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Foodies: Are you a classicist? an elitist?


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Foodies will go anywhere their resources will allow in order to get a good meal. A good meal is a good meal, no matter whence it came. A "classist" is someone who avoids people, places or things because it would associate them with a group of people opposite of the social class which they are comfortable.  That's not to say that there are no classists who are foodies. There are a few, most of them being the type who buy the expensive vodkas or eat only at the five star restaurants exclusively.  As for the "elitist" term ...

While the Accidental Hedonist blog seems to be somewhat confused on these not-particularly-distinct categorizations of foodlovers, we can still derive some "talking points" for a suitable discussion here on eGullet, I believe....

How would you categorize yourself:

(a) an elitist?

(b) a classist?

© a purist?

(d) or some other category with which you might choose to be identified?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Heh. An argument which that blogger either ignores or is not aware of, goes that foodieism is by its very nature "classist/elitist" regardless of the apparent class associations of the food enthused over, because only people of some financial means can afford to treat food -- whether highbrow or lowbrow food -- as a recreational hobby, whereas poor people, no matter how much they may enjoy food, must treat it as the survival necessity it really is.

Mind you, I'm *not* saying *I* ascribe to that philosophy--heck, people only have to look at my number of posts, let alone their content, here on eGullet to know that I'm a dedicated "foodie" myself (yeah, I don't much care for the term "foodie" either, but it's a convenient shorthand, which is why I think the word persists ... but I digress). And I also think this argument is in itself somewhat elitist, because I know of all sorts of communities of modest economic means that also love and celebrate food as so more than a mere survival requirement.

But ... inasmuch as there are indeed some foodies in the world who spend more money than I earn in a year on a landmark bottle of rare vintage wine and such, I also think that there's definitely something to the concept that socioeconomic class differences do influence how some people choose to express their food enthusiasms. I'm not ascribing values to that either way ... I'm just playing armchair sociologist here and noting the existence of the phenomenon.

Anyway ... as to how I identify: well, I'm already on record as labeling myself the Tightwad Gourmand, :biggrin: and I think I can also make a case for calling myself a proletarian foodie. I really do prefer the types of foods that were traditionally poor people's food. I mean, I certainly wouldn't, and haven't, turned down caviar when it's offered to me, and have heartily enjoyed expensive restaurants--though mostly when other people have been picking up the bill. But left to my own devices, I can usually be found scanning the neighborhoods for the more promising-looking mom 'n' pop hole-in-the-wall joints. So--yeah, proletarian foodie. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :laugh:

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While the Accidental Hedonist blog seems to be somewhat confused on these not-particularly-distinct categorizations of foodlovers, we can still derive some "talking points" for a suitable discussion here on eGullet, I believe....

For the record, I should state that the definitions in the post are strictly my own. I'm not looking to codify any label. Rather, I was simply looking to refute a troll's assertion that all foodies are "classist" and "elitist". Your own definitions may vary.

-Kate

-----------

My food blog:

Accidental Hedonist - Food, travel and other irrelevent irreverence

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My description is pretty basic: I live to eat, rather than eating to live. Things I enjoy eating run a very wide gamut.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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While the Accidental Hedonist blog seems to be somewhat confused on these not-particularly-distinct categorizations of foodlovers, we can still derive some "talking points" for a suitable discussion here on eGullet, I believe....

For the record, I should state that the definitions in the post are strictly my own. I'm not looking to codify any label. Rather, I was simply looking to refute a troll's assertion that all foodies are "classist" and "elitist". Your own definitions may vary.

Cool, and my apologies for misreading you. I think we're actually on the same track then ... only I was foolhardy enough to expend energy trying to guess at your troll's argument, which they seemed insufficiently capable of articulating effectively. :biggrin:

Edited by mizducky (log)
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While the Accidental Hedonist blog seems to be somewhat confused on these not-particularly-distinct categorizations of foodlovers, we can still derive some "talking points" for a suitable discussion here on eGullet, I believe....

For the record, I should state that the definitions in the post are strictly my own. I'm not looking to codify any label. Rather, I was simply looking to refute a troll's assertion that all foodies are "classist" and "elitist". Your own definitions may vary.

Cool, and my apologies for misreading you. I think we're actually on the same track then ... only I was foolhardy enough to expend energy trying to guess at your troll's argument, which they seemed insufficiently capable of articulating effectively. :biggrin:

No harm, no foul. :-)

-Kate

-----------

My food blog:

Accidental Hedonist - Food, travel and other irrelevent irreverence

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:huh:

H'm. This isn't as easily parsed out as I first thought it would be. Things that look like ethics/values decisions from inside my own skin could very well look to others like decisions that are based on classist or elitist thinking.

