With New Year’s quickly approaching, many people wax poetically about their resolutions and what they’ll be doing better or less of in 2014. But there is a sub culture, the ‘foodies’ who I would hope heed my list below. In the immortal words of Dale Carnegie it will help you ‘win friends and influence people.’
I give you 10, there are MANY more but baby steps, ways to be less of a bore when it comes to your obsession with all things food and having no other topics of conversation.
- Get 2-3 workouts in a week. If you really want to disgust people, talk ALL the time about every bite you had and be fit. Most people look at uber fit people and think “WTF, when do you have the time?” But if you brag about your multi course meal they’ll think you’re lying or have a potential eating disorder. This isn’t helping you be a better person but if you insist on no change well then be fit about it.
- Take half the pictures of food that you shared this past year! Honestly, no one really fucking cares about what you’re eating. Even if they’re your ‘food friends’ they’re humoring you or planning to one up you. Your ‘other’ friends, those fools who don’t get it, would like you to put the phone down at dinner and have a conversation. Some are speculating with Instagram allowing for direct messaging of pictures it’ll be all dick pics. I have a feeling it’ll be a lot of dicks sending pictures of their pastry.
- Stop calling yourself a foodie. Say you’re an Epicurean. It has deeper roots and makes you sound less like a groupy, douchebag.
- Read Brillat-Savarin “The Physiology of Taste." If you’re a fan of food and never read this book or know who he is, SHAME! His book was written in 1825 and has never been out of print. Going to the hot spot is fine but not understanding the philosophy is sad. The chef has read it and so should you.
- Go to a new food festival. Like dining it’s about new experiences. Make a trip, if you can, around a food festival, of any kind, to some place new. You’ll learn something and have a fun weekend. Besides, who doesn’t like a road trip? BTW, you can’t cater your road trip with pate and other ‘nice’ food. You eat from the bounty of the road stops!
- Stop asking chefs stupid questions. What’s your favorite food show? What’s your secret? Will you sit and talk with us? Blah, blah…you are at their place of work. Respect that! Enjoy your dinner and compliment them and their team or give a considered critique. You will not be friends despite your constant RTs and ‘Likes’ of all their Facebook posts. Their job and the staff is to make you feel special. Don't make it awkward!
- Beware the orators for they shall lead you astray. There are many personalities in food, on the web and tv, and sadly a very few have any clue what they’re talking about. See through the fluff questions, the “rock’n music” and seek out those that reveal something new in the cooking or culture. Little hint: almost all of those you should watch have worked the line while the others have been around long enough, more than 5 years, to forget more about food then half these clowns think they know. Just because you’ve dined out and eaten doesn’t mean you should have any clock run off of your 15 minutes of fame.
- Be humble. When I cooked, this was part of the code in my very first kitchen. I’m usually not the one to bring up that first kitchen either in conversation. Regardless of what you enjoy in work or your hobbies no one likes a braggart. Be confident and accept that you should listen twice as much as you talk when it comes to food. You’ll learn something and people will like your company more.
- Commit to learning something new this year. If you love beer, explore wine and mixology and vice versa. If you love food from a specific region of the world, seek out new ethnic cuisines to enjoy out and cooking at home. Be a Renaissance Epicurean – learn more and be well learned. Note: this doesn’t mean if someone asks a hypothetical, rhetorical question about salt at a party that you should provide the long answer.
- Have fun. We all have fun but we should remember dining and drinking are a privilege. So many people can never enjoy the bounty that many of us do. Revel in the little pleasures of eating but take pause and reflect on how lucky you are. When you realize how lucky you are - for the love of all things delicious don’t tweet, send a pic or blog about it.
Well I think I’ve said enough. I hope your resolutions are attainable and that you can make positive change in 2014. Happy New Year to you and yours!
I hope you’ll keep reading in 2014.
Note: I really wanted to title this "How NOT to be a Food Jagoff in 2014" but apparently that would be too offensive. I'm already feeling gentler and kinder.
Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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