Foodie is a Four Letter Word

I am utterly obsessed with After Hours. And it’s HULU‘s fault.

The elevator pitch: Daniel Boulud goes to the restaurant of someone who’s doing good in the food world, and they cook up a party for about 10 “celebrity” guests, mostly other chefs. Then they proceed to slam cocktails, tell old stories, and serve some of the best looking food I’ve ever seen. Food for chefs and real foodies who get it. Y’know. Bone marrow. Whole roasted animals. Organ meats. Farm produce. The good stuff. Now, add TV cameras, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and broadcast the results.

The footage puts my most vivid wet dreams to shame. And it’s nothing more than a bunch of foodies sitting around eating amazing food and drinking amazing booze, talking about food.

How, exactly, did I not get the memo that you can make a career out of this? No, really. I volunteer to do this for Chicago. Or here in Cleveland for that matter.

One of the things I find fascinating is how often reminds me of when I sit around with other foodies, including my cohorts in crime here at E-Ho’s that we basically do the same thing. We eat, and talk about food while eating. In obscene, nay, pornographic detail. It was even mentioned in one of the episodes how often that happens — the group is sitting at one meal, talking about another.

But what about that other crowd? We all have to eat, shouldn’t it be killer food?

Why aren’t we all foodies?

To everyone just groaned and click their browser over to Girls Getting Goofy dot com, bare with me. Yarrgh, this be my first post. I’ve gotta share my philosophies here. Not that they’re probably all super-unique…

It’s amazing how often I’ll see others eyes glaze over as I start talking through what I ate last night. Cause I don’t just say, “oh, just some chicken.” No sir. I say, “dude, I made this unbelievable coq au vin, seared then braised in the oven for about 2 hours in chicken stock and pinot noir, mirepoix, salt, pepper, served on lightly toasted baguette. It’s great you just throw it in the oven and let it do all the work and you have this unbelievable…” I lost them at “seared.” Though, credit where credit is due, most do realize that I just said, “coq.” And I thoroughly approve of that.

Which brings up an interesting thought, maybe it’s a vocabulary thing. Sure, I know mirepoix is just carrots, onion and celery diced up; I study this shit. But Steve over there doesn’t. Or maybe saying, “coq au vin,” with a somewhat proper accent is considered pretentious (full disclosure: I can’t speak a word of French properly). And I get it. I’ve been intimidated by a menu now and again.

Hey, wait. Maybe that’s it…

Is it just from intimidation of new things, of not knowing what you’re getting into?

Try this: you love a great burger? Go get a great burger. Don’t love a great burger? Try this exercise with chicken. Vegetarian? Well, we probably won’t get along very well, but, try falafel.

Find one thing about it that makes it great. Let’s say the bun (and who doesn’t love a good set of buns? ZING!) was pillowy-soft. Now, find a place that has a better one of that. This time choose something different about it that made it great: extra juicy. Find a new place that does juicy better. Now return back to that first burger. Still as good? Probably. But I bet you’re also thinking about the those buns… Congratulations, you just evaluated two things at once about your food! Or incidentally evaluated the waiter/waitress serving coffee at table five… Meowzah.

Neat, huh?

And yes, this is a true story. As a kid, my brother, aunt and I had a very secret organization known as The Hamburger Club, where we would hit restaurants around Cleveland in search of the best hamburger (and fries). I’m not sure we ever reached a conclusion. I’m not sure I care we never reached a conclusion. But it taught me how the same food can taste so different just based on how it’s prepared. And I discovered I liked crazy things like mushrooms, and lettuce. And not all mustard is bright yellow? Who knew!

Fast forward a few years, I still use those basics when I’m evaluating food. Just now I enjoy shiitake, and arugula. And whole-grain dijon. Sure, the food I like now is more complex in terms of ingredients and flavors than a burger, but it’s the same process.

Be not afraid, young padawan. In food lies delights greater than the orgies of the Greeks of old. Not…that writing a food blog exactly lends itself to any form of carnal knowledge. Carne knowledge, maybe.

Here’s my message. I feel like a lot of foodies come off snobish with our grass-fed beef and organic such and such. All well and good; I support all of that in terms of creating better quality produce and livestock (we’ll discuss health “benefits” of these at another time). But for me, being a foodie doesn’t mean that I don’t love onion rings, burgers, or chicken wings or barbecue. I love all that stuff. Frequently. I just also enjoy seeing them prepared in interesting, new ways every once in a while. And I’ve no intention on going on some political crusade that fast food is evil. Do I question some of their practices? Sure, but, let’s be honest. Taco Bell is the quintessential hangover preventer, and hell, their quesadilla is good. And yes, I’m American, I get a Big Mac Attacks. Maybe it does make me less of a person when I eat them, but damn that special sauce is great…

I just really, really love food and try to get others interested such that they begin to see and enjoy food in their own unique way. If that means I inspire you to reinvent the SPAMwich, my life’s work is complete.

But do me a favor and call it the “SPAMuffaletta.”

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