Foodie: a word that should never be used.
1984 was a dark year. A year in which a book was released, written by Paul Levy, Ann Barr and Mat Sloan called “The official foodie handbook.” It was due to these people alone that the term “foodie” was first coined. I loathe the word, I hate it so much that I would rather drink turpentine and piss on a bonfire than utter it out loud. So, as you can imagine writing this is no easy task for me, but it has to be done. The word is so offensive that as I type it up it is the only word underlined in red!
There was a time I found particularly hard when I did a brief stint at Olive magazine where the word was banded around the office more than a tennis ball at Wimbledon. Understandable if you read the magazine which is packed full of foodie this and foodie that, what is more interesting, from the impression I got, is that not many of the people who worked on the magazine were not very fond of the F-word either.
The dictionary defines the F-word as someone who; has an ardent or refined interest in food. Very nice. So gourmand, gourmet and gastronome are words that describe the same thing but are considered too snobbish in this day and age, hence the reason “foodie” was invented. I can happily stand tall and say that I am certainly not the only person who harbours contempt for this word. The general consensus amongst us who do have interest in food terminology is that it is a bad word. For example I don’t believe people are branded “shoppies” if they have an interest in shopping often a simple ‘aholic’ is sufficient to back the word used to describe someone who avidly pursues a certain pastime or subject: shop-a-holic, alcoholic, chocaholic etc. It seems as though our official foodie handbook writers felt it sounded right- damn them!
It seems evident that new words for old things are always being invented to make them sound more professional like calling a cocktail barman a ‘mixologist’ are they really? Or are they still cocktail barmen. I believe in America they now call them “bar-chefs”. How pretentious is that!
It doesn’t often happen but occasionally someone on hearing I write a food blog and enjoy my food they make the enormous mistake of saying to me “so you’re a bit of a foodie then?” er…..no, the rest of the conversation never usually happens. The f-word is meant to describe amateurs that have an avid interested in everything to do with food. I don’t mean to blow my own, but I am a fairly good self-taught cook, does that make me a chef? It has got to a point I feel that the word itself invokes the same snobbery that people thought gourmand and gastronome did. Its people such as Tom Parker-Bowles who I think love the word and his book “a year of eating dangerously”, all be it a thoroughly enjoyable read certainly adheres to this kind of F-word behaviour. People do think they are ‘foodies’ if they hold a big interest in it. Considering food is something so essential to keep us alive as well as something our hunter-gatherer ancestors lives revolved around, should we call them the ultimate foodies? They were always looking for new ingredients, new ways of cooking their catch etc. It pains me to say it but one person who has always inspired me- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, is also guilty of using the word more times than he should have.
Maybe times are changing and we have to adapt to these new terms, but I say never. Not that word. I hate it now and I always will. I was relieved to have a flick through my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, not even mentioned! Oh hang on, Ken Holm has to stain the back cover with; ‘for foodies, Larousse is perfect bedtime reading’. Well all I can say is that I have never read it in bed. Why would you, it’s a dictionary of food. I like food and most things associated with it do interest me, that does not make me a foodie or anyone else who follows the same pattern.
Unfortunately like ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Emmerdale’ it is something that has been engrained into British society, which we may never be rid of. People who call themselves foodies are in fact in the same boat of snobs that they thought gastronomes were. In fact they really believe they are an elite group above the heathens, the same type who go and spend hundreds of orange and purple beer slips in Borough market and whole foods every weekend. If you like food, you like food, it is as simple as that.
Lets step up people, stop using the word, its ridiculous!