Monday, 15 March 2010

The Pretentious Foodie

You know the type... the one who urges you to book into El Bulli before it closes "I can put in a good word for you, and tell Ferran to give you the chicken skins as an ante-starter, they're absolutely divine..." He's been to more Michelin starred restaurants than you've had cheeseburgers and can tell you the difference between a Hollandaise and a Bearnaise with a slight sneer at your ignorance.

I would classify myself as VERY interested in food/cooking/nutrition etc. but I feel dreadfully put off by all those bores who want to tell you what's what. The best bagel in New York? Salt beef in East London? Borschtsch in Moscow? Yeah, please just go away, I prefer to find out for myself.
Another most irritating characteristic of the Pretentious Foodie (PF) is his (they are mostly male, funnily enough) prediliction to call perfectly ordinary ingredients or dishes by their foreign names.

I'm not of the "Call a spade a spade"-brigade, but I bristle at people who - with a thick English accent - happily talk about "
prosciutto", "petit pois", or "moules". The Pretentious Foodie does not realise he just sounds like a provincial sea-side hotel in the Fifties. I recently read about a trade union leader who rather than having sandwiches, asked for "goujons de sole" -so very genteel. But my personal favourite in the PF stakes is calling "steak and chips" steak frites - how very sophisticated. Not.

What next? Call a baked potato
un pomme de terre au four? I've often wondered why food of all things attracts such a lot of pretentious types. I mean, okay - music, or literature... but food??


  1. LOL! I'm laughing so hard I can't think of anything else to say here. This post tops my list of best blog posts of all time. seriously (still laughing our loud).

  2. Love it! Yeah, talking about "the best" anything gets boring FAST. I love exploring food experiences on my own, but not in the vein of El Bulli or Charlie Trotter...I want to find the best taqueria in my neighborhood and have a great conversation with a grandmother who's been making tamales and selling them on the street corner every Sunday for 30 years. I love everyday people who are passionate about their food.

  3. Jenn Sutherland says it well "I love everyday people who are passionate about their food"
    c'est tout

  4. My father is anything but pretentious - but I once heard him ask (in all seriousness) for 'Fillet of Prawn'

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  6. Oh dear, deleted my own comment rather than posting it... at least that's not pretentious :)

  7. I should like to add my thrupenny bit to this discourse.

    What if, say, you have oft resided in far-flung lands and are more au fait with utilising the locale parlance for said victuals than the English equivalent, as I am?

    Aren't you at risk of an inverse snobbery by insisting everything be reduced to its English equivalent, which, often enough, doesn't exist?

    If people know the actual name of these ingredients - nuoc mam instead of 'fish sauce' - why not utilise it?

    More felicity anon,

    Dr. T

  8. Music, Literature and Food, at the end of the day are all creative arts, each of which requiring a high degree of knowledge, skill and practice to obtain results that stimulate the senses for all of the right reasons.

    Being a foodie has nothing to do with being pretentious; pomposity is more a trait than a pastime.

    I agree with Margit, it is the sneering snobbery that can sometimes make people feel belittled when discussing food or restaurants, although that same ostentatious attitude is more than evident in all walks of life.

    Vive La (Local Food) Revolution! :D

  9. 我只知道,假如我去愛人生,那人生一定也會回愛我........................................

  10. I write about food but am certainly not an expert - couldn't guess ingredients for example, or know the different cooking techniques (wish I did), but I like what I like and am the same as most of my friends in that regard. I also think over-critiquing a meal ruins the meal itself - life's too short to worry about the consistency of a sauce.

    However, having lived in France, I'm guilty of saying "moules" or "steak frites" but what I really mean is mussels and steak with chips done in the French way - i.e. a lot better than the traditional british way!

    Sasha @ The Happiness Project London

  11. Hilarious! The thing is, here, if anyone says an ingredient in French, for example, people are not impressed, people laugh! So, it's difficult to be snob in Barcelona, poor pretentious people! :)
    By the way, I like your blog!

  12. I'm over the moon that my post got such a lively debate going! People have commented here on the forum and contacted me on other channels, and I feel this is a topic that we all feel quite strongly about without getting too upset. As long as we don't start pronouncing "Sandwich" in the French manner to make it more tasty or exciting, I'm happy!

  13. 'Beautiful. Thank you!' Sorry, Margit, couldn't resist ;-) . Well-observed and so funny blog post. Love it! I don't feel quite so bad now about going to the chippy and asking for chips and mushy peas - because that's exactly what they are xx

  14. Great Post Margit , have only just read it .. I have been MIA this week .. I have tagged you in my blog x

  15. I'm sorry to come to this so late, but a while ago, I noticed that the (excellent) Donnybrook Fair Cafe in Dublin describing posh fish 'n' chips as "a tempura of cod with chips." And I've been itching to share it ever since...