Food Snobbishness
May 25, 2003 1:44 AM   Subscribe

Are You A Food Snob? Do you like Posh Nosh? Does it turn you on or put you off? Find out! Watch it, though: you might be a reverse food snob or a junkista. Aha! OK, I'll go first: "My name is Miguel, I'm 47 and I'm a food snob..." [ Real required to view the funny clips in the second link.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (19 comments total)
Here's a really good American Food Snob store, although most of the stuff is highly recommended even if it is snobby. Stuff like Cheddar Cheese made by a small family farm in Cheddar, England using the traditional method.. you get the idea:

Zingermans in Michigan
posted by stbalbach at 6:12 AM on May 25, 2003

What if, like me, you inhabit both extremes and assidiously avoid the middle? I've been known to have mascarpone polenta with hefewiezen and chili-cheese-fries with an eggcream in the same day.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 AM on May 25, 2003

I don't think of myself as a food snob, and actually think I don't care much about food. I never read about food, don't know anything about say, different types of cheese beyond a few basics like mozzarella and old cheddar, and am perfectly happy eating the same simple homecooked food as I've eaten all my life. But perhaps I am secretly an FS. I used to live in a dreadful roominghouse populated by scary people. One person in particular - an obsessive compulsive hypochondriac unsweet transvestite who never bathed - ate instant mashed potatoes, lots of ice cream, jello, cheap horrible sausages, canned vegetables, pudding cups, that really cheap white bread. It was revolting. He was extremely poor, but I doubt I spent anymore on groceries than he did (I'm still only spending $20-25 a week a few years later) and I ate things like fresh fruit and salads, homemade oat bran breakfast muffins, baked chicken pieces, and bean casseroles.

What makes one a food snob? Are FS's everyone who finds instant mashed potatoes nauseating, or are they only the ones who say so to the people partaking of them?
posted by orange swan at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2003

One Day At a Time Migs.
posted by clavdivs at 8:25 AM on May 25, 2003

So, I'm a cosmopolitan reverse food snob: I love fast food from around the world. You know, the cheap, crappy version of whatever the apogee of some ancient civilization's cullinary tradition is: Basket-O-Curry from the little stand on campus, Chow Mein and Orange Chicken from the $1 Chinese Food place downtown, Gyros from Alex T's, Pho from the Phong Kee Noodle House, et cetera and so on.
posted by hob at 10:00 AM on May 25, 2003

Speaks for itself...
posted by jamespake at 10:32 AM on May 25, 2003

I was wondering if one of the links in your FPP would go to jonmc's user page, Migs. ;-)

I'd have to say I'm a gourmand -- in the sense of liking to eat (alas, too well), wanting to eat well, and caring what I put in my mouth. However, I've got loads of guilty pleasures. What I find incredibly irritating, though, are the "foodies": the trend-obsessed, nose-in-the-air, attitude-laden snobs who are actually impressed by menu-ese. (I like Bill Bryson's riposte to I'm A Stranger Here Myself, he orders a steak with "a depravite of potatoes, hand cut and fried till golden brown in a medley of vegetable oils from the Imperial Valley, accompanied by a quantite de biere, flash-chilled in your own coolers and conveyed to my table in a cylinder of glass." Classic!)

TRUE connoisseurs know (as hob points out above) that you can find truly great meals in both exalted and low places -- witness Chowhound and Roadfood, and put 'em next to your Michelin. (Getting into the politics, problems, and judgments of the Guide Rouge is another post altogether.)
posted by Vidiot at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2003

I'm a huge food snob, and I don't care who knows it. I just spent a sunny afternoon tracking down some amchur to put in the samosas I'm making for dinner (along with the Indian spiced lamb I found on the BBC site that Miguel linked to).

My only pet peeve when it comes to this is people who are food snobs but DON'T COOK. If you're going to blather on about truffles and saffron, you'd better be able to back it up with some culinary skills of your own.

So Miguel, are you as at home in the kitchen as you are in the dining room?
posted by krunk at 12:33 PM on May 25, 2003

My only pet peeve when it comes to this is people who are food snobs but DON'T COOK. If you're going to blather on about truffles and saffron, you'd better be able to back it up with some culinary skills of your own.

Hmmm...I can cook. I often don't...for several reasons. (the quality and ubiquity of restaurants in NYC, wanting to spend my time in other ways, it's hard to get inspired when it's just you at home, et cetera.) This doesn't mean that you can't appreciate good things or have a decent palate.
posted by Vidiot at 1:13 PM on May 25, 2003

Being a "food snob", a gourmand, requires but a simple decision: You will eat no meaningless food. It is a quest for the sublime in both the everyday and the extraordinary. I believe that the homeliest meal at a truck stop can be as satisfying as the experience of a Michelin three-star, provided the frame of mind is right.

My dogma of gourmandism: freshness, locality and curiosity. It requires both good food and a willing pallate.

Finally, while MFKF is certainly a good starting place, Brillat-Savarin is the Alpha Dog of la gourmandie. However, for pure comedy, little rivals Dumas on Food (Dumas was, himself, a teetotaler, while half his encyclopaedia consists of entries on wine).
posted by bonehead at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2003

To amplify: the pleasures of the kitchen are distinct from those of the table. Being a chef is an act of creation, with joys familiar to visual artists or synthetic chemists and touching on both. The act of consumption, meanwhile, is sensual and aesthetic, and thus pairs well with the experience of music or love.
posted by bonehead at 1:29 PM on May 25, 2003

So Miguel, are you as at home in the kitchen as you are in the dining room?

