I’m sure there are some pop culture definitions of a foodie out there, and people love to use the word “foodie” everywhere. You can’t define a foodie exactly; its like being in love; you just know it. I have eaten with, received referrals, and read food reviews from many self proclaimed “foodies” that were not foodies. Their food ideas were average at best, terrible at worst, and generally just miss the mark.

Whether someone likes or does not like a specific food is not a metric. Its more of a philosophy on appreciating eating. Here are some thoughts I have on things that disqualify a person from being called a foodie.

First, you have to appreciate that variety is the spice of life. To that end:

If you order the same item on the menu from a favorite restaurant EVERY time you go to that restaurant … you probably are not a foodie

I don’t care how much you like that dish. If the restaurant is that good, then they have other items on the menu that will also be good. TRY THEM.

The fresher food is, the more flavor it has, so

If you order your meats well done, you probably are not a foodie.

Years ago I was eating at a Cracker Barrel (before I started avoiding chain restaurants). Cracker Barrel is consistent; never amazing, but usually decent food for decent price. I ordered their “Chicken Fried Chicken” like I had done before, and it was outstanding. I literally sat back and was appreciating how much better it tasted than usual, when a waitress walked by and saw “pink” in the chicken where I had cut in to it. She exclaimed she would have to replace it; the chicken was under cooked. I protested because it was the best tasting chicken I had ever had from Cracker Barrel, but the manager stepped in an said it was against policy. The replacement came out as expected; decent, cooked through, and NOT outstanding. I gladly accepted the manager picking up the meal; not because of the under cooked chicken, but because they denied me the best tasting chicken.

Cracker Barrel aside, there is a reason that restaurants consistently recommend steaks and lamb medium rare. That’s the same reason that if you order a filet Mignon well done at a high end steak house, they either 1) insist that it be butterflied (because the outside won’t be turned to charcoal), and/or 2) they will outright refuse to do it. If you have ever been ocean fishing and caught a tuna, you can slice into the tuna while its still on the boat (sashimi style), and you will not believe how good it is. Meat has SO much more flavor when its cooked less. Do NOT ruin food by overcooking.

If you put salt on your food before tasting it, you flat out ain’t a foodie.

Chef’s are trained to cook food properly and experiment. If you don’t give the chef’s cooking a chance by trying it before you salt it, why bother trying a new restaurant?

This next one is more controversial:

If you insist on ketchup with your fries, you probably are not a foodie.

There is a documentary out there on how Heinz invented ketchup. It was around 1876, and he was trying to find a sauce that added flavor to meat. At the time, the quality of meat sold to the middle class was not great, and often slightly spoiled. The sauce was designed to add flavor to a meat that had bad flavor. That’s why its loaded with tomato paste and sugar.

Fast forward 100 years; the quality of meats being sold to the middle class has improved DRAMATICALLY. If you put ketchup on your steak today, you are definitely not a foodie. Most people agree with me about ketchup and steak, but for some reason, people love their ketchup on french fries. French fries are no different than meat in this regard. Sure, if you buy french fries from a fast food restaurant, those fries were sliced and frozen weeks or months before they were cooked in highly processed vegetable oil, you end up with no flavor fries. I suspect fast food is where people learned to eat fries with ketchup in the first place, because those fries needed it. The problem with fast food fries is that you should not be eating them at all.

A quality french fry is cooked this way:

  • taking a whole potato, WITH the skin on it
  • slicing it into fries
  • dropping it into cooking oils immediately
  • only use saturated cooking oils like beef tallow (which is what McDonald’s fries were cooked in decades ago before they changed), pork lard, or mono unsaturated oils like peanut oil. Avoid cheap poly unsaturated oils (canola, corn, soy, sunflower) at all costs
  • season with salt, and also add lemon pepper or cajun salt
  • serve with optional malt vinegar on the side

If fries are cooked that way, then 1) they taste amazing, and 2) dipping them in tomato paste full of sugar makes them taste no different than crappy fries from somewhere else.

So, yes, if your fries need ketchup, then your fries suck. Quit dipping good fries in ketchup.

If you drink sugar drinks with every meal, you probably are not a foodie.

Whether its fruit juice, soda pop, or energy drinks, those drinks are loaded with either some form of real sugar, or an artificial sweetener. Just like ketchup, that sweet drink changes your perception of the flavor and overpowers so much of what you are eating. You can’t appreciate the subtle flavors of food if you have a constant stream of sweet liquid between bites.

John Grisham is an excellent writer. One of his books was called “The Painted House”, and it told the story of a family growing cotton in rural Mississippi in the 1950’s. The book is definitely worth reading, and it is told in the point of view of the 12 year old. Every Saturday, night, the father took the 12 year old in to the local town, and bought him a Coca Cola. It was a treat for the boy, just like ice cream. And THAT is how you should drink soda pop, because it is a dessert. Do not drink sweet drinks daily, and certainly not when you are eating a high quality chef prepared meal.