Truffle Hunting in Alba, Italy.
Dropping restaurant names during a conversation, posting images of that meal at a well sought after restaurant or publishing your thoughts about that aka uni (red sea urchin) from Kyushu that you’ve tasted, yet making all that sound common and frivolous seems normal. After all it is the “enviable life” that everyone wants to portray on social media right? You want others to wish that they had your life, they had you as their lunch buddy or be invited a meal that you cooked. I am guilty as charged. I have done all that in the name of being a foodie.
Before I dwell on this subject on food snobbery, I should put it out there the different “levels” of being a gourmand.
Glutton: Just plain old greedy, you just want to stuff all the food you like into you without any discrimination.
Foodie: Food is your hobby. You have an ardent interest in anything food related. You don’t eat just for sustenance but to enjoy. You seek out new restaurants, food trends and will travel to eat.
Gourmet: Food is a form of enjoyment to you, you live to eat fine food (fine food does not always mean high brow expensive food). You place emphasis on quality, and in a rather obsessive manner. Food being just good doesn’t impress you anymore.
Food Snob: Picky eaters who need to know that their meat comes from a certain farm, or must be wagyu, butter must be freshly churned by the restaurant this morning with cream from a small specialised farm in Devon or Brittany or at least an imported French AOC butter. They won’t eat a certain dish unless it came from a certain restaurant. They name drop, criticise and unlikely to have any professional training. They are in a nut shell, a self-declared know-it-all picky eater.
To set the record straight, I straddle between being a foodie and gourmet. However, I try not to publicly comment or criticise a restaurant because it’s so easy to say your two cents worth as a customer without any regard for the business or the people who devoted many hours to source their supplies, creating dishes in their kitchen, and the investments they’ve put in towards their restaurant. So I subscribe to the old saying of “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing.” I’ve eaten at some of the best restaurants and to taste their food can sometimes be a mind boggling experience. A lot of things go through my head like the different layers of textures, flavours and even the presentation. It says so much about the “artist’s” food philosophy, their inspirations, and background. I eat and travel to learn and to be inspired in the kitchen. Having said all that, the dishes that make me forget to analyse and cause me just enjoy them are the best.
Personally, food snobbery causes blindness. Being so fixated on the notion that only the best is good enough for you. You can’t even open your mind to what is good about everything else. Going along with the hype based on excitement of the masses, creates fool’s gold. I will be frank enough to say that I have dined at some restaurants that are raved by food critics, establishments (even earning Michelin stars) but I still walked away dissatisfied with my meal. I may have adored and subscribed to their food philosophy but the food just didn’t do its reputations justice. That’s just me. Food to me is like art, when you see the piece (or repertoire), best if your mind were deprived of the knowledge of how many Michelin stars the restaurant earned, how much eccolade the chef who cooked it was awarded, how many well known people have raved about it, how hard it was to get a table/ how long the waiting list was, and just be able to enjoy the food for what it is. See if all that agrees with you as an individual, independent of what someone else thinks. After all, who are they to tell you what you should think is good or bad?
You should recognise good and bad by your own experience, background, and sentiments towards food. Exercise the right to say that you like a dish even though it isn’t what someone else thinks of as good and at the same time, dislike a dish even though the world’s finest palettes exalted it to the highest of gastronomy. Don’t be an insufferable food snob, be yourself, enjoy being you, enjoy being you, the person who thirsts for a romance with food. Then, you’ll be able to break the shackles of conditioning created by food snobs and social media. Your eyes will be opened, you will see.