“Foodies.” It’s a term thrown about everywhere these days, and there’s no shortage of self-proclaimed experts in regards to the creation and consumption of food. Historically the image of a food expert or critic was that of someone haughty and removed, who only valued dishes that were too unusual or inaccessible to be appreciated by “common” folk. However, since everyone eats, aren’t we all “foodies?” Doesn’t it make more sense then, to celebrate the foods that we eat the most?
Rise of the Foodies
For years it seemed strange to me that eating was a legitimate interest in and of itself, for its own sake. After all, aren’t even those with the blandest of palettes still fundamentally interested in food? Doesn’t everybody have an opinion about what does and doesn’t taste good, what smells appealing or appalling, what makes one’s mouth water in anticipation or pucker in rejection? Perhaps what separates the foodies from the rest of the herd is the particular attention paid to the process and nuances of food itself.
Conscious Awareness of Food
Most of my working life has been spent in restaurants. At each job, I became more aware of the nuances of spices, sauces, cooking methods, etc. I came to understand that a hamburger was good, but that same burger doctored up with bleu cheese, a dash of seasoning mix, and nestled within a lightly toasted onion roll was better, much better. Soon I was augmenting my own dishes with whatever spices, sauces, or ingredients I could get my hands on. The pizzerias I worked at were particularly great places to stretch palette and imagination. My creations were sometimes substandard, sometimes sublime. I become seriously interested in what others were doing better and tastier than I could with my eager but meager skills. Before I knew it I was one of them: a full-fledged foodie.
Celebrating the Everyday
I gradually realized that the meals that I discussed (and drooled over) the most were the ones most commonly enjoyed. After all, I have never eaten at a Michelin three star restaurant, and wouldn’t be able to appreciate it properly if I did. I do know however, how to detect a quality pizza, can confidently judge which corporate burger tastes better at one location over the next, and love savoring a fine slab of ribs. Chances are that you can too. That’s what makes being a modern foodie so socially appealing.
We live in a grand age where anyone and everyone can rightfully consider themselves to be foodies, and there is no form of cuisine more open to debate and appraisal than that which we consume the most frequently. Today I no longer hide that I’m a full-fledged fast food connoisseur, and a complete BBQ junkie. In fact, I celebrate it. I am proud of my roots in the fast food restaurants, Coney islands, and pizza joints of suburban Michigan, and will forever be analyzing, judging, and delighting in the culinary creations that I come across.