Life as a Foodie (or not)

July 14, 2011 in Cooking, Life, Restaurant Industry

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Before you begin, start here.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been resisting talking about this topic for a while now. I know a lot of you reading this honor your foodie-ness as very near and dear to your hearts. So before going any further, let me clarify that I RESPECT and REVERE your desire to find and bring the best quality, and best tasting food into your mouths. I know a LOT of you would travel far distances to check out a restaurant that’s acclaimed for it’s far reaching ingredients. Please know, I respect that. You see, I am NOT a foodie. It’s not that I don’t want to be a foodie… it’s just not my thing. Maybe this post (and your subsequent comment stream) will help me understand the err of my ways (and my upbringing) and steer me toward acquiring a more deliberate palate. Although, No guarantees.

First, let me try to explain why the concept is foreign to me. (YES, even while being married to a chef)

Maybe it’s because I grew up with my mom being a lunch lady all thru my school years, it wasn’t as important the QUALITY of the food I was eating, but the quantity. (Not to mention growing up in a NYC Italian family, it was ALL about quantity). Clearly remembering my mother bringing home left over frozen pizza from school (you know, the square kind that you remember being lifted off a  metal sheet tray with a spatula in the cafeteria?) … I was in heaven. I had NO idea about salty, sweet, sour and bitter, pungent and astringent. No, it was about eating SCHOOL PIZZA for dinner! I kinda felt special since the pizza in school was coveted by most of the students. (Friday was Pizza and French Fries Day… although I always thought that a strange combo)

I grew up with two philosophies that, now as I look back on them, are the causes for a lot of confusion when it comes to my experience with fine dining.

  1. Eat EVERYTHING on your plate (also called “you’re not leaving the table until it’s GONE! or “Take everything you want to eat, and eat everything you take.”) and
  2. Having a meat, starch and vegetable

So I did. In college, I maintained that cafeteria lifestyle my first two years in school while living in the dorms and when moving out into the wide blue yonder, I maintained those rules… meat/starch/vegetable and eat everything on your plate. It’s not that my family wouldn’t occasionally visit a nice restaurant, but nothing like what I’ve experienced in recent years, so needless to say, I didn’t have lots of experience to go on. I knew what food I LIKED to eat, but I wasn’t particular about it. More a “meh, whatever – I can take it or leave it” kinda philosophy.

On top of that, my mother (the sole cook in the house) didn’t grow up eating fish too often (like at all), so that meant that neither did we. That leaves out a HUGE portion of the food pyramid (isn’t that what Michelle Obama still calls it nowadays?) that I never tried. I remember my mom cooking salmon once, the smell was SO different, so… EVERYWHERE, that I was like NO WAY (and sat at the table for hours until my mother gave in and let me go to bed)

I sat there a while, let me tell ya….

Another possible reason was my not so regular experience with FRESH vegetables either. It wasn’t often that my mom would splurge on fresh veggies, going for the convenience of the can. And when she did (go fresh), it was always the same degree of cooked-ness that the cans had – never al dente, but shmushy – and since that’s all I knew… well, that’s all I knew. (Let me say… my mom still knocked out the BEST meals I’ve ever had, like her mothers meatloaf that we all still ask for every single birthday dinner we’re together)

I remember on a trip to Hawaii with my college roommate, she was GAGA about how fresh the fish was (I believe it was Ahi), so I too, had to try some. I remember being nervous about it, never revealing to her that I have never eaten anything close to that before. It was good but nothing that I would go GAGA for.

Trust me, I could go on…..

Enter the chef husband (then boyfriend).

I remember the FIRST time I visited him for the weekend (I was in VA, he was in NJ) he made me NY Strip steak with peppercorns and bok choy) I was like “bok what?” and remember him saying “Trust me, you’ll like it.” And I did. Whenever we went places, he wanted to try a hole in the wall restaurant, telling the server “Just bring me what YOU think is good”  and I… thought it a little nutty to trust so willingly, and also a little jealous he was so brave as I would rather stay in my comfort zone. It’s been some version of that ever since.

Three foods I’ve never eaten until my 30’s (I’m in my 36th year now):

  • Sushi
  • Indian
  • Tuna Tartare

All of these foods, I now LOVE.  I try foods more willingly than I ever have, being with my husband. But it wasn’t always that way….

Like the nightmare of Dim Sum. Going to eat Dim Sum for the first time (without anyone telling me what Dim Sum meant) with a whole bunch of Chefs and their spouses. STILL brings me flashbacks. I was SO naive and well, scared. I don’t think I ate a damn thing. I didn’t know that they brought food to you on a rolling tray, or WHAT as underneath that basket! I did my best to play it off that I was just not hungry.. but inside I was like WHAT the heck am I doing here!!! *I think all the chefs thought it funny I sat there so uncomfortably, asking me “You want this?” while I was writhing in my seat until it was over. (okay maybe it was just my imagination)

yea, I was embarrassed….

