A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

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Entry from March 28, 2009
Foodie

A “foodie” is someone who is interested in food and drink. The term is a modern one, less pretentious and mostly replacing the term “gourmet.” Paul Levy and Ann Barr cowrote the book The Official Foodie Handbook (1984), and Levy explained the word’s origin in his Guardian blog on June 14, 2007 (see below).

Gael Greene of New York magazine used the word “foodie” in a story on June 2, 1980, and then used “foodie” several times in 1982 and 1983. There were several London-based citations of “foodie” in 1982 and 1983.  It appears that Gael Greene’s 1980 “foodie” and Paul Levy’s 1982 “foodie” were independent coinages.


Wikipedia: Foodie
Foodie is an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook.

Distinguished from gourmet
Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news. Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food. For this reason, foodies are sometimes viewed as obsessively interested in all things culinary. There is also a general feeling in the culinary industry that the term gourmet is outdated.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: food·ie
Pronunciation: \ˈfü-dē\
Function: noun
Date: 1982
: a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads

(Oxford English Dictionary)
foodie, n.
colloq.
[< FOOD n. + -Y suffix6. Compare FOODIST n.]
A person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.
Sometimes distinguished from ‘gourmet’ as implying a broad interest in all aspects of food procurement and preparation.
1982 V. WOODS et al. in Harpers & Queen Aug. 66/4 Foodies are foodist. They dislike and despise all non-foodies.
1982 Observer 10 Oct. 28/6 We foodies know her better as the author of the Penguin volume, ‘An Invitation to Indian Cooking’.
1986 Good Housek. Sept. 11/1 Although I am by no means a fully paid-up foodie, I do pride myself on being something of a connoisseur of menus.
2000 M. HUGHES World Food: Ireland 183 Never noted for its culinary dash, County Laois is generally overlooked by foodies.

Google Books
2 June 1980, New York magazine, “What’s Nouvelle? La Cuisine Bourgeosie” by Gael Greene, pg. 33, col. 3: 
She offers crayfish with white feet or red...three ways, tends stove in high heels, slips into the small Art Deco dining room of Restaurant d’Olympe—a funeral parlor of shiny black walls and red velvet—to graze cheeks with her devotees, serious foodies, and, from ten on, tout Paris, the men as flashily beautiful as their beautiful women.

2 September 1982, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Food Happenings” by Jane Salzfass Freiman, pg. SB19:
Serious foodies such as Lettuce Entertain You boss Rich Melman, Chinese cooking teacher Ruth Law and wine importer Peter Rudiger mixed easily with the ...

Google Books
20 December 1982, New York magazine, ‘The Insatiable Critic” by Gael Greene, pg. 68, col. 1:
IN MY CROWD (THE FOODIES) WE’RE already calling it Dino’s.

Google Books
The British at Table, 1940-1980
By Christopher P. Driver
London: Chatto & Windus
1983
Pg. 139:
The first tentative flights of artificial protein may seem a long way from the precious mating calls of contemporary British foodies and the 50 pound-a-plate perfectionism of les Roux.

Google Books
7 November 1983, New York magazine, “Gael Greene With the latest From France,” pg. 41, col. 1:
THERE ARE MOMENTS OF almost unbearable ecstasy in the life of a dedicated foodie.

Google Books
26 December 1983, New York magazine, “The Insatiable Critic” by Gael Greene, pg. 88, col. 2:
I shared my forecast with foodie friends.

OCLC WorldCat record
The Official Foodie Handbook : be modern—worship food
by Ann Barr; Paul Levy
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: New York : Timbre Books, ©1984.

OCLC WorldCat record
The Foodie’s restaurant guide 96.
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: Hong Kong : Impressions Ltd., 1995.

Slashfood
What is a foodie, anyway?
Posted Feb 10th 2006 3:27PM by Nicole Weston
Foodie is a term that we throw around a lot here at Slashfood. The dictionary defines a foodie as “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” In previous decades, words like “epicure” or “gourmet” were used to apply to the same type of person. The words are out of favor now, and bring to mind stodgy, snobbish people who are only willing to consider a restaurant that has truffled pate on the menu. This is because good food was hard to get and expensive in years, decades and centuries past. People didn’t have the resources to buy virtually anything they could want and often wouldn’t have the means to cook it. Now, both times and terms have changed.

Anyone can be a foodie.

Guardian - Word of Mouth Blog (June 14, 2007)
What is a foodie?”
King foodie” Paul Levy discusses origin of the term and wonders what it means today.

If only I had a penny for every time the word “foodie” has been used. There’s no copyright in titles, and no royalties in neologisms - a sad fact for Ann Barr and me, who have reason to think we coined the term.

The American food writer, Gael Greene, may have arrived at “foodie” at about the same time, but I’m happy here to stake a formal claim to the word’s paternity. Regardless of where the term came from though, I think it’s interesting to look at how it came about and what it means now.

In late 1981 Ann Barr, then features editor of Harper’s & Queen, noticed the food world was shifting on its tectonic plates, and that perfectly sane people had suddenly become obsessed with every aspect of food.

She invited readers to write in and immediately received several attacks upon a greedy, single-minded and highly visible food-obsessive who wrote in the magazine at the time - me. Thus it was that, in the issue of August 1982, I was derided in the anonymous article (edited, as it happens, by me) as the ghastly, his-stomach-is-bigger-than-his-eyes, original, appetite-unsuppressed, lip-smacking “king foodie”. I had to sign a legal undertaking not to sue the magazine or myself for libel.

What started as a term of mockery shifted ground, as writers found that “foodie” had a certain utility, describing people who, because of age, sex, income and social class, simply did not fit into the category “gourmet”, which we insisted had become “a rude word”.

It separated out those who ate their lamb overcooked and grey from those whose choice of cheese was goats; it dismissed those who did not care what they ate so long as the wine was served at the correct temperature; and it applied to shopping as well as to eating, to domestic cooks and eaters as well as to those who worked in, profited from or ate in restaurants; to foodstuffs, to brands, to reading matter; and above all, to women as well as to men.

The moment the issue hit the news stands we knew that the word “foodie” was a cocktail stick applied to a raw nerve, and that a book should follow. Ann and I had already observed and collected the half-dozen foodie types that opened the book - such as “the squalor scholar foodie,” who frequents the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery but fillets fish with the nail scissors, and “the whole-foodier than thou” foodies, who have a totally organic marriage.

Of course we were taking the piss - but it was new in 1984, when the book was first published. And if generations of yesterday’s yuppies, barrow boy rough traders, slippery spread-betters, hedge-fund trimmers and adventure capitalists learned from The Official Foodie Handbook not to order rocket salad with their sashimi - well, who’s complaining? Still, a penny or two would have been nice. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, March 28, 2009 • Permalink