It might seem a little strange to say that We are not foodies, because by some definitions we probably are. The main reason we don’t like the term ‘foodie’ is that it has become synonymous with ‘pretentious food snobs’. You know who we mean, those people that extol the virtues of a particular type of nut that can only be found in a particular region of the Brazilian rainforest, or that only buy organic, locally sourced, produce from Whole Foods (not that there is anything wrong with Whole Foods) and look down on anyone that doesn’t. They are also the type of people that will tell you the 100 foods that you must try before you die. Since the term was coined in 1985 in the The Official Foodie Handbook by Ann Barr and Paul Levy its meaning has changed from a cosy, fun way to describe someone who enjoys food and cooking to an overused word for someone more interested in food fads and style. What I’m talking about is best summed up by Ted Allen cooking his favourite Pretentious Foodie Bullsh*t’ Meal.
So if we aren’t foodies, how can we describe ourselves in a way that we feel comfortable with that still describes our passion for food, without using that word. First we have to look at how we have ended up in this place.
Since man first started cooking and moved from the basic physiological needs of food and water, he has found ways of turning food as fuel into something enjoyable to eat. Civilization itself started with eating meals together round a fire, which in turn helped foster communities. Maybe the move from eating to cooking, created the first ‘foodies’. People found new ways to combine ingredients and cooking methods to create meals instead of just sustenance. Food as a shared experience, through planning, preparation and eating helps make life more enjoyable and this simple fact is the basis for our Food Manifesto.
I’m pretty sure in France, Italy, Spain and many other countries around the world, they would laugh at the idea of a foodie. Why? Because from a early age, people are taught that food is an important part of the day, where the world actually stops at meal times. People still eat meals together, discuss the day around the table, and it is still common to have two hour lunches (with wine), rather than grabbing a quick bite to eat at your desk alone. People in those countries know what good, simple food is, because it is served at pretty much every meal. Since foodies probably haven’t been exposed to a lifetime of growing up with good food and good company, it seems like a revelation when they do become interested in real food, as they get as excited as in kid in a candy store.
A Hierarchy of Gastronomy
Maybe foodie is the not the right word to describe ourselves and how we feel about food, though some of the other options seem quite old fashioned. The word ‘Gastronomy ‘the science of eating, was introduced in 1801 by Joseph Berchoux in his poem ‘La Gastronomie, ou l’Homme des Champs à Table‘ and from this we get the word ‘Gourmet’. In Ben Schott’s book, Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany he orders people who enjoy food and drink into the following order
A culinary scientist of food and eating
A connoisseur of fine food and drink
One whose chief pleasure is eating
None of these terms quite some up the modern foodie. Since the days of Haute Cuisine there has been Nouvelle Cuisine, and Molecular Gastronomy tempting us with the idea that the food we eat isn’t good enough or our tastes aren’t quite refined enough. There isn’t anything wrong per say with the aims and ideals of ‘High Dining’, but we shouldn’t get caught up in pretentious snobbery that goes along with it. Some of the most amazing food, can be the most simple. ‘High Dining’ is a bit like art, don’t let other people tell you what is good.
Eater or Slow Foodie
We are a little closer to what we are, if not foodies, however one thing we aren’t are just ‘eaters’. In the modern world a ‘eater’ is someone who eats on the go, who doesn’t care what it is, as long it is fills a hole. We have been convinced by clever marketers that life is too important for eating and gets in the way, when the opposite is true. Life happens in the moments spent with people cooking and eating. Paradoxically taking life slower, means we are living more, instead of less. Maybe instead of foodies, we are part of the Slow Food Movement founded by Carlo Petrini. However modern life does demand that we sometimes have to take ‘shortcuts’ with the food we prepare or eat, and we are guilty of this too, but we still take the time to savour and enjoy the food we eat, even if it is only fast food.
Types of Foodie
Just because someone likes food or cooking, there are many types of ‘foodies’
- The Food Geek – Obsessive and knowledgeable about all aspects of food, ingredients and techniques.
- The Healthy Foodie – Tries to maintain a healthy body and mind by exercising and eating low fat, whole-foods sometimes at the cost of flavour.
- The Health Foodie – Eats food as part of a nutritional diet or philosophy, e.g. Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Vegetarian, etc.
- The Dieter – Similar to the Healthy Foodie, but more obsessive.
- The Fast Foodie – Knows the best things to eat on each Fast Food Restaurant menu
- The Slow Foodie – Cooks from scratch using fresh ingredients and eat dinner with friends and family. Also grows their own vegetables.
- The Food Photographer – Enjoys taking really good photos of food.
- The Kitchen Gadgeteer – Obsessively collects kitchen utensils and gadgets sometimes never using them.
- The Cookbook Foodie – Closely related to the TV Cooking Show Foodie and Pinterest Foodie. Loves looking at pictures of food and other people cooking.
- The Critic – Tells other people how to cook, what to eat, and how to eat it.
- The Hipster Foodie – Only eats food at restaurants before they become popular and takes washed out photos using Instagram.
- The Pretentious Food Snob – The main reason why ‘We are not Foodies’. Similar to the Critic, and related to the Hipster Foodie but more annoying.
All joking aside, there are many types of ‘foodies’, interested in different aspects of cooking, eating or enjoying food. The thing that links them, is that they are passionate and obsessive and food and cooking. Our aim is primarily for us to enjoy trying new food, and hope we can share our enthusiasm with you. We love the best of, and the ordinary, new ideas and old techniques. We aren’t chefs,or professional critics, but we love cooking from scratch and we get excited about trying new recipes, techniques and ingredients. We are as obsessive about food as any foodie and hope that you enjoy some of what we do. Food is too important to be just food.
Maybe we are foodies, just not the pretentious kind.
or use the hashtag #notafoodie on Twitter