Sunday, 25 May 2014

The classification of a Foodie: Are you a Foodie?

“Do you think about food, all the time? Do you read the blog posts and the restaurant reviews and the culinary magazines? Do you derive meaning from eating...?

This is Joshua Ferris asking you approximately what % of your life is consumed by consumption. As compulsive as it may sound, pretty much any of the many Foodies alive today will respond to every single one of these questions with a heartfelt and resounding yes. And no, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them...

So, are you a foodie? 

I am going to explain to you why you most probably are a foodie - whether you realize it or not. Undeniably, we all live in a world which is becoming increasingly dominated by an emergent new food culture that has sparked mass international interest…

Foodies according to Ferris
“We make pilgrimages to the great restaurants. We commune, we perform rituals, we pore over holy texts, we proselytise. We celebrate and sacrifice. And of course, we make war.” 
Although I must admit that I’m not entirely sure what the phrase: ‘make war’ actually refers to, the ambiguity conveys just how patriotic a foodie can be about his her own ‘cult’…Vegan? Nutrionista? Solylenite – “An individual  so immune to the pleasures of food that he will willingly consume a beverage with the taste and consistency of mucus so long as it provides an unfussy meal with the minimum daily nutritional requirements?”see Ferris’ complete list here. Cynical as the titles may seem, we all really do belong to a food cult; albeit if that cult boils down to “he of the 99p cheeseburger” - who simply doesn’t care to add yet more dimensions to simplicity of human fuel.

In his article for the Guardian, Ferris tried to highlight the sheer changes which he experienced for himself as he transitioned from being a crappy, gluten addicted eater (later diagnosed with celiac disease) , to being a re-born again foodie who has himself become rather ‘religious’ and mindful about his body + taste sensations...

Ferris documents how this journey has hugely impacted the quality of food that he begun to select, and the transition has also greatly changed the way which he chooses to enjoy it.  Having reverted from “cupboard snacks of nuclear cheese” and “vegetables boiled to nutritional obsolesce”, he probably strikes a blunt chord with most of his readers, the majority of whom at some point in their life have indeed succumbed to the luxury of man-made plastic-like snacks and anything else quick, be it skittle-like cereal or microwave dinners...
“We ate without thought, without intention, simply to feed our bodies and derive the predictable comforts that fat and sugar provide”.
This is an easy trap to routinely fall into. After-all, 'food' itself is a staple of a basic kind. However, in certain forms it is perfectly capable of making us all too-comfortable with the stodgy comfort that it  lends us with when we are promised a 2 minute fat-fix or the much needed sugar high which has been circulating in the health + fitness columns of late.

I for one, have actually felt this lazy and addictive affiliation with bread, or specifically: bread and peanut butter. (When it becomes your 3rd meal and 2nd snack of the day, bodily differences are well and truly felt. It gets to the point where any of the pea-nutty, micro-nutritious health benefits are pretty much offset by the surplus of stodge sitting in your lower belly that is weighing you down and refusing to digest – nevertheless, exams came first and this routine becomes way too enjoyable). 

As an alternative, Ferris  implies that it isn’t just the bare consumption of any old ‘food’ whichthat is important, but rather, the entire sphere of thoughtfulness and mindfulness into which we are allowed to invest in under the title ‘foodie’. As the article title “Holy Guacamole” suggests, an avocado is will no longer be an avocado. Instead, sacredness becomes a vitamin of its own. This is the supplement to foodie conversion. How deficient are you?

In her 2013 book: “Food and the Self”, Isabelle De Solier distinguishes how the ‘Foodie’ is a product of globalization: trans-national flows of “food, tastes, media, capital and people”. It seems that all of these special ‘pilgrimages’ to places of food and keen investment into the world of healthful culinary infusions stems from our ability to access the worldwide communication (I.E. the internet), and the knowledge which has been generated through the sharing of recipes, photography, blogging, culture, and health trends. 

