What is a foodie? Wikipedia says it's “an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink.” Merriam-Webster defines "foodie" as “a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.” I didn't use the term "foodie" to describe myself until late in college, when I first discovered cooking (in other words, when I first discovered the Food Network). Junior and senior year, I had three girlfriends (S, A and J) who also considered themselves foodies, and we regularly got together to throw potlucks, try new restaurants, or simply just discuss our love for food. The funny thing is, S is a vegetarian and A doesn’t eat pork (J and I, however, ate just about anything). S and A's dietary restrictions never really got in the way, but J and I often wondered how they could live without experiencing the sweet and succulent joy that is pork. (For the record, I LOVE pork. It's the meat I miss the most.) I mean, I used to make fun of S all the time for being a vegetarian! (She KNEW I was kidding, and because she's got such a great attitude and sense of humor, she often played along. This is why I love you, S.)
Here's the thing: I never thought you could truly be a foodie if you didn't eat meat. I believe the same to be true for people who don't enjoy vegetables, dark chocolate, stinky cheese and red wine. That's pretty stupid and snotty of me, yes, but I'm just being honest here (and hypocritical b/c there are definitely some things I refuse to eat – helloooo, tripe). So when I made the decision to cut out meat, the first thought that popped into my head was, “But how can I call myself a foodie if I don’t eat meat?!” If that’s not bad enough, if I throw out eggs, cheese, and seafood, then WHAT does that make me? Can one be a vegan and still be a foodie? I don’t know. I do know, however, that many of you will say yes. And that’s why I’m writing this.
My identity as a foodie is at stake. My ability to throw successful dinner parties for my friends in Austin (who, for the record, are nowhere near vegetarian or vegan) is in danger. What will people think? Will they still invite me to dinner? And WHAT about Ina? Yes, I’m talkin bout THE Barefoot Contessa! She’s, like, my foodie idol! I love her recipes because they are simple, fresh, decadent and DELICIOUS. Can I betray her like that? What about all the food blogs I follow? What about Gourmet and Bon Appetit and even Cooking Light? Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain? I mean, I am all about Clueless, but Alicia, we have no food history (YET).
Last night I couldn’t stop thinking about food. YAY guacamole is vegan! Darn, queso is definitely not. Tex-Mex is going to be tough. Asian, however, is a good option for a vegan diet. Italian? Fuhgettaboutit! Tuna melts? OUT. Lobster bisque? OUT. What the hell can I eat??
Finally, right before I drifted off to sleep, I decided to shutup and RELAX. I can still be a foodie, damn it! A foodie is anyone who loves and appreciates good food, whatever that food may (or may not) contain. I will, however, need to re-teach myself how to cook. Lasagna, bolognese and cornbread casserole can no longer be my go-to’s (probably a good thing seeing as how those are all heart attacks waiting to happen). I’m going to have to do my research, be creative, and keep an open mind. It’s not that vegan recipes don’t sound good to me; they just don’t sound satisfying. But what do I know? I haven’t tried enough to make that call.
So instead of being thoroughly depressed, I’ve decided to get really REALLY excited. And thanks to you all, I’m getting oodles of great ideas, recipes, tips and tricks. This weekend I plan to spend a LONG time studying the aisles of Whole Foods. The Kind Diet is on its way. Even my MOM is being supportive (this woman was less than thrilled to learn about my new vegetarian diet when I returned from Londy)! Together we brainstormed about which of my fave Korean dishes we could veganize. Bibimbap without the meat and egg? Definitely not the same, but STILL delicious (as long as it's SPICY)!
My sister thinks I’m nuts, but I know she’ll happily oblige to my dietary needs when I visit. My real-life friends? Well, I don’t know. Matty and I will most definitely have to re-think Nachos Thursday. Tomorrow night I’m dining with foodie friends in town for a wedding, and we’re doing tex-mex. Huh. And what about my potential trip to NY this Spring? No Lombardi’s pizza for moi.
It’s not going to be easy. Not everyone will be thrilled. But I’m doing this for me, and despite all my questions and concerns and panic attacks, I’m tres happy about it. And if my social life has to suffer because of it, SO BE IT!
Terribly sorry for the rambling. Um… thoughts??