I noticed an article the other day, linked by somebody or other on Facebook. It was a Travel + Leisure article, entitled “America’s Best Cities for Food Snobs.” I clicked. I’m a sucker for lists, and food, and lists of food. It all goes onto my massive, unwieldy Evernote “things to eat” list, which is actually two lists – one for the US and one for everywhere else in the world.
There was another thing I noticed about the article. The slug – that is, the piece of the URL that comes after the slash to identify the article (the slug for this post is /what-being-a-foodie-means-to-me) – read “America’s best cities for foodies.”
Hang on a minute – there’s a difference there, right? Is Travel + Leisure equating foodies with food snobs?
And so went a deep thought process about naming, and things I call myself, and whether this matters.
I don’t want to think of myself as a snob. I think “snob” denotes a different attitude than mine, and I consider myself a “foodie.” Snob implies thinking you’re better than others, and that’s not what being a foodie means to me.
So here’s what being a foodie does and doesn’t mean to me.
–I like food. I like both cooking and eating. It’s a big part of my life and my identity.
–I enjoy trying new foods, new restaurants and new recipes. I’m always searching for the next great thing to try.
–I often plan my travel around food. I consult my lists and also consult the internet for good restaurants nearby. I use a lot of Yelp, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor.
–I have opinions about food. While I try not to be or to sound elitist, sometimes I have opinions about foods that most people don’t have opinions about, or make comparisons that many are not able to make because I have been fortunate enough to have the lifestyle I’ve had. An example of this would be recently going to Yayla Bistro, a Turkish place in Arlington, and saying “This iskender kebab is really good, but it’s not really on the same level as the stuff in Turkey.” My intentions aren’t usually to show off, but sometimes I admit it could come off like that.
–I’m willing to spend more money on food. I don’t always go to expensive places but what I mean here is that food is one of my biggest expenses per month, on purpose. I don’t shop much so that I can afford to eat out and sometimes buy unusual (pricier) ingredients.
–I like to learn about my food. I read books like “Salt” by Mark Kurlansky – highly recommended! – and in general try to add as much food knowledge to my brain as possible.
It doesn’t mean:
–I look down on anyone’s eating habits. I am well aware that most people aren’t as obsessed with food as me. Some people eat to enjoy it, some eat to fuel their body, some eat to lose or gain weight or a myriad of other reasons. Of course, your relationship with food and eating can be unhealthy. If you are worried this is true of you or a loved one, you can talk to someone here.
–I think my relationship with food is better than other people’s. I don’t think being a foodie makes me better than people who aren’t.
–I’m not still a little picky. Still on the “no” list: most mushrooms (although that’s changing), eggplant (allergic), pineapple (the acidity makes me feel terrible), raw tomatoes, crab. I don’t like meat that has a lot of fat or any gristle or “stringiness.” I don’t really like chicken. My acid reflux has lately made it difficult to eat anything spicy (a shame, really).
–I disdain fast food or the like. I had Subway for lunch today and Wendy’s last week. Actually the Wendy’s burger was really tasty; I thought it was comparable to Five Guys.
–I’ll think your cooking or the restaurant you take me to won’t be “good enough.” Ever since I started getting “into” food, I get this a lot. People worry that my standards or tastes have changed – trending towards the “fancy” or expensive. But really, they haven’t. Outback Steakhouse is still one of my favorite restaurants. My mom’s chili, and her lasagna, are still the best you can find (though if you want vegan chili I make a good one!). I enjoy a wide variety of food, from McDonald’s French fries (why did I type that – I want some now) to anything my friend Steph cooks to chili mac at the neighborhood bar (Highline) to, yes, a fancy meal at Water & Wall. I like any food that tastes good.
If you consider yourself a foodie, what does it mean to you?