I understand now what it is and will willingly go when asked, but those are just a few examples of what my food-ie experience is to date and why I am still a bit indifferent about it all.

So when I encounter anyone who calls themselves a foodie, I sit back and watch (and listen) with genuine curiosity and amazement about their passion for these unusual and sometimes uncommon delicacies (My husband still torments me with eating anything with Foie Gras.. Thanks but NO thanks. I know that’s a sin in some circles.) but inside, I am FINE with the slow pace I travel to experience these foods knowing that if I get there, I get there. And if not, well… that’s okay too.

For the most part, my sideline observance of others in the throes of foodie-dom hasn’t caused much contraversy. I am usually respected when not wanting to try something out of my comfort zone and surprise my husband when I decide to just DO IT and give it a whirl anyway. I tell people, I didn’t grow up eating it so it’s not something I would order myself.. but if placed in front of me I would try it. That’s been my stance. I’m not holding up my forefingers in a cross like pattern saying NO WAY! to everything different that I encounter, I just approach it a bit slower than most. Not apt to DIVE IN like some foodies do.

*Confession: I still like my vegetables a bit softer than what restaurants usually put out. (Peter, don’t laugh!)

When creating this site, I thought… I KNOW there are other non-foodies married to foodies out there! So I asked everyone on our Facebook Page what their stance was and was sad to see that most are food connoisseurs. I still haven’t found many non-foodies married to foodies.. but I just know that I’m not alone. I will continue the quest! As we all know, it’s not all fancy meals every nite, being married to a chef, so I usually cook what I know when I’m home; and even when I cook for my husband, I say (as I said in an earlier post about eating alone) “it’s nothing fancy”. I think it makes me feel better to say that, if only to myself for I know what a fancy meal looks like. (And it’s not meat/starch/vegetable either). Just as long as I’ve eaten everything on my plate… I’m good. (I’m teasing…)

PLEASE comment below if you ARE a non-foodie married to a foodie! I’m not giving up my search!

So, now that you know MY story, let me ask you…

  • When was the first time you even heard of the word Foodie?
  • How was the way you were raised affect what your food preferences are now?
  • How does knowing your a foodie affect your restaurant choices? (Ever dare go to Outback Steakhouse for example?)
  • How did being a foodie (or not being a foodie!) come into play when connecting with your restaurant man/woman?

    and finally…How has the world changed for you since you became aware of your degree of foodie-ness?
     
Life as a Foodie (or not)

17 Comments

    1. Tracy DeLuca says:

      haha You totally touched on points I was going to write about!

      1.I never heard the word foodie until I started reading blogs about 5 years ago.

      2. I was raised poor. I mean dirt poor. We raised most of our own food. We ate what we were given and liked it. LOL It was very simple. I remember lunchroom pizza with great fondness as that was the ONLY pizza we got for many many years! I still go straight back to my childhood comfort foods the majority of the time.

      3. I consider myself to be a “somewhat” foodie. I am a foodie when the time and place calls for it. I enjoy eating new things and experimenting. But I don’t NEED IT. In all honesty, we spend more time eating out at buffet restaurants or chain places than anywhere else. Mostly because we can’t afford the richer places. We support a family of 5 on my husbands income as an executive chef. In Mississippi. (Not so hot on the pay, ya know?) So we don’t have the luxury of being all out foodies. PLUS, one of our children is autistic with major food issues. So pb&j is a staple at our house!

      4. My husband and I met at a bar. LOL He actually was in a band at the time as well as being a chef. (I wonder how many others there are? Many many in my experience) Food was not a big part of our courtship at all. Although he still loves introducing me to new foods!

      • Tracy – I’m so sorry I beat ‘cha! (Still hoping you’ll write though!) Thank you for sharing your experiences with us! I was going to say… I didn’t even hear of the word foodie until about 5 years ago too! (ha ha school pizza was the BEST, right!) I call myself a closet foodie. Noone knows that INSIDE.. I kinda wish I was more preferential. Just not my way….

    2. Tracy DeLuca says:

      No biggie, I will just work around it! LOL Still planning to write once I get a moment to breathe.

      Closet foodie…. I like that.

    3. First of all, lemme just say that I put off lunch for my kids AND stopped working on my own website to sit down and read this post. Seriously. I am SO glad I did.

      I didn’t realize there was a name for people like me. I thought I was just… weird or sheltered. Even my Cheffy husband says I grew up under a rock. But now I know.. (thank you!!) that I am NOT a foodie.

      I HATE – like seriously, passionately loathe all things kitchen. It’s disgusting in there and I can easily put “kitchen” next to “bathroom” in my book of pure nastiness.

