Oh how I wish I was back in my grandma’s kitchen sitting at the long, wooden table which seemed to go on forever. Challah, magically appeared still warm from the bake. It was impossible not to steal a nibble or two of this delicious, egg bread.
Grandma’s kitchen was the ultimate ‘Foodie’ experience wrapped in love. It makes me smile to think what she would do if I told her she was a Foodie. She’d probably shake her head and say, “Toby just eat.”
Foodies — the word evokes a range of confusing meanings. When you hear the word “Foodie” what comes to mind? Do you think of people dressed in designer clothes who dine at Michelin star restaurants?
Or does the food of your nana, nonna, yaya, bubbe or memaw come to mind? Or are Master Chef Junior winner Logan Guleff’s words closer to your thoughts?
“A person interested in food, cooking, presentation and of course the kicker you have to feel your voice is important to the conversation.”
Redefining A Foodie
Curious about what people in the culinary world felt about the word Foodie I reached out to a few pals on Twitter. Not surprising some folks felt the Word Foodie had an elitist connotation.
Judith Winfrey, Farmer – “The term isn’t great. It’s convenient, but so is food lover or connoisseur. I dislike the elitism implied by foodie (and gourmand). The Venn diagram of my love of food includes culture, health and nourishment, farms, education and peace.”
Rachel Gaffney, Hospitality, Lifestyle Travel – “I have never liked the word foodie, it suggests something temporary and trendy. For me food is sensual and forever.”
From Professional Chefs/Cooks
William Poole – “A person who holds an appreciation and interest for the enjoyment of food beyond hobby, not a topic-elitist.”
Chef Ashley Nickell – “Being a foodie means showing respect for the food and the ingredients. I love making people happy with my food.”
Chef Nancy Waldeck – “Appreciating food as more than just fuel. Knowing that eating well makes you feel great. Loving sharing good food with others. Being curious about how others eat from around the world and not being afraid to try something new. And the delicious flavors of wine paired with food.”
Jay Eatz – “Someone that’s enthusiastic about all things food, from creating to consumption.”
Jackie S – “Enjoying all aspects of a meal. Presentation, texture, and other notes that may be subtle.”
From A Dietitian
Leah McGrath – “Appreciating food as more than sustenance…being interested in all aspects of foods-from farm to fork.”
From A Food TV Producer
1 CleverCupake – “Being a Foodie to me means having a passion for you food craft whatever that may be I spend my time looking up cake and dessert designs flavors ideas I’m always hunting for something new and cool.”
From The Beverage World
PubClub – “A foodie is who lives to eat rather than eats to live.”
Raj Sabharwal – “Travelling in Italy and was in a small town in Umbria wondering where to eat. Asked one of the locals and she replied “Do you want to eat or to dine? (vuoi mangiare o cenare?)”. I’ve always remembered that – a food lover can do either- knowing the difference is important.”
As you can see there were lots of ideas of how to define a “Foodie.” Interestingly running through most were the ideas of appreciation, respect and enjoyment of food.
Just for fun I ran the descriptions through a word cloud generator. In our teeny sample, the most mentioned word was “appreciation” – noted three times. Take a look. There was one word that was Not mentioned which surprised me.
The word that was Not mentioned that surprised me was Restaurant. Were you surprise you too?
I thought – why not redefine the word Foodie so we can have more diverse and meaningful conversations?
Seven Stops On Your Foodie Journey
Merriam Webster defines foodies as “A person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.” It seems limiting and actually out dated to me.
For me being a ‘foodie” is a life journey exploring multiple stops along the way.
The many parts of culinary eco-system are interwoven. To help cull the topics a bit I’ve identified “Seven Stops.” Spend as much time as you like with each; they all ‘travel well.’
Taking inspiration from the film Jerry McQuire instead of following the money, let’s begin our Foodie Adventure by following the food!
