There’s no question that being a “foodie” is in these days. Mainstream television shows like Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, and my new favorite, Cake Boss have fed the frenzy, creating a new generation of celebrity chefs. Even Hollywood is cashing in on our love for food, with Julie and Julia hitting theaters early next month.
Still, I’m surprised by a prevailing assumption I often come across that being a foodie means having an overwhelming desire to cook — to recreate the work of masters in one’s own kitchen. I think that’s pretty presumptuous and in some ways, devalues the art of fine dining.
Being a foodie is more about appreciation than recreation. It’s about being adventurous enough to try new things and to savor flavor combinations you never dreamed of. Do you have to be a writer to enjoy a good book? A painter to be moved by a piece of artwork? No, of course not. Those direct correlations are rarely made.
I agree that being a writer or a painter helps you appreciate a piece of work on another level, just as cooking a dish yourself can give you a new appreciation for its complexity. Still, I can’t help but wonder why the concept of being a “foodie” and being a “cook” are so often lumped together, when in my mind, they’re ultimately so different.
What do you think? What makes a foodie?