What is it with foodies?

Foodies fascinate me. And not in a good way. In the sort of way a praying mantis eating its partner’s head after sex fascinates me.

One of the best friends I’ve ever had was a Swedish chap named John Håkansson. I didn’t have to tell you his last name, I just wanted to show how clever I was in locating that ‘a’ with the circle over it in Word. John was a connoisseur of the finer things and, at the time of this story, I was a disgusting hippy. I think he took pity on me.

It was a rare weekend that I didn’t go to John’s house for dinner and drinks – always fine single malt. He would slave over a hot stove to come up with three courses that would make each of a foodie’s taste buds pop on a horned hat and sing an arietta.

One night I caught him watching me eat. From the expression on his face, I might as well have been shoveling in scraps from a dumpster with a garden spade. “It’s all just chow to you, isn’t it?” he would ask bitterly after I cleared my plate and thanked him. “What do you want, Man?” I would ask, perplexed. I would eat the food, all of it, and thank him for it. Even on those very rare occasions that I didn’t like it.  

John was right – it is just fuel to me. Where John was disappointed, most people are just bewildered. When I returned from abroad recently a friend asked if I’d eaten any good food. I really had trouble answering. “Umm… I had some salmon for lunch one day that wasn’t bad.” I said after thinking for a long time. “Don’t you like food?” the friend asked. He seemed angry with me but the truth is, no, not particularly. OK, it’s not that I don’t like food – pizza’s good. So is cheesecake. I’m just not ‘into’ food. If I didn’t get hungry, I would forget to eat and truth be told, I long for the day food came in pill form and I don’t have to respond to: “What do you feel like for dinner?” The answer, by the way, is: “Anything that makes me not hungry anymore.”

To me everything associated with food is a bit of a bother. Shopping for ingredients is like shopping for anything else that isn’t fun. There is little difference in selecting and purchasing, say, deodorant. I have to have it, it’s just a nuisance going and getting it… preparing it… scoffing it… and then spending an hour cleaning up the damn mess I made putting together a meal I could take or leave. Not that I eat deodorant.

Dinner parties with foodies – now there’s a thing. Trapped in the most uncomfortable chair in the gaff as course after course comes out. Conversation never strays far from the food you’re eating, the food you ate, the food that’s coming, recipes, restaurants, cafes… and I’m trapped in this chair between two people who have to give you a running commentary on every morsel that passes their lips. I try to change the record but the foodie is a tenacious devil. And clever! One minute you’re talking about the Syrian refugee situation and somehow the foodie snaps the conversation back to the crème brulee they had for morning tea like I give a baboon’s big red butt. It’s enough to drive a man to drink! And I frequently am.

Foodies never leave the table. I can’t be the only one that’s noticed this. They stay in the uncomfortable seats long after the food has finished to continue talking about food over coffee. It’s just a few short steps to the living room and the comfortable chairs, but they’re never offered. Those chairs are reserved for the times when there’s no eating. As far as I can see, such times either don’t exist or I haven’t been invited to them. Social etiquette dictates that if I’ve been invited over, I am to be jammed in one of the small seats and stuffed until I’m sick.  

I am extremely fortunate to be married to a wonderful woman of like sensibilities. She doesn’t complain quite as much as I do, which, I freely admit, is saying nothing. In the early days of our romance, the reason either of us would ever volunteer to cook was to save the other the discomfort of having to do so. Ah, new love.

Our wedding anniversary is a night I look forward to every year. “Where are you taking her for dinner?” People ask me every year. It’s like they don’t know me at all. “Where did he take you for dinner?” They ask my wife. It’s just assumed. You people are obsessed! Why on Earth would we spend potentially hundreds of dollars on something we will barely appreciate so we can have the same conversation we would have over Sushi Train? I do like trains, though. Sushi Train is a bit like dinner and a show. No, most anniversaries we squeeze Sushi Train, or the like, in between two cinema visits. I can guarantee you I’ll still be thinking about the movies, good or bad, long after the food has broken camp to travel through the ess-bend of fading memories.

I thought we were the only ones there for a while; minorities in our own society, but recently other non-foodies have been creeping out of the shadows to make their presence known. Just the other night some new friends came over to ours. After ordering dinner, take-away Thai, chosen because it was easiest, the subject of food was not broached again except for me asking a polite: “It’s all right?” “Yeah, good. Did you see Doctor Who last night?”

Yeah ok, I made up that last bit. True, they had little interest in food but, bizarrely didn’t want to talk about Doctor Who either… or Star Trek. Wackos!




Anthony VercoeComment