May 192008

This post brought to you by:
Sly and the Family Stone

Let’s say – and maybe I’m reaching here – that you love food. What do you call yourself? Are there not words in this English language of ours that can fully capture the depth of your affection for delicious victuals? Have all our legion of poets failed to come up with a means of expressing that most basic of loves?

Of course not.

Does your love of fine food extend to any of the other arts of man? Do you like a glass of wine at the gallery, steak-frites at the supper club? If so, you are an epicure.

Do you love to eat so much that you find gluttony a frequent guest at your table? Do you just shovel it down and let God and your colon sort it out? If so, you are a gourmand.

Or do you simply love the simple pleasures of a finely-prepared meal? If so, you can be either (your choice!) a gourmet or a gastronome.

You see? Four words, possessed of various shades of meaning, to describe someone who shares one of humanity’s most fundamental affections.

But you may have noticed that I haven’t included a certain other word, and for good reason.

Seriously: stop fucking using the word “foodie.”

It is childish. It is déclassé. It reduces a great art to the level of spit-up and uncontrolled bladder function. “Foodie” comes pureed in little jars. “Foodie” is marshmallows and sprinkles and quivering little grocery store jello molds, full of suspended colonies of canned fruit-product. “Foodie” is a Mickey Mouse pancake. “Foodie” is a Ben and Jerry’s specialty flavor. “Foodie” is Rachael Ray and her Christmas hams licking chocolate off a spoon in a lad mag.

Really: if you like a well-mixed martini, are you a “drinkie”? If you rock Monk and Mingus, are you a “soundie”? If you never miss the Met when you’re in New York, are you an “artie”? If you sigh longingly every time you see an Art Deco facade, are you a “designie”? If you think the world would be a more beautiful place if everyone were a grim, high-cheekboned statue draped by gay men in transgressively angular raiment, are you a “fashionie”? Or are you too fucking smart for that?

Or, to further simplify, here’s William Safire:

After eating, an epicure gives a thin smile of satisfaction; a gastronome, burping into his napkin, praises the food in a magazine; a gourmet, repressing his burp, criticizes the food in the same magazine; a gourmand belches happily and tells everybody where he ate; a glutton embraces the white porcelain altar, or, more plainly, he barfs.

A foodie Twitters “eating tacos al pastor at casa pendejo – about to take the first bite!”, takes an ostentatious couple of pictures for his blog, and then writes, “Meh. Casa Pendejo was totally overrated!” on Chowhound.

So maybe you realize that “foodie” is the stupidest fucking buzzword for an extremely venerable concept since “intelligent design,” but “epicure,” “gourmet,” “gourmand” and “gastronome” aren’t right for you. Perhaps you don’t want to sound like you’re putting on airs with your fancy eighth grade vocabulary. That’s fine too, because there’s an even simpler way to say what you mean: “I like to eat.”