I recently met a lovely women’s magazine food editor at a function. The conversation started with the usual chit-chat: introducing ourselves, talking about what we do etc. I mentioned that I am a super keen cook. She replied promptly: “Thank goodness that you don’t call yourself a chef – these days every second person considers himself or herself a chef!” She added that unless you have been trained as a chef & have been in charge of a real kitchen, you are not a chef. I agree. The term ‘chef’ is overused. Is reality TV to blame for this? Everyone who has watched a dozen of Masterchef episodes, can call him or herself a chef or a food critic, right? Wrong.
It got me thinking about the term foodie & weather it falls into the same category. The difference: a chef has formal training & experience, whereas a ‘foodie’ is… who knows?
What does it all mean?
So I decided to enlist the help of our friend Google (who else?) about the definition of a ‘foodie’. I found the myriad of definitions to be super confusing & even contradicting – some make foodies sound amazing, while others paint a picture of obsession & gluttony.
gour·mand: a person who enjoys eating & often eats too much; a connoisseur of good food
synonyms: glutton, overeater, big eater, gobbler, gorger
Oh no. A glutton, overeater or gobbler?
Yourdictionary.com is much more forgiving: A foodie is a person who really loves food & has a special knowledge of food & food preparation techniques.
The Wikipedia definition of foodie sums it up best though: “A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food & alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. The terms ‘gastronome’ & ‘epicure’ define the same thing, ie a person who enjoys food for pleasure.”
I was also delighted to learn from this study that so-called foodies are serious about nutrition, which means that foodies are not gluttons or big eaters as a rule. Phew. Relief.
But if you start asking or reading around about the actual use of the term, you’re likely to get some raised brows & frowns.
As far as the majority of my online & off-line sources are concerned, the word is pretentious & over-used.
My friend Daleen, a magnificent cook & entertainer, says tongue in cheek: “If you call yourself a foodie, you are dead to me! … ‘I’m a foodie’ sounds very much like you’re a character in a badly-produced food-version of the Teletubbies…”
The Washington Post is clearly also rather irritated with the use of the term & makes a good case about the overuse of the term. The irritation has even lead to a brand new term of foodiots being coined. Too funny, right?
But why the fuss?
This brings me to being called – or calling yourself – a foodie. Personally, I am not too hung up on a title. One of my dearest friends often call me a foodie & coming from her, I consider it a huge compliment. Some bloggers seem to be very proud of the term. Ultimately it is about the preparation & enjoyment of food. Cooking is part of my life. My rituals. Our home.
The main problems, I suppose, with the term is that it has become associated with snobbery, is used way too loosely used. Also, if you become entitled & overly critical of food & those who prepare it, then I’d say that you’re giving foodies a bad rep.
In my view it is also different to call yourself a foodie than to be called a foodie by others.
You Be You
This is me: when I was pregnant, I felt awful. I was unbelievably nauseous which made food shopping, cooking & eating – things that I love – so unpleasant. To say the least.
I could mostly only stomach starch (aka cereal & pasta) & I kept thinking how terrible my life would be if I never regained my appetite or my joy for cooking & eating again.
As much as I would not call myself a foodie, I can tell you is this:
- I love to eat!
- I am a super keen cook & I wish to do a real chef’s course one day to improve my skills & knowledge. My knife skills are…um… quite sad…
- I love to discover & experience new eateries & food trends.
- I loooove to entertain & bless friends & family with food.
- I appreciate an expensive glass of wine, but can happily also sip on a cheap bottle of Chardonnay.
- I would much rather have a very simple meal made with love than a gourmet dish in a super stiff snobbish setting.
- Good food, made with care & love = joie de vivre. My granny’s cabbage stew, a meal by a Michelin Star Chef, eating sushi from our favourite place on the couch with my main guy.
- I will happily review a restaurant & really feel flattered when I am invited to do so. What I will give is my honest opinion about the experience from a customer point of view & from someone who enjoys really good food. I won’t pretend to be Matt Preston.
I totally agree with our friend Jacques when he says: “I don’t know if I will qualify as a foodie. I do enjoy well-prepared food in good company & in a beautiful setting.”
So, for now, I won’t be using the word ‘foodie’ to describe myself or any other person but I won’t roll my eyes if you want to refer to me, someone or yourself as one. .
Finally, I’d like to echo Mark Bittman in The New Yorker: “I do wish there were a stronger, less demeaning-sounding word than ‘foodie’ for someone who cares about good food…”
How about you? Are you a foodie? Or do you despise the word with a capital “D”? Do you have any alternative descriptions? Perhaps a new term is required?
I’d love to hear from you.
Ps. Want to read more about this topic? Read this.
Image credits: 1 (image by Alfred Eisenstaedt via Getty Images); 2; 3 & 4