What is a foodie? I see the term often in my wanderings about the culinary world, so I set off to find an answer. (Sadly the term postdates the often helpful Webster 1913, but foody is food for thought.. Perhaps 'foodie' is a modern spelling?)

'A foodie is a hipster, an intellectual, a lover, a trendsetter, a taste maker' one website boldy informs me. Hmm, nothing there about *food*! (The 'food & cooking' magazine touted by this website goes on to helpfully explain that it is about 'lifestyle, buzz, cool, and celebrity'.) Another website defines 'foodie' as 'a gourmet, one who seeks out the fun, the latest, the arcane, a foodie lives to eat'. Another site cites a dictionary that defines the term as slang for 'a person, gourmet, whose main hobby or interest is food, preparing, eating, reading, or talking about food'. (Further web searches were unhelpful. Dictionary.com also defines the word as slang in a dictionary copyrighted in 1997, this also supports the theory that the word is of modern origin.)

Wait a minute here... We have some perfectly good existing terms: Gourmet, Gourmand, Epicure, Gastronome, all come to mind after a brief bit of thought. I suspect the term 'foodie' ends up being preferred because it's not foreign sounding and lacks the connotations of the other words. It's a modern 'bouncy' sounding term that conveys a sense of fun and adventure rather than serious thought and pursuit. To me however it also carries the same connotations as 'groupie', someone who is ever chasing the latest fad, or trying to be part of the current 'in crowd'. (Its also dismaying to see a term that I've seen mostly to be used in a 'style over substance' manner gain currency.)

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