Foodie? Schmoodie!

24 08 2009

smshrFoodie.  I don’t mind at all when the word is used to refer to people who really like to eat but those people who put a pretentious spin on it – gag me.  It seems to be such a trendy word to me even though it was coined in 1981.

Yes, I’m guilty.  I make sure you know when we are eating great culinary delights. One of my first after school jobs during high school was in a restaurant kitchen followed by many years working for many chefs.  I don’t mind spending hours in the kitchen making special meals for people I love – or even strangers for that matter.  The first meal I made a week after I got married was an early (May) Thanksgiving meal with all the fixins for 13 people.

Going out to eat and paying big money for a great meal has never been a problem in this house.  We don’t skimp and will order appetizers and dessert when we want to.  However, my inner food snob kicks in if I have to eat at most chain restaurants.  I’d rather go to a Ma & Pa greasy spoon for anything off the menu than most prefab foods found in those other places.  It’s not so much about the ambience as it is whether or not the food seems “real”.  I can be just as happy with a well made pie at my brother-in-law’s pizza parlor as I can finishing every delectable bite of a multi-course meal at a AAA rated 5 diamond restaurant like the 1913 Room.  I like to eat.

Is it just me or is there an obsession in the entertainment industry revolving around food lately?  (Eat, Pray, Love…now being made into a movie starring  Julia Roberts and the new movie that I will see next week and have to come home and make the Dr. something really tasty, Julie & Julia.) Countless blogs and websites talk up menus and ingredients, sauces and souffles because there are people whose love of the Food Network rivals my addiction to HGTV.  I just get put out with all the highfalutin gourmet hype sometimes.

I’d like to see a reality show where ORDINARY people compete by cooking ORDINARY food.

Cue theme song.

Camera one: tight close-up on contestants.

Voice over: host (with enthusiasm):

Home Cooker!…today’s challenge is…(wait for it…) MASHED POTATOES! You can use nothing more than one 2-quart pot, water, potatoes, salt, butter and milk or for some extravagance:  half & half or cream.  Each station is equipped with a hand masher.  No special electrical gadgets – no double baked – no garlic.  Your 30 minutes start  NOW!

I would win.  “Smashed” as they are called in my house with appropriate lumps to prove they are genuine.  I once peeled 100 lbs. of potatoes (by hand) working for a chef preparing a banquet for an association of lamb growers.  I do mashed potatoes.

And, what about fried chicken?  Yes, I know we are all health conscious now and fried animal flesh is really taboo…but what if we have simple, well cooked, not heart healthy, treats a few times a month?

Yes, this whole subject came up because of what I made yesterday.  After a particularly busy week, I left the Dr. alone with the Beast and the Mouser for about 2 and a half days while I was at the Mrs.’ place.  In my absence, he’d had his fill of left-overs (Spanish tapas…which by the way I was making long before they were all the rage here in the States).  His request: an old-fashioned Sunday dinner – a simple home-cooked meal.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and sweet corn on the cob.  My standard menu calls for green beans but we are at the point in the growing season when we can count on one hand the times to get those tender ears of golden goodness.

Best Boy peered over my shoulder for yet another tutorial with interest.  “That’s all there is to fried chicken?  I thought it was really complicated.”  No, making things that taste good for the ones we love is not complicated…it just takes time, effort and a little know how.

But more importantly I was reminded again last week during Mimi’s visit that it really isn’t about what is ON the table that makes it inviting. The first night was a couple of JB’s pizzas and the next was the Spanish tapas menu that takes me about two full days of prep. The conversation and laughter was just as delightful regardless of what we were eating.  You can be a gourmet chef and not be hospitable…they are different things.

Next time she’s in town, I’m gonna pull out all the stops and serve grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.