Ten Things I Think About Food(ies)

1. I Think, "Foodies," Who Are These People, Anyway?

a. Let's jump right in. I've discovered that "food(ie)" is quasi-synonymous to connoisseur. The term connoisseur, as we're all aware, comes from the French verb conoistre, "know." Connoisseur, however, is a noun: "an expert judge in matters of taste." And this taste ranges from music, to cigars, to painting, to whatever.

One might also use the term maven, or aesthete with regard to experts of "taste." As to matters of food taste, however, one might also use the term "gourmet," or "epicurean"--at least traditionally. 

b. Interesting aside, the writer C.S. Lewis differentiated between the French verbs connaitre (slight derivative from the above conoistre) and savoir relating to his moral understanding of human beings. Both French verbs mean "to know," but to know in a particular fashion. Savoir is knowledge "about mood, theories and views, laws and hypotheses." 

Connaitre, on the other hand, means getting to know by becoming another self, sharing the feeling, pathos, and hope. Lewis thought no one could be an expert on human beings in the way of savoir because the rules are always changing. Yet in the way of connaitre certainly one could "get to know" another person. This of course takes time. Like a well grilled steak.

c. Which brings me out of my rabbit hole and onto the trail. 

d. The term "food(ie)" has emerged into the culinary glossary as the fashionable way whereby one identifies themselves or another person as a food enthusiast. My extensive research on Wikipedia reveals that some traditional epicureans care little for the oft repudiated moniker, thinking it sounds juvenile. 

And who would argue? "I'm a food(ie)." It sounds like fifth grade recess role playing. If you want to create a new character, just an "ie" to the end of any word. Those are the rules in fifth grade. 

2. I Think The More I Say "Food(ie)" the more I Laugh

a. And I mean no disrespect to food(ies). In fact, I call many food(ies), friends. I think I may start referring to my hobby of mountain biking with the "ie" tag:

"I'm a bik(ie)." Sounds manly, doesn't it? 

b. But really, food(ies) are territorial. Why, just a week or so ago I challenged my food(ie) friend Preston Yancey, who attends the brilliant university of St. Andrews--a mere train ride to the north of Oxford (like 14 hours!), as to who could bake the better cookies.

This ruffled Preston's food(ie) feathers, in a very culinary way, and he responded, "That's quaint, Tim."

c. The use of the word "quaint" here represents quintessential British understatement. Preston is acknowledging my playful barb, whilst also patting me on the metaphorical head saying, "There, there little Timmy. You bake chocolate chips cookies ... that's great (read: quaint). I bake real food while I read Shauna Niequist's book on all things food(ie)-ness." (A book I secretly want to read but must refrain since I'm doing the doctorate. Soon, Shauna!) 

d. I accept Preston's rebuff. Indeed, it was classic. And I can only aspire to bake or cook, or whatever he does up there on the north shore, like Preston; and take pictures of my food like Preston. 

e. Which transitions this quasi-rabbit hole back onto the path. 

3. I Think Food Porn Relates Certain Subconscious Traits About Us As Humans

a. Your dark malted beverage hits the oaken table with a healthy thud while the server slides a steaming plate of fish tacos between your elbows. The colors in the taco leap from the plate in a dazzlement not unlike the magical ice scenes in the film Frozen. 

b. Your taste buds begin to pitter-patter like the bottom oars of a paddle boat. Your heart punches your chest cavity screaming for more oxygen.

"Eat the tacos! Let those food(ie) juices run wild down your chin like the waters of the mighty Thames! Bathe in them!" 

Voices are screaming at you from somewhere deep within your subconscious. Your sweat glands open like a dam freshly broken. 

c. Of course! You must take ...  A PICTURE. Yes, yes, Oh ... YES! What a brilliant thing to do! Take a picture of the food that is causing such culinary ecstasy. 

Click. Click. Click. Choose. Crop. {Filter} / Tap Out Sassy Caption: THIS {^}.

{Click here for an in-depth look at the THIS {^} Internet Phenomenon}

AND, done. 

There, it is done, indeed. You have just shared what, in about 39 seconds will be digesting in your stomach. 

Click through to read the Bearings article

Click through to read the Bearings article

4. I Think These Are The Essentials For Self-identifying As A Food(ie)

a. iPhone 5 or above; loaded with Aviary photo editor

b. A Palette for good wine

c. Or at least a good act that you have a good palette for good wine

d. Or a good act that you even like the taste of alcohol typically found in good wine

{For a brief education on wine, see this spectacular piece over at Bearings}

e. A love for dainty food dishes 

f. Reformed theology

g. A scarf

h. Skinny jeans and/or dark blazer

i. Food Network

j. HGTV {because what good is the Food Network without the knowledge of great "spaces"?}

k. Monthly Instagrams of your kitchen table spread like a magazine cover

l. Ratatouille 

5. I Think In An Effort To, As Lewis Would Say, Connaitre My Fellow Brothers And Sisters Who Love Wearing Scarves And Instagramming Their Tables, I Swear To Take More Of An Interest In That Which I Usually Just Hork Down Without Thinking About It. 

