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?