Foodie: The New “F” Word?

In 2009, I was labeled a “foodie” as I was becoming more interested in everything culinary. Not knowing what that

Paul Levy

term meant, I discovered that the word was coined back in 1984 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr who collaborated together for a book called The Official Foodie Handbook: Be Modern – Worship Food. Perhaps I’d been living under a rock all these years but the word “foodie” must’ve resurfaced recently to give a growing hoard of food enthusiasts, like me, a name.

Ah, but life wouldn’t be complete without a tiny, but vocal, group of people who dislike the “foodie” label and butcher its original meaning (e.g., Chowhound). Clearly, the witty journalist, Levy, was misunderstood. But, that doesn’t matter to him because he still uses the word as an adjective that does not discriminate between kitchen heroes and dining room snobs. His foods essays focus on substance over style with tasteful and fashionable execution.

Lucinda Scala-Quinn

The foodie world is full of interesting people who may not like the label. Take, for example, Lucinda Scala-Quinn, Executive Food Editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and star of the upcoming series “Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn,” premiering on the Hallmark Channel September 13. She says,

“Foodie= food passion+love+curiosity and a kick ass natural palate. I like to think of us as coming from a family where the earliest memories of fun, happy times were centered around the family table. I was always in the kitchen and got the cooking, eating bug early. While I’m not a fan of the term, ‘foodie’- I’m inspired to coin a new term…stay tuned.”

Scala-Quinn’s new show centers around how to bring back the family to eating together, and how she created appetizing meals for her husband and two boys. The family home is definitely where most of us become aware of the sweet, salty and tangy flavors of our culture, nation and world. And, this is where the foodie seed germinates.

A few of us foodies actually take it a step further and become chefs or food writers such as Austin-American Statesman’s Addie Broyles who says,

“Without a doubt, curiosity is at the heart of being both a foodie and a journalist. All my life, I’ve been a nerd for trivia and I love learning the how and why behind faucets of everyday life. I got into journalism because I loved that idea that it could be your job to learn as much as possible about a subject and then find a way to explain what you’ve learned to others. Being a foodie means I get to geek out about all the delicious things that life has to offer. The history of why we eat the way we do, what are the best ways to prepare a particular dish at home, where in the world you can find other people making wonderful food. I didn’t set out to combine my love of learning and writing with my love of food, but it certainly worked out that way!” Check out her defense of the word “foodie.”

Addie Broyles

Foodies get jobs just for being foodies. Take chef Kristin Andrews. She works in a gourmet grocery store called Central Market in Austin, Texas. Her job title is “foodie” and that comes with a bit of expertise in everything food related. Such an expert is essential for foodie customers who need help with their own home creations. Andrews explained that most of her free time is also spent around thinking and preparing food. It’s a passion! Even a “sensual and personal” love affair with food that Andrews says makes sharing with family and friends such a wonderful experience.

Wine section at Central Market

In Paul Levy’s article “What is a foodie?” for the Guardian in June 2007, he states:

“And I wonder what the word means today? It long ago stopped being (if it ever really was) a term of abuse. But is it a compliment about your knowledge or food or the sensitivity of your palate? Or is it simply a value-neutral description, like civil servant, football fan or stamp-collector? Can you be a foodie-nerd?”

Of course! This statement sums it up for the the amateurs and professionals among us take great pleasure and pains to express our love, passion and and joy through food.

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