Like any journalism student, there are some words I can’t stand. Take “ironical,” for instance. That faux-word really bugs me, even when people use it in jest. But another word has been popping up more and more these days, and it’s beginning to irk me as well, possibly more than ironical. The word? Foodie.
What is a foodie? One dictionary defined it as “a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads,” while another simply said, “lover of food.” Synonyms include sensualist, connoisseur, and best of all, glutton.
If I ever heard someone describe him or herself as a connoisseur in complete seriousness, I’m running for the hills. That’s basically like saying, “I’m a huge snob and I will inevitably judge you for what you eat.” Just like sensualist means you’re weird. And who in their right mind would want to be described as a glutton? You might as well save time and just snort.
There is a difference between foodies and connoisseurs, however. The latter have received some sort of culinary training or at least have some qualifications under their belt. Foodies, on the other hand, are merely food amateurs who enjoy everything about the topic. Most enthusiasm and joy seems to eminate, however, from the act of consumption.
Are we becoming so unoriginal that our interests, hobbies and our very selves are described as “lovers” of things that are necessary for survival? Everyone eats food. Maybe I’ll start telling people that I’m a “sleepie” or a “wordie.” My friends will be blinkies, sneezies and walkies. We will be consumed by wild enthusiasm for basic human functions. And we will probably watch as our social lives jump off cliffs.
It wasn’t always this way. At one time, being called a “pig” was an insult. The term “foodie” was first coined with the 1984 book “The Official Foodie Handbook.” It then became even more of a hobby with the introduction of the Food Network in the 1990s, celebrity chefs and food blogs.
Now there’s the new iPhone app called Foodspotting, where users post photos of their favorite dishes to the web. The creator of the app calls it “window-shopping for food.”
Taking pictures of your food to post on iPhone? Really? I didn’t think there could be anything more annoying than people using FourSquare on Twitter to tell me they’re at the library. Who. Cares.
America’s obesity rate has skyrocketed — it was reported last week that one in three kids is now obese. Maybe implying that you can have an avid interest or love of food isn’t the healthiest route to take. Somewhere along the line, that appetite may overdevelop and delve into obsession territory.
And obsession it has become; add food to the long list of weird infatuations. Remember when people dressed cement ducks in seasonal-appropriate clothing and perched them outside their front door? What was that? At least America’s obsession with designer dog shops that make it seem OK to treat pets better than people, is somewhat simmering down.
I wasn’t even going to touch Man vs. Food, but I guess I’ll go there. First off, Adam Richman has a shot at being somewhat attractive. He’s funny, enthusiastic and seems like a decent guy. But the moment he begins shoveling food into his face, his eyes roll back and his sweaty face drains of color. Sometimes he’ll speak with mouthfuls of half-chewed food. It’s an understatement to call that unappealing. Even more worrisome is why he chooses to do that to himself.
I know it’s a game and an entertaining show, but I think it’s strange when Richman announces that “food” has won after he can’t finish 12 hoagie sandwiches. Food is not alive. Food cannot be a competitor. At least eating contests, as gluttonous as they are, showcase human abilities in competition with one another. This show, however, is just one man’s large appetite as he chows down against … no one.
Or food, I guess, since that has become bigger than life these days.