What Makes a Foodie?

Are you a foodie?

Are you a foodie?

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?

  1. Kelly left a comment on July 23, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    To me, there’s also a big SOCIAL aspect of being a foodie: enjoying flavors with friends, either by sharing an new dining experience or by cooking up something for one or many and watching/listening as they enjoy the bounty!

  2. Bridget left a comment on July 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I absolutely agree with you, Kelly. Some of the best conversations of my life have been had over the dinner table. Food brings people together, and it’s so much better if you have people to share it with. 🙂 In fact, I think the social aspect of food really is my favorite part.

  3. Andrea Feldman left a comment on July 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I spend much of my time thinking about food and my next meal. I guess you could say that I don’t eat to live, but rather live to eat. Whenever I visit a new place, I plan much of my time around curating as many memorable food experiences as I possibly can. Obsessive? Sure. But it’s also a hell of a lot of fun, and just as rewarding as museum-going or other touristy activities.
    Speaking of which, I had an incredible visit to Chicago! Thanks again for all your spot-on food recs!

  4. Chicago Garden left a comment on July 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Interesting post. I’ve never really understood what a foodie was, since people define it different ways. One of the perceptions I’ve had based on those who I’ve come across on the internet just seemed to be people who latched onto a fad in order to create an aura of sophistication or add another weapon to their arsenal of snobbery.
    So, I find it refreshing to read the comments above that mention friends and conversation and not where something came from, how much it cost and who cooked it.

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