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Busayo Oderinde: Who is a Foodie?

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This article was inspired by a comment on the article I wrote titled ‘Street Food Chronicles’. {Click here if you missed it}

Here’s the comment: “A foodie is a gourmet, or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. – Wiki A foodie is very different from an indiscriminate food monger. Nice article but the term must be used in appropriate terms

Then I started thinking about who a Foodie is and what it connotes. I do not entirely agree with this definition according to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is great but I think I know enough to say that this definition of a Foodie is limited in scope and therefore not entirely true. The term Foodie for me is much more than this definition and in trying to define who or what a Foodie is, I want to analyse some key words.

A FOODIE IS A GOURMET?
Already with this clause, you begin to associate the word Foodie with Food snob. According to Wikipedia also, the term gourmet can refer to a person with refined or discriminating taste who is knowledgeable in the craft and art of food and food preparation. And my question is this, who says you are not a “gourmet” if you are a street food connoisseur? Do you know what it takes to distinguish perfect akara? Dense and moist on the inside and golden crispy on the outside? Or moist succulent Suya? (And I still say the Suya we eat here in western Nigeria is crap based on my knowledge of eating great suya in the North) For me, the critique on street food is not really the issue but Nigerian cuisine as a whole.

Who says you can’t be a gourmet when it comes to Nigerian meals? To understand what it takes to make perfect efo-riro or jollofrice that makes your soul sing or ekpang nkukwo that can bring tears to your eyes or to discern the freshest best tasting palm wine? People, these skills are as refined and discriminating as they come, we can be as gourmet as it comes when it comes to our cuisine.

Visit some food blogs today and see how Nigerian food is being transformed to meals that are refined and are as “gourmet” you can find in any part of the world. The truth is I see a lot of pretentiousness in our Nigerian food setting which is sad and pitiful. We let the current fad in the west crop and define what our food culture or palate should be. You would meet some people who tell you they don’t eat in our Bukas or who think Street food is a sham. Well, to each is his/her own.

THE REFINED CLAUSE
You know a lot of people have this notion that Nigerian / African food is not refined. Where did this come from? I am personally offended by this. We might not have gained international recognition like other cuisines have, but to say that Nigerian food is inferior to any other cuisine just vexes me.

Refinement is very subjective really. It’s not about fine dining and white tablecloths and linen napkins and crystal glasses and fancy cutlery. This is fab, please don’t get me wrong, it’s about what you know and your tradition. We might traditionally eat with our hands in clay pots or plates, what is unrefined about that? It’s our culture, it’s us, let’s not fall into a neo-colonialism cliché and think our ways are bush. Our food and food cultures are ours and by God, it’s good

I have Ghanaian friends, ladylike and as refined as you please, but when it comes to eating their cuisine, they don’t joke with using native clay pots to prepare the meals or eat them in because they don’t want to take anything away from the authentic traditional taste.

A TRUE FOODIE NEVER DISCRIMATES
I said this before and I will say it again. A true foodie never discriminates. Jerry Steingarten is one of the most respected critics in the culinary world. He is the author of a book titled “the man who ate everything”. (I highly recommend this book to everyone; it’s a good and hilarious read)  He didn’t make all his reasonings based on fine dining alone (and he is a Vogue Food critic o, fine dining critiquing at its best), he literally ate everything or as many things he could lay his hands on across different countries and continents.  I love him as a Judge on Iron Chef America; his critiques are the most sound for me.

I am saying that fine dining, Street Food, home cooked meals or eating at Quick Service restaurant dining by themselves alone is not the ideal. A robust combination of all these and more should be incorporated into every Foodie’s repertoire of dining. There are meals or places to eat a meal I would not have gone out of my way to eat but for the love I have for food as a whole, I take it in stride so I can keep learning. I do agree with the statement that a foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby; a lot of my free time is dedicated to Food pursuits.

A foodie should be defined as the sum of food experiences unique to him either by nationality, religion, race or geographical zone. If all I have eaten my entire life are Nigerian meals, that doesn’t make me any less of a Foodie than someone in Paris or Italy or America. If you have never had Duck Comfit, Foie Gras, Crème brulee, Chicken cordon bleu or know which wine is a Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot noir, Zinfandel, Shiraz, please do not fret at all if you are a lover of food and drink, There are people who also don’t know Asaro Eleporederede, Ewa Agoyin, Abacha, Tuwo Shinkafa, Moimoi elemimeje, Iwuk Edesi so please do not be intimidated.

Not to boast though but I will floor any international food enthusiast on Nigerian cuisine or even parts of Africa (I am not playing, it’s a serious matter, you remember #Jollofgate?)

