By Alicia Feuillet
I am a Foodie. I read the Washington Post Food section every Wednesday. The most exciting piece of mail I get is the month’s new Bon Appétit. I had to buy a new bookshelf just for my cookbook collection. I have thrown more dinner parties before the age of 25 than most people will in a lifetime. I cook nearly everyday of the week. In the hierarchy of importance, food is juxtaposed with politics.
I take my self-proclaimed Foodie status to heart, but last week I was incorrectly (in my mind) labeled a Food Snob. But then I thought, what exactly is the difference between a Food Snob and a Foodie? After much thought, I realized there are actually three groups: Food Snobs, Food Slobs, and Foodies.
Food Snobs are by far the most obnoxious and pretentious of the crowd. This group picks what they eat out of the Zagat Guide and thumbs their nose at any restaurant where the entrée is less than $30.00. Coincidentally, they shamefully hide last nights Lean Cuisine at the bottom of the trash because they have no idea how to cook. But Snobs have a deep dark secret: they can’t discern what good food is, they require a second-party such as Zagat, a restaurant review, or another undiscerning palette saying, “that was great”!
Lackadaisical and indiscriminate eating habits characterize Food Slobs. The can appreciate the difference between a BMW and a Chevrolet, but not iceberg and radicchio. Americans could stand to take a big hint from their European counterparts (ok, perhaps not the British). Healthful eating, socialization with family and friends, and responsible agriculture permeate their food culture at all levels, although increasing less. However, in all fairness to socio-economic limitations and realities, the cheapest calories in United States are usually the worst (i.e. ramen noodles, fast food). But those persons of moderate income can eat moderately well. You can’t have Kobe beef every night, but you can make a great pot of chili for less than $10.
Real Foodies have two distinct but very important differences from the other two groups: they know good food doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated and most importantly, Foodies can cook. Many Food Slobs might be under the false impression that Foodies eat five course French dinners every night. While that would be amazing, good food can be simple. In the time it takes the Food Slob to toast frozen waffles a Foodie can soft boil the perfect egg, butter toast, and call it a meal. The Snob might scoff at the thought of a fish taco out of the back of trailer. But I have had some damn good fish tacos out of the back of trailers. Second, real Foodies can cook and this makes them far and few between. The Foodie that can appreciate great food in a restaurant and can also go home and incorporate the ideas in to their own cooking deserves the Real Foodie label.
Many people would like to claim their status as a Foodie, but in reality the vast majority fall into the other two groups. Before some people get their heirloom tomatoes and nasty frozen vegetables all in a twist, I am not telling you how to eat. You do have the right to eat whatever you want (and as some the contributors to Pax Americana might say, we aren’t having a discussion about your rights). If you want to continue with your none-Foodie ways, go right ahead. That way I don’t have to fight you for reservations, steal the last hunk of imported Stilton from your hands, or wait behind you in line at the No Name Taco Stand.