This is a big deal, honestly. And it happened by mistake. A few friends were over for dinner the other night and someone said that the term "foodie" is dated. That a person who uses the word "foodie" is a little bit charmingly clueless. For example, imagine that you are making brunch at your mom's house and your aunt sees you chopping chives and sprinkling them on scrambled eggs. "Oh, are you a foodie?" She asks. Does she think that chives are so outside of the realm of the typical home cook that your using them means you are a foodie? Or does she mean to say that you clearly enjoy preparing and eating good food?
We laughed and talked some more about words for food and people who love food. At one point I was trying to share an idea and I meant to say "hipster foodies," but that's not what came out. Instead, I said "hippie foodsters." And much as Alexander Fleming's mistake in the laboratory gave us penicillin, I give to you...foodster. Foodster!
I searched for the term on the internet and it seems that some one may have discovered this word at some point, but Urban Dictionary has defined it incorrectly, in my view. It defines foodster in the following way: "The unholy fusion of a foodie and a hipster." I agree with this part. But it goes on to say "Persons that need to be annoyingly cool about using non-mainstream ingredients or techniques while cooking." See, I think that a person can be a foodster without using non-mainstream ingredients or techniques.
A person can make whipped cream, for example, and be foodster about it. There is nothing esoteric about whipped cream. Canned whipped cream - we can certainly do better than that. But imagine a humorless 26 year old guy with a waxed mustache in a lumberjack plaid shirt tucked into a pair of dirty shorts standing behind the counter at the Great Googa Mooga who, after a 45 minute wait on line, treats you to a squirt of his locally sourced, antibiotic and hormone free whipped cream on a Hudson Valley grown buckwheat cracker. His whipped cream might taste great, and I'm glad that people will support locally sourced food products, especially from animals that are not crammed with antibiotics and the like. That's exactly what I want to eat. But this dude and his whipped cream, however, are still foodster.
Foodster is more about attitude than anything else. Same with hipsters, if you think about it. I watched a guy ride up to the food coop the other day. He dismounts, locks his fixed gear bike, removes his helmet. Red hair combed in a side part, red beard, glasses with wood frames, dirty v-neck tee-shirt tucked loosely into shorts, socks pulled high, canvas high top sneakers that were not Converse, something that preceded Converse maybe, and tattoos on arms and calves. He walks into the coop, and then another guy pulls up, this one with brown hair, in exactly the same outfit! Not similar - exactly the same outfit. I'm telling you, these hipsters arrived like planes timing their descent to LaGuardia. Before the second guy walked into the coop, he screwed up his face into a very serious expression, took a worn little moleskin pad out of one of his paniers, and used a knobby little pencil to write something down.
What I appreciate about these guys is that they are absolutely humorless about their whole presentation. It's as though they arrived on Earth this way - they were born in precisely the correct canvas high tops and with that gel in their hair. It's the attitude. They might be guys of true quality with a lot to offer the people in their lives and to their community, but the attitude makes them hipsters.
Same with foodster. Food can be of high quality, made with great ingredients, prepared skillfully. But if the attitude is precious, pretentious, or humorless about it's food culture aspirations, it is foodster. For example, Blanca, the second restaurant by the Roberta's team. It might be utterly brilliant food, but it is foodster. Atera - that place is foodster. Smorgasburg - that's foodster. The Red Hook ball fields food vendors, not foodster. Mayonnaise - normal. Hellman's mayonnaise - hipster. The Empire Mayonnaise store - foodster. A lobster roll is not inherently foodster - quite the opposite. But think of how little attitude you must garnish it with for it to become annoyingly foodster.
Foodster is a vaguely derogatory term. It is both a noun and an adjective. A foodster is a person who adopts a humorless and pretentious affect while jumping on the bandwagon and doing whatever all the other food hipsters are doing, like making their own headcheese from a pig who spent her life foraging in the backyard in east Williamsburg. Foodsters are the people and the attitude that the Portlandia folks are making fun of in "We Can Pickle That."
Here are some other things that are foodster (and there are gazillions - here are merely a few):
- food trucks, especially those selling Korean tacos.
- celebrity foragers.
- celebrity baristas, like Erin McCarthy (do yourself a favor and watch the video).
- restaurants that force you to experience a 4-hour tasting menu.
- $8 ice pops with flavors like plum-lavender or buttermilk-tarragon.
Okay, there you have it. Foodster. Feel free to fine-tune the definition in the comments if you like, label other popular foodstuffs and/or people as foodster, or to suggest other foodster/not foodster combos. I really think I'm onto something here...