With the influx of celebrity chefs coming to South Florida and the opening of many top-notch restaurants, the “foodie” culture is making its way into The Sunshine State. Herewith: A few rules to keep in mind.
Text by David C. Cleland | June 18, 2018 | Lifestyle

What constitutes a true foodie depends on who you ask. For some, they are know-it-all, snobbish, and annoying food lovers who are sticklers for correct pronunciation, perfect cooking techniques, superior wine selection, and always have an opinion on the best restaurants in town. To others, (usually the “foodies” themselves) they are gastronomes with refined palates and broad knowledge, who love all things food and drink. With this new mixed-bag culture invading our shores, here are a few rules to help us deal with this new culture, improve our own knowledge, and keep foodies from spoiling like that gross piece of fruit stuck in the back of your fridge, or that room temperature sushi.

“Thou shalt not let pronunciation spoil a meal.” For a foodie, there’s no greater foul than mispronunciation. They wouldn’t be caught dead using every letter in mozzarella or, — God forbid — saying the “t” at the end of croissant. But for those who have been in the situation, there are few things that get the blood boiling faster than being corrected on how to say pho (the “o” is silent). So please, to all you sunny foodies out there, keep your mouths shut — even when you’re not chewing. Of course, at the end of the day, we can all take a few minutes to learn the correct pronunciation of the things we choose to put in our mouths. And when all else fails, pointing to your desired dish or drink on the menu always does the trick.

“Thou shalt not spend big bucks on sodium.” Salt is the only edible rock on the planet. It’s the building block for civilization, a necessary nutrient, and makes everything from sweet to savory taste better. There are hundreds of varieties of salt, from smoked, sea, black, grey, kosher, pickling, rock, flake, fleur de sel, and even bacon salt. To our foodie friends out there, this is the greatest thing in the world, and opening their cabinets will reveal a treasure trove of exotic and expensive sodium. Let’s get real, though, salt is salt…yes, there are tiny nuances and different textures, but unless you’re eating it straight or on a piece of plain lettuce, chances are, you’re wasting your time — and money!

“Thou shalt not call thyself a foodie/gastronome/epicure/culinarian…” A true lover of food who enjoys eating for the right reasons will never find the
need to label themselves to let everyone know that they are superior both in knowledge, opinion and palate. The true gastronomes of our time, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Ruhlman, and many others not only despise the foodie in principle, but also would probably sue you for slander if you were to ever call them one! Just eat up and enjoy!

“Thou shalt refrain from the title mixologist…” Living in a part of the world where the drinks have always been more important than the meal, we should know better. Although terms like barman, and bartender are somewhat of a throwback, the term mixologist seems more suited for a mad scientist in a laboratory with an affinity for libations. With the exception of a few people who are true innovators in the field of the cocktail, this trendy title has absolutely no place behind the bar. Cheers to that!

“Thou shalt not dine with company and act as though you are a judge on a cooking show…” There are few things more detrimental to the enjoyment of a good meal than dining with a companion who finds the need to discuss, critique, deconstruct and comment on every single part of the meal. (Especially when the person sitting across from you has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.) Unless you’re Brad Johnson or a judge on Chopped, Top Chef, or any of the other zillions of cooking competition shows out there, chances are that no one really cares that much about what you’re putting in your mouth as you chow down. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with discussing the food you’re eating. In fact, finding what other people think about their dishes and talking briefly about what each person at the table likes or doesn’t like is totally acceptable and does make for some interesting conversation…to a point. When it crosses the line is when the only topic of conversation becomes the food, the chef, the décor, the service, the wine, and any other thing that can become unsavory when shoved down your throat.

“Thou shalt not think eating organic/non-GMO/free-range/local/humane makes you special.” With the multitude of new labels — both regulated and not — being given to all different kinds of food from dairy, meat, produce and everything in between, it’s impossible to claim one only eats certain things.

For many foodies, however, these claims give them a sense of superiority, without understanding what they’re talking about. Organic doesn’t mean tomatoes will taste any better; neither does their being local, or non-GMO. These things also don’t make them necessarily healthier or better for the environment, at least according to some studies. To both foodie and non-foodies, the best produce to buy is in season – it’s cheaper, much better-tasting, and is more likely to be local. Instead of mobbing Whole Foods or Fresh Market, join a co-op or hit up some local farmers’ markets in your area.

“Thou shalt not say you love to eat something obscure…just because it sounds cool.” There’s nothing wrong with trying and liking far-out food…people have even become TV stars eating and drinking weird and disgusting stuff the world over. But saying you like something to be unique is far from unique, it’s just plain pretentious. Although South Florida has tons of options for just about any palate, our main specialties have always been fusion cuisine, tropical grub and Latin-American fare. Maybe that’s a flaw in our culinary web we need to work on. In other major cities, you can find just about anything you crave being served somewhere…whether at a restaurant or a friend’s home. Luckily, we’re quickly catching up to the rest of the world as far as our food culture goes. So go ahead, embrace the weird and taste the strange, but remember that you don’t have to pretend to like it!