Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chronicles of a Food Enthusiast

When I created this food blog over a a year ago, I had no trouble choosing a title for it.  The act of choosing the subtitle, however, was an entirely different story, and the act of crafting the perfect mini-description of the blog proved to be much more difficult.  I came up with "Chronicles of a Self-Proclaimed Foodie."  It was succinct and straightforward.  The words rolled off the tongue easily and initial reaction to it was positive.  So "Chronicles of a Self-Proclaimed Foodie" stuck and has served as the subtitle of Taste As You Go ever since.

That is, until today.  According to Michael Ruhlman's blog post "Julie & Julia, Foodie & Cook," published on August 3, 2009, which I only just got around to reading last night, the term "foodie" is an "unfortunate term."  Ruhlman goes on to say there is a clear distinction between foodies and people who like to cook, though some people can be labeled as both.  Interesting...
"Foodies are the first to hit the newest restaurant, or to plan a trip based on restaurant destinations; they[...] are the first to order the coolest new ingredient and make sure you know it.  Foodies love to talk about food and cooking.  Foodies watch food television with their pants around their ankles and buy The French Laundry Cookbook for the pictures.  Foodie is a social distinction, not a judgement."
Whoa. What?!?

Going through the list, I'm not the "first to hit the newest restaurant."  I like to wait to try a restaurant - especially one that has generated a lot of pre-opening buzz - until any hype has died down.  I tend to wait until trends are no longer trendy or to avoid them altogether.  I've never eaten at Momofuku.  I've never read one page of a Harry Potter book.  I'll never understand the allure of gladiator sandals (though, are those things still "in"?).  I have never "plan[ned] a trip based on restaurant destinations."  Hell, I don't plan trips period.  (And, no, I don't count visits to see my family or my boyfriend as "trips.")  I'm also not the "first to order the coolest new ingredient" or the first to "make sure you know it."

I am, however, someone who "love[s] to talk about food and cooking."  Why wouldn't I love to talk about one of my favorite hobbies/pastimes/means of relieving stress and tension?  But I do have other interests - like running and music and spending an inordinate amount of time volunteering as the Vice President Membership of the New York City Alumnae Chapter of Chi Omega.  I'm multi-faceted and I have every intention of staying that way.  Thinking I had escaped further mislabeling, my jaw dropped when I read the next characteristic of a foodie.  No, Mr. Ruhlman, no.  I do not "watch food television with [my] pants around [my] ankles and buy The French Laundry Cookbook for the pictures."  Truth be told, I can't afford cable (not even PBS), and I don't own The French Laundry Cookbook.  (Though, I have flipped through the cookbook in Barnes & Noble to look at the pictures.)

I couldn't believe how strongly I reacted to Ruhlman's blog post.  And I couldn't believe how, well, dirty I felt.  Ruhlman states he has "nothing against foodies," but I couldn't help but read a smidgen of negativity into his words.  Especially after reading his almost angelically pure explanation of the characteristics of cooks:
"Cooks, on the other hand, cook; they like to cook, they enjoy the work and like feeding others and take pride in various successes in the kitchen, whether it's their first mayonnaise or a Rachael Ray recipe, and they are not daunted by failure."
Without question, I am a cook.

After mulling it over, I decided to change the subtitle of my blog.  It no longer reads "Chronicles of a Self-Proclaimed Foodie" in the header underneath the title.  As much as I don't see anything wrong with the word "foodie" or with classifying oneself as such, I realized that other people may view "foodies" as Michael Ruhlman does - with acceptance colored by a dash of disdain.  And those people may be turned off by my use of the word and may skip right over my blog, denying themselves the opportunity to discover a new recipe or to read about how much food reminds me of some of the fonder times of my childhood.  So, "Chronicles of a Self-Proclaimed Foodie" has been replaced with "Chronicles of a Food Enthusiast," equally succinct and straightforward as the original and just as easily rolled off the tongue.

The concept of my food blog hasn't changed.  I'm still working my way through life one recipe, one dish, and one restaurant at a time.  I'm just changing the way I market my blog to the world.  I only hope the reaction to that change is positive.

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