Banishment of ‘foodie’ elevates real cooking

For 40 years, Lake Superior State University has published a list of words it would like to see banished from the English language for mis-use, over-use and general uselessness.

I wasn’t surprised the tradition began at a New Year’s Eve party. I’d long suspected alcohol might have been involved. It loosened twisted tongues tired of hearing trendy trite tripe tripping from pretentious palates. The fact the list originates in the Upper Peninsula makes it even more valid, as no one can identify and protest pretentiousness quicker than a Yooper!

Earlier this year, following in the footsteps of the late W.T. Rable, the former public relations director at Lake Superior State University who started the list, the group banned the word “foodie” from American vocabularies. Why? (In my own words) Because it’s a stupid word that describes people who are equally stupid.

According to online comments received regarding foodie’s banishment, readers wondered if the “ie” ending should also be added to other words to designate a (should go without saying) love for them. “I crave good sleep, too, but that does not make me a sleepie? News flash: We ALL like food,” said Graydeon DeCamp of Elk Rapids. Amen!

Another person, Steve Szilagyi of Mason, wanted to know what the heck a foodie is. “A person who likes food? A person who eats food? A person who knows what food it? Sounds like a ‘foodie’ is a synonym for ‘everybody.’” So why bother calling it anything?

All pretty stupid, eh? A little over 14 years ago (I know this only because I was end-stage pregnant for my son when I won the Kalamazoo Gazette’s annual cooking contest) the late and greatly self-aggrandized local food writer William R. Wood phone-interviewed me regarding the honor.

“You’re a foodie,” he pronounced.

“No, I’m not,” I instinctively denied, not having any idea then what the term meant, but not wanting to come off sounding unsophisticated, which is perhaps the hallmark of being a foodie, which, really, I am not.

“No, you have to be a foodie,” he insisted. Whatever (another banishable word) I’d thought to myself. What did I care, as long as he spelled my name right on the “remit to” section of the contest-winning prize check?

I could tell he was eating something while he was talking. Very classy! But as I later disdainfully recognized, he truly WAS a foodie (which I pronounce “phony”). He truly believed himself to be all that and a bag of chips: not just any chips, but exotic, rain forest-mined, sea-salted, kettle-cooked chips made with non-GMO, organically-grown from soil fertilized with extinct animal poop. Very special.

And even though the chips tasted like poop (and everyone knew it!), he would swear by them and pretend they were the greatest thing since the last crappy-tasting food he’d choked down in the name of appearing highly-cultured. Ick!

Back on the anti-foodie status front, I pointed out to William R. that my alleged foodie behavior actually involved cooking with items that can be found in the average grocery store – making whole meals that necessitated neither a trip to Ann Arbor, nor to countries where grape arbors line terraced hillsides surrounding castles and culinary caste systems.

I confessed I could pronounce the names of all the spices in my cupboard and that I was reasonably certain no child labor laws had been violated in their production. I told him I cooked with hand-me-down pans that while not made of valuable forged metals, WERE forcibly shoved into tangled drawers, not displayed, jewel-like, from ceiling racks.

I admitted I find stateside canned cream soups ideal for smothering 80/20 ground beef mix, off-brand Tator-Tot knock-off casseroles. And I dared put more emphasis than necessary on the gaucheless word “casserole,” secretly smiling at the disgusted look I imagined on his face.

“You’re just saying that to be funny,” he counter-accused.

The real question is why he felt it so important the cooking contest winner also be a foodie. He probably didn’t want me to alienate his foodie followers by publicly mocking his ridiculous posing, like I just did posthumously. Rest in peace, William R. Wood. “Foodie” is also not long for this world.

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