a. Hashtag Cowboy At Heart

b. Hashtag Viking Heritage

c. Hashtag Point Me To The Bonfire And Slaughtered Pig

d. Hashtag Bearings

*To Offer Another Perspective On Food And Food(ies), I Asked My Great Friend Chelsea Batten To Offer What She Thinks ... Take It Away Ms. Batten

6. I Think I Lived On Cake And Diet Pills My Final Year Of College

a. Then I moved to New York City, for which I found myself woefully unprepared. I had no money, and resented the fact, which made me resent the prices of, well, everything. How much for coffee? Twelve dollars for a sandwich?

The combined power of indigence and resentment proved therapeutic to most, if not all, of my "food issues." When your grocery budget is maybe $20 for the week, the virtues of cake versus those of eggs, or spinach, start falling into their right proportion.

I could drop $5 on a cookie this afternoon, or I could have dinner (meager, but still) for a week. The upshot was that I stopped eating to feel happy, and started eating for survival. 

b. My proneness to extremes, and to self-identification through food (Lord, how shaming that is to remember), led me into veganism. Which is a whole lot harder in New York City than in, say, southern California.

But I was tired all the time, and achy, and depressive, and all the blog articles on veganism seemed to point to an enlightened state attainable only through the Vitamin E of avocados and the enzymes of sprouted cashews.

c. I used my lunch breaks to visit an acupuncturist on Prince Street. He asked me what my diet was like; I proudly informed him, "I'm a raw vegan."

He looked up from his chart, gazed deeply into my soul, and said, "I think that's a really bad idea for you." 

I was dumbfounded.

"If you lived in Hawaii," he continued, "where that kind of food is growing everywhere, and the pace of life is slower, I'd say go for it. But in New York City, you'd have to be eating all day long, to get the energy you need for life here."

Those words--"eating all day long"--rang between my ears like a death knell. 

His words birthed an image of a life in which I was never not eating. Eating on the subway. Eating at my desk. Eating at the pub. A life of little plastic baggies and toothpicks, of waiting to swallow before joining a conversation, of growing panicky if I'd gone for too long between feedings.

It wasn't the end of my body issues, but it definitely signaled the ending phase of my food issues. 

I went to my nighttime waitressing job and asked the line cook to make me some steak and eggs. (He was really happy about it--he'd been saying for weeks that I might as well eat lunch with the giraffes at the Central Park Zoo.)

7. I Think, "Food Issues." 

a. So mid-90s to 00s. 

Food lust. 

Pretty women increasing their social collateral with growls of "I'm starving!" rather than mewing "I'm on a diet." 

Ordering their own fries, rather than picking them off their boyfriend's plate. 

Decorating their homes with homages to bacon.

Judging each other quietly when glimpsing a tub of reduced-fat sour cream in the fridge.  

Tangential query, or what Tim likes to call a rabbit hole: Do men encounter the same patent suspicion that women do when they admit to not being into food? I've received glances that befit a professional kidnapper after mentioning I don't really like cupcakes.

The effect this has had, from what I can tell, is adjusting the popular Western ideal of the feminine body from the willowy nymph that it's been since, like, the Middle Ages, to a bipolarity of extremes. Which is inevitable, right? With the recent shift in behavioral identification, women are bound to be either Zaftig (if they just let it all collect) or ripped (if they work out proportionately to their caloric intake). 

Anorexia just doesn't get you much of anywhere these days, except to Tumblr.

{Follow Chelsea over at her blog and elsewhere}

8. I Think Reimagining Pictures Of Food As Body Parts Is Funny 

a. Doughnut holes resemble my grandma's elbows after a bad sunburn. It works the other way, too. if I haven't gone for a run in many days, I look down and find my legs resemble those logs of salmon mousse featured in the centerfold of my mom's 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook.

9. I Think I Have To Confess A Curious And Slavish Devotion To People Who Make Food For People, For No Other Reason Than That They Enjoy It, Like ...  

a. My friend JoAnn, who cranks out meals worthy of a magazine cover, because it relaxes her. (Incidentally, sitting in the kitchen while she cooks relaxes me.) 

b. My dad, who brought me up making his college Saturday morning standby--Crisco-and-white flour biscuits--and still does it, whenever I come home to visit.

c. My friend J.P. , the raw vegan who hasn't eaten cooked food in thirteen years, and whose pumpkin pie I prefer over the real thing any day.

d. I think a love of food itself can, not categorically does, but can, blind you to what I'd argue is the most important taste factor: the care that goes into it. 

10. I Think Avocados, Kale, Oranges, Eggs Equals Eating Sunshine. 

Timothy Willard is the author of three books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life. He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. He lived in Oxford, England for two years studying beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis. He earned his PhD in Theology under the supervision of world-renowned theologian Alister McGrath. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.