by Buck Reed
It is not enough to call a plate of barbequed ribs “que.” It is no longer hip to call appetizers simply “Hors D’oeuvres” it is now “Tapas,” “Meze,” or “Antipasto,” and sometimes, two of these terms at the same time, but never all three. Menus are no longer written by chefs; they are “curated” by “culinary artisans” and, sometimes, under certain mysterious circumstances, they are even “carefully curated.” And dishes are now “deconstructed.” If a classic dish gets a different sauce or an ingredient is swapped out, it is “reimagined.” Let’s face it, the foodies are here, and they are bringing their own language with them.
So, what exactly is a foodie? At first thought, one might believe a foodie is someone who loves food and wishes to eat it. As opposed to most people who actually hate food and would never eat it. Or perhaps it is simply a person who, in attempt to elevate their lives by artificially looking down on others, describes every dish they have either made or had made for them with fancy terms, such as clean—as if the food everyone else was eating was somehow tainted with dirt or grime. I personally believe foodie is a marketing term created by an ad man to sell more abalone, saffron, and capers. Well played Mr. Draper, well played, indeed.
The first concept you want to grasp when speaking like a foodie is an absolute, minimal grasp of a foreign language. No, you do not have to speak French or Spanish fluently, but you do need to be able to trade out a few American ingredient terms for their distant counterparts. Eggplant is now aubergine, Mussels are now moules, and French fries are now called frites. You get extra points if you can say these terms with an exotic inflection, and you can somehow add an accent mark as you say them. Do not make the rookie mistake of speaking your entire sentence with a French accent, just over enunciate the actual words you are expressing and actually try to make your face look like you are from a foreign land as you say the words. If you want to practice, try using a German accent when you say sauerkraut. Note: do not do this with Asian ingredients as this could make you sound racist.
Although it may well be a marketing scam, being a foodie place does not by requirement automatically make your food more expensive, but it does seem to work out that way. For instance, new independent restaurants and some franchised joints are now marketing themselves as “neighborhood places,” which is an easy mark to hit, as they are in the neighborhood and they are an actual place. Does that mean that they are not going to seat you if you are not from the locality? And calling your restaurant New American, Pan-Asian, or Bistro doesn’t really define you, but doesn’t really increase the menu price either. And deconstructing your daily specials just means you are arranging the ingredients on the plate so the customer can put them together themselves. That has got to cut down on labor cost.
Whether it was the yuppies, the hippies, or the Food Channel that came up with the term, foodies are here, and like a tick on a St. Bernard, they are not going to be easy to root out. And although I am fairly certain they will not be making the food taste any better, they may actually be helping us develop new ways to express our appreciation for the food we are eating.
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