Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

What/Who is a "Foodie"?


 Share

Recommended Posts

Edit: It might be interesting to invite Myers to debate this: If the decencies of debate were observed, I think it could be a fascinating discussion.

Well-said, Mjx.

It would be fascinating and well-reasoned on one side, I think. Myers would be forced to use caricatures and hyperbole to support his position.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The advent of computers and the internet has allowed groups of common interest to gather such as we do here. Over the last decades there has been an explosion of books on all subjects, given technology's gift of making research, printing and communication more affordable. When magazines were limited in number, we looked forward to when titles like Look and Life were some of the few delivered by the postman to our homes, while today racks are full of specialized titles. There has been a vast increase in the number of subject titles and books on every subject whether common or rare.What I think this guy has done is focus on an area of popular interest to sensationalize the edges for his article. I might imagine if one did similar research on travel books and magazines or automotive ones or home decor subjects, that you could find extremes and quotes which might paint those readers as being not caring or outside of the 'norms'. One could pull quotes from articles about trekking a trail in a remote jungle to observe an indigenous tribe or test driving Bugatti's or looking at photos of vacation homes in some exotic locale to determine that everyone who travels or drives a car or buys a home is moving toward fanatic behavior. Bottom line, he made a buck by writing the article whether he believes what he says or not.

Yes, this is it.

There are fanatics in every walk of life. It is of no surprise there are overly dramatic personalities in the food world.

If you listen to Tom Coliccio's inane "respect the protein" spiel or the "farm to table" people's novel idea that food starts at a farm and ends up in my mouth, it is easy to think that things are a bit on the silly side in foodland. I think a lot of this is driven by food TV and food mags that need to have things to talk about and are happy to push nonsense if it sells.I suspect that the term foodie arose in advertising/marketing circles as a label for the demographic that they were trying to reach and then came into widespread use. Personally I find the name stupid and in some way demeaning. I can't think of a less stupid name, but I don't feel pressured to do so.

I don’t see how the term “foodie” has anything to do with it. Much like “fashonista” or “gleek” or deadhead/phishead/parrothead it’s just a term to describe a likeminded set of people and the only people I ever see get upset about it are people who probably would be considered “foodies” themselves. IMO, it is the same hypersensitivity to the term “foodie” that gives foodies their elitist label. I seriously couldn’t imagine going to a Dead show and having the fans in the parking lot get pissed off because someone called them “deadheads.” Hell gleeks even print up t-shirts that say “I’m a gleek.” If 12 year olds have more a sense of humor about their label than foodies, maybe the author is right in judging us as elitist assholes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. . . .

I don’t see how the term “foodie” has anything to do with it. Much like “fashonista” or “gleek” or deadhead/phishead/parrothead it’s just a term to describe a likeminded set of people and the only people I ever see get upset about it are people who probably would be considered “foodies” themselves. IMO, it is the same hypersensitivity to the term “foodie” that gives foodies their elitist label. I seriously couldn’t imagine going to a Dead show and having the fans in the parking lot get pissed off because someone called them “deadheads.” Hell gleeks even print up t-shirts that say “I’m a gleek.” If 12 year olds have more a sense of humor about their label than foodies, maybe the author is right in judging us as elitist assholes.

You may have a point, but my own (equally subjective) take on this is that virtually all labels seem mindless and limiting, at least if you're older than 12, and not wacked out on grass. It's not a question of hypersensitivity, just that labels only seem appropriate for things you put in boxes: If you have a mind, you really don't need to stick a label on yourself to find like-minded individuals.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don’t see how the term “foodie” has anything to do with it. Much like “fashonista” or “gleek” or deadhead/phishead/parrothead it’s just a term to describe a likeminded set of people and the only people I ever see get upset about it are people who probably would be considered “foodies” themselves. IMO, it is the same hypersensitivity to the term “foodie” that gives foodies their elitist label. I seriously couldn’t imagine going to a Dead show and having the fans in the parking lot get pissed off because someone called them “deadheads.” Hell gleeks even print up t-shirts that say “I’m a gleek.” If 12 year olds have more a sense of humor about their label than foodies, maybe the author is right in judging us as elitist assholes.

Boy, do I ever agree with this. These terms just go in and out of fashion, and when they're out, some folks feel they're far too superior to have that term refer to them. "I'm not a foodie; I'm much better than that."

