SEATTLE. Though I’m far from being a chef, I have been cooking for over 20 years (mostly non-professionally). And I have found my love, my passion in food. This love subsequently led into the neverending world of wine. As one travels, one hopefully discovers there’s an amazing world of people and food out there. In fact, good food and good wine could very well bring about world peace. If only we were all “foodies.”
Defining what and who foodies really are
What is a “foodie”? This is a term that, unfortunately, popped up in the 1990s during the Food Network’s rise to become a major household brand. “Foodie” is a silly-sounding word and one that is completely over-used.
In my lifetime, an astonishing number of people have proclaimed to me that they’re “foodies.” While a better descriptive phrase would be gastronome, for the sake of this article, we’ll stick with with the term foodie, or “foodies” in the plural. But please bear with me. While I fully admit that what I’m about to say here is entirely subjective, the following observations best summarize my feelings about this topic.
A foodie is one who desires to feel a connection to the food and subsequently, people. Foodies want to know the place their ingredients and dishes originated and the way what they’re eating was made. That includes the way what they’re eating was raised (if we’re talking animal protein); the way it was grown (if it’s produce or frut); the soil it grew in, and so forth.
Foodies zero in on ingredients
If terroir exists for wine grapes, it most certainly exists for the way produce tastes as well. It’s why San Marzano tomatoes are desired around the world. There’s not a tomato grown anywhere else that has the same nuances. It’s what makes Irish grass-fed butter taste the way it does, etc.
Real foodies always have their eyes wide open for all things involving ingredients. Ingredients matter more than recipes. You can likely train a monkey to follow a recipe. Foodies believe most everyone can do this. However, if you short-change the quality of the ingredients, all the technique in the world will take a back seat to the end result. The final dish will inevitably be found lacking.
Foodies always search for new expeditions into the culinary unknown
A foodie has a vibrant appreciation for the love, passion and skill that goes into making an unforgettable dish. The best chefs have a natural love for people, even if an individual chef might not come across as a “people person.” Chefs may not realize it, but their love and passion for their craft stems from their unique way of expressing that love on a plate. In doing so, they are caring for others.
Real foodies never says “no” to trying anything new. That holds true if a dish is something they’re not familiar with or may go against their predispositions of what “food” really is. This doesn’t mean a foodie will love every bite in regards to texture or taste. But foodies will typically savor the experience of trying something new. Moreover, they’ll savor the culture represented in that bite.
Food is life
For a foodie, life is all about food and food is life. In their dreams, they would eat the world, one bite of food and one memorable meal at a time. They’d relish the memories and friendships cultivated and cemented in those moments.
Foodies know that the best way to experience culture, and ultimately life itself, is through food. For them, it’s the very fabric of what ties all of humanity together. There’s a reason folks loved Anthony Bourdain and why we all wanted to have his life. It wasn’t simply that he traveled the world apparently with the greatest of ease. It was the way he masterfully used food to bring people together and help viewers of his show better understand various cultures.
There are foodies who are chefs. But not all chefs are foodies. You can taste the difference in the cuisine they prepare. You know the kind. Chefs who are not foodies go to culinary school in hopes of becoming a celebrity chef. But they never really had the passion or love in the first place. Preparing food became a job for them. A way to earn income. Their best dish will never compete even with a simple, homemade dish prepared by a grandmother who cooks with love.
Foodies vs. foodie poseurs
Yes, there certainly are foodies in this world. But not all self-described foodies are foodies. You can tell when you’re around them. It’s okay. Not everyone who proclaims he or she is a foodie is really a member of this “tribe.” Somel get there one day, perhaps. But until then, they should start by enjoying the journey.
So, go out there and enjoy the culture, friendships and love that come out of breaking bread together. Boldly go into the upcoming seasons of your life with eyes wide open, an open palate, an open heart and an open mind for experiencing the love that can only be found through the camaraderie of great food and good drink.
If you’d like to see real food being prepared simply and with passion, check out Alakazam Kitchen on YouTube for starters. You’ll see what I mean.
— Headline image: A feast for foodies. Photo copyright 2019 by Duane Pemberton.