I am a foodie, absolutely. You'd have to call me a 'tastes-goodist,' I suppose; I plan my meals according to economy and nutritional needs, as anyone does, but I also demand of myself that I prepare these meals from the best quality ingredients available to me, to the highest standard my skills allow. If it doesn't taste good, though, the meal's a dud and I won't cook it or dish it up (whatever it is) that way again.

That may mean that I shop at a Hispanic market, to get corn tortillas made earlier that day and first-rate dried chiles. Or it may mean turning over nine bunches of flatleaf parsley at Dominick's to get to the nice crisp healthy droop-free tenth bunch that will last four or five days standing in water in my fridge. It might mean running an entire chain of errands to four or five or six places to get the things in which those places specialize, instead of buying second- or third-rate everything from one supermarket because that's "efficient." It may mean that I buy 'fair trade' coffee, because I want small, high-quality coffee growers at the other end of the food chain to stay in business. It might mean spending a chunk per week at Whole Paycheck to get organically-grown produce, because I want merchants to hear me voting for quality with my hard-earned dollars.

I think it likely that anybody on this site is going to understand this kind of thinking...but I can see, just as readily, that a stranger who looks at my errand itinerary or my produce bills might very well think I'm some kind of snob. Or wastrel.

Or maybe just nuts.

:raz:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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I have friends who like to call me a food snob. I am not a snob. I just want things to taste good. I would much rather eat at the little taqueria on the east side where they have the homemade tortillas and the fresh barbacoa than I would some crappy, overpriced, yuppie-packed burrito joint. I refuse to eat at places like Fire Bowl and PF Changs because the food is crap, it's overpriced, and it is NOT Chinese food. For some reason, this makes me a snob to some people. So be it.

I really get frustrated that nowadays you are a snob or an elitist if you don't want to eat fast food slop. My food doesn't come from the most expensive grocery stores, nor do I regularly eat at five star joints. I do not buy hugely expensive wine. All I ask is that what I eat tastes good, is prepared well, and is a reasonable value. Again, reasonable value is all relative. I see Uchi as being a reasonable value for the kind of food that you get. On the other hand, I do not see PF Changs as being a a reasonable value. I don't think this makes me a snob or an elitist or a classist. I think it just makes me someone who sees that life on this planet is too damn short to eat bad food.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Hmmm...."strangely obsessed" seems to fit me the best. I'm about as far from classist or elitist as you can come. I love really good food, love talking about it, making it, and eating it. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have some choice in what I eat, but then delicious food comes at all price and socio-economic levels.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I'm not quite clear on the categories, but I'm not elitist. To me that means excluding or exclusivity. Someone who loves food isn't a picky eater, they're just someone who has eaten enough of it to know what's good and what's worth striving for.

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A false dichotomy. Most of us are just looking for a decent meal, and have a good idea what that entails.

Don't let people who think Chili's is a big night out define the terms. Any moron (myself among them) call tell good food from bad if they care to.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think I said it best in this thread. The correlation between price and quality of food is tenuous at best. At best, it is only one way. That is, good foods isn't neccesarily expensive but expensive foods are usually good.

If you believe the sole determinant of the quality of a food is taste, then food snobbism has no justification. Dozens of foods which are now expensive were once cheap and those which were cheap are now expensive. To arbitrarily reject foods because they are cheap is to denounce the snobs of the past as hopelessly misguided. Similarly, the foods you reject today might one day be highly prized by food snobs cut from the same cloth.

Foodies recongise this fact, that great food exists at every level and so does mediocre food. Being a foodie is to seperate the great from the mediocre, not the expensive from the cheap.

And mizducky: I don't think at all that foodieism is a symtom of the idle leisure class. Go to nearly any culture in any socioeconomic bracket and you will find people who are passionate about their food and could be properly classified as foodies. French farmers, italian grandmothers, chinese peasants, mexican bakers. However, I think it's an absurd myth fostered by rose tinted tourist glasses that an entire culture could be like that. I'm willing to bet that if you landed in any one of those cultures, you would find quite a sizable proportion of the population as apathetic about food as the average american. Perhaps this is the reason why they aren't typically thought of as foodies, because of the mistaken notion that foodies in America are very much out of the ordinary in society while completely normal in idealised french countryside. But the French have latched onto McDonalds and Hypermarches just as much as the Americans and foodieism is still very much a minorty position, no matter where in the world you go.