A low blow, but a fair cop, krunk. I'm a ferretty sourcer though - I'll burrow my way to my favourite foods' provenance, will handle them, watch them being cooked and then eat them lovingly whilst talking to all those concerned with the production.

This afternoon, for instance, after making a few calls, I learnt my no.1 fisherman had landed one small, female lobster; three tiny slipper lobsters and a whole bucketload of navalheiras, delicious palm-sized crabs.

I drove twenty miles to his shack, in time for his arrival from the boat. I saw the lobster, the slipper lobsters and the crabs jumping in the sea water and while Mr.Lopes' wife boiled them (in the same water - essential, beautiful) I heard all about their capture; how one lone octopus had eaten more than a kilo of crabs while in the traps.

Then I renewed my acquaintance with them by eating them with ice cold beer and slices of toast melba for the tomally and coral. They tasted of the deep blue sea, the sun, something urgent, each individual different.

The best chicken I ever had was roasted by these two octogenarian peasants, neigbours of a friend of mine, who cried all during the meal, extolling what a nice chicken it had been, a magnificent pet, intelligent and friendly, a company during the long days and nights.

I understood that grieving for that chicken while eating it was a form of respect. At first I'd shuddered. But then I though of all the anonymous breasts and legs you buy in the supermarket and realized this was much "righter". Like the family pig and turkey that are slaughtered once a year, after having been reared as one of the family.

Bonehead's mantra - My dogma of gourmandism: freshness, locality and curiosity - is spot on. It reminded me of a lecture I attended twenty years ago. This great Japanese expert on macrobiotics was visiting and we all attended expecting to hear what sort of brown rice and soy sauce we should eat.

What he said, of course, was that to be macrobiotic was to eat nothing that had lived more than forty miles away from where one lived. So, for a Portuguese, it meant all the foods we thought were very un-Zen: fresh fish, lots of vegetables, olive oil, wine. I can truthfully say that lecture, from this wizened old sage, changed my life.

When I do cook - every other day - I do so just because restaurants, however good, don't really cook everything absolutely fresh and from scratch. I go to the market and buy nothing except what's just arrived - even if I don't like it - and cook it immediately, very lightly. Shopping lists are for suckers - everything depends on knowledge and negotiation. One example of this: whatever's freshest and most plentiful is almost always what's cheapest. Now there's a strawberry glut in Lisbon - they're 50 cents a pound. Luscious, aromatic strawberries. So we're having bavaroises, strawberry ice cream, strawberry daiquiris, margueritas, strawberry sangrias - you name it.

I never eat anything out of season or not in in prime condition. So I cook whenever I can't find someone to cook it better.

I wish there were restaurants where you could take along fresh ingredients you'd procured and have a proper chef cook them for you!

Btw, there is nothing purer than boiling crustaceans or fish in the sea water they live in - no butter, no pepper, nothing extra. No "cuisine". No mayonnaise. Just the salty taste of the Atlantic. Perfect. Sashimi is almost as good - but that needs at least a little lime and soy sauce, a bit of wasabi too.

I should add that Portugal, though it has Mediterranean characteristics, is an Atlantic country and so much more like Brittany, Ireland, Cornwall, the American Northeast Coast, the Canadian Eastern Seaboard, etc, than like Spanish, French or Italian cuisine.

For me, that warm Mediterranean sea, icky and stagnant, produces awful, soft, sweet, slightly putrid fish. For real seafood you need the briny, windlashed Atlantic. And a lot of sun on the surface.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:22 PM on May 25, 2003 [1 favorite]

darnit, Migs -- now I not only want to drink with you, but break bread with you as well.
posted by Vidiot at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2003

I think you're safe, Miguel -- anyone who can discuss food with prose even half as flowing as yours obviously qualifies as a bonefide gourmand. Next to you, Peter Mayle sounds like the food reporter in the Toronto Sun!

North Americans miss out on making good food at home, because we don't have as many (or as nice) markets as most Europeans do. I think if I bought my vegetables fresh every day I'd be more inspired than when I trudge down to the local supermarket to pick up some truck-ripened tomatoes.

That said, my samosas are ready now :^)
posted by krunk at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2003

Is the part in that guy's hair (first link) really that big or is that the worst photoshop in the world?
posted by m@ at 4:41 PM on May 25, 2003

I am a foodie, I hope. I made a cassoulet just this Sunday past, cooked the beans from scratch with a bouqet garni straight from the garden, got the butcher to bone out a lamb shoulder for it, made some chicken stock while it was in the oven because I was bored, etc etc etc. But that guy from the Enquirer - man, is he for real? The true foodie says "entrecote" instead of "steak"? Bollocks. Only someone whose ears are more demanding than their palate could insist on such shibboleths.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:13 AM on May 26, 2003

I wish I could eat my appetite.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:58 AM on May 26, 2003

I'm not a food snob in general -- I eat plenty of fast food -- but there are some things I'm particular about -- I will do just about anything for good bread, I refuse to drink American beer, and I despise iceberg lettuce.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:13 PM on May 26, 2003

Is the part in that guy's hair (first link) really that big or is that the worst photoshop in the world?

And since you opened up this topic, m@, let me add that this guy's face (4th link) easily rebuts the notion that facial beauty is based on symmetry.
posted by soyjoy at 9:15 AM on May 27, 2003

« Older Le Patti   |   Here we go again . . . Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments