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Photo by Donna

So many people commented on the distinction between foodie and cook in my post responding to the Michael Pollan essay, I wished I'd used it for its own post.  Then I realized I could!  And then from out of the Twitosphere came a lament from someone who didn't like to be called a home cook, feeling, I think that the term was inherently condescending.  And another who thought my description of what defined a foodie to be condescending.  (Guilty.)

Judging from those who commented to me, people were evenly divided between those who were proud to be called home cooks and those who felt, I don't know, as if being a "home" cook were akin to being a pretend cook.  But I liked what Chef Pardus had to say—on my facebook page (I can't keep track of all this stuff, facebook, twitter, email, blog, the center can't hold!)—it was right on the money, and I'm glad I didn't miss it: he says that he writes and he skis but he doesn't call himself a writer or a skier.

I think that's really all the distinction there needs to be. I don't like the term home cook for the very reason the Tweeter seemed to indicate.  There's something precious about it, and it grates.  Unless you work in a restaurant, where where else are you going to cook?  Why do we even need to call ourselves cooks, home or not.  Pardus doesn't say he's a home writer.  A guy who makes Shaker boxes on the weekend doesn't call himself a home carpenter.  On the other hand, if we're asked whether we cook, we say, Yes.  Cook is a verb.  It's what some of us do.  Not what we are. Unless we are, in which case we can pay our rent with the result of our cooking. I'm for abolishing the term "home cook." Or at least not using it.

If you're not allowed to call yourself a cook, then how to distinguish between those who are foodies and those who love to cook?  That as I mentioned in the earlier post, is an important distinction. What is a foodie? I like the Miriam Webster definition: a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.

Foodie has only a tangential relation to cook.  Foodie is not an act, like cook.  Foodie declares specific interests.  (Food enthusiast is a good attempt at making the idea palatable, but it's too cumbersome.) Who first used the word foodie?  Well, Paul Levy, an American born journalist working in England makes the claim that he coined the word.  Is this something to be proud of? You're almost forced to wince when you say it. 

In fact, and Levy notes this, the first person to use the word foodie, according to Barry Popnick, a guy who studies origins, was none other than Gael Greene in New York mag in 1980.

True, Gael? (If so, it's still not as cool as being able to tell people you slept with Elvis.)

All this writing so early in the morning has made me hungry.  Think I'll go cook….