Foodies are to dining what indie films are to movies. They represent a dilettantism gone ape. It’s very like those guys who hog the self-serving soda dispenser mixing Dr. Pepper with Mountain Dew and Raspberry Ice Tea in hopes of coming up with the magical beverage that tastes just right—as if they were some kind of gonzo new-age alchemists.
I work in Westwood, which adjoins the southern boundary of the UCLA campus. In the last year, a number of decent restaurants have shuttered their doors forever and been replaced by restaurants appealing to Foodies.
What are Foodies? They are essentially amateurs who concentrate on consuming, preparing, analyzing, and (endlessly) chatting about food. You can find them on the boards of Chowhound.Com making fine distinctions about tacos, hot dogs, Asian noodles, pastrami, and any number of other esoteric food-based subjects. In Los Angeles, many are aficionados of various catering trucks that tweet their next parked locations to their customers. Now, there is even one restaurant in Westwood (TLT Food) that started out as a catering truck operation.
Characterizing Foodie-oriented restaurants is a certain cluelessness regarding what most people who are not 30-Somethings like. For instance, as a diabetic, I scrupulously avoid sugared drinks. One nearby Foodie restaurant called Fundamental is typical of the genre, with unusual concoctions that you have to be of a certain age to like. If, like me, you are a diabetic, fuggeddaboutit!
I used to rely on Foodie chatter to find new restaurants: Now I can only assume that the websites will send me to some 30-Something dive where the hamburgers are loaded with mango chutney, the hot dogs topped with aioli, and the French fries laden with celeriac root and vindaloo paste. Almost always, sugar is added to make the incongruous mix more palatable to the young.
It’s not that I’m against any kind of food experimentation: It’s just that experimentation for its own sake rarely produces a tasty meal. It gets more complicated when I go out with Martine, who refuses to eat at restaurants that have incongruous foods on their menu, even when they are among other plainer and more traditional foods. For this reason, she refuses to eat at California Pizza Kitchen, even though she would probably like their thin-crust Sicilian pizza.