The Foodiots

She continued: “Like last week, I went to this really good place called Westville, which has a really good soul-food factor but also a pretty good overall variety of food and caters to all tastes, and they have a really good vegetarian tasting menu. I didn’t want something super-heavy, so I got a turkey burger and we shared brussels sprouts and mac and cheese. It was delicious!”

Stacey’s repast certainly sounds tasty, but all this persistent food-talk, for whatever reason, can be enough to make some people’s stomachs turn.

“All my really skinny friends will post Facebook updates about, like, some giant steaks they just ate,” said a 28-year-old fashion publicist. “It’s totally annoying!”

“If you’re eating something fantastic, I want to hear about it. But there’s a clear delineation between people who will say something interesting about food,” Mr. Petersen said, “and people who are complete wankers about it.”

 

‘No One Cares’

A 36-year-old graphic designer who lives in Manhattan painted a vivid picture of your average foodiot by describing a former colleague.

“He was obsessed with everything deep-fried,” said the source, who asked to remain nameless so as not to disparage a co-worker. “He would go to all these barbecue places and take pictures of the food, pictures of what he ate, and he’d email them to everyone or print them out. And he’d constantly send us recipes for all this nasty stuff. It was just soooo gross and I’d think, ‘Why are you talking about this so much?’ It was unbelievable.”

Understandably, none of the people interviewed for this piece cared to be characterized as foodiots per se. But as Melissa Clark, who writes the column A Good Appetite for The New York Times Dining In, Dining Out section (recent sample: “I had only a few ripe tomatoes. But I planned to savor these last few gushing beauties sliced and piled on buttered toast, letting the nectar drip down my chin”), told The Observer, “Behind every foodie, there is probably a foodiot. We all have our own inner foodiots. You just have to stamp them down.”

For Ms. Clark, that moment came a few months ago when she let all of her Twitter followers know about the homemade baby food—pear tofu purée seasoned with nutmeg—she’d just made for her 8-month-old. “That definitely should have been filed under ‘Too much information! No one cares!’” she said.

“I feel like these technologies have totally unleashed the foodiot,” Ms. Clark added. “People have this outlet now that they’ve never had before. And something small, when talking to two people, takes on a whole other magnitude when you’re tweeting it to your 1,000 friends. You may not think you’re bragging, but because of the number of people you’re sending it to, it takes on a greater weight.”

For Terry Jinn, a 38-year-old IT professional who lives in Brooklyn Heights, the braggadocio element of his food chatter is more overt.

Like the time back in March when Mr. Jinn got to be a friend’s last-minute dining companion at the exclusive West 51st Street seafood palace Le Bernardin. He documented each course with his iPhone—escolar for the appetizer, monk fish and striped bass with langoustine as the main courses, and panna cotta for dessert—and posted the pictures to a Facebook album titled “food prOn” (that’s the Internetty way of saying “food porn”).

“For whatever reason, it seems O.K.” to brag on Facebook, Mr. Jinn said. “With social networking in general, it’s kind of this self-absorbed thing anyway. As opposed to, if you’re at someone’s party being a braggart about what you ate, that’s uncomfortable.”

Mr. Kennedy offered a more earnest explanation for his food preoccupations.

“I want people to ask me about what I’m cooking, or to want to come over and eat my food,” he said. “It’s sort of about the positive reaffirmation of being recognized for doing something that’s kind of nice,” even if “to independent observers, I may seem just as obnoxious as I find other people to be obnoxious. Like when it becomes, ‘I just made the best food ever because I’m a genius for using the most secret, hard-to-find ingredients, and they were perfect!’”

A 29-year-old downtown Manhattanite who works in the music industry also defended the habit. “A lot of my friends are also home cooks, so we talk about what we’re making and trade ideas and techniques and all that stuff,” he said.

He suggested that while it’s “very bourgeois” to constantly talk about food, it’s also very bourgeois to criticize people’s enjoyment of talking about food.

“I mean, I get it. I understand the douchy aspects, I really do, and your little super-artisanal South Brooklynite can make anyone want to kill themselves,” he said. “But if you have things that captivate your interest, then whatever. Go ahead and talk about 800 varieties of cheese, or be some asshole talking about how he kills pigs in his own backyard. Go for it! Have a blast! It’s nothing to hate on.”

Comments

  1. DissMissed1234 says:

    How about coming up with a word for a writer who for lack of an interesting subject goes on at length about every minor cultural wrinkle? How about a Journk? Bagateller? A Writiot??