WHAT QUALIFIES ME AS A FOODIE?
My foodie journey has been an interesting one. From being called an FFO: For Food Only or looked at with disdain and told “you like food too much” and all other types of insults, I can look back now and smile because I finally get what it really is and it was my path all along, I am sure some other Foodies can relate.

My favourite TV channel is Food Network (go figure). People are always saying: ‘watch something else now or if you know you won’t cook it, then change the station, don’t make us hungry’. I just keep watching, I am never bored, I could get a little hungry but my passion lets me stay glued so I soak up as much information as possible

Most foodies have a gift for understanding just how well a meal and most times what’s lacking. I am always talking at mealtimes about what could have been added to make it more magical. My sister in turn is always angry, she’s like “by saying it needs this and that, you make this food less appealing”, to which I reply, “Nah, I am just critiquing.” I think this and many more (yea, including my food articles, tongue out) qualifies me as a Foodie.

SO….WHO IS A FOODIE?
Some definitions I am actually okay with:

According to Dictionary.com a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking.

UrbanDictionary.com: A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation. A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie.

According to Wisegeek.com a foodie is someone who has a deep interest in food. In addition to being interested in food itself, foodies are also interested in the back story: the history, production, science, and industry of food. As a general rule, foodies are amateurs, rather than professionals working in some aspect of the food industry, and many of them are self-taught. Foodies love food, obviously, and they are usually interested in exploring a wide range of tastes, flavours, and textures. Many of them try to be as knowledgeable as possible about the foods they eat, sometimes even traveling to an area of food production to see how their food is produced. Many foodies study specific aspects of flavour and eating, like wine and food pairings, or the impact that environment has on flavour, with a focus on eating the best-tasting food possible.

Merriamwebster.com: a person who enjoys and cares about food very much

A foodie should simply be defined as someone who has an above average passion for food, a person who pays unusual attention to food, cuisine, I think everyone alive is a Foodie, the passion and knowledge of every individual may vary, and that’s the difference for me. My name is Busayo and I am a foodie.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Monkey Business Images

My name is Busayo, a Food Enthusiast, I love love food, its a huge passion for me and I believe Chocolates make the world a happier place. Feel free to contact me via email, [email protected]

11 Comments

  1. Scared homosapien

    May 16, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    You have passed this course, excellently. 100/100.

  2. Olajide

    May 16, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    You are definitely not a foodie. No true foodie will use the words dense and moist in one sentence to describe any food. Any dense food can’t be moist at the same time. Impossicant. Can a perfect cake be dense and moist at the same time? The perfect Akara is light and fluffy. You only get dense Akara when you don’t whisk enough air into it. We used a mortar and pestle for this in my house, turning and turning and the result was worth it. Nowadays you can use a hand mixer to do that. A true street foodie wake champion will tell you good Akara is never dense.

    • Sgjx

      May 17, 2015 at 11:22 am

      Not necessarily true. Pound cake should be dense and moist as should good agege bread.

  3. Foodie

    May 16, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    We like food. We are foodies. Shikena. You gourmets should stick with the word and let the rest of us flourish.

  4. D

    May 16, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Yes a foodie does discriminate…but they do it based on taste and quality. Not based on pretense and trying to act “tush” but yes they do discriminate and yes i have to say i agree with olajide not certain your akara can be dense and moist at the same time. You want moist and fluffy not dense unless you are making buns. Buns is extremely dense and dry, hence you need a water when eating it.

    • Tosin

      May 18, 2015 at 7:14 am

      and a foodie loves Ratatouille!
      (humming Le Festin)

  5. Asabi

    May 16, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Hello Bellanaija, how do I get to share my story on your website?

  6. www.slimqueenie.blogspot.com

    May 17, 2015 at 9:04 am

    where’s the food kwa?
    I just want to eat and not be fat. Is that too much to ask? LOL

  7. Chinwe

    May 17, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    @slimqueenie as if you know. God knows if I was naturally lepa,

    me and food would be paddies for life. Omo when I finish with food it will be asking me “nne how far”. And my two cents- I always say the best way to experience a culture is through their food especially street food. I’m one of those people that travel for the sole purpose of trying out their meals. Sight seeing is nice but I’m there for the food.

    1
  8. Temi BANKS

    May 17, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Ten thousand kissed for this article! But seriously why are people pretentious? If a person describes something in a particular way what’s the crime? Whatever your definition of a ‘foodie’ is at the end of the day its yours. So why the negativity?

    http://www.jeenager.com

  9. EseOsagie

    May 18, 2015 at 10:59 am

    All i see is a lady who can write good English… hmmm although using some words together was quite confusing e.g dense and moist but all together you write well… so WHERE IS THE FOOD?

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