it gets gross when people use ‘foodie’ as a title to represent their ability to ignore the complexities of cultural consumption in favor for collecting experience as class status markers
i still cant get over this…. i’d been trying to put my finger on why foodies bother me for so long but this is definitely the reason. at a certain point being a foodie feels like some rich ppl bullshit
i think a lot about it since i really love food and food diversity. it’s the reason so much class currency is placed on ‘authenticity’, since in wealthier circles it becomes shorthand for the monetary ability to acquire it. it’s also why there’s emphasis on travel, on the ‘hole-in-the-wall’ food find, and on ‘weird’ food. a lot of foodie culture is steeped in exoticized experience as reflection of personal status in relation to other foodies. it’s part of why El Bulli could charge what it could, why there’s an insistence on obscurity in recommendations, why everyone seems to know about bahn mis without knowing any actual Vietnamese culture. it’s what rare game hunting was, or Victorian mummy unravellings: consuming culture as an indicator of prestige without having to think of the ultimate consequences.
sometimes even the language describing the preparation changes depending on who does it. prepared by people of the culture: simple, earthy, family, communal, organic. lots of what i call Dirt Words, language that ties it to working the land and the mythos of spiritualized otherness. prepared by the foodie: fresh, authentic, flavorful, exotic, international. basically acquisition descriptors. sometimes the Dirt Words cross over, but they’re used as bolsters for authenticity and you know. still a reflection of having enough resources to go get this knowledge/make the dish.
someone enjoying food outside of its class value doesn’t load that importance into the difficulty getting the cuisine. it’s meaningless as a status marker then: the cultural background of the cuisine is secondary to the actual food. there’s no comparison to the acquisition dance cards of other foodies, but your own palate history. although even then, in the eagerness to be true to the culture you consumed, there’s a risk of reusing the acquisition descriptors to lend credence or validity to the food.
i see a lot of it, hilariously, when dating. “i love indian food” is (most of the time) shorthand for “i’m not one of those ignorant white guys”. it usually means that i’ll be quizzed on it later because by comparing their knowledge of the food to a ‘native’, they can can hopefully gain more class currency. or they seek vicarious cultural experience by asking “what’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten”. (I always answer “white guys”.) if it wasn’t about status it could never become something used for peacocking, basically.
so yup. it’s about HEY LOOK WHAT I DID/GOT/ATE/BOUGHT. not THAT TASTED GOOD.
MY THOUGHTS ON FOOD, BY SHIVANA. AGE 30.