Yesterday, my ten year old son read my blog entries for the first time, scanning for any mention of himself. When he finished, his first question was, “What’s a foodie?” And I explained to him that it’s someone who enjoys food—who thinks about it, seeks it out, prepares it with care—etc. (I’m sure one could have a long discussion about whether to make distinctions between foodies, chowhounds, or epicures. Or we might address whether “foodie” is an obnoxious term in its overuse, but those topics are for another time) .
So then ds asked me, “What are all the different categories of eaters?” Keep in mind that ds has Asperger’s Syndrome, so it’s not uncommon for him to see the world as a set of patterns and types. Recently, he was quite interested in the various labels ascribed to different generations—“baby boomers,” “Generation Xers,” etc. He is, he has informed me, a member of Generation I—those born after the Internet emerged. It makes perfect sense then that he gets all his information from Wikipedia. And it makes sense that he'd be enormously interested in reading his mom’s blog.
Anyway, I gave him a somewhat lame answer to his question: “Hmm . . . let’s see . . . there are 'gourmands' and 'junk food junkies' and 'picky eaters.'” And then we talked about something else. But his question got me thinking. How many categories of “eaters” are there? There are, of course, the recognized labels of Vegan, Vegetarian, Kosher, etc. And there are the disordered eaters: bingers, anorexics, perpetual dieters. Or we could list other sorts, such as socially conscious eaters, slow movement eaters, processed food eaters, fast-food-only eaters, Bourdainesque nasty bit eaters, smelly cheese eaters, all day snackers, grazers, one-meal-a -day sorts . . . . you fill in the rest. So, in honor of ds's question, I've devoted this post to some notable consumers I have known .
1) ** My brother-in-law eats only meat. He’s not on the Atkins diet, nor has he ever been on a diet. It may not surprise you that he doesn’t eat vegetables or fruit, since there are many people who never shed their childhood palate, but he doesn’t eat bread or potatoes either. He only eats meat. No pizza. No French fries. Just meat. He's strictly carnivorous.
2) ** When I first started hanging out with my DH, many years ago, he cooked one meal for himself. And it was entirely white. In a single pot, he would boil a chicken breast and a potato, and on the side, he’d have biscuits from a can. At the time, I mocked him mercilessly for his culinary expertise in "blanching." And then, about twelve years later, when I was pregnant with my dd, I found myself eating the same diet for three months. If it wasn’t white and salty, I couldn’t keep it down. I ate Boston chicken (yuck), ramen noodles, and mashed potatoes for an entire trimester. Carmen Electra is a b****.
3) ** People who don’t remember what they eat, or eat the same thing everyday, or who don’t care about food. Usually they are runners, and they see food as fuel. I cannot begin to understand these people.
4) **My dd must use a different utensil for every food on her plate. So some meals demand three forks and two spoons. This behavior is akin to the insistence that no single food can touch another food on one’s plate.
5) ** There are the people who will eat non-breakfast foods for breakfast, and the people who won’t. (This is not in the same category of eating breakfast foods for other meals, which most sensible people celebrate. "Yay, pancakes and bacon for dinner!"). My mother happily eats leftovers for breakfast---soup, fish, spaghetti—whatever’s in the fridge. I’ve been known to eat cold pizza for breakfast (a commonplace activity for many), but I usually want a breakfast food that will go well with my coffee (which I take light and sweet). So that rules garlic out.
6) **"Q-zone eaters”—these are folks who perpetually need a “little somethin', somethin'” after a meal, whether it be a bite of your dessert, a midnight snack, or a wafer thin mint. The Q zone is notoriously hard to fill and attempting to satisfy it usually leads to more seeking.