Thoughtful Thursday: On Not Being a Foodie

Everywhere I turn, it seems as if someone else is talking about food.  Never before in the US has there been such an abundance of people truly appreciating the act of eating.  After all of the sugar-free, fat-free, carb-free fads, people just got sick of it and decided real food –not science experiments—was the way to go.  So many people started embracing this movement and talking about their experiences with and love of eating.  Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love was a best seller and has been adapted into a film starring Julia Roberts.  Food Network personalities have become A-listers.  And some of the most popular blogs like Jenna’s Eat, Live, Run, as well as some of my personal favorites like Rachel’s Shedding It and Jen and Julia’s Feast, are all about taking pleasure in good, wholesome food. 

I love all of this stuff.  I adore food memoirs, I enjoy listening to my friends talk about their latest cooking experiments, and I could spend hours reading food and healthy living blogs online.  But at the same time, when I do, part of me feels… guilty.  Because the truth is, I am not a foodie.  I can read, listen, watch, participate, but in the end, all of this is lost on me.  People say that food is one of the greatest pleasures life has to offer, but I just don’t get it.  And I so wish I did. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like food, and of course I eat.  But I don’t spend hours thinking about what to cook for dinner, dreaming of amazing restaurants, or imagining the best lighting in which to photograph my meals like other bloggers.  I’m happy with the salad I throw together at 9pm, eating out is a fairly foreign concept to me, and half of the things I eat aren’t really visually appetizing.  (You may have noticed the lack of food talk and pictures on my blog.  It’s because I’m not that excited about it, and I’ve taken all of three pictures in my life of my meals. And they were ugly.)  I do eat healthy for the most part, but I just don’t have that discerning of a palate.  I have to have my fresh veggies and fruits, and I like my whole grains and lean protein, but, honestly, I’m good with eating the same thing every day.  I put jarred salsa on just about everything, plain oatmeal and yogurt are staples, and tuna right out of the can is fine with me.  Oh, and I like reduced-fat (chemical-laden) creamy Jif.  Clearly I have sophisticated tastes.         

Most of the time, I’m OK with that – except when I’m reminded of how much other people just loooove food.  I hear about friends who studied abroad in France and Italy who had life-changing experiences that enabled them to truly appreciate food.  Other bloggers say they close their eyes and just relish the taste of their favorite meals.  One of the last guys I dated talked about how much he loved checking out weekend brunch spots in the city, and all I had to respond with was, “Oh, great,” because I had nothing to contribute.  I simply can’t muster up that passion or level of enthusiasm for what is essentially the unleaded fuel that keeps me going. 

I went out with a chef once, and he took me to an amazing restaurant in the west loop in Chicago.  The food was good, but really I say it was amazing because the atmosphere was just so vibrant, and one could tell from the menu that there was creativity in the air.  While I enjoyed the place with the rest of my senses, I really couldn’t make myself savor every bite like my date did.  And it not only made me feel a little guilty that such a fine meal was ‘wasted’ on me, but it also made me feel a little dumb because I didn’t know what anything was and, with my lack of knowledge, could hardly tell that the food was higher quality.  That and the fact that when he asked what kind of wine I liked, I said “white.”  (My tastes have evolved here, don’t worry.)   

I just hate that I feel somewhat defective because I don’t have that ability to enjoy food that deeply.  I’m much more in tune with my other senses, and that’s what keeps me from really beating myself up over the fact that eating is not a spiritual experience for me.  My sense of touch and smell are both incredibly sensitive, and particular textures and scents trigger memories so intensely detailed that I feel as if I’m reliving them.  I can sit for hours watching the waves and feeling the breeze off of Lake Michigan, soaking in everything about my surroundings from my sight and sense of touch.  And sound does things to me that even a taste of the freshest baked French bread or finest Belgian couldn’t rival.  Voices and music affect my mind as well as my body, going right to the core of my being.  No taste of food has ever done this for me. 

So I’m not a foodie.  And as much as part of me wants to, I’m not going to apologize for it.  I’ve experienced plenty in life and found pleasure in other sources.  After all, I’ve got my four other senses to help me out.

What about you? Are you a foodie?  Or are you like me, a little more connected to your other four senses?

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About Heather

My name is Heather, and I moved from a big Midwestern university to a GIGANTIC Midwestern city. I'm working at a gym as a personal trainer, and I work as a freelance writer on the side. Sometimes I pretend to be an adult. I'm also figuring out how to keep my mouth shut every once in a while -- not here, though. How boring would that be?

Posted on April 1, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. For about the millionth time, you are like my twin. I feel the same way about this and I sometimes feel guilty as well! That is part of why I could never call myself a “food blogger”, I was (am?) a “healthy living blogger”.

    I have no idea what food flavors go together, what spices enhance which foods… I rely on pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and the occasional lemon pepper for the most part. Oh, and my knowledge that chocolate goes with just about everything. ;-)

    For example, today I’ve been home all morning/afternoon (jealous? Don’t be.) and have had all day to think of some amazing eats. You know what I had? PB & j on a bagel with a banana, sliced zucchini and pasta with boca crumbles. Creative, right? No, but it made my mouth and stomach happy so that’s all I care about!

    Sorry, long comment. Just know you aren’t alone. :-)

  2. Ok so sometimes your dad has to check in. Ok about once a year I have an amazing experience, sometimes it’s from a restaurant, a friends kitchen or occasionally I have flashes of brilliance in the kitchen (maybe your sis or mom too). On the whole, alas, it’s genetic, eating is perfunctory. However, I find the times I do take the time to produce culinary creations I find the time to make it healthier. Also I find myself savoring it more and eating less(portion control), go figure. But for now I’m bringing you a jar of organic peanut butter for Easter. Bon appetit!

  3. Love this post! Don’t love that you eat reduced fat Jif…but loved this post for many reasons…mainly because I could totally hear you saying, “Oh great!” re: brunch spots.

    • Well, in my defense, I don’t eat RF Jif all the time (I do try to stay away from the chemicals even though I love them so), but I was making a point that my tastes aren’t always sophisticated when it comes to food! It makes me a little sad, but it is what it is. Anyway, glad you liked the post!

  4. What’s funny about this is that while you are not a foodie and I am (sometimes anyway), I have developed some habits and tastes based on watching you eat. That may seem weird, but for example: I remember you eating plates full of vegetables and feeling so full you didn’t know if you could finish them, and somehow those plates started to look really good to me. So because of you I started enjoying any dish piled high with veges, to the point that sometimes I crave it, and get excited to go grocery shopping and plan meals full of fiber. I enjoy finding ways to make them delectable and mouthwatering even without the usual delicious staples of the American diet.
    So apparently even if you aren’t a foodie, you still have something to offer those who are.

  5. Hi, Heather! I loved this piece. It touched on a lot of things that got my mind stirring. I’ve written what I think will be Part 1 of a response on our site ( about what I think it means to be a foodie…I think the next two parts will be on 1)tasting foods and developing a professional palette, and 2)common misconceptions about what it means to be a foodie (ie: I heart Hostess Cupcakes). =) Thanks for moving my mind! Love, Jen

  6. I am SO glad to know that I’m not the only one. I sometimes wish that I could be one who LOVES to cook and who appreciates good food and I’m not. Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” was a brief inspiration, but when it comes down to it, I eat because I have to. I can appreciate something tasty and the hard work of others, but not to a great degree. And I’m entirely content eating eggs, toast, cheese and raw veggies and calling it a meal. I do like to bake. The inevitable stage of having a batter/dough is probably the main reason for that.

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