foodies vs. food snobs

First off… winner of the Martha Stewart Cooking School book is:  Kristen D!  Congratulations!

As a side note, I think I don’t think I’ll be using PunchTab’s giveaway mechanism in the future, but instead opting to use Rafflecopter instead. Stay tuned for the next giveaway for a chance to try it out!


And now… a random topic of discussion that seems to come up all over the place these days. This time around, it was a wonderful episode of Suits (are you DVR-ing this awesome USA Network show? Cause you should be!) that brought the issue to the forefront.

Do you think of foodies as food snobs? Or are foodies a different species of food lover? And, if so, what are food snobs?

According to one of the paralegals on Suits, “Being a foodie doesn’t only mean liking fancy food, it’s having the courage to try it and you get to choose what you like.”

I’m mainly in this camp as to the definition of a foodie. The ultimate foodie in my mind is Anthony Bourdain. A lover of foods and cultures and techniques and a seeker of every last bastion of culinary delight on the planet. And while he appreciates the aspects of food that make it great, he never ever limits his palette by the current societal norms of what “good” is today or yesterday. Good food is good food.

Dear friends, I am not a foodie. I’m a picky eater. I’m much more adventurous than I used to be, but I will never ever ever be a foodie. Mr. M, however, is a total foodie. He remembers the details of meals and seeks out the random and new tastes anywhere we are. And, more often than not, he asks the waiter what the best thing on the menu is and orders it without a second thought. (He’s done this in more restaurants w/o English menus than I can count)

And because I define a foodie as a lover of food, I have to take that secondary connotation that’s often attached to them and slap it the label of “food snob” on the others who pose as foodies. The people who talk more of their food accolades and conquests in bragging than in appreciation. They often talk about where they shop and consume their food as a triumph rather than passing along the knowledge to you. And they restrict their palate to the extra special things in life and look down upon those who just don’t “enjoy” the finer things in life like they do.

I’m bringing all of this up because I hate that people who love food in all forms (my foodies) sometimes get that extra evil snobbery attached to their tail because of how others act (food snobs). Appreciating food shouldn’t be something that’s snobby and pretentious and available only to those of the upper crust anymore. We’re supposed to be the generation of food equalizers, who commend quality but don’t restrict it’s access. And we should all be able to comment on how much we adore a McDonald’s chocolate shake just after we chatted about grilled oysters and a nice bottle of wine without judging anyone’s foodie quotient. I can tell you I only subscribe to food blogs that treat food this way… because there is seriously nothing worse than a recipe telling you that you’re ridiculous for eating/doing/thinking of anything other than the way they instruct you to do it.

Watching Food Network Star this season, you can see that they’re all about the real foodies. They just want to eat something that tastes good, and as long as the cook understands what they’re doing then they don’t care what it looks like on the other end. A fancy salad or a sandwich or a casserole… they just want to devour something good whether it comes from Vegas or NYC or Wisconsin.

And just in case you’re wondering, we’re trying our best to get Miss L to become a foodie like her Dad. She eats her brie and farm-picked organic strawberries for breakfast and will gobble up mac and cheese from a box without a moments hesitation for lunch.

So what do you think? Do you think people who label themselves are truly just food lovers, or are they more often than not “snobs” just hiding in a nicer label? Does it even matter?


  • Mrs. Puma

    Great post! I agree there’s a difference in foodies and food snobs, and that foodie can carry a negative connotation at times due to the behavior of food snobs. Until recently I didn’t consider myself a foodie, but I lean more and more toward that all the time. I’m definitely one of those people that will chow fried cheddar bites from Sonic in the afternoon, then eat fancy Italian food for dinner. I cook a lot of casseroles and pasta dishes at home, because like you said good food is good food. Am I picky about some things? Sure, but not in the snob form. I’ll eat any “level” of food, there are just some things that don’t appeal to me, like green olives or mustard. I hope to get our future kids to be more of a foodie too, my parents had pretty limited palates, so my hubby helped expose me to a whole new world of food when we got together and I want to open our kids to everything from fast food to fine dining, with every culture’s food represented.

  • Cathleya

    I always love this discussion! As with any socially defined label, I think people should be conscious and careful about how they label themselves, because when you do so you open yourself up to criticism from others about your level of XXX and whether or not you’re a true XXX or not. As a generic example, when you hear someone call themselves “famous” or “a fitness buff,” you immediately roll your eyes and think, “yeah, sure. You’re not really that famous/in shape.” Labeling yourself as a foodie immediately makes people (myself included) jump to conclusions that you’re not. This isn’t to say that other people can’t/won’t give you labels, but I always give a good eye roll to people that pigeonhole themselves into labels that are kind of general and undefined in a strict sense.

  • Hannah

    While I’m a definite foodie (asking the waiter is one of my favorites in the U.S. but in non English speaking countries, I tend to just point to a local next to me and eat whatever they’re eating. Its an old trick I learned from watching Rick Steves) I can be a picky eater. I do not enjoy food that is not top quality (i.e. meat from a can, gag) but I love to learn about and experience new flavors and ideas.

    I can get in trouble with my friends because I refuse to eat a hot dog or pre-made hamburger patty but I’ll always be the first to volunteer to bring a home made dish. (And it usually gets some great reviews, too!)

    I am sad about all your Food Network references, though. We don’t have cable so all my food tv comes from PBS!

  • serena @bigapplenosh

    Cheers!! I agree with this post 100%. Based on the article above, I think (I hope?) I’m a foodie, not a food snob – in that, I like to try anything and everything, popularity or trendiness be damned, and if it’s awesome, I’ll eat it again! It’s so funny you mentioned McDonald’s – back when I wrote the food column for my school newspaper, I got a few comments when people would see eat me eat McD’s (i.e. “Ugh, you actually EAT Big Macs?”) Um, yeah I like them!

  • Terri - Try Anything Once

    Hmmm…well as someone who technically writes about food (primarily eating experiences) on her blog, I will say that there is a thin line between foodie and food snob. :) There are many food snobs who seek out an “authentic” cuisine and look down on people who don’t. It cuts both ways. I think what you have pinpointed, though, is the underlying air of superiority that some people have about food. It’s about enjoying the food and having a genuine curiosity not lording over the fact that you’ve had certain experiences that others have not. Great post! :)

  • Mandy

    Great post!! It’s something that I’m really self-conscious of as a food and wine lover…I want to discuss my love for something I believe in, but I don’t want to come off as a snob! I completely agree with the notion of loving food as long as it’s GOOD & not putting so much emphasis on where it came from. We are very much trying to be organic eaters, but would never turn down an awesome food experience because it’s not organic…It’s kind of like healthy eaters who make the choice not to eat chocolate chip cookies all the time-it doesn’t mean they won’t indulge SOMETIMES, you know? (me, on the other hand…bring me all the choc chip cookies as you can ;)

  • Brittany

    My mom considers herself a foodie because she watches food network. I don’t have the heart to tell her that definetely does not make her a foodie.

  • Katie

    I’m totally with Mandy on this one too: sometimes I hesitate to write about certain things because I’m afraid that I’ll come off as a snob. Personally, I have a lot of self-imposed dietary restrictions (no red meat…well…I really can’t eat it now but I chose not to 11 years ago…try to shy away from fried foods/foods with heavy sauces…yadda yadda yadda), but I don’t think that a person who enjoys eating things that are restricted to me are wrong! Heck no. I’m sure a lot of people think the way I eat is bonkers. And even though I enjoy some of the nicer things in life, that doesn’t mean that I don’t relish the occasional deep fried candy bar at the state fair or a pile of french fries…yum…