      It doesn’t help that my I grew up with my mom, a woman who washed the dished maybe once a month or who would not give me any chores ever only to demand I wash the dishes after furry stuff completely coated every dish in the sink. It doesn’t help that she feed me and my siblings tv dinners (yes, back when they were still called tv dinners). It doesn’t help that she has an eating disorder (I presume) that would turn any meal into an all-you-can-eat binge session. It is VERY difficult for me to go to buffets and especially Chinese food restaurants after watching her shovel serving spoon after serving spoon full into her mouth. I’ve witnessed half-masticated Egg Foo Young wiggle from side to side of her gaping wide open mouth. {heave}

      I could continue to thorough disgust you but I’ll move right along…

      I whole-heartedly believe that she poisoned me with every meal, perhaps not with arsenic, but rather just chicken that sat on the counter too long or gobs of grease from the past year’s worth of bacon.

      I struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (which is under control for the most part but has taken me years to get there) and I have a pretty unhealthy body image. (Thanks, ma.)

      So, now that you know where I come from and where I am today, here are my answers to your questions:

      * When was the first time you even heard of the word Foodie?
      > Watching hour upon hour after hour of the FOOD Network with my husband, then boyfriend, about 6 years ago.
      * How was the way you were raised affect what your food preferences are now?
      > Well, I told you about how my mom but what I didn’t already mention was how once I moved into my dad’s house we had nothing but fresh salads and grilled meats. I eat a lot of fresh ingredients (with my mom we only had fresh produce if we stood on the corner with a paper bag as the corn or tomato trucks turned onto the highway from the fields OR snuck into the fields to harvest our own corn after the machines went through). We have some frozen stuff but its usually just out-of-season frozen fruits for smoothies or veggies for a quick meal.
      * How does knowing your a foodie affect your restaurant choices? (Ever dare go to Outback Steakhouse for example?)
      > My husband is always trying new things and taking me along. I still get overstimulated by textures (I had a lot of canned veggies in my day too) and smells (seafood – I can’t hang. It churns my stomach in a way I can only explain as “morning sickness”). I really trust my husband’s word though, so if he thinks I might like it, I’ll try it. Only because after this many years he has a very good understanding of where I came from and why I don’t like things.
      * How did being a foodie (or not being a foodie!) come into play when connecting with your restaurant man/woman?
      > If I had to guess, I’d say I kind of played the damsel in distress role when it came to food and my husband was definitely my knight in shinning armor (and chefs coat).He really went out of his way to catch me up on a lot of food that I’d missed out on.
      and finally…How has the world changed for you since you became aware of your degree of foodie-ness?
      > {giggle} I am definitely more aware of my senses and can appreciate a meal without even eating it and for reasons other than “it just tastes good”. I think about the time it took, level of difficulty, the plating itself,etc.. And since I dislike cooking, a meal means SO much more to me. (Also helps that I’m not getting poisoned anymore hehe.) I am also well aware (and independent enough) to know that if I taste something that I don’t like, I really DON’T have to eat the rest! (I can even spit it out if I don’t like it and I won’t get a whoopin!) 🙂

      • My dear Angie- all I can say is wow… Sounds like those early experiences really shaped your whole life when I came to food and your connection to it. Anyone whose had a similar experience, probably feels exactly as you do.(I am sure there are others who share your story) Bravo, my lovely for being self aware enough to learn what does and what doesn’t work for you. I can only imagine how gradual a process that has been and how the effects still play out today. Sounds like you are honoring that part of you as you take courageous steps toward trying new foods (not to mention how amazing your husband is to partner with you on this journey) So glad to know you feel some relief that you are not the only one who officially does not consider yourself a foodie. I,myself, feel better for making the declaration that I am not a foodie, but stand proudly by my man,who is. Xo!

    4. Elizabeth says:

      When was the first time you even heard of the word Foodie?

      Honestly, just by reading this blog was when I heard the word Foodie…my chef I don’t think ever says it lol

      How was the way you were raised affect what your food preferences are now?

      I too grew up on protein/starch/vegtables and to this day even though I live on my own I still try to follow moms rules. But, my mom is a picky eatter and that has resulted me in a picky eatter but it doesn’t bother me I’m very content with what I like and don’t like.

      How does knowing your a foodie affect your restaurant choices?

      As far as restauratns I’ll pretty much eat wherever knowing I can eat something that is allergey friendly. My chef however is more difficult to please he tends to be more picky as to where we eat!! So, I tell him you pick where we eat and I”ll figure out what I”ll eat I”ll make it work haha but sometimes he will give in and go to Chili’s with me because he knows I Like it even though he hates chains lol

      How did being a foodie (or not being a foodie!) come into play when connecting with your restaurant man/woman?

