The F Word: Do you cringe when you hear it?

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When the word first appeared, who would have thought it would be used as a slur? Foodie has a pleasingly egalitarian ring to it with none of the haughtiness of gourmet or the implied gluttony of gourmand. It’s not effete like epicure, and doesn’t suggest the scholarliness of a gastronome.

The first Foodies were rebels. They broke with the old-guard, with its formality and its singular attachment to French cuisine. Appreciation of food and wine was taken out of its context of formality. A Chinatown noodle joint could achieve the same stature as haute cuisine on the Upper East Side. A single peach could be as sublimely pleasurable as a Grand Marnier soufflé. The true foodie could properly enjoy both.

Where did we lose our way?

Genuine passion has given way to hype. Food has become an over-heated emblem of status and lifestyle. We giddily scamper after the shiniest new thing, following the buzz, collecting our foodie trophies.Technology empowers us to critique every morsel, and online gastro-diarists use it to distill genuine gustatory experiences into the superficial observations captured in photographs and tweets. Gimmickry and sensationalism have replaced considered opinions.

It’s all so tiresome.

A backlash is building in the blogosphere.

A ground-breaking piece in last fall’s New York Observer took a swipe at food-obsessed New Yorkers, noting the change in water-cooler chitchat: “They used to talk about sex and politics and TV shows. Now they can’t stop yapping about what they’re shoving down their pie holes.” The Observer coined the phrase ‘foodiot’ to describe this new breed of foodie.

Then came the smart, snarky blog Shut Up, Foodie! that announced its arrival on the scene with these words:

Attention, locavores, omnivores, urban butchers, backyard beekeepers, cheese fanatics, and conspicuous consumers of consuming: Your chickens won’t save the world and we don’t want the life story of everything on the menu. We don’t care what you eat–we just want you to lower the volume. Also, please stop talking about ramps.

The conversation continues in the twitterverse courtesy of the great Ruth Bourdain. The voice of food writer Ruth Reichl is fused with the persona of chef Anthony Bourdain in a series of sharp (caustic, even), clever tweets poking fun at self-involved, sanctimonious food celebrities. The mashed-up portrait is worth a look.

Let’s not forget...

Food matters, but what we chew is not the center of the universe. Every once in a while we should look up from our plates and hopefully have something else to talk about .

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11 Responses to The F Word: Do you cringe when you hear it?

  1. Hi Janice wherry did you find this illustration? Do you know the artist?

  2. Hi Janice,
    Where did you find this illustration? do you know the artist?

  3. Sam says:

    Foochebag (noun)
    Pronunciation: füsh-<bāg
    Definition: Portmanteau of "foodie" and "douchebag," typically referring to foodies who are categorized by "attention-seeking, elitism, and superficiality." Basically, arrogant food bloggers and Twitter users.
    Coined by Houston food blog Houston Food Adventures; first published in Houston Press; most recently used in Chicagoist review of Girl & The Goat.
    Usage: @sensestorm: "@johnseaborn What is your deal with "foochebags" this month? Did someone not share their foie gras with you?"
    Introducing the Foochebag)(via @seriouseats)

  4. Pingback: Over-Used Food Terms | Gigabiting

  5. Love this write up…Must admit I was clueless to all of the above mentioned. I think some people just need to do one or the other…fanatically follow or tear it up. A love and passion for food and food as an art form has been appreciated since the birth of humanity. It may take on many forms, but it is a fact. And a blending with other various art forms (photography, writing etc) just adds to the pleasure as far as I am concerned. And for those that are more than willing to adore the TV born stars, why would they at the very least not leave the rest to those that have an appreciation? (I am so opinionated I know)… Yikes sorry for the ramble Janice:) Love what you do!

  6. “I breathe but I don’t call myself an airie.” That is hilarious!! And so true. Whenever something gains popularity it will be stretched to fill the spectrum from balanced appreciation to over-the-top fanatic. Eat-live-love and enjoy the ride. I could care less what connotation people want to hang on labels…that’s their energy to waste.

  7. Janice says:

    Unfortunately the word has been diluted by some of the Food Network crap (did you see the way Sandra Lee’s tomato soup lasagna was thoroughly trashed by Andrew Cuomo’s mother?), and the way it has been co-opted by marketers. Yes, the word bugs me in its kindergarten preciousness, but it bothers me more to see it sink so low.

  8. Totally cringe when I hear it. It is hard to come up with a word that describes something you are- something you love and transform into a passion- that will eventually not become cringe-worthy. Once the masses get a hold of it, once the foodnetwork makes it popular, once the 7 simple dinners caters to ‘foodies’ it becomes cringe-worthy.

    Ruth Bourdain and Shut Up, Foodie are hilarious! I try to stop myself from carrying on and on about the most delicate scamps I found at the market. I know most people don’t give a damn about it – just like they wouldn’t give a damn about my latest and greatest knitting project- no, I don’t knit- just giving an example. ]

    Cool post!

  9. Janice says:

    Thanks, Caveman.

    I agree, it does have a kindergarten ring to it. And I breathe but I don’t call myself an airie.

  10. You might want to check out the blog post The New “F” Word. It is a tretise on that cringe-inducing word.

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Is it appropriate conversation for the dinner table? Then it should be fine.

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