You Don't Have To Be A "Foodie" To Love Food
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I consider myself a lover of food.
My childhood was highlighted by Alton Brown’s Food Network favorite, Good Eats, a cooking show that combined food chemistry with slapstick humor from its inception in 1999 to the final episode in 2012. The series, which Brown has said aspired to combine Julia Child, Mr. Wizard, and “Monty Python”, broke down seemingly difficult foods to their barest ingredients. With some science, wit, and Brown’s friendly grin, food seemed accessible again.
Today, “foodies” have taken over food culture.
Instagram “food porn”, TV shows about people eating an unhealthy amount for competition, and the obsession with Michelin restaurants has taken over what used to be a people’s hobby. Brown has endeavoured to change that. The down-to-earth chef and food scientist recently gave an interview to the New York Times in September, stating that "[t]he pornification of food takes away the importance of sharing it with one another and instead focuses only on the food.”
Wikipedia defines the term “foodie” as “a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages; [one who] seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger.” In layman’s terms, the term defines anyone from someone with an Instagram heavy with images of stylized plates, to an actual food critic. The concept of “food porn” – or spectacular visual presentations of food advertisements, infomercials, blogs cooking shows or other visual media – has subsequently arisen and with it, a seemingly global obsession with food.
In September 2015, Mashable posted an article called “If the term ‘foodie’ is dead, what do we call you?” that offered six satirical alternatives for food lovers that would rather not identify as a “foodie”. Though it is unlikely that anyone would apply a title like “The High Priest(ess) of Kale” to him– or herself, the piece brings to mind a relevant question: Is calling someone a “foodie” even relevant anymore? As animals who need significant sustenance to survive, we humans naturally enjoy food. As rational beings who make an effort to cook an elaborate meal, or go to restaurants to order one, we love food.
But what differentiates a typical, everyday eater from a “foodie”? If a foodie is someone who loves food, surely most people fall into that category? The Telegraph UK recently published a piece titled, “Does anybody still care about the Michelin Guide?”, which debates whether people still care about restaurant reviews in light of the release of the UK/Ireland Michelin Guide.
The Michelin Guide is an annual book published by the French company, Michelin, for more than a hundred years. Restaurants can receive “Michelin Stars”, and after which typically have greater popularity. The article, however, contends the present need for professional critique of a restaurant.
"Eating out is about so much more than Michelin's narrow vision these days," says Joe Warwick, editor of the Where Chefs Eat restaurant guide. "They probably get it wrong as often as they get it right. Do I personally make my dining decisions based on which restaurants have stars? No. I suppose it's a guarantee of quality of a sort, but we've all been to very mediocre one or two star restaurants."
For food experts – chefs, critics, and the like – the existence of food paraphernalia and professional guides will certainly always be essential. But for the everyday eater – for a 'foodie' – it is comforting to know that society is reopening the culinary world to everyone. As Alton Brown says, "Everything is accessible. You just got to tell the story right."