On Being A ‘Foodie’

Rachel Laudan and Karen Resta both have great blogs about ‘foodies’ (perhaps we can describe this as a movement  – as foodism?)  –  what/who it is and so forth… Or perhaps this already has been done.

This got me thinking about similar terms in other languages and what they mean, and so I’ve been doing a little hasty survey work.

French and English have a number of terms – foodie, gourmand, gourmet gastronome, epicure, etc, and foodie poster-art represents some of these concepts:

Advertising Liebig Meat Extract - Used by descerning chefs!

Advertising Liebig Meat Extract - Used by descerning chefs!

Directions for a war-time foodie

Directions for a war-time foodie

Moing down to Africa, KiSwahili as spoken in Kenya and Tanzania has a term for ‘meat lovers’, which makes sense because meat is the best-loved of food in these countries.  As well, mlafi is used to describe someone who loves food too much.

Copie de Nyama Choma (grilled meat)

After grilling over charcoal, digging into the meat

Village and road-side brochette cafes in East Africa often have paintings of goat

Village and road-side brochette cafes in East Africa often have paintings of goat carcuses

In the Kalingin society and  language of Kenya (which is spoken by the Chef of the Hotel Club Lac Tanganyika), there is a similar term that translates as  ‘someone who likes good things’, and can be applied to food-lovers. But there is also the term kiandit, which  means someone who likes food too much and who eats a lot.

And for sure, Richard, the head chef at the hotel club du lac Tanganyika, is a man who not only loves his food, but loves to make it.

Chef Richard overseeing the bain mairies

Chef Richard overseeing the bain-mairies. But he also makes excellent nyama-choma! (grilled meat)

Here in Burundi, where Kirundi is the language, there is no word I have been able to find that would typify a foodie or other similar bon vivant.  Again, this is expressed in a phrase such as: ‘he likes to eat!’, etc.

In the village, meals are often shared from one large plate - here, rice and beans, the 'meat and potatoes' of Burundi

In the village, meals are often shared from one large plate - here, rice and beans, the 'meat and potatoes' of Burundi

Moving on to the Middle East and Arabic – in colloquial Arabic that is spoken in either Egypt or Sudan I can’t remember foodie-specific terms.   But you can say to a cook “tislim ‘aydiikum“, literally ‘bless your hands’, in order to compliment a cook, and there are similar food-related phrases.  Within Islam there are strict provisions regarding what is forbidden (haram) and what is acceptable (halal) by way of slaughter, cooking and eating.  As well, in the hadith (orally transmitted sayings of the Prophet Muhammed), there are numerous perscriptons about food and eating.  From the hadith of Bukhari, for example, something on good manners at the table:

Narrated ‘Umar bin Abi Salama: I was a boy under the care of Allah’s Apostle and my hand used to go around the dish while I was eating. So Allah’s Apostle said to me, ‘O boy! Mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you.” Since then I have applied those instructions when eating.

Farmers in southern Egypt sharing a meal.  Credit: Zbigniew

Farmers in southern Egypt sharing a meal. Credit: Zbigniew

But I simply cannot remember any specific culinary words.  Maybe Anissa Helou or Cliff Wright have something to say about the Arabic.

One very general conclusion from this hasty review of food-related words : French and English are heavy on the analysis of what and how people (should) eat; in many other regions, however, people just eat and enjoy doing so – especially in the company of friends and family – religious perscriptions, also, are found but I have been looking at secular terminology.

Not earth-shattering, but fun to consider.

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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
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7 Responses to On Being A ‘Foodie’

  1. Pingback: Slap Down Corner: For the Love of Food! « Gherkins & Tomatoes

  2. No, not exaggerated. Not at all … 🙂

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  3. dianabuja says:

    Ah, and there is even a definition of ‘foodism’ on the net:

    “Foodism: an exaggerated interest in the preparation, presentation and consumption of food.”
    http://www.allwords.com

    But I’m not so sure I agree that it is an *exaggerated* interest…

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  4. dianabuja says:

    Bhaswati, Ha-ha!

    I rather like the idea of an ‘enduring abuse’. Food-wise, that would translate into someone who cannot (or is not allowed to) stop eating. Such a deadly sin would qualify one for the 3rd. of Dante’s levels of hell – Gluttony! 😦

    On a happier note, I’m sure the Egyptian farmers would be very pleased for you to join them. Their’s is a typical meal – fresh tomato salad, mulukhiyya greens, grilled chicken, some potatoes, and of course brown bread.

    Actually, though, the meal was probably prepared for the picture-taker, because eating meat would be to honor a guest, not for everyday fare. 🙂

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  5. Bhaswati says:

    I meant to say endearing, not enduring. LOL

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  6. Bhaswati says:

    Fascinating post, Diana! In Bengali we have a term called “petuk” for someone who likes to eat a lot. It’s an enduring abuse.

    As a mlafi, I wish to join the Egyptian farmers in the photo you shared, if they would allow me. 🙂

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