What is a “foodie”? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s “…a person with an interest in the latest food fads.” As early as the 1980s, New York writer Gael Greene used the word “foodie” in a restaurant review. It can also be argued that the precursor to foodie is the term “gourmand,” which has been around since the 18th century and refers to “…one fond of good eating.”
Clearly, the term itself and what it represents are not merely passing fads. In today’s digital world, where food bloggers, influencers, and enthusiastic diners armed with phone cameras abound, being a foodie extends far beyond enjoying good food. It involves a constant stream of social reporting on authentic cuisine, discovering hidden gems, and sharing “first looks” at enticing dishes and dining spots.
So, what exactly is a foodie, and how should one embrace this gastronomic identity? A Gringo in Mexico offers these 10 Commandments Every Foodie Should Live By for your divine contemplation:
1. Partake with knowledge of thy food’s origin.
Know what’s on your plate. Culinary traditions of regions like Asia, Mexico, and Italy boast centuries of history to explore. When dining out, opting for local ingredients is generally a wise choice. Sustainability is more crucial than ever. Factory farming contributes to fertilizer runoff and cattle methane emissions, and our oceans suffer from increasing warmth and acidity, leading to dwindling seafood supplies.
2. Grant grace ere judging: occasional lapses mar each spot.
Before venting on social media or posting a nasty Yelp! review, take a deep breath. Unless it was a truly terrible situation, consider giving the restaurant another chance. Every place has an off day. If there’s an issue, let the restaurant management know and give them an opportunity to make things right first. Remember, this is someone’s livelihood – restaurateurs have bills to pay and families to feed too.
3. Refrain from sharing ill photos; harm not the eatery.
Avoid sharing unappetizing food photos. They may tarnish the restaurant’s image you’re trying to celebrate. Skip the half-eaten sandwich shots. Don’t post dark or blurry images. Style your photo. Remove distractions like dirty napkins and sauce packets and add props such as wine glasses and elegant silverware. Learn and use your phone’s photo editing tools to perfect those crave-worthy captures.
4. Express delight to server and chef, when pleased.
Typically, front of house staff hear complaints, not compliments. But when your steak is cooked to savory perfection or the amuse bouche tantalizes your taste buds, share your joy with them. If the restaurant isn’t busy, take a moment to compliment the chef directly. Not only will you brighten their day, but you may also discover something intriguing about their style and background.
5. Know cook’s path: training, experience, philosophy.
Before dining out, delve into the chef or cook’s background and philosophy. Understanding their culinary journey and inspirations provide a deeper appreciation for the dishes they craft. By exploring their training, experience, and signature techniques, this pre-dining research elevates the gastronomic experience.
6. Seek no free fare for “exposure”; tip generously.
Luring writers and influencers with complimentary dining has become a vital component of many restaurants’ marketing plans. However, this has posed a predicament for owners, as some media figures now expect or even demand freebies. While humbly accepting invitations is appropriate, always tip based on the full meal cost, not the discount, and leave a generous gratuity beyond the standard 20%.
7. Broaden thy understanding of farms, markets, artisans.
Expanding your culinary knowledge goes beyond restaurant hopping. To truly appreciate the art of food, venture into the heart of its creation. Visiting farms, markets, and artisans allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the journey from field – or sea – to table.
8. Embrace novelties; taste ere rendering judgment.
I advise my teenage son, “You don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.” Embracing new food experiences is paramount to expanding one’s culinary horizons. Don’t shy away from edible insects or offal, as what may seem bizarre to some is a staple for others. Cultivating an open mind when it comes to food allows us to appreciate diverse cultures and flavors.
9. Relish thy feast; flavors and textures intermingle with depth.
As you indulge, pay close attention to intertwining flavors and textures. Let your taste buds explore the nuances of each ingredient. Close your eyes and focus only on the flavor and mouthfeel during your initial taste. Relishing the diverse elements on your plate allows you to forge a deeper connection with food, unlocking a world of gastronomic pleasures that can elevate your dining experience to new heights.
10. Dine abroad; venture beyond, taste the world’s offerings.
Indulge in culinary travel and discover the varied flavors of the world. Order dishes infused with centuries of tradition. Immerse yourself in local markets, street food stalls, and fine dining establishments to understand the essence of each cuisine. Embrace the global gastronomic journey. Can’t afford travel? Discover the international cuisines that may be available in your own backyard.
Being a foodie isn’t just about chasing fleeting trends; it’s a lifelong journey of culinary exploration and appreciation. Nourish your soul with these 10 Commandments: know your food’s origin and support sustainability, be gracious and constructive in criticism, capture enticing food photos, express gratitude, understand the cook’s path, value experiences over freebies, broaden your understanding by visiting producers, embrace the new with an open mind, savor each feast, and embark on culinary travels. Embrace this gourmand’s gospel and let your passion for food flourish. One delectable bite at a time.