Are You a Food Geek?

image courtesy of Consumer Eroski

In the world of geeky niches, Food Geeks are a little more socially-acceptable than Gamers and Gadget Nerds but not as cool as Music or Movie Geeks. At least according to Gizmodo’s Socially-Acceptable Geek Subgenre Scale Gallery. Food Geeks have a middling rank between top-of-the-heap Finance Geeks (Math Nerds turned cool… who’s getting a wedgie after calculus class now,  jocks?) and the bottom-dwelling human/animal fantasy-hybridists known as Furries.

Food Geeks should not be confused with Foodies

Foodies talk about past and future meals while eating the current one. They know the pedigree of the eggs they eat and will carry heirloom tomatoes like a newborn baby. They can be profoundly interested and even technically proficient in one or many aspects of food (cheese, restaurants, cooking, wines), but the focus is squarely on the pleasures of the table: the food they eat, the people they share it with, the memories they create and the ones they recall.


Food Geeks are an entirely different animal. They not only admire a crusty baguette, they can tell you if it’s due to enzymatic browning or lipid oxidation. They measure ingredients in grams and will serve caviar with white chocolate knowing that they match on a molecular level. Food Geeks appreciate the art of cooking while they embrace the science.

Food Geeks are well-represented online (no surprise there).

The patron saint of Food Geeks is Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking, a classic tome of gastronomic science. His blog, the Curious Cook is a must-read for any self-respecting geek.

Another essential bookmark is the molecular gastronomy blog Khymos. The blog is the creation of a Norwegian organometallic chemist (a fairly typical career among Food Geeks); don’t ask about the blog’s name unless you want a lesson in Greek and Arabic etymology (also fairly typical).

Ideas in Food showcases playful experimentation with food, reflecting the culinary rather than scientific backgrounds of its bloggers.

For a good time, the Food Geeks like to play a round of TGRWT. Short for They Go Really Well Together, the players start with the hypothesis  that if two foods have one or more key odorants in common, they might pair well in a dish.

Instead of wine, bring a food-themed t-shirt the next time a Food Geek cooks you dinner.

You can mingle with the Food Geeks through the Facebook page and Twitter account maintained by And keep an eye out for TGRWT— the results from round 21 should be posted any day now.

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5 Responses to Are You a Food Geek?

  1. Janice says:

    I agree that adding some discipline to your cooking is actually liberating rather than constraining. That’s why Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio cookbook is so successful. Understanding some basic principles can make experimentation more successful.

  2. Zibi says:

    Yes! The science behind cooking is why I enjoy reading the the articles in Cook’s Illustrated. Understanding what happens during cooking makes you a better cook, and gives you the freedom to experiment.

  3. We are definitely “foodies” but see the value in adding some “geek” to our repertoire.

  4. Janice says:

    The book is On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. It’s a fantastic reference- you won’t believe how much you’ll turn to it. It’s actually a 25 years old book.

  5. I miiiight be a food geek. 🙂
    I’ve taken way too many chemistry courses (organic, inorganic, biochemistry) for it not to cross my mind when eating something unique ie; what molecular changes in the proteins of an egg yolk to allow you to panko and deep fry it?
    I will pick up a copy of the Curious Cook – thanks for the suggestion!

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