You see, what Solier shows is how the identity of the ‘foodie’ is tightly woven into the existence of the blogging world and the ability for absolutely anyone to publish their own beliefs, rituals and cookery ‘books’ into their own customized space…The internet has given these hungry newborn foodies an ambitious refuge. 

We are consciously moving away from the once favored realm of convenience and into a world of effort, customization, and design of food.
Simple things such as cooking or dining out have become leisurely inside of this ‘runway world’ - the foodie just totally enjoys every single bit about his hobby. Like this, we can see that the foodie himself is a product of production and consumption. Foodies simply love being able to create, eat, and repeat - on repeat. Sounds like fun. How can you become involved? 

Being a foodie is an easy identity to become carried away with – whether this is conscious or not. After-all, the foodie has recognized this life-long sense of self-formation and the aspect of themselves which for some reason, really does become defined by the captivation of a uniting food culture. 

Essentially, food is an art – be it the presentation of a dish, or the choice of ingredients; the excitement of a dinner party or even the decision to bake blondies on a rainy day…And this is all utterly reflected in the 21st century’s visible knock on obsession with health, nutrition and things ‘clean eating’ and even body image. The legacy of one foodie onto another is endless in a world where beliefs + ideas are easily inflicted. After all, you are what you eat. #preach. 

But Ferris writes that: 
“Food was a revelation. I explored and studied and tasted and learned how to judge. Eating became a way to know myself, my preferences and the limits of my adventurousness. I became that most irritating but apt of designations – a foodie”.  
Like this, I think that the most important message here is that the foodie does not deserve the obsessive and la-la identity assigned to them by those who don’t cherish food, production + consumption in the same way. Sure, there are cults, fads and trends in the world wide web of cooking, nutrition and dining – but at the end of the day, the pleasure derived from these things starts from the inside – the foodie’s ability to get in touch with their senses and pair material practices from daily life with their senses and sentiments. It is all too easy to become fazed in an era where everybody is routinely talking about all things health, fitness and food – there are a scarce few of us who haven’t been somehow tainted by contemporary health crazes or beliefs about what we ultimately should/shouldn’t be eating.

Food has been made into a way of life, and as a result, it has different meanings & associations for every single person in the world. An interest in food starts differently for everybody; for Ferris, his happened to be the recognition of a lifestyle where he had been dismissing the luxury of choice + variety, to such an extent that he began to harm his own health. 

Every aspect of 21st century culture blends into the world of foodies. To me, it makes perfect sense to see the food-opshere exploding so rapidly in recent times. Everybody has their own findings and interests to share, or an 'other' that they want to become involved in. As Ferris emphasizes, once you have established a sense of mindfulness, and you have begun to serve your own culinary + cultural curiosity (and nobody elses), then you are “in heaven”. Ultimately, I guess that this is the end which the foodie seeks…. since being a foodie brings with it an innocently blissful sense of unity into an otherwise mainstream life.    

And hey, that explains my blog, your blog, and all of the other blog you follow and their followers too. Food critics, restaurants, diners, reviewer’s travellers, food photographers and readers of food, health + lifestyle columns are all actively involved in the foodie world more than they realize. Kinda cool, huh?

What does being a foodie mean to you?

Do you think that the networking of foodies is an unexplored aspect of modern society? Is it possible to not be a foodie in the 21st century? They are all good questions! 

Let me know what you think! J


1 comment:

  1. NOOO blogger hates me and deleted my comment :(( but let me try to recall what I said the last time!

    I absolutely agree with you, it is impossible not to be a foodie in the 21st century, especially in the developed world. We've gone past the stage where we are eating for sustenance, but rather, we get to choose what we want to eat, and hence turning us all into picky foodies :P together with the pervasiveness of social media / microblogging (a la Instagram), more and more people are posting and sharing about what they've nommed on and where. (Moreover I think people prefer to look at photos of food rather than photos of my face :P)

    Keep nomming! :) xxx