Grilled Chicken & Ketchup

I was inspired to write this piece by my own series of tweets that I posted five minutes ago (thank you, Twitter Maddy, for always being a source of true inspiration):

I’ve been known to be extremely satisfied by meals (though “meals” might be a generous term) that others find “gross,” “questionable,” “disgusting.” For example, I routinely enjoy dipping grilled chicken strips in pools of ketchup, mixing canned tuna into anything and everything, using the microwave whenever possible (#SpeedOverSavoriness), and melting shredded cheese onto pieces of bread and proclaiming it a delicacy.

What’s even more confusing to people than this menu, however, is that I don’t eat this way out of necessity. Part of me is angered every time someone expresses their disgust at my canned fish: don’t you know that millions of people have to eat canned fish for economic reasons? What about those who can’t even afford canned fish? If you think canned fish or dipping things in ketchup for taste or beans are gross, take some serious time to think about everyone who is grateful to have those foods on the table.

Next, there are times when I don’t have the energy (physical, mental, or emotional) to cook. I came across this amazing thread on Twitter in March and can’t tell you how sane I felt while reading it:

Taking care of yourself – this includes cooking and eating well – can feel impossible if you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed. There’s a lot to be said for any form of nourishing yourself when it feels like an overwhelming task. And even when I’m not having extra difficulty finding the energy to shop or cook or clean, there are plenty of nights where I come home exhausted from work and eat whatever is quick and accessible because it is most certainly better than nothing (shout-out to Trader Joe’s frozen meals).

Those last two thoughts were tangential, but I think about them a lot. I originally started writing this post to say the following: I am not a foodie, and I am proud of it.

Me – a privileged, white millennial – not a foodie?! The horror!

I don’t think I’ve ever formally defined the term myself, so obviously I went to Wikipedia: “A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food[1] and who eats food not only out of hunger but due to their interest or hobby … Typical foodie interests and activities include the food industrywineries and wine tasting, breweries and beer sampling, food science, following restaurant openings and closings and occasionally reopenings, food distribution, food fadshealth and nutrition, cooking classes, culinary tourism, and restaurant management.”

According to this definition, I’m not a foodie for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t want to dedicate my free time to making restaurant reservations, reading food magazines or blogs, waiting in line for trendy brunches, or observing the latest food fad.
  2. I also don’t want to spend my money on any of the above, especially when I personally don’t benefit from “finer” foods. I don’t always eat canned tuna because I have to, I eat it because it tastes totally fine to me and I wouldn’t gain an extra $25 of salivary enjoyment by eating seared ahi tuna. I feel the same way about making myself a big bowl of pasta at home: why would I pay an extra $20 to eat a bowl of pasta at a trendy restaurant if it tastes only slight better (P.S. they are probably just putting a ton of butter in there and you could, too, in the comfort of your own home)?
  3. If I see one more “foodie” blog or Instagram account or post tagged #foodporn, I might lose it. Unless you have something new or interesting to say (which a picture of a pile of waffles at a brunch place tagged #foodporn does not), I don’t want to see your content. In fact, I will even go so far as to say that the majority of those I know with food blogs or social media accounts suffer from disordered eating, and their “obsession with food” is nothing more than a thinly-veiled eating disorder. If I’m going to be brutally honest, that is my biggest source of frustration and anger with the rise of “foodie” culture. I’ve watched too many of my peers disguise their complicated relationship with food or their body in a “wellness” blog or by taking pictures of foods they’d never actually eat.

Maybe that last point was all I really wanted to say. I’ve suffered from eating disorders in the past, and so for me to watch my peers demonstrate their own issues by proclaiming themselves a foodie is really, really, really hard to watch. There are pieces on this topic that are much more well-written (my most favorite is “Opinion: Smash the Wellness Industry”) but I hope that my candidness in sharing these thoughts and feelings inspires some others to take a closer look at what’s fueling this “foodie” movement. If I think about what I did in the height of my disordered eating, a lot of it is scarily similar to behaviors now attributed to “loving food!” I spent time looking at pictures of food that I wouldn’t allow myself to eat; other times I’d binge on something you’d probably see as #foodporn or #cheatdayeats. I’d spend valuable time thinking about food, weight, and nutrition when I could have been spending time with friends, or writing, or making music, or enjoying my life.

I’m not accusing all foodies of having underlying issues, but I am hoping that those who do take a step back and evaluate if their “food obsession” is coming from a healthy and helpful place. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with not enjoying “finer” foods and, in fact, it’s saved me time and money to embrace that about myself. I’d rather share a meal with those I love than spend money going to a dimly-lit restaurant where I can’t even see their faces… just sayin’.

 

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