My inner food fight.Posted: September 7, 2011
I don’t like asparagus. There. I said it.
After 15 years of writing marketing materials for a fresh food grocery chain (that grew significantly during that timeframe) as well as a handful of articles and essays for some food and drink magazines that tend to get on the right reading lists, I suppose I have the right to call myself a “foodie.”
But I never would.
If there are people who eat to live and those who live to eat. I suppose foodies would be on the executive committee of the latter group. But as with most things that require blind agreement of certain pre-ordained principles (much like political groups or fan clubs), I can’t fully get on board. I come down hard in the middle, neither for nor against. With the profusion of labels out there, it’s getting harder and harder to be a rugged individual these days. And I’d like a less obsessive view of sustenance than being a foodie allows.
That’s because my particular tastes are so random. While I do so love the $17 shrimp, (perfectly ripened) avocado and heirloom tomato salad they make at a bistro near my old office, there are mornings when I would walk on glass for a McDonald’s warm biscuit with a little pack of strawberry jam. Forget exotic fruit infusion sorbets on a stick—my favorite ice cream flavours used to be grape and cherry vanilla (which was also a pen name I used in the 80s), but since I can hardly ever find either, my new default has become Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. You can keep your $5 imported chocolate truffles and 80%-cocoa dark chocolate with more antioxidants than broccoli, my candies of choice are peanut butter cups , red Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids, in that order. Any bread that requires a special knife is far too nutritious for this girl. I grudging kept on top of all the nonsense about the cupcake trend because the photos were pretty and friends were involved, but the truth is, I far prefer tarts (and pies over cake). I’m waiting for them to take their rightful place in the spotlight.
It would be a lie however to suggest that I don’t have a bit of the food snob in me. It’s selective. I don’t buy store brands. I want Nutella, not chocolate hazelnut spread. (And trust me; I always want Nutella.) I’ll always take chicken or seafood over beef or pork—but contrary to foodie-ness, all meats must be cooked black, burnt dead or they don’t pass these lips. My bagels must be boiled, and then baked in a wood oven. I won’t touch mussels, squid or anything with the word “curry” in it. I do believe you can have too much garlic. I refuse to eat sausages beyond the basic morning ones and they have to be cooked butterfly style. If I had to pick one type of meal to eat for the rest of my life, it would be breakfast because I can’t imagine a world without pancakes. I could go a long time on a diet purely of breakfast cereal (hot and cold) and spinach salad, as long as we don’t run out of chickpeas. Chipotle is overrated, as is extra virgin olive oil; hard-boiled eggs are underrespected and latkes are what overachieving potatoes aspire to become. And I do think Hershey makes the very best chocolate.
However, my attitudes towards two particular food items are the real reasons why I’ll never be a card-carrying foodie—no matter how many hours I spend on a made-from-scratch 12-layer mille-feuille (done that) or my willingness to introduce everyone I meet to the retro wonders of the egg cream, authentic only if made with the difficult-to-find but historically profound U-bets Chocolate Syrup.
The sordid truth? I don’t like wine—outside of the occasional glass of sugary California pinkie on a hot evening. Don’t talk to me about tannin levels or bouquet or “nose.” I don’t care. It tastes like spoiled fruit. And I’m not that fond of cheese either. I eat only three kinds, if you don’t count the mozzarella or provolone I use for cooking. And I don’t. I eat mild cheddar, the marbled stuff which is I’m sure just other kinds of cheddar stuck together, and brie, but only if there’s English water crackers around. I don’t want to know about ash layers or mould rinds or any of the other quaint but more than marginally gross things that foodies believe give a cheese its originality. I want my friends to have character and my cheese to lie low.
Writing about food has taught me the esoteric value of chocolate filled with bits of sea salt-cured bacon and the nutritional goodness of quinoa. But that doesn’t mean I have to eat the stuff. Most days, I’d prefer a Kraft slice grilled between two pieces of white Wonder Bread, some Campbell’s cream of tomato soup (half milk, half water) with a handful of al dente elbow macaroni thrown in and a cherry Hostess Fruit Pie for dessert.
That is why the real foodies can never find out where I live.