What is a foodie? I am not

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The F word

“Foodie.” There’s something in the (current) use of this word that dishonors food. And I’m not referring to the fact that in Portuguese it sounds exactly like f*ck. It’s more on the lines of it being an expression that intends to be cute, in a lame and halfhearted fashion, than actually implying any love for food, other than how it’ll look on your profile. The sort of thing that gives me hives.

And as a word is never alone, the hashtag #foodie also came along, as sticky and contagious that it glues and spreads like pollen in spring. Moreover, the World Health Organization has emitted several alerts in which it warns the population that the simple sharing of a morning cup of coffee and toast on social media with the hashtag #foodie may be sufficient to initiate an uncontrollable contagion of foodie-ism. Be responsible, avoid the propagation of infectious terminology.

Another close relative is the expression “foodgasm”. As a biologist, every time I read that word I can only imagine cattle mating. That doesn’t sound very delicious.

oh so Publix was just all out of bacon, oh ok.. #breffusforbae

Uma publicação partilhada por Cooking for Bae (@cookingforbae) a

Foodie: a word in its thirties

Things weren’t always this way. In the early 1980s the term foodie was quietly born, culminating, in 1984, in the publication of “The Official Foodie Handbook” by Paul Levy and Ann Bar. Can you imagine what being a foodie in the pre-internet era must have felt like? When going to a restaurant could be about the meal itself and not about the 15 snapshots you take at the beginning of each course? Specially if you’re talking about that amateur mode, when a bright burst of flash reflects upon your glass and makes the scene all dog bowl-ish and cat food-ish, the opposite of appealing. The term described, at the time, and I quote: “It separated out those who ate their lamb overcooked and grey from those whose choice of cheese was goats; it dismissed those who did not care what they ate so long as the wine was served at the correct temperature; and it applied to shopping as well as to eating, to domestic cooks and eaters as well as to those who worked in, profited from or ate in restaurants; to foodstuffs, to brands, to reading matter; and above all, to women as well as to men.”

Therefore I ask what happened between now and then, when the use of this expression has become so void of meaning, if you consider that in truth “everyone is a foodie”. Maybe there have never been so many assumed food enthusiasts as there are now, and that in food (and drink) find their amusement park. But this is far from being the majority, and perhaps platforms such as Tripadvisor and Zomato have come as a waking call to all dormant ‘foodies’, that form lines to wage their gastronomical review toward everything, even McDonalds. Just to be sure: we have nothing against Zomato, we use the app every time we’re feeling a little lost.

There’s more to this, though. The term foodie escalated and quickly became, and I’m not afraid to say this, the biggest marketing weapon in the food world. “The 15 best taverns of Porto/Lisbon for foodies” or “The Foodie’s Corner” are some of the simplest appeals that float around and make cash registers ring.

In the midst of this I’m confused with that 60 year-old man that knows that obscure tavern that serves the best fried squid that Timeout hasn’t found out about yet (or was afraid to go into), and doesn’t have an instagram account, is he a #foodie? Or that grandmother that has a fabulous recipe journal with soups, fish, meats and desserts, and that handles a feast for 15 like a dinner for two, but doesn’t tweet, is she a #foodie? One can only wonder.

The point is: if you’re still wasting time calling yourself a foodie, then you probably aren’t one. And that’s ok.

If in doubt, chef Bruno Lebot  came up with a list that will help you to understand how crazy you really are about the world of gastronomy. Here’s the short version:

1. Do you know how to bone a chicken?

2. Have you ever made your own éclairs?

3. Have you ever smoked your salmon or your garlic?

4. Do you own a kitchen blowtorch?

5. Does your set of knifes cost more than your first car did?

6. Have you ever picked your own mussels?

7. Have you maintained a sourdough starter for over a year?

8. Have you eaten grouse in its first week of season?

9. Have you eaten at Favikan in Sweden?

10. Do you have a pizza oven in the garden?

11. Have you risked your life to try Fugu?

12. Have you tasted the King’s Butter?

13. Have you eaten savoury gelato?

14. Have you gone foraging?

15. Have you perfected a crystal-clear consomme?

As exaggerated as it may sound to you, one thing is for certain: it’s about eating and knowing how to cook, as well as the time and resources you dedicate to food, just like any other hobby. But to fully correspond to that list you only need two things: to be wealthy and be willing to die for food.

That being said, do you still feel like a foodie?

#foodie #foodgasm #foodiesforlife #foodporn #iamsorry

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