Stop One: Farms & Ranches. Our adventure begins “down on the farm” talking to farmers and ranchers. Did you know some farms and ranches provide tours? To help educate the public and bring a few more dollars some farms and ranches are part of a growing Agritourism movement. If we’re very lucky we might get to taste a peach right off the tree or a tomato warmed by the sun. Note: Don’t forget vineyards are farms too!
Stop Two: Farmers Markets. Following the food leads us to farmers markets where folks have the opportunity to purchase the freshest products from meats, seafood, and eggs to fruits and veggies. The markets go beyond just an opportunity for customers to shop and support local agriculture.
Farmers Markets are places for the community to engage and to better understand the people who produce our food and the people who cook the food – from home cooks to professional chefs.
Scattered through out the farmers markets you’ll find special treats produced by small business foodpreneurs. These talented food makers put their hearts and souls into making products that range from salts, sauces, teas and jams to honey, vinegars, oils and spices, and so much more.
Many of the recipes have been passed down from family members. Others are the innovation creations of the founders. By the way, artisan food makes wonderful gifts and great souvenirs.
Stop Three Restaurants++: The exciting, diverse universe of restaurants is of course, where the pros bring it together for us. From white table cloths to food trucks with no tables; from burgers to calamari and dim sun to osso buco each dish comes with not only its history but the chef and baker’s food story as well.
If you frequent a restaurant you might develop a relationship with the staff and perhaps even the chef. You’ll feel apart of a unique community. Whether it’s an ice cream stand, a pub, or fancy bistro, a talented server knows how to make a customer feel special and appreciated.
We can’t forget the neighborhood bakers, cheese shops, fishmongers, and meat shops that are owned by folks who play an important role in our foodie journey. Take a moment to chat with them – they are a wealth of knowledge about the food they sell and often will give you a few tips on how to prepare their products.
One of my most vivid memories is the small bagel shop “through the alley way” near grandma’s house. The lady behind the counter always gave me a baby bagel… always. The big oven behind the counter looked scary but mysterious to a little girl. Magical.
Stop Four: Distilleries. Spirits and beer distilleries play a fun role in our food adventures. Lots of ‘factories’ offer tasting tours – works for me!
Stop Five: Food Festivals & Food Tours. With so many restaurants to explore where does one begin? What started as a way to celebrate the autumn harvest, food festivals has exploded into an important platform for local restaurants and chefs to highlight their signature dishes. The fairs are often promoted food tourism events.
Food tours are fast becoming a fun way to experience the food and culture of a city. They’re a terrific way to entertain your out of town guests. They are also a unique way to explore different parts of your own city.
Stop Six: Cooking Classes & Cookbooks & Food TV. What better way to step into cooking and baking then with a little help from your friends? Need a little hand holding feeling comfortable trying a new cuisine? A cooking class is exactly what the doctor er chef ordered.
Cookbooks that guide you through different cultures with gorgeous photos and stories of the author’s experience make great reading in your kitchen or at bedtime. Don’t neglect TV and streaming social media cooking demonstrations. Especially on Instagram Live and Facebook Live you have the opportunity to drop a question and interact with the chef. How cool is that?
Stop Seven: Home Cooking. We’re back where we began at my Grandma’s kitchen or yours! You may not like to play in the kitchen. However, some of your friends and family may use food as their ‘love language.’
The New Foodie
Our Food Journey took us from how and where food is grown and produced to restaurants and festivals where we can enjoy the end results. Each stop along the way is infused with a special ingredient – Love.
Today being a foodie means being grateful of the time, effort and energy someone took to prepare food, and that can be a professional chef, cook, a friend or a family member.
The extra magic of food is in the stories of the people who loving create and generously share their dishes…. and the food products they raise, produce, and sell.
One of my favorite quotes is from the TV series Searching From Italy with host Stanley Tucci – “It’s always a real privilege learning a family’s home recipes and their kitchen secrets.”
A real foodie appreciates the food, cultures, and stories of the people who make our world a life-long delicious adventure.
A Few Resources
California Agriculture Tourism Directory
Farms and Agricultural Tours of Hawaii
Farmers Markets – U.S. Department of Agriculture
Taste of Atlanta – Food Festival