The term foodie has a lot of baggage these days. Depending on who you are, and the context in which you are hearing the word, the connotation could vary widely. It could just be a reference to someone who generally likes food. Or maybe a self-appointed expert is using it to refer to themselves. Or it could be someone who “takes what they eat seriously” (or rather, too seriously). The term has become so laden, that I am now loathe to use it or be called it. So what’s a food loving dude who knows how to cook and loves the finer things while also accepting and appreciating the less fine things supposed to do?
The answer is that I am Chewish; I practice Chewdaism. What does that mean exactly? There aren’t any hard and fast rules, but if I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this:
Love food, know food, and don’t be pretentious about food.
I’m often planning my dinner while I’m eating lunch. If I’m hosting people, you know there won’t just be enough of everything, but almost too much food. I have my favorite hot sauces and mustards at my place, my girlfriend’s place, and my office (that’s right I own condiments in triplicate). And if you read this blog you know I have trouble just making a simple sandwich. This is the love I’m talking about.
But some people take their love of the “best” a bit too far. I love me some seriously fancy food sometimes. Something technical and elegant looking that still wows the tastebuds. But I also love Cheetos Puffs (not the regular kind, I would not misspeak on such a matter) and think McDonald’s french fries are pretty good, and I understand their place in the world food menagerie. I never judge other people on their food decisions. Unless of course they eat cake and ice cream for every meal, then I’m judging out of jealousy.
I might be planning dinner at lunch, but that plan might be for fried eggs and toast. Pretentiousness and food have long gone together in certain circles, but I prefer not to be smug. I know and understand what a ramp is, and I know what escarole tastes like and where it comes from, and a bunch of other things that some people would find pretentious, but I use that knowledge for myself and my own cooking and eating choices and decisions, not to make you feel uneducated about your food. This is not to say I don’t take cooking my projects seriously, but being too serious about anything messes with my mojo. Would I prefer my beef to be grass-fed? Sure. Would I ever condescend to you for not caring? No. You can strive for the upper echelons of food without demanding it.
If at this point you’re thinking “this guy is just making shit up,” well, you’re right. But Chewdaism is not exclusive. You can practice Chewdaism too. You might already be Chewish. I would even venture to say that many professional chefs are Chewish. My good friend and multiple James Beard Award-Nominee David Posey makes some of the most refined and graceful food you will ever encounter, but after a shift you’ll probably find him partaking in burgers or tacos plus some cheap beer and whiskey. David Chang has spoken at length on his love for macro brews (though some of his words may be on the verge of being judgmental, he brings it back and explains himself). Anthony Bourdain still stops to get In-N-Out when he goes to LA. My friend and editor at Food Republic Jess Kapadia eats a lot of fancy food, but also knows a thing or two about getting down on a hot dog. And the list goes on (I could keep going but I have to draw a line somewhere).
So if you embody all that is Chewdaism, it’s time to drop other monikers and their baggage and adopt a new lifestyle and spirit. Come, join me, and let’s start a new food movement of knowledge, love, and acceptance.