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on foodieness

Last Friday a number of colleagues and I went out for post-semester drinks. One of them, a really smart guy with an Ivy degree, whom another colleague described as a dandy (and indeed the man dresses in the latest styles from la bella Italia, which he picks up twice a year, as his wife is from the boot-shaped peninsula), turned to me and said I didn’t know you are a foodie!, once he learned that I cooked up a feast for a symposium that some have described as gourmet. The fare consisted of two types of tapenade (one of roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes, the other a roasted mushroom, olive spread); 4 tortillas españolas; a fennel, pine nut couscous salad; gazpacho; saltimbocca alla romana; and six flans (2 plain, 2 coconut, 2 rum). To which I said, yes, I cook.

But, I don’t know that I would describe myself as a foodie. Yes, I realize that I made my own dinner rolls and the cream of mushroom soup for the green bean casserole, in which I used fresh green beans but I wouldn’t say that I’m a foodie. I have in the past subscribed to Cooking Light, and even considered submitting a recipe or two. I currently have a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve eaten strange things simply for the experience… I am no where near John Mcphee, though. And, I’ve even amazed the proprietor of a place down Florida way by making a strawberry pound cake with nothing but a fork and bundt pan.

I own dutch oven (scroll down to last entry, argument), cast iron, tongs; I sharpen my own knives; cook on gas; hang my pots from the ceiling… add brie to my potatoes, but still say that I’m not a foodie. I even buy all kinds of stinky cheese and belonged to a food co-op this summer… but I’m not a foodie. This is not a case of protesting too much. Indeed, we became members of the CSA, not because the food is better, but because of ethical and environmental reasons.

The colleague in question and his wife just spent 70K on their kitchen, brining in fine Italian slate, or granite, or marble, I forget which for their counter-tops. He justified this purchase saying Food is our hobby.

Certainly, I love to cook. Certainly, I spent four days in the kitchen last Thanksgiving; certainly, I made my daughter’s birthday cake from scratch, and will continue to do so… but, food isn’t my hobby. Food is something that must be made every day, and it’s best when made fresh and to the best of one’s abilities.

Perhaps my dislike of the term foodie (and certainly I admit to really, really liking good food) is how flippant the term is. No longer are persons epicures (which still maintains an overtone of a philosophical stance towards food, if albeit hedonistic), nor are they gourmands (even though the celebratory use of this word has squeezed the very negative undertones of its connection to gluttony out of the term), they are happy little foodies gone wild, rolling around in custards and aspics, bare-breasted.

(For a very interesting article on the morality of gourmandising.)

 

Comments

“Foodie” does indeed sound like a damn nerdy label to have to apply to yourself, BG. Clearly, we need to coin a new one for you…

How about “food snob”?

oh, but see, i’m not. i’ve never turned down any of my mother-in-love’s cooking. i have turned down store-bought cakes, but rarely boxed cakes. i eat macandcheese out of a box…

i guess, though, if gourmand weren’t so french and refined, i’d go with it because it remembers that the enjoyment of eating is close to one of the 7 deadlies and should be approached with caution

That picture brings back precious memories of church potlucks in golden times past.

I’ve always thought of foodies as people who are highly discriminating with food, but unable to produce it. They are to chefs what critics are to literature.

literature s/b authors. Ugh, this fever has finally cooked my brain.

Fever?? Ugh…sorry, JH.

BG—Get out of this academia business and start a restaurant! Then we can call you “Chef.”

How about “gastronome”? Gastronaut!

My better half wishes you would post one of your flantastic rummy recipes.

which one…

oh, i forgot the saffron, wild mushroom, risotto croquets

I think if you want to go beyond “foodie,” the term you want (pretending for a minute that BG is not opposed to French) is “cordon bleu,” which is a lighthearted complimentary term for a highly skilled but not actually professional cook, a home chef, if you like, rather than “gourmand,” closer to our “glutton,” with its connotation of not being especially sophisticated or discerning in one’s food preferences.
Apologies to any Francophones if this explanation is too simplistic.

Plus, there’s the positive associations with your local Le Cordon Bleu academy!

(I’m still voting for gastronaut, though.)

i can stomach cordon bleu… and, now that i’ve reconsidered, i can stomach epicure, as long as by that we mean in its etymological/philosophic sense—or should i say onomastic?—and not in its modern-day meaning as sensualist and synonym for hedonist, which is the usage i cited above.