand the term “foodie” and would never call myself one, and I would have to say that’s entirely due to the snobby attitudes I see from “foodies” who take the narrow view; that one must have haute tastes and eschew plebian food or one is not a true food connoisseur. That notion frankly disgusts me. My husband’s had some experience with the rich end of things — like you he went to culinary school and was able to sample caviar, foie gras and $50 bottles of wine and the like — but here at home, we’re lucky if we can afford anything more elaborate than a plate of homemade spaghetti and a bottle of Carlo Rossi. Does that make us unworthy of being “foodies?” Is it possible to have a love of food and appreciate something that is well crafted and delicious and still be on a working class budget? Hell yes. (If I didn’t think so, I never would have dared start a food blog!)

    Comment by mrs D — March 31, 2006 #

  31. If an obscession with food makes one a foodie then I guess all those children with bloated stomachs and flies bussing in their eyes are foodies too.

    Comment by Julie — September 27, 2006 #

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