foodie (n.) noun food·ie \ˈfü-dē\: a person who enjoys and cares about food very much; a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.
Do you consider yourself a foodie? So many people do that Merriam-Webster even gave it the above definition. Type “foodie” into Google and you’ll get almost 66,000,000 hits. You can scroll for days down the vast landscape of Pinterest boards or Instagram posts with a #foodie tag. And while all these different ideas of what a foodie is–in its broadest and certainly accurate sense–I bet your foodie-ism has its own unique flavor, one that’s more than just an “avid interest.” If you’re reading Peaceful Dumpling, your interests are probably specifically focused on healthful, natural, and sustainable foods; plus, your diet is most likely a little more restricted than the foodie who bounces between southern rib joints or the all-natural duck stands at the farmer’s market. Even still, everyone’s passion for food is tailored to his or her tastes, lifestyle, and values–even social circles.
Sometimes I question whether or not I’m really a foodie–for a variety of reasons, eating can be a somewhat stressful experience for me, and so my “car[ing] about food very much” comes from mixed places. My foodie-friend, for example, regales me every Monday morning with the delicious-sounding meals and snacks she prepares regularly on the weekend, after making special trips to gourmet food stores for cheeses and simple syrups, which she then recreates on her own. I envy her patience and imagination in the kitchen and wouldn’t dare to compare her foodie-ness with my brand of add-things-to-bowl-and-stir. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not also a foodie; my bowls and stirring are artful, to me at least, and others seem to like the idea, too. When you think about your relationship with food–including any baggage that comes with it–embrace how that informs your meal patterns, recipe choices, and overall dining experience.
Perhaps you’ll find yourself falling into one of these categories, or maybe you’re a mix of things. No matter what, though, the important thing to remember is that we’re all, in one way or another, foodies–as people who need to eat to live, and who are vegan or interested in veganism, it’s engrained in us to know care about, and have an interest in what we eat and how. And as citizens of the planet, we have an obligation to do so as well.
Your cabinets are stocked with mason jars and your window sills are blooming with pots of sprouting herbs. For you, store-bought is the ultimate taboo, and your farmer’s market sellers know you by name (maybe you are a farmer yourself!). Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s been made is crucial to your enjoyment of dishes, which may make you a difficult dinner date–but an excellent host.
The Improv Wiz
You dream of competing on a show like Top Chef, where your ability to whip up meals out of what someone might think of as random condiments (ginger root + raisins + tomato paste + alfalfa sprouts: go!). You go to grocery stores without a list or weekly menu, and the aisles just speak to you. You may have a cuisine or ethnicity you’re inspired by, but most likely you’re up for anything and have the ingredients on-hand for whatever you feel like. You have a toolbox full of gadgets–spiralizers, masters, corers, whisks of wood and metal–with a lock on it. If you’re vegan, when people ask you if you get bored of salads, you say: “I’ve never eaten salad.”
You are the planner and social butterfly of your friend group or family. No one need fret over finding a place for drinks or a bite after work because you know the best places for any situation within a 5-mile radius. You are basically a human Yelp. You’d rather wait 5 months for a reservation at the place in town than the 45 minutes it might take you to get through a line at Trader Joe’s. For you, seeing the art of master chefs’ food preparation is like going to the Met–you can wander around a menu or plate in a state of bliss, regardless of whether the Yelp rating is $ or $$$$. Eating is all about the ambiance, being served, and never quite knowing what you’ll get–the experience of letting someone else feed you is deeply connective and interpersonal.
Your apartment came “w/ kitchen,” but you didn’t read the realtor dictionary to know that meant a half-stove and mini-fridge. Or maybe you’re an inner Restauranteur who lives in a small town, and so your best shot at Thai food involves driving 30 minutes or clicking for delivery. In today’s internet age, getting high-quality meals–prepared or nearly so, with ingredients pre-measured with foolproof instructions–has never been easier. “Your place” might not be around the corner, but you know that #34 with brown rice will make you just so happy. You embrace modern technology all the more because of this, and what you spend on take-out is made up by the lack of fancy go-out clothes you need.
Every time you sit down is an opportunity to make a memory–a digital one, that is. Photographing food is a passion, a way to remember your best (and worst) meals. The art of presentation is one you’ve mastered and appreciate in others’ food, too, which means you might be picky about the potatoes touching the peas, or the aioli pooling too much in the center of your crudité platter. Edible flowers are your favorite kinds because…well, because.
What kind of foodie are you?
Also by Jen: Creamy Vegan Vegetable Curry
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Photos: Flickr Commons: le Liz, Michael Oz Skinner; Instagram: @MarthaStewart; Flickr Commons: William Cho; Conrad; Vadim Daniel