Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering

I despise the term “foodie” as it applies to people who, like me, center their lives around food and cooking. Because it ends with the diminutive suffix “ie,” foodie trivializes a habit of mind and craft that very many of us take seriously enough to try to earn our living by it. Foodie also symbolically lumps, professional chefs, food historians and Food Network fans into a silly sounding category similar to the one inhabited by obsessive fans of Star Trek (trekies) rock bands (groupies) and dope (junkies).

However, even though I think the word demeans everyone who uses it and everyone it applies to, I use it anyway because I know of no other term in popular speech that works as well to describe the mostly loosely affiliated network of people who spend most of their time thinking through food and cooking.

22 comments:

aq said...

Hmmm.. How about 'Fooder' As in 'Treker'. Personally I prefer Culinarian.

Scotty said...

I am proud to be a 1st generation Trekkie! How about Foodist?

Walt said...

I logged in to cast my vote for "Foodist" but Scotty beat me to the punch. Good show Scotty, I second your motion.

Scotty said...

Walt, we could cast a movie - Ronnie Howard, Lauren Bacall and a re-animated John Wayne. It would take place in the old west . . . ;-)

Walt said...

Nice parallelism Scotty. As the three antagonists at the end I'm seeing Monsanto Mike, ConAgra Jack and USDA Jay.... I'm just sayin.

Jason said...

"Culinarian" is a great word that certainly has more sophistication than "foodie", but it's too long and hard to say with your mouth full ;)

Annie said...

I personally wish that we lived in a world where we didn't need to define everyone in such narrow labels because I find it not just demeaning, but restrictive. Are we foodies? Culinarians? Gastronomes? Sure, we're also eaters, cooks, readers, writers, scholars, and a host of other things that make us whole people.

Bob del Grosso said...

Annie
I agree that most labels are annoying more for what they omit than for what they include. However, pop cult discourse pretty much demands that we use them because it does not allow us to spend volumes of words describing what and who we are referring to.

Really, I have no objection to labels for demographic groups no matter how much the labels ignore individual variation. It's only the labels that demean, trivialize and obscure reality that I don't like much I suppose.

So "foodie" is out because it doesn't really indicate the reality of who we and because it symbolically infantilizes us by making us as helpless as babies in the face of our interests (the "ie" ending) it's demeaning.


I am many things and have many interests, but I'm not interested in being a baby again :-)

Tags said...

Last I heard, the universal term that describes who you're talking about is...

French.

Bob del Grosso said...

Tags
Perhaps, however I was thinking "paisano."

Jennifer S said...

buongustaia or gourmand?

Paisano, penso siamo amici.

Bob del Grosso said...

Jennifer S

Yeah, they both work. But the trick is to get enough people to use them so that everyone forgets about "foodie," right?

Tags said...

I meant generic "French," sorta like when the Amish say you're either "plain" or "English."

Jason Sandeman said...

I agree 100% with you there, nothing is worse than that frickin title. I mean, why not lump me in with all those book-readers, homemakers who love to "try something new". Forget my apprentiship and all the years I spent moving up. I am a "foodie" just like Alton Brown, who puts Ketchup into his spaghetti and meat sauce. 'Nuff said!

Bob del Grosso said...

Jason Sandeman,
Alton Brown puts Ketchup on spaghetti? Say it isn't so!
It makes my eyes hurt.

ntsc said...

Scandanavians put ketchup on spaghetti, my mother put ground meat in the ketchup to make it a 'meat sauce'.

I've no problem with using foodie to describe me, but I'm an amatuer with no professional training. I have some problem with using the term to describe a professional.

Tags said...

If you really want to screw up your spaghetti, you're gonna need some cinnamon. Actually, that'll screw up any tomato sauce or gravy you happen to come across.

John said...

"Gourmand" and "Epicurean" are both way too snooty. Foodie sounds a bit trite, but everyone knows what you mean.

Lou said...

Friends and family with less of an interest in food preparation and ingredients than I have call me a "food snob". I'm OK with that.

"Foodie" is a useless word because it means too many things. I don't want a single word that means both "chef" and "gourmand".

By the way, I'm a writer, not a wordie.

Chojin said...

What group of individuals is it felt that a single term is necessary? The masses? A certain publications audience, or worse yet, television audience?

I would be fearful of a single word that would encompass the true professional as well as the weekend warrior cook. Call it what it is. Cooks a cook. A Chef is a Chef. A writer is just that, albeit categories are requisite to elaborate. Foodie is generally the moron at the cocktail party asking your opinion on _______ (insert lame TV cooking show here). Gourmand is that boisterous jerk at the same party trying to one up the Chef with some miniscule tidbit of information he did not know.

I refer to myself as a cook, although title on my coat states Chef. I do consider the likes of Alton Brown to be more of a Culinologist as he is in tuned with the science of the food. Culinarian to me sounds academic and very ACF.

Sarah said...

call me a foodie, doesn't bother me. I just don't like pretentious titles, the only foodie that should be a snob is one working in a soup kitchen.

Jessika said...

I live in Scandinavia, I am a foodie and, if important a trekkie but I do NOT put ketchup on my spaghetti.
As much as you could hate the term foodie, but then as said what other word is there?, I hate the lumping in of Scandinavians. We have the 5 countries making up scandinavia, from Iceland to Denmark, passing Norway, Sweden, Finland before reaching there. To a percentage which uses more ketchup than another?
A family member does use ketchup on pasta, but then so he does on anything. I am usually told what to prepare in order to avoid wrath. H**l, here people eat what's being served, without ketchup ;) :)