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A "War" On Foodies?

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 26, 2010 4:40PM

This is where we should eat, if we want to be less snobby.
As we've experienced in our own comments section, some people are tired of the worship of food and just want everything to return to normal. By normal, they seem to mean the Wonder bread and chain restaurant world of the suburban 1960s, where people ordered, ate, paid and didn't think too much about things. Well, if you feel that way, you aren't alone; the media is getting in on the act. Chow reported yesterday on what they call "the war against foodies" - newspapers mocking those of us who love food and drink a little too much.

In a "Non-Foodies Food Guide," The Oregonian wrote, "Call them gourmands, connoisseurs, picky eaters, or just plain old snobs. Foodies blog, write and chat about pet restaurants, trends and chefs. They leave little room on their plates or in their hearts for fast food, family dining and the untrendy. And they can be pretty mean to some places we love." Apparently, foodies hate families, mid-priced chains, blue-collar workers, coffee that isn't denoted in Italian, large portions and anything that doesn't involve foam. Oh, and we're mean too.

James Norton, writing on Chow, doesn't pull any punches. First, he reminds us that most "foodies" hate that word, since it makes them sound like idiots. More important, he argues that a real foodie is someone who loves the best of any kind of food, from hamburgers to diner milkshakes to foie gras, and that this reaction is simply a backlash of the uninformed. We are forced to agree, and to add that snobbery and expertise are not necessary qualities of the gourmet - all you need is enthusiasm, open-mindedness and a desire to experience new things.

Norton also pushes back against the ridicule of those who wish to control what they eat. As he puts it, "There's nothing "foodie" or exclusive about recognizing that a lot of so-called family dining and fast food is just garbage. It's an objective fact. If your diet consists principally of an industrially processed pile of affordable carbs, butter, sugar, and meats, guess what: You've got a lot of doctor's visits in your future. There's nothing "foodie" about rejecting 1,800-calorie entrées that are mostly fat and salt; it's just good sense."

We've certainly encountered these sentiments before. Chefs occasionally complain about photography and blogging in their restaurants, and lots of our friends mock our "esteemed tastes" when we dine out. While obnoxious food snobs are a pain in the neck, chefs and publications should remember who pays the bills. If everyone who cared about food stopped reading the dining sections of newspapers or blogs, they wouldn't have much left. Similarly, if everyone who identified as a "foodie" stopped going to high-end restaurants, there would be lots of empty tables. Oh, and just a note - we'll be having a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread for lunch, in case you were wondering.

Photo by trippchicago