For so long, if you were saying that you were getting together with friends that were also interested in food, you'd say "my gourmet group." But then that fell out of favor, as these things eventually do. That's when "foodie" appeared. It's quick, easy, cozy and best of all, to me anyway, indicates that they don't take themselves, or their interest in all things culinary, too seriously. I've had people tell me they prefer "food hobbyist." I can't imagine telling folks, "I'm going out with some of my 'food-hobbyist' friends tonight to try a new restaurant."

I just think in the overall scheme of things, being called a foodie is a pretty small deal. In a world where so many are so intentionally unkind to others, there are plenty of bigger things to get your hackles up about.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well said again, Mjx.

Labels that are applied to groups erase individual distinctives and serve mainly to pigeon-hole rather than enlighten.

In this particular case there are so many species of foodie that the term loses any useful meaning. On eG there are those who seem to care mostly about hot dogs, burgers and regional sandwiches...or cooking technique...or fine dining...or food media... and so on.

Of course, labels can confer an identity that is gratifying (why else would there be so many bumper stickers?); but the foodie label seems more applied than accepted. I've never heard someone call themselves a foodie, but perhaps I hang with the wrong crowd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another point about "foodie": I find diminutive versions of words that end in "ie" -- "foodie," "veggie," "breakkie," "sammie" -- infantile. I bite my tongue over "veggie" and the like, but "foodie" offends me on more than an aesthetic level because it refers to a group of people, and dismisses them as infantile. That is, to me it implies that people who are interested in food are childish and trivial.

I wonder how Myers (who, although he doesn't say so in the article, appears to be vegan) would take to being called a "veegie"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder how Myers (who, although he doesn't say so in the article, appears to be vegan) would take to being called a "veegie"?

Or a "weenie?"

I second that motion.

"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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another point about "foodie": I find diminutive versions of words that end in "ie" -- "foodie," "veggie," "breakkie," "sammie" -- infantile. I bite my tongue over "veggie" and the like, but "foodie" offends me on more than an aesthetic level because it refers to a group of people, and dismisses them as infantile. That is, to me it implies that people who are interested in food are childish and trivial.

I wonder how Myers (who, although he doesn't say so in the article, appears to be vegan) would take to being called a "veegie"?

I've read that Trekkies hate being called Trekkies. They feel it's far too demeaning for a group so serious as they. They prefer to be called Trekkers, which is clearly much more mature, sophisticated and appropriate.

So perhaps "Fooders" would be more dignified.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Foodie" is a disgusting word. That said, I don't think it has anything to do with the reaction against epicureanism. I think it has a lot more to do with endemic pretentiousness among food enthusiasts (members of this board excluded) combined with an ugly strain of reverse elitism currently pervasive in Western culture.

I haven't read the article yet so I can't comment on it. I'll report when I have.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't understand why the term "foodie" has such negative connotations in an era that celebrates "celebrities" with little talent except for being famous, often for undesirable activities.

I consider myself a "foodie" and the fact that many people understand my attitudes, when I describe myself as such, is much easier than telling them I am a "gourmet cook" or food enthusiast or collector of recipes and food stories.

I also don't mind being described as an "oldie" because I am one and I have earned the title.

There are many terms that I consider much worse when describing people's attitude to foods.

"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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's the sound of it. As JAZ mentioned, words with an -ie ending sound infantile.

Anyway, I managed to snort and roll my eyes through the article. This is what I learned:

-Foodies are all alike.

-Foodies don't care about the "real" arts.

-Foodies are elitists.

-Foodies revel in cruelty.

-Foodies are single-minded and possess a "littleness of soul."

I'm thinking this is a troll, and not a very good one.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe it is a generational thing or an issue of self-perception, but I cringe whenever someone labels me a foodie. I think many food writers and restaurant folk use "foodie" a tad derisively to separate themselves from food amateurs. I don't think I've ever heard a restaurateur or a Bourdain type refer to him/herself as a foodie.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robert Sietsema's response to the original article:

Yes, foodies are ridiculous. But then so is BR Myers!

He makes a fairly solid argument that contemporary Foodism is a class phenomenon (though that is changing, as fast-food establishments fiddle with their menus, public schools revamp their lunchrooms, and formerly unfamiliar ingredients infiltrate the grocery store), but then distractedly abandons that argument in favor of a much weaker one: People who eat animals are morally corrupt.

As his real target, the non-vegan, heaves into view, we breathe a collective sigh of relief, since foodies are now apparently in a more defensible position. Don't we celebrate the humane treatment of animals on small local farms? Aren't we concerned about the cruelty and health hazards represented by feedlots? Isn't sustainability of the food supply one of our primary goals?

