Monday, November 15, 2010

So, What IS a Foodie?

Barney's very "foodie" storefront in NYC
So, I was recently asked by a local website in Richmond to offer my take on what and/or who constitutes a "foodie"?  Needless to say, the answer wasn't an easy one for me, especially considering I'm not exactly too fond of the term in general.  Like many phrases and/or concepts that have been overused to the point of oblivion, it seems that the many incarnations of the word "foodie" now assume a plethora of meanings, which tend to vary considerably depending on who's doing the talking.

Everything's better with buttah?

There are foodies who wouldn't dream of letting the sloppy, drippy mystery meat that is otherwise known as a McRib touch their delicate lips and instead of opt for only "localicious" foods accented with the likes of truffle sea salt from Normandy or beets that have plucked from the dirt merely hours before.  For them, it's only artisan bread, wildly flavored cupcakes and hand-churned ricotta.  These foodies often swap words like pepitas for plain, old pumpkin seeds. 

Then, there are the foodies who relish the off-the-beaten-track, sort of low-brow type of eating.  These particular foodies are usually the ones who are quick to offer up the best and often most difficult to find roadside joints for shredded pit BBQ, real deal Chinese dumplings or creamy, chili-laden slaw dogs.  Their existence, while offering an alternate take to fine or exclusive dining, often still reeks of foodieness (which in many ways make this particular foodie a sort of walking oxymoron to the term itself).

Dim sum Chinatown NYC
I suppose the bottom line is here, is that no matter which foodie camp you feel you subscribe to (and for many, it's a little bit of both) one fact remains true, foodies are slowly taking over the world, and their doing it one careful bite at a time.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the new foodie marriage is between the fashion world and the food world with icons like Gwyneth Paltrow hobnobbing around Spain with Mario Batali and perfumes now advertising "Christmas cookies" as a signature scent.  Let's face it, chefs are now rockstars and food is most definitely "in", especially when you're getting the fashionista set involved.

Some further argue that the newfound celebrity foodies share inadvertently predestines them for the proverbial backlash that will eventually come with it.  Hence, this recent NY Times piece on the "culinary one-upmanship" that often dictates a standard foodie gathering, where anything but "standard" is acceptable.  When a regular roast chicken isn't enough yet foams, puffs and airs are, as one savvy reader commented, we are all headed towards an impending "foodie-cide".

So, no matter where you fall on the foodie totem pole, be it in your own mind or worse, in the perception of other foodies, which is most certainly with you holding up the base of said totem pole, one thing still remains....this is all very tasty food for thought.

So, are you a foodie?  If so, what makes you one or not?

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