Thursday, April 1, 2010

The downside of being a foodie

From Urban Dictionary:
FOODIE: A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation.
A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie.

I consider myself a foodie. I love great food, and I spend much of my time in search of the latest and greatest, be it a high end restaurant or a hole-in-the wall. But let me be straight with you. I am not a professional food critic, nor do I consider myself the definitive source on, well, anything really.

I love food and I like to share that love with other people. It's as simple as that. And if occasionally a review of a new place or a quick and easy recipe helps out one of my readers, then it's all worth it to me. That said, I think there's a terrible affliction affecting some in the foodie world. Some call it douchebagerie, others a nasty case of the pretensions. It's food, not world peace, so why are some people taking themselves so very seriously? Or worse turning this into a competitive sport.

The recent Peter Chang excitement brought this to the forefront. Sure, it was exciting that the foodies were abuzz over his alleged presence at Tasty China. Mr. AT and I were hungry, so hell, why not go in search of someone who merited not one, but two, major magazine articles in the same month. Was I pleased to be one of the few to catch him there and meet him in the flesh? Of course! Heck, I was just shocked that someone who inspires such a fervor was so darn nice, offering me an autograph and a photo. I take photos of what I eat for goodness sake, why would I not accept a photo of the chef, too?

But all of that said, I neither think I'm special nor impressive for what I've eaten. And that's where it gets weird. Some food writers are going out of their way to express that they and only they tasted Chang's cooking. Uh, who cares? In a world where jobs have been lost, homeowners are underwater, politics are imploding, does anyone really take food writing that seriously? It's for entertainment value, possibly a bit of edification. Period. No one thinks you're cool for eating Chang's, or anyone else's food.

As I wrote in my earlier Chang article, he was in the dining room, so unless he is magical (which is possible given his elusiveness!), he was not simultaneously in the back whipping up my meal. But I don't care. It was fun to be caught up in the hunt for Chang. It's not often that something going on in our food scene merits national attention, and I'm glad I was a tiny part of the communal excitement. But I'm equally excited each time I go to Shed at Glenwood and chat with Lance and Cindy, or when I work with Top Chef's Eli, or when I prepare a really awesome dinner after a long day at work.

It's not a competition for me. I want everyone to enjoy as much good food as I do. That's why I write here everyday, to share the love, not one up you. I'm not quite sure why others want to make it out to be something it isn't. If this is your version of a competition. You win. You can be the very first to try a place, or the sole Atlantan to eat Chang's magical food. I'll just be at the back of the pack eating, and loving every minute of it.



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