To him it's all just window dressing, insisting the high moral ground we claim for ourselves is really the Slough of Despond.

Sietsema goes on to make some very good points: that all kinds of people with all kinds of culinary practices fall under the label" foodie, including vegans ("the Church of Food is an edifice with many doors and no locks"); and that pretty much any enthusiasm can be taken to extremes, not just food.

A much better read than the original, in my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If B.R Myers is considered an expert on North Korea I think that explains a lot about U.S. foreign policy.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apart from the arguments presented here against the term 'foodie' (with which I concur), and getting back to the stance taken by Myers in his article, he's using this label to identify all those whose food-related attitudes he disapproves of; he goes further, and portrays them as a group of grotesque beings who will go to any lengths to satisfy their gluttony, and apparently prefer to inflict as much pain as possible in so doing... the worst excesses of Ancient Rome, all over again.

Describing oneself as a vegetarian, or vegan, or keeping Kosher, and so on, makes sense, because these describe specific patterns that are consistent among all who make such claims (I'm not saying people don't ever lapse; I'm talking about intent).

On the other hand, a label such as 'foodie' doesn't make sense to me: it says nothing specific or consistent about the individual, but does make it possible for someone such as Myers to make sweeping generalizations. Generalizations, moreover, about a group that does not actually exist as such.

On the one hand, there are those who are genuinely interested in food and think about it, whether their focus is narrow or broad, liquid or solid, sophisticated or naive, intuitive or scientific, sensual or abstract; it really comes down to finding pleasure of one sort or another in one of life's basic necessities.

There also those who identify themselves as 'foodies' for no reason other than that it's trendy, and who adore trends because all they require is engaging in the appropriate gestures/actions, regardless of their consequences.

Both categories are bundled together under the label 'foodie', yet neither has much to say to the other.

If it weren't for the term 'foodie', I don't know that this article could have come into being: Other terms that describe those who care about food may be difficult to attack without looking foolish, as the have specific meanings; 'foodie' ultimately ends up meaning only what others choose to have it describe.

Edited by Mjx (log)

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a soapbox rant. The author constructs his straw men, these horrible "foodies"--people who eat to excess, are indifferent to the suffering of animals, brag about the exotic foods they eat, etc. In fact, there are few people as extreme as the author describes, in the food world or life in general. So once the author constructs these straw men, he easily knocks them down. Not a particularly challenging intellectual exercise--for the author or the reader. Rather than build a bridge of understanding, the author chooses to burn people at the stake. From the photo in the Sietsema article, the author appears to be a fairly young man. He has a lot to learn, I think.

Two thumbs up for Robert Sietsema's response, including this conclusion: "Ultimately, I think Myers's real problem is dyspepsia. He really, really doesn't enjoy eating. And resents those of us who do."

Was it W.H. Auden who once said, "People who abhor pleasure are often abusers." ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't understand why the term "foodie" has such negative connotations in an era that celebrates "celebrities" with little talent except for being famous, often for undesirable activities.

I consider myself a "foodie" and the fact that many people understand my attitudes, when I describe myself as such, is much easier than telling them I am a "gourmet cook" or food enthusiast or collector of recipes and food stories.

I also don't mind being described as an "oldie" because I am one and I have earned the title.

There are many terms that I consider much worse when describing people's attitude to foods.

Write on, Andiesenji! Well said, indeed!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't understand why the term "foodie" has such negative connotations in an era that celebrates "celebrities" with little talent except for being famous, often for undesirable activities.

I think you inadvertently summed up the problem. I don't particularly care much one way or the other about the term "foodie". But I think there are "foodies" who are as qualified to comment on good food as Paris Hilton is to comment on couture beyond mere trendiness.

About the article in question - I haven't read it, and I don't know that I'll devote any time to it. I would, though, like to congratulate the author and the editors at Atlantic Monthly on their ability to attract page views and get people to link to and promote their article. Good for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't understand why the term "foodie" has such negative connotations in an era that celebrates "celebrities" with little talent except for being famous, often for undesirable activities.

I consider myself a "foodie" and the fact that many people understand my attitudes, when I describe myself as such, is much easier than telling them I am a "gourmet cook" or food enthusiast or collector of recipes and food stories.

I also don't mind being described as an "oldie" because I am one and I have earned the title.

There are many terms that I consider much worse when describing people's attitude to foods.

Write on, Andiesenji! Well said, indeed!