PS: I am a guy.

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Any moron (myself among them) call tell good food from bad if they care to.

Not sure that I agree with this. I've met (and dined) with peopel who really can't seem to tell the difference. To them food is just fuel. They can recognize stuff that's clearly "bad" - e.g. spoiled, overly salty, totally bland, burnt to a crisp etc.. But the nuances of better quality ingredients, a more deft touch with seasonings, morte inventive combinations of ingredients, taste contrasts etc. seem to elude them.

Perhaps they could do a bit better if they really cared but I do know people who really just can't taste the difference - they're not wired that way.

Lady T said:

It may mean that I buy 'fair trade' coffee, because I want small, high-quality coffee growers at the other end of the food chain to stay in business

The motivation for a Fair Trade Certified coffee purchasing decision is a sound one but Fair Trade does not inherently mean that the quality will always be high nor does it always offer the best opportuntities to the smallest farmers. But that's fodder best left for a different thread - which I'll post later today in the Coffee & Tea Forum.

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I consider myself a "foodie" but I still like some foods that elitists would never eat. To put it in the most basic terms, I like good food. In this case, good = tasty. That can be a wide range of foods. While I enjoy eating foods that my friends consider "snobby", a lot of my favorite foods would definitely not be considered "high class". The key is that they all need to be delicious. I don't think that you need to spend a lot of money to eat well or to be a foodie. Myself, I enjoy good food. I like to talk about food, especially with others as passionate about it as I am. I enjoy making good food and teaching others how to make new-to-them foods (or even "I don't know how to cook, can you teach me?").

Misa

Sweet Misa

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There are many species and classes of "foodie"--elitist being one of them. I think the key to what constitutes a foodie in general are found in the two insights of Shalmanese and phaelon56 above--that many people are apathetic about food , and that many can't discern quality food. Foodies care more about food, and have a keener appreciation of the nuances of its taste and preparation. Anyone with a deeper interest, knowledge, and passion for food is a foodie. And among that group, there are many varieties, and extremes.

"Yo, I want one of those!"

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A false dichotomy.  Most of us are just looking for a decent meal, and have a good idea what that entails. 

Don't let people who think Chili's is a big night out define the terms. Any moron (myself among them) call tell good food from bad if they care to.

I think you're absolutely right. Most people are quite capable of discerning quality from kwality, but a number of other aspects inform their food choices. It's not unlike when people say they can't cook--obviously they could if they wanted to, but for whatever reason, they just aren't all that interested in learning. They have other priorities and other interests. Just look at all the reasons people go out to eat--it's not always about the food. And that applies across the board--celebrity chefs, anyone?

The first time my sister and brother-in-law visited Paris, they ate at McDonald's because they wanted to spend their money doing as much sightseeing as possible. This same couple gets precooked chicken for Thanksgiving. They're fully aware of the mediocrity of the food they ingest. However, eating is just an activity they engage in on their way to doing something else.

But still, it does seems an impoverished way to live--you have to eat anyway, so why not go for the good stuff? And personally, I have to say that going to Paris and then coming home and complaining that the fries at McDonald's were soggy was just.....wrong. It made my head hurt.

The "foodie" labeling thing reminds me of my aunt with her "CAT LADY" license plate. So, okay, you like cats. You want to define your entire existence with just one designation, have at it. But it's kind of nuts. Yes, I love food and my digestive system functions beautifully, but to call myself a "foodie" is a lot like saying I'm a supremely gifted sleeper.

(Now, if I could call myself an architect? That would be truly amazing.)

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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:huh:

I plan my meals according to economy and nutritional needs, as anyone does, but I also demand of myself that I prepare these meals from the best quality ingredients available to me, to the highest standard my skills allow.  If it doesn't taste good, though, the meal's a dud and I won't cook it or dish it up (whatever it is) that way again.

That may mean that I shop at a Hispanic market, to get corn tortillas made earlier that day and first-rate dried chiles.  Or it may mean turning over nine bunches of flatleaf parsley at Dominick's to get to the nice crisp healthy droop-free tenth bunch that will last four or five days standing in water in my fridge.  It might mean running an entire chain of errands to four or five or six places to get the things in which those places specialize, instead of buying second- or third-rate everything from one supermarket because that's "efficient."  It may mean that I buy 'fair trade' coffee, because I want small, high-quality coffee growers at the other end of the food chain to stay in business.  It might mean spending a chunk per week at Whole Paycheck to get organically-grown produce, because I want merchants to hear me voting for quality with my hard-earned dollars.

