“Foodies” have been springing up everywhere these days; it seems the term inadvertently gets self-ascribed to anyone who enjoys a meal. But no, sir, opting for extra large fries at Burger King then proceeding to make a mayonnaise-ketchup concoction, or having an insatiable desire to eat (out) doesn’t actually you a foodie make. In fact, that may be a simple case of greed. Good ole gluttony, which by the way is one of the seven deadly sins…according to the christianfolk at least. But that’s a whole different blog post, possibly for another blogger.
So who exactly is a foodie? Well, best believe that there’s lurking controversy whenever one attempts to explain this. This is in part because the term bears different connotations to different people. For some it’s a compliment, an authentication of sorts for a passionate interest in food. Meanwhile others – including top food connoisseurs and culinarians – cringe at the thought of ever being identified as a “foodie”, probably because they consider the term belittling and frivolous. After all is said and done, such a pejorative and hostile attitude towards the term is nothing short of pompous and petty.
Gourmet vs. gourmand
A foodie is a gourmet (yes – the term also applies to the individual), or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food, and not just its preparation or the consumption thereof. Typical foodie interests and activities include, inter alia: gastronomy (food science); wineries and wine tasting; breweries and beer sampling; following restaurant openings and closings; food distribution; food fads; health and nutrition; cooking classes; culinary tourism; and restaurant management.
On the other hand, a gourmand, in simplest of terms, is one who takes great pleasure in (eating) food; one who enjoys food in great quantities. There really isn’t a genuine interest to understand food beyond its presence on a plate. Sure, a gourmand may delight in trying new foods – just as a foodie or gourmet would – but the difference here is for the sole purpose of satisfying the appetite, not to discover a the perfect crunch or acid factor in a dish.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are some signs you may be in fact just love to eat:
1. You’re quick to order a chicken sandwich, every time
Ain’t nothing wrong with satisfying your craving for that juicy chicken sub, but for heaven’s sakes try something else. There’s a whole world out there beyond chicken between slices of bread cloaked in wilted lettuce. Change it up, live (on the edge) a little. Allow your palate the treat of something new ever so often.
2. You’ve landed at your dream vacation spot, but still opt to dine at McDonald’s
Now let’s be real here. There’s no way you are a true foodie if you don’t have the slightest urge (for me it’s more like a burning desire; a higher calling…MY calling) to go out and explore the street food of some of the greatest cities in the world. In fact, foodies are known to plan their trips around their desired eateries, taking into consideration factors such as opening hours, top-selling dishes, exoticness and review ratings.
3. You eat out of convenience
Once convenience-eating is the modus operandi of your food intake, then it’s time to take a vacation…from life. Yup, something is wrong, really wrong, and it needs to be addressed with utmost urgency. Foodies put much thought into the next meal, sometimes leading to confusion (read obsession) about what to have when, where, and with whom. Truth be told, even the most hardcore of foodies fall into this trap of convenience-eating for a number of reasons, mostly due to sudden lifestyle changes or circumstances beyond their control. But best believe it won’t be long till they’re back on their feet sniffing out average meals masked by cheap and convenient and heading face-on into the most scrumptious of dishes.
4. You might as well be eating chicken out of a can, and this doesn’t bother you.
This level of complacency and nonchalance (and plain sadness) is by no means okay. The value of eating fresh bears much emphasis for any passionate lover of food and so does the never-ending desire to understand food beyond its presence on a plate, or in a can. The point here is that no self-respecting foodie would even consider eating chicken from a can. And yes, such an atrocity does exist. In general canned goods are a last resort when convenience is your only saving grace.
5. You automatically go for the cheapest meal on the menu, portion-to-price considered
No one is saying that you should order a side of sturgeon caviar to go a top a saffron-infused fillet of blue-fin tuna, but if your eyes instantly wander to that $1.29 sandwich just because it’s the lowest figure on the menu or that mega portion of pasta that could feed an army then you’ve lost even more foodie points that you thought. Foodies understand they may need to dish more dime for the care and complexity put in to create a worthwhile dish.
6. You need the waiter to explain your meal
A foodie on a bad day knows more about the dish they are about to order than madam waitress herself, even if he/she is having said dish for the first time. On a good day you can find even the humblest of foodies cordially correcting ill-trained restaurant staff and suggesting how improvements can be made.
7. The most prized possession in your pantry is that pepper grinder you got, on sale
Sorry if I crush any dreams but there really isn’t anything too glorious about that pepper grinder you whip out in an attempt to impress your friends when they come over. Nor is that pack of smoked marlin any more of a star item. If you aren’t on a constant journey to source some of the most unique ingredients you’ve identified during deconstructing your favourite restaurant meals then you’re really just a regular Joe, who just loves to eat.
So from this point forward I’d like us to be a bit more prudent in identifying oneself as a foodie. It’s a bit (a whole lot) more than just one who loves eating food.