I've been a regular viewer of "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie" on PBS-TV and there are a great many people that I respect that have been profiled on that show during the past couple of years.

Some of those people who regard themselves as "foodies" have extensive and impressive credentials in the culinary world.

I'm not comparing myself to them but as I said in my previous post, when speaking casually to people I meet, it is easy to describe myself as a "foodie" rather than a more detailed explanation.

And, more important, it doesn't sound pretentious. I meet people from all levels of society and so far they have all understood the term and I don't sound like I'm trying to pump up my image.

I have met far too many people in the culinary world who are pretentious and barely deign to take notice of people who can't benefit them.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apart from the arguments presented here against the term 'foodie' (with which I concur), and getting back to the stance taken by Myers in his article, he's using this label to identify all those whose food-related attitudes he disapproves of; he goes further, and portrays them as a group of grotesque beings who will go to any lengths to satisfy their gluttony, and apparently prefer to inflict as much pain as possible in so doing... the worst excesses of Ancient Rome, all over again.

Describing oneself as a vegetarian, or vegan, or keeping Kosher, and so on, makes sense, because these describe specific patterns that are consistent among all who make such claims (I'm not saying people don't ever lapse; I'm talking about intent).

On the other hand, a label such as 'foodie' doesn't make sense to me: it says nothing specific or consistent about the individual, but does make it possible for someone such as Myers to make sweeping generalizations. Generalizations, moreover, about a group that does not actually exist as such.

On the one hand, there are those who are genuinely interested in food and think about it, whether their focus is narrow or broad, liquid or solid, sophisticated or naive, intuitive or scientific, sensual or abstract; it really comes down to finding pleasure of one sort or another in one of life's basic necessities.

There also those who identify themselves as 'foodies' for no reason other than that it's trendy, and who adore trends because all they require is engaging in the appropriate gestures/actions, regardless of their consequences.

Both categories are bundled together under the label 'foodie', yet neither has much to say to the other.

If it weren't for the term 'foodie', I don't know that this article could have come into being: Other terms that describe those who care about food may be difficult to attack without looking foolish, as the have specific meanings; 'foodie' ultimately ends up meaning only what others choose to have it describe.

Regardless of anyone's opinion on the term "foodie" it has nothing to do with the article. Meyers uses the terms "gourmets" and "food-obessed" as well as other terms through out the article and at no point does he contend the reason why foodies suck is because of the term "foodie."

Indicating this article couldn't exist without the term foodie is like saying racism only exists because of the n-word, which is absolutely risibile.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. . . .

Regardless of anyone's opinion on the term "foodie" it has nothing to do with the article. Meyers uses the terms "gourmets" and "food-obessed" as well as other terms through out the article and at no point does he contend the reason why foodies suck is because of the term "foodie."

Indicating this article couldn't exist without the term foodie is like saying racism only exists because of the n-word, which is absolutely risibile.

To suggest that the term 'foodie' has nothing to do with this fairly venomus piece makes no sense (just look at the numbers, even: 'foodies' occurs 24 times in this article, compared to obsessed/obsession, which appear twice, 'gourmet', which appears 6 times, and 'gourmand', which, oddly enough, given the overall tone, doesn't appear at all).

'Foodie' clearly does have something to do with the article, or Myers wouldn't have selected that particular term to use in the title, or identified this so-called group as the target of his 'moral crusade'.

And, he does say foodies suck: He specifically identifies 'foodies' as a distinct, homogeneous group – 'In values, sense of humor, even childhood experience, its members are as similar to each other as they are different from everyone else.

For one thing, these people really do live to eat.' – then proceeds to embellish and elaborate on this definition with a cherry-picked set of lurid examples.

Racism is rooted in a great deal more than semantics, while 'foodie' is a semantic construct: it only exists as an abstraction, of which the term itself is an intrinic part. It also seems to draw a great deal more fire than previously existing terms describing those who love food.

Given my own feelings about the word 'foodie' (as I've said before, these are largely aesthetic, and very subjective; I don't expect everyone to agree with me), I can understand how someone might see red when they hear it; what confounds me is that Myers actually seems to believe that it signifies anything in particular, but I think djyee100 makes an excellent point about Myers setting up straw men.

I have no intention of trying to dissuade those who like to refer to themselves as 'foodies' (even if I'm pretty vocal about how I feel about it, when the subject comes up), but I honestly believe that it's unrealistic to insist that the term doesn't contribute to the unattractive and inaccurate perceptions it evokes... caveat emptor.

Edited by Mjx (log)

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...