Lighten Up

There are a lot of overly serious food blogs out there. What’s there to be so serious about? I hope people are laughing as they read my food blog.

I find “foodies” in general to be an overly serious lot. They make unfunny jokes about agrobusiness or sourcing free-range capon as they sit around trading cooking tips, sampling Asian tapas and sipping lychee soju martinis. I get antsy when people refer to me as a foodie. It feels like I’ve got some kind of ugly condition and people are whispering about me. I imagine them picturing me waiting in line at the latest food truck, and then Tweeting about it when I get home.

Yoga students and starlets tend to be overly serious about food, too — except in an opposite way from foodies. Rather than looking for the newest obscure Italian salumi, they spend their time scouring menus and ingredients lists, ever vigilant for things like butter and salt. Their lives become more about what NOT to eat, and how much fun is that?

Mario Batali, Julia Child and Colonel Sanders ala The Simpsons

I saw a recent episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge, Bart and Lisa become foodies and launch their own food blog. It was very funny. Their car breaks down in front of an Ethiopian restaurant, they go in for dinner and order the most authentic dish from the non-English part of the menu, and discover they love the food. Several Springfield foodies — Sideshow Mel, Comic Book Guy, etc. — are also there to eat and are impressed. “Did your car break down too?” Marge asks. “Mom,” says Lisa, “They came here on purpose.” So Marge and the kids launch a food blog called The Three Mouthkateers, featuring such highlights as their list on the Top 99 Afghani Restaurants in Springfield. (“I feel bad for all those places that didn’t make the cut,” says Bart.) There was a dream sequence featuring cameos by Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali bouncing on hop balls, and a profane rant from Gordon Ramsey. There was even a fictional Spanish molecular gastronomy restaurant called el Chemistri, which offered foams and gels and a dish called “Regret” that the waiter cries into as its served. “I’ve come around on hipsters,” Homer reflects toward the end of the episode. “It takes a lot of courage to all wear the same hat.”

When we lived closer, we used to make trips to Little Ethiopia for dinner. (We like a joint called Nyala, just in case you’re a foodie and you care. But I’ve heard Meals By Genet rocks it, too.) I often wondered what the Ethiopians who served us their traditional Ethiopian food thought of all the curious enlightened white people eating dinner there. Many times there were no Ethiopians, other than the servers, in the restaurant at all.

Little Ethiopia, Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles

Here’s some good things not to be serious about:

• Quinoa. It’s just a grain, folks. Have you tried rice?? It costs less and is the favorite of 2/3 of the world’s population.
• That little bit of fat on your steak. It’ll make it taste better. And if you’ve chosen grass-fed beef, it ain’t that bad for you.
• The skin on the chicken. If you want non-fat, eat a carrot.
• Fried things. Frying is one of mankind’s greatest inventions.
Kraft Singles. Sure, it’s not really cheese. But who cares??? If you’re making a grilled cheese or mac n’ cheese or a chili dog, you need these little orange guys.

Here’s some good things to be serious about:

• That paragraph of ingredients on the back of some of the food you’re eating. Choose foods with only two or three ingredients on the package. Things you recognize and can pronounce. Or better yet, choose foods with no package.
• Making sure the meat you eat comes from animals that were ethically treated. I’ve got chickens, and they’re really sweet animals.
• Eating too much. Being full may be the American way, but it is really bad for your heart. Eat until you’re satisfied. Stop. You’ll live longer, and the earth will last longer.
• The seasons. Get in touch with the natural rhythms of the earth. It’s fun. Eat root vegetables in winter. Eat tomatoes and squash blossoms in summer.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Gaskin
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 01:07:42

    I’m whispering about you 😉

    Hey, Quinoa is a protein! 😉


  2. Greggie
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 01:44:04

    Ah, quinoa strikes again. I guess I’m really going to have to give it a try. Two-thirds of the world can’t be wrong, can they ):


  3. mom
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 03:07:04

    Don’t tell Willa but I haven’t found a source for humanely sourced pork.


  4. mom
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 03:09:56

    PS…red Quinoa is the bomb but it’s really expensive.


  5. Benjamin Thompson
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 13:36:00

    Agreed and agreed. I hate being called a foodie because of all the terrible insecure upper-middle class connotations that go along with it. But here’s the real rub, and I believe you’ll agree: I hate being accused of being fussy, or worse yet, fancy, when I’m cooking food that’s actually peasant food, or country food from any one country’s region or tradition. I try and defend myself, “This is country food, low brow. Don’t you get it?” But the concept of peasant or “country” food has once again been hijacked by creative chefs all over Brooklyn and thus the negative label of “foodie” is laid upon me once more. I lament. I was just try to make a pot of beans.


    • scolgin
      Nov 18, 2011 @ 16:42:33

      LOL, those are great points Ben. I concur. It’s funny how a lot of these gourmet ingredients that in the old days were basically throw away that the peasants figured out how to use (i.e. guanciale, bottarga, salt cod, lardo, monkfish liver, etc.) have become expensive delicacies. Maybe the same thing will happen with tripe, and menudo will be $20 a bowl.


  6. russianmartini
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 18:19:34

    Amen!! I used to think my food blog wasn’t serious enough or featured too much butter. But then I thought: pffft – it’s about having fun and enjoying things!! And I enjoy butter… and also enjoy crispy fried chicken skin. 🙂


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