:raz:

Thankyou Lady T - This could be me, absolutely - although there is no Hispanic market handy in Brisbane ...

Seeing as the existing language, rich as it is, can't quite do it for us, how about a "quality-ist" who is lucky enough to have the disposeable income to practice quality- ism?

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Well, you know me, Melissa.....

I am certainly a foodie but can't say that I fall into any of the listed categories. The word fanatic might come to mind, particularly in the case of food-related gadgets and appliances.

I have had terrific meals at top of the line eateries and at hole-in-the-wall joints, mom & pop country stores that cook food on the side and at outdoor, walk-up barbecue, chicken, Mexican and other ethnic food stands. I really don't care where I eat, as long as the food is exceptional and one can discover gems in the oddest places if one has an adventuresome spirit.

I love to cook and bake and try my hand at doing things the way they were done in the past, before we had everything prepared for us. I believe I do a pretty good job on some things, particularly fresh cheeses, sour cream, egg custards - especially bread puddings. And, as you have seen, I like to make my own condiments. (However, there are some ready-made condiments that work so well in certain applications that nothing else quite fits the bill.)

I don't drink alcohol myself but I have spent major bucks on special occasion wine for gifts for people whom I know appreciate it. I buy fresh truffles in season but probably the most extravagant consumable I have ever purchased was a rare tea, $60.00 for 4 ounces. I could have spent considerably more but managed to restrain myself.

And most of all, I love to share what I do and what I know. I get a great deal of pleasure from serving food I have lovingly prepared to people who appreciate it. Fortunately I have a great many friends who love to eat and know the value of good food and good company.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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And most of all, I love to share what I do and what I know.  I get a great deal of pleasure from serving food I have lovingly prepared to people who appreciate it.  Fortunately I have a great many friends who love to eat and know the value of good food and good company.

Sometimes, Andie, I would swear that we were twins who were separated at birth .. much of our thinking is very similar, especially in the question posed in this thread by what's her name ... :wink:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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:huh:

H'm.  This isn't as easily parsed out as I first thought it would be.  Things that look like ethics/values decisions from inside my own skin could very well look to others like decisions that are based on classist or elitist thinking.

I am a foodie, absolutely.  You'd have to call me a 'tastes-goodist,' I suppose; I plan my meals according to economy and nutritional needs, as anyone does, but I also demand of myself that I prepare these meals from the best quality ingredients available to me, to the highest standard my skills allow.  If it doesn't taste good, though, the meal's a dud and I won't cook it or dish it up (whatever it is) that way again.

That may mean that I shop at a Hispanic market, to get corn tortillas made earlier that day and first-rate dried chiles.  Or it may mean turning over nine bunches of flatleaf parsley at Dominick's to get to the nice crisp healthy droop-free tenth bunch that will last four or five days standing in water in my fridge.  It might mean running an entire chain of errands to four or five or six places to get the things in which those places specialize, instead of buying second- or third-rate everything from one supermarket because that's "efficient."  It may mean that I buy 'fair trade' coffee, because I want small, high-quality coffee growers at the other end of the food chain to stay in business.  It might mean spending a chunk per week at Whole Paycheck to get organically-grown produce, because I want merchants to hear me voting for quality with my hard-earned dollars.

I think it likely that anybody on this site is going to understand this kind of thinking...but I can see, just as readily, that a stranger who looks at my errand itinerary or my produce bills might very well think I'm some kind of snob.  Or wastrel.

Or maybe just nuts.

:raz:

A simple test which, if you can pass it, should set those strangers right. I'm going to act like an economist to set up the question:

Assume two foodstuffs of identical quality that could be used interchangeably as an ingredient in a dish. One of them is a private-label product priced below most nationally advertised brands and available at an ordinary supermarket. The other is produced by a manufacturer whose brand has a fashionable cachet and hence carries with it a price premium.

Which product do you buy?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Approaching Lady T's non-conundrum from another angle:

I believe that if you search far enough back on this site, you may find a post in which I referred to myself as a "democratic elitist." By which I mean that I believe some things are better than others, but the standard is not necessarily tied to some arbitrary factor like price or social class.

In the context of what other posters have said here: The relationship between price and quality is nonlinear. Depending on what it is you seek, you may find that the best quality item may actually cost less than other items in its class.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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