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IT'S TIME FOR THE FOODIES OF THE WORLD TO UNITE

My computer does not know that I exist. Not only that, it doesn't know that my friends, relatives and most of the people I spend my time with exist.

We are "foodies" -- you see. Hardly an endangered species in this first part of the 21st century we'd all have to agree.

But since I can't readily find a definition of the term (not even my beloved "Food Lover's Companion" lists it) I'll give you a definition of my own.

Foodies are individuals deeply involved with seeking excellence in food. With some people I know and love, that verb could even be changed to read "obsessed."

But my computer doesn't know about that. Even though the number of foodies in America is now an army and continues to grow exponentially, the word keeps coming up on my spell check. (And maybe your spell check, too.)

What can I say? Foodies of the world, unite.

Now I know I can do something about this. I can (and do) override the spell check; I can call on Roger who has saved my computer's life innumerable times, and ask him to explain how to insert "foodie" into the computer dictionary.

But that would mean that I'd have to insert a lot of other culinary words also. And I don't want that.

Because the fact that my computer still does not recognize what are now commonly used culinary terms points out how our food world has changed.

The word "cilantro" for instance. That one is listed in most dictionaries these days but it continues to show up on my spell check. And the fact that it does so often points up that cilantro is so commonly used now.

It didn't used to be.

Up to about five years ago every time I called for "cilantro" in a recipe, someone would call and say "huh?"

Those calls stopped. Now there's probably no one even remotely interested in food that doesn't know that it's an herb commonly used in the highly spiced foods we've become so used to in recent years. It turns up in Asian, Mexican and Latin American dishes.

Some people love it; some people hate it but cilantro is now here to stay. Then there is the word "sorbet." It shows up constantly. (Although "sherbet" does not.)

Sorbet is another food many people never heard of a few years ago. Then it started turning up with some frequency on menus.

Some restaurants are confused but the real difference between "sorbet" and "sherbet" is that the former contains no milk and is softer.

My computer doesn't care about things like that of course, but in my own mind I think of sorbet as having a much more authentic fruit flavor than sherbet (or "sherbert" -- but let's not get into that one) and a lot less icky sweetness.

Put it this way. Orange sherbet is something you eat when you have a sore throat; orange sorbet is something you happily indulge in after after a wonderful meal.

But I digress. The world "grilled" always comes up on my spell check for some reason. That really makes me laugh because other forms of the word "to grill" seem to pass.

And the reason "grilled" turns up much more often because we grill so much more food than we once did for George Foreman as well as health reasons.

We tend to grill what years ago we fried.

Who knows what will happen in the next few years? Our diets and accompanying culinary language are always changing and it's fun to be reminded of that even if, occasionally, it's inconvenient.

So that's why, fellow foodies -- at least as of now I'm leaving my computer dictionary alone.

e-mail: jokun@buffnews.com

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