A Cook's Diary

What is a foodie, anyway?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry at the Food Talk Community about Gwyneth Paltrow’s upcoming cookbook. A writer from Vogue magazine interviewed her, cooked with her, was amazed at her knife skills but wondered why she made the mistake of using pasta flour for making pizza crust.

Now, I’ve seen her website, Goop. But, as celebrity websites go where the content is managed by anywhere from one PR to an entire department, I don’t really believe that she does all the writing there, including the food articles that have been occasionally published. But that’s not really the point.

The point is that in her upcoming cookbook, the willowy Gwyneth says she eats all that we ordinary mortals eat — including French fries and pizza — a claim to which a New York Post article reacts in an interesting way.

Let start with this quote:

The icy blonde famous for her WASP-y good looks suddenly insists she loves to chow down just like normal folk. For a recent Vogue profile, she showed off her deep-fat fryer and outdoor pizza oven. Yet strangely, when she cooked with food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, she made two batches of the corn chowder — one with bacon (for him) and one without (for herself).

Talk about food issues. How can a self-proclaimed epicure be so damn picky?

True foodies aren’t buying Gwyneth’s claim to down-home cooking.

“You’re limiting yourself greatly” in the pleasures of new tastes when you have a diet like Gwyneth’s, says Amanda Kludt, New York editor of food blog Eater.com. “Most of my revelatory meals have included meat.”

“It’s being a little precious to call youself a foodie when you are so restrictive [with your diet],” agrees Sarah Katherine Lewis, author of “Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That are Very, Very Bad for Me.” “To me, a foodie is someone who is very adventurous and voracious.”

Paltrow’s “righteous, locally grown, organic, non-this, non-that” attitude, Lewis adds, makes it seem like she sees food “not as a sensual pleasure, but as an intellectual pleasure — of being more politically correct than anyone else.”

I checked my dictionary and “foodie” is defined as “a person with a particular interest in food”. It is the informal synonym for epicure, gourmand and gastronome.

I didn’t know what a foodie was until I became a food blogger and, later, a food columnist. In fact, I didn’t know that such a word existed. And it was a word that I didn’t want used on me because (just as I hate being labeled with any other term) I just wasn’t sure what it meant.

And I now come to my point. The NY Post article has its own definition of what a foodie is. And I think it is a fair definition as the term connotes a serious passion for food. I will not equate a foodie with a food snob though — the latter being the kind who, for instance, insists that a dish is not a genuine Filipino dish unless cooked in a carajay over burning wood and stirred with a sandok made from coconut husk. You get my drift. A food snob limits himself too just as the article says Gwyneth does although on another level. So, a foodie and a food snob are simply not on the same wavelength.

Now then, if Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t a true-blue foodie because she cringes at certain foods (like pork and churros), does it follow that she cannot be a credible cookbook author? Put another way, would she be more credible if her cookbook were about microbiotic diet (which she follows) instead?

Personally, I judge a cookbook by its content rather than the status or stature of its author. In fact, some of the best cookbooks on my bookshelves are by anonymous authors and only the editors are named. But, what the heck? If the recipes work, the cookbook is good. Who the heck cares if the authors were anorexic or bulimic? I don’t even need to know. But would I buy a cookbook simply because the author is a celebrity? Ah, not me. Not me.

To Top