Monday, October 12, 2009

"Foodie" is a Four-Letter Word

This past week, I have been doing quite a bit of shameless self-promotion for this blog. To keep my eating, writing, and reviewing skills sharp, I have been doing some research. This means flipping through my piles of Food & Wine and Wine Spectator magazines and re-reading my food books (Thanks Anthony Bourdain and Pim Techamuanvivit!). Over the course of my studies, I've come across some words that often come up in culinary journalism, but I have never liked.

Foodie & Gourmet: defines foodie as "a person keenly interested in food, esp. in eating or cooking" and gourmet as "a connoisseur of fine food and drink; epicure." Though the descriptions fit me adequately, I refuse to be defined in these terms.  They make me think of snobby, pretentious folks who hang out at Williams-Sonoma for fun, discussing which Riedel glass is most appropriate for a 2002 Oregon Burgundy. These restaurant groupies always have to have a table by the open kitchen, and will constantly drop fancy food terms throughout the dinner conversation. Frankly, I think these two words sound elitist, electing to separate a small, self-proclaimed special group of people from the masses. But isn't that the exact opposite of what food is supposed to do? It is meant to bring people together, a way for people to share a deep love of cuisine. So please, call me a food lover but never, ever a foodie and definitely not a gourmet.

Gastrique:  Working in the medical field, we have our own terminology. Not all people know what all that jargon stands for, so when speaking to patients and families, it is encouraged that we use layman's terms. Why then, do we not subscribe to the same idea with food? I suppose part of it is the romanticism that is associated with food. After all, what sounds better, baked bread cubes or croûtons? Duck confit sounds better than "Duck slowly cooked, while submerged in its own fat". But why did the word gastrique have to exist? By definition, it is a reduction of vinegar or wine and sugar, and often some type of fruit. However, to me it conjures up images of grinning GI doctors, snapping on their rubber gloves, as their patients get wheeled to the Endoscopy suite. Perhaps I need to find a way to turn off my medical way of thinking, but it is difficult to not think of stomach contents when I read this word on a menu!

Mouthfeel:  It just sounds creepy. Need I say more?


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