Last nights episode of The Simpsons took a stab at the “Foodie” culture that has given rise to an abundance of food blogs, a second channel for the food network, more PBS food shows and expanded food related culture on other networks.
(Not shown Guy Fieri riding Paul Prudhomme as a bouncy ball)
Between the Simpsons and Ted Allens recent video mocking “Pretensions Foodie Bullshit” it is becoming clear that foodies may have crossed the line into obnoxiousland.
For some, foodie is definitively an amateur status, someone who not only likes to eat food, but desires to know more about the food they are eating and preparing. As with any hobby, when someone gets to a certain depth of knowledge they can come across as a know-it-all jerk who sounds like they are talking down to you about their topic of choice. Though with more of a niche hobby you may not have as much opportunity to talk about it. I mean seriously how many casual conversations can you shoehorn your in-depth knowledge of insect reproduction into? Everybody eats though, so any time there is food in front of you, it can seem like an invitation to discuss your knowledge of that food. I find myself, (Hi I’m Mark and I’m a Foodie) thinking through my words before I comment on food to be sure I don’t come off like said know-it-all jerk. Sometimes it’s hard, especially when you have some pretty passionate ideas.
For others, foodie is a general term used to describe anyone, who is not a Chef, that has something to say about food. As Mark Bittman says, people with a demonstrated knowledge of food that were not chefs were referred to as gourmands or more simply food critics, but have now been lumped into the big foodie bucket. As a result professional food writers can be easily dismissed as “just another foodie.”
Particularly in today’s climate where food and politics are so closely intertwined it would be a disservice to all involved to disregard the writings of someone like Michael Pollan or Marion Nestle because of their perceived foodie status.
Not to say that Pollan and Nestle are necessarily correct but you can’t have an intelligent debate without both sides being well represented.
On the opposite side of the fence you have writers like B.R Meyers who have begun a Moral Crusade Against Foodies. Articles like this shine a spotlight on the complicated issues than surround food and the culture of worship that has grown around it.
Food, like any seemingly simple topic that has experts involved, has become a difficult conversation to have in some circumstances. Who would have thought that in addition to religion and politics we might have to exclude food from polite dinner conversation.
Me I’ll take my dinner conversation with some locally raised, slowly braised pork belly with some roasted root vegetable puree.