Beware Your Inner Monster foodie: Pretentious Foodie Bull$#!t of the Day

Don, the foodie Don, the foodie
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Many people have asked how this blog came to be called “foodiePrints.” Neither a word nor a composite of related words, I developed a “predictable” canned response. Dawning a false smile, I usually explain foodiePrints is a combination of interests: food (so “foodie”) and photography (so “prints”).

In all honesty, foodiePrints was an accident. Wanting to share a recipe for a more North American take on biscotti, without having to resort to copying and pasting it into multiple e-mails, I created a sub-domain and installed a content management system. The web-space was leftover from the days when I used to upload and post my notes from class for friends. When the installer prompted me for a name, I put in something temporary.

It stuck…

Back then, food enthusiasts (be they modern food lovers or gourmands) were distancing themselves from the “gourmet” label. We adopted “foodie” as our nom de jour, hoping to leave behind the snooty connotation carried by self-absorbed “gourmets.” The Food Network wasn’t quite marketing to us. It was a cooking channel, not a game show channel. Shows on the fledgling network differed little from Saturday morning programming on public broadcasting channels. When someone wasn’t physically cooking in a studio kitchen with a live audience, cameras were following someone else as he or she traveled around the world to try exotic foods. Eventually, one of those people was Anthony Bourdain in A Cook’s Tour, the lanky chain-smoking chef freshly discharged from the kitchens at Les Halles in New York City.

Back then, Ottawa producer Chris Knight’s Cook Like a Chef drew impressive viewership. On his show, there were no cupcake challenges, locking culinary professionals a room with a bulldozer, a bag of flour, and a chimpanzee. The Worst Cooks in America received no air time. They could, however, look to Knight’s Canadian chefs for guidance. Moreover, female chefs wore whites (or blacks), not cleavage revealing blouses or two-sizes-too-small sweaters.

Back then, being a “foodie” carried no stigma.

Today, history repeats itself

Soon, the labels “food lover” and “gourmand” will carry the same negative connotation.

So why the stereotype?

To borrow from Robin Thorton of Leaderswest, people like to classify, categorize, define, list, enumerate, and quantify. Being inherently lazy, we make “off-the-cuff” generalizations when there simply isn’t time for deeper consideration. Thorton believes our consciously (or unconsciously) drawing conclusions based on external cues is a coping mechanism. It helps us cope with anxiety when placed in new situations or faced with meeting new people.

Essentially, we take “shortcuts.” We ascribe familiar characteristics. Then, we make assumptions.

Some are positive. Some are less positive. Thai food is spicy. Thai food is actually a cuisine of balanced flavours and textures. Red hair and freckles means someone must be of Irish descent. Fair skin and hair dye will produce the same physical cues. Foodies are self-entitled snobs. Most of us just put a little more thought into our food.

The Huffington post believes the word is too inclusive, suggesting we separate those “who love food for food,” from those “who love food for how it brings people together,” and those “who wear it on their arm like a badge of self-entitlement.”

Besides, “foodie” sounds like something “a five-year-old would say.”

When I was five, I learned the words “thermonuclear war.” The movie, War Games, had just been released to theaters. In it, a young Matthew Broderick finds a way to “hack” into NORAD with a telephone modem and a desktop computer. This somehow triggers a sophisticated artificial intelligence to launch warheads against the former Soviet Union. And, my mother was finishing her undergraduate degree. I mistakenly picked up one of her textbooks for bedtime reading. Robert Malcolmson’s Nuclear Fallacies, with its nondescript cover and heft, betrayed no Star Wars-esque adventures as I had hoped.

Honestly, we don’t need new labels. We need to take a step back.

Shrinking from being called a foodie is no different from shrinking from being called Canadian. A proud Canadian, I revel in my hockey-playing, igloo-building, and maple syrup-guzzling heritage. At the same time, I do not club baby seals. I am somewhat nonplussed by the presiding government’s environmental policies. And, I try not to mention the weather (or the 10 cm of white stuff that will befall Southern Ontario tomorrow).

So, my friend Pej and I have set out to highlight one of the more cringe-worthy components of foodie-ism, elitist foodie-speak. These are words or phrases spoken by the Food Network fetishist foodie; the kind of foodie that hangs on just about anything uttered by food personalities, no matter how misguided or thoughtless. We want these foodies to question what they hear. We want them to question what they say.

If you see us Tweet-ing or Facebook-ing a “Pretentious Foodie Bull$#!t Word of the Day” or “Pretentious Foodie Bull$#!t Phrase of the Day,” now you know why. These are oft overused words or phrases that have become rather ambiguous in the Yelp-ified present.

Here’s what we started with:

  • pretentious foodie bull$#!t words of the day
    • SEASONAL (suggested by Chef Rene Rodriguez of Navarra Restaurant (93 Murray Street))
    • FREE RANGE (suggested by me)
    • ARTISAN (suggested by me)
    • POP-UP (suggested by me)
  • pretentious foodie bull$#!t phrases of the day
    • “YES CHEF!”

A pretentious craftbeer bull@#!t word of the day was tweeted in response recently: QUAFF (suggested by Katy Watts of Sheltered Girl Meets World).

Got a suggestion? Drop us a comment below.

That said, my name is Don. I am a foodie. Yeah, one of THEM!

Update: Boston Pizza, perhaps you should be more concerned about the salt monster lurking in your restaurants than foodies.

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Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.