      Its gone good and bad because a lot of times I dont understand what certain things are like what you said previously. Most times I will ask because it will start a good conversation but others times i’ll keep to myself because I don’t want to look dumb haha

      • Hey Liz – Girl, you’re in the same boat! It’s only been recently that I’ve familiar with the word foodie. I’m SO glad I’m beginning to find others raised like myself; who find it challenging to break out of early childhood habits! I think that’s a common thread with most ‘non foodies with foodies’.. I USUALLY don’t mind where we eat. Takes the pressure of of me to deliver a good meal! Ha! FUNNY!! My husband doesn’t like going to chain restaurants either (and when he does.. he’s got his eyes in the kitchen the whole time.. scoping it out!) YOU ARE NOT ALONE – more times than none, I order the safest thing on the menu if I don’t understand what it is or how it’s prepared!!! SO glad to have found you!

        • Elizabeth says:

          Funny story to the chain restaurants…we went to chili’s one night and we were sitting by the kitchen. So its time to leave we get up and he goes you go ahead I’ll meet you by the door and I’m like um..okay where are you going? Rob says to me Oh im gonna check out their kitchen hahah I”m like what and before I could say anything he had already walked through there kitchen to the other side of the restaurant hahaha He’s like eh the kitchen is okay it could be better though teh floor looked pretty diry haha im like Rob do you want someone just walking through your kitchen? and he’s like no but we have a nice clean kitchen so nobody needs to walk through my kitchen haha oy vey!

          • Oh my gosh that’s hilarious!!! It doesn’t surprise me that he walked right on through!!! I can’t say that my husband has not told me how the servers and managers aren’t as attentive as in HIS restaurant! His gaze is afixed on the open kitchen.. commenting about how fast their knocking out the tickets.. or if their getting backed up. HILARIOUS!!!

            • Elizabeth says:

              oh yes I can totally agree and understand…I love spending time and going out with Rob but sometimes I feel like I’m eatting by myself because all he does is stare at the waitstaff and the kitchen and what they do wrong in the restaurant we are in and how his restaurant is better and sometimes its like hello im here can we talk about somethign other then the restaurant hahahah

            • YOU, my dearest Liz.. just gave me my next topic on the blog…. Going out! You are NOT alone.. I too, feel similarly alone at times when he’s obsessing about how the customers at the next table are not happy with their food. HA!!!

    5. Elizabeth says:

      Thats awesome! I can not wait to read it because I gotta say thats probably one of the things the bugs me most when going out with my chef. I get all excited for a nice night out and then once we are there sometimes I feel like Id have a better conversation if I were to talk to my knife and fork hahaha

    6. Amy Wright says:

      Not a foodie! Although my chef husband doesn’t consider himself one either…. <3 We have some foodie friends who love their holiday platters J sets them up with.

      • Amy! I’m SO SO glad to hear there is someone else out there who does not consider them a foodie! It can be sort of intimidating when we’re surrounded by such creative and delicious opportunities to become one! I actually get that your hubby doesn’t consider himself one… my guess is it’s so engrained that he doesn’t even see it anymore! So nice that he still knows the way to a foodies heart with a nice charcruterie! 🙂

    7. Kara the foodie says:

      I am a foodie. My husband is not. It’s depressing when I create a masterpiece on a plate and I go out of my way to recreate amazing meals that astonish others.. But he scarfs it down and goes back to the fridge for a dew and a pint of what ever ice cream is there. Says “that was good, but I could live on pizza and sandwiches too”. I don’t understand how “you people” don’t get excited about new restaraunts or crazy ingredients! But oh well… At least I’m not alone in being married to a non food loving person.

      • Kerilyn Fox says:

        Hi Kara! Thanks for writing! Wondering… When did you find out that your husband was not a foodie? I can imagine that his lack of acknowledging the time, energy and LOVE you put into making delicious food would definitely be frustrating! I can only speak for myself that I definitely see and appreciate the work my husband takes to make delicious food… but like you said.. I’m not getting excited about the next hottest concept or ingredient. Doesn’t mean that I don’t stand next to my beloved and cheer him on. I am SO proud of him… like shout it off the rooftops how amazing I think he is.

        Wondering what does he really feel passionate about? Maybe if you do that thing with him, you can then remind him how that is how you feel when you cook for him and for everyone else! Just a thought! There must be something to make him *see* what brings you joy. 🙂

    8. Kara the foodie says:

      Yes… he shows his appreciation, thanks me for the food hes about to scarf down without breathing. He has no hobbies. Fishing. Xbox. Typical. I do those things with him… its not the same. He isnt passionate about anything really. He sort of enjoys Geocaching with me but thats not the subject matter. lol. I get sad FOR him that he doesn’t feel excited about food and cooking and shopping for food at special places…new restaraunts… because its an experience that he wasn’t raised with that he misses out on. Oh well, I will continue to do me. My friends love to talk about food and cook and eat… we will get fat and be happy while he basically swallows whole what ever is made for him without even noticing what it is. Thanks for the reply!

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Life as a Foodie (or not)

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