How much more so when a foodist marries a civilian. This is a match made in Hell’s Kitchen. As Tolstoy put it, “Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” You know how it is.
First, a definition. We prefer to be called foodists. A foodie is someone who fancies he knows the business and proves it to his novice dining companions by dragging them to the newest celebrity restaurant and then loudly complains that the chef has over-cooked his seared ahi with lemon pepper crotch crickets en croute. His motto is “Never eat somewhere that isn’t famous.”
A foodist goes to the same restaurants but orders everything on the menu, passes the dishes around, takes pictures, then blogs about it. Our motto is “Never eat the same meal twice.” We only dine with other foodists.
Unless, of course, you happen to be married to a non-foodist, in which case there are chasms of cultural differences. This can be trying, and it can lead to a sticky end.
Foodists are committed to a certain ethos. Do not eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food. This is Michael Pollan’s idea. It means that faux food like margarine, cheese substitute in boxes, sauces in bottles, fruit in cans, spam, nutella, crab sticks, frozen fish fingers, and chicken nuggets should not be admissible in the overall category of things edible. What part of the chicken does a nugget come from anyway? Fish fingers? Hello! Pollan’s motto is “Eat real food. Mostly vegetables. Not too much.”
Not long into my current relationship my faith in humanity was sorely tested. I had written a review of a lovely Korean family restaurant in Maadi called Gaya. I gushed about the bimbimbap (poached egg and fried rice), kaalbi (barbeque beef ribs), and kimchi jjigae (a soup of pickled cabbage and chilies).
Then, as the fates would have it, some random foodie responded to my review by saying that the kimchi jjigae could be greatly improved with the addition of some freshly grated parmesan.
I was apoplectic.
Shib shib were thrown, holes were punched in walls, neighbors called the cops, and her royal self – for reasons that to this day remain a mystery to me – felt that I was making too big of a deal out of it.
The man wanted to put parmesan cheese on his pickled bloody cabbage. Seriously? My foodist sensibilities were offended. He might as well have said he liked eating at Chili’s. What was this? The moral order of the universe had come unhinged. Is nothing sacred?
Back in the real world she explained to me that people should be able to enjoy their food in their own way, and just because I like certain dishes does not mean that others should like them too.
This was sacrilege beyond which I was not prepared to go. It was a deal breaker.
If you do not understand that the Marriott has the best steaks in town, that Piccolo Mundo, for all its weirdness, has the best mushroom risotto, that Nawab is top Indian, and that Top Dawgs makes hot dogs as God meant them to be; if you do not agree that there are no decent chicken wings in this whole freaking city and think that Pizza Conez died an undeserved death; if you cannot comprehend in your puny little civilian mind that “well done” is a phrase that should never be uttered in relation to any self-respecting piece of meat, then I have no use for you in my life.
Take your McDonald’s gift certificates and get out. This is not a happy meal.
Sing it Louis. You like potato, and I like vichyssoise; you like tomato, and I like gazpacho – Let’s call the whole thing off.