Rachel's Table

Food Snobs Anonymous

I have a problem.

The other day a friend asked me about a recipe I posted here on the blog. She wondered where she could score the same cut of meat I used. My eyes twinkled, my pulse quickened as I explained in detail where she could not only get this choice meat, but also how to cut it and which knife she should buy to do the cutting. I may have even uttered the words, “You need to find a really good butcher. Someone you trust.” (Who am I?) Her smile faded, her eyes deadened. And yet, I kept going, over-explaining how even the cheapest cut of meat will do because the recipe cooks low and slow for hours. When I admonished that low and slow does not mean throwing everything into a crock pot, I noticed a veil fall over her face. A veil of boredom. I swear, her glazed, unseeing eyes were telling me, Shut UP about the cubed meat.

My antics didn’t stop there. That SAME NIGHT I could barely hide my horrified amazement when another friend talked about her Taco Bell obsession. Then, I grilled a third friend about the boxed cookies she buys and began lecturing about genetically modified foods. As my dinner mates (and former friends) stared at me in their own kind of horrified wonder, I actually heard “Mwah mwah mwah. Mwah, mwah mwah” in my head, as if I played the teacher in a Charlie Brown Special.

In my defense, one could say that since starting a food blog, I just know more about food in general, and I like to share what I’ve learned. One could also call me a know-it-all. One could say I have refined tastes and a sophisticated palate. One could also call me a snob.

Okay, I admit it.

My name is Rachel and I’m a Food Snob.

Just a few short years ago, the only things on my menu were Ramen noodles, egg salad, and peanut butter and jelly. I couldn’t afford any better. But look at me now, with a grocery budget, putting on airs and pretending to be Alice Waters.

My own mother, the mother who cared enough to make me and my brothers wholesome dinners every night, says things like, “Oh, Rachel, you won’t want to come for dinner. I got the chicken from Costco.” Or “If you come over to watch the game, you’ll have to eat jarred salsa.” When did Costco chicken and heaven forbid – salsa from a jar – become an object of contempt in my mind?

Mom and I in happier times - BEFORE I became a food snob

Mom and I in happier times – BEFORE I became a food snob

How did I spiral so deep into this organic pit of food snobbery?

I have no one to blame but my own taste buds. After discovering the summer joy that is a local, homegrown tomato, I detest the mealy, salmon-colored, grocery store variety.

Homegrown and superior to all other tomatoes

Homegrown and superior to all other tomatoes

After grilling local, Pennsylvania-raised chicken thighs, I scoff at what’s sold in the supermarket.

After meeting the farmer that grew the best strawberries I’ve ever had, I can’t bring myself to buy a cellophane package shipped from California.

The BEST strawberries - and locally grown!

Locally grown – I will eat no other strawberries

While the masses may call me a food snob, I say I have food values. And I don’t care who knows it. I’m starting a club – Food Snobs, Named and Known. If you come to weekly meetings, I promise the salsa will always be fresh.

So tell me, are you a “food snob”? Or do you have a Taco Bell obsession? (Be honest. This is a judge free zone – I’ve been known to frequent the drive-through of a certain fast food chain selling chicken that’s definitely NOT from Costco.)

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50 comments

  1. There is nothing on this earth that is better than fresh-picked strawberries. I cannot wait to take my kids to the local farm down the road to pick a ton of them. Does that make me a snob? Fine.

    As you know, I’m slowly starting to change what I eat, and I have to say once you start eating whole fresh foods, nothing compares. And I used to eat stuff like frozen pizza bagels and Doritos.

    • Our strawberry season is over, which is so disappointing. But I have been able to find New Jersey blueberries which are really good right now, too. But there’s just something about a ripe, early summer strawberry!

      I am shocked at how much I now crave whole foods. I just ate roasted broccoli and eggs for breakfast. Who am I? Problem is, with whole foods – it takes more planning and more frequent shopping. I’ve yet to find a balance to make it easy – picking up my CSA box every Monday really helps. I get veggies for the week and I didn’t have to shop for them!

      (Frozen pizza is just what I need sometimes. Don’t tell anyone – I’ll get kicked out of the club.)

      • Our strawberry season just started but we only have a few weeks left. I live for this time of year. Julia eats them like candy. You’re right, eating healthy is hard work, the shopping is endless.

  2. Well you know what the say – the first step is admitting you’ll cook for me forever.

    My mouth is watering at the thought of those strawberries

    I’m still in this REALLY bizarre limbo state – 80% food snob, 20% Taco Bell lover. Lately, after my epic hikes, all I want is a kid’s meal. Otherwise, I avoid fast food like the plague.

    • Mr. Rachel LOVES Taco Bell. He orders 19 things and pays $4.79.

      Kid’s meal like McDonald’s? Calorie-wise that’s not bad at all (See??? I’m imparting unasked for food advice. You may roll your eyes now.) After a hike like that, your body needs refueling, and unfortunately, a strawberry, no matter how tasty, just doesn’t satisfy.

      (If we lived closer, I’d put treats in your mailbox. Jeff and I would have mailbox competitions. I would win.)

      • Oh girl, I know the calorie count of EVERYTHING from my countless dieting days, so you could never annoy me with that! It really is nothing in terms of calories consumed vs. burned in this instance, but I still feel like I’m undoing the good of the hike with all the fake food! BUT YOU’RE SO RIGHT – the trail mix just AIN’T cuttin’ it after 13 miles. No way. I ask myself over and over before getting to the drive-thru, “Do you really want to do this?”

        Sigh. Move to New Jersey. Please? Uncle Jesse might let you pet him.

      • Ah! Trail mix and almonds are always a good idea on the first mile of the hike, and then I’m wanting something more. And it’s usually a hamburger! You have to treat yourself to SOMETHING at the end of that 13 miles, Jules!

        Uncle Jesse is putty in my hands.

      • Ha! I’ve always said u can eat like a king at TBell for 3 bucks! Does it have to be an either or? I’m one of the biggest elitists (food booze and other stuff) but also as my blog name suggests a hedonist. Especially w the aforementioned Mexican phone company.

  3. Oh dear. I love this post! Like you, I think my love for local, organic, ethically raised produce just comes from its taste; it is so much better!!! But I do think that my parents and quite a few people probably do think I am a real food snob, even though I try not to preach… πŸ™‚ And I’m ok with that. When I am invited somewhere, I eat what I am given and am just happy to be surrounded by friends and family (though that last take-away pizza I had a few weeks ago really made me sooooo sick…)!

    • I really don’t preach, because I’ve been in so many different “food stages” that I understand them all. I think I say TOO much when asked, though!

      YES! I ate sushi the other night, which is my idea of a splurge, and I think it must have been laced with MSG or something. I felt so sick and wished I had just cooked at home.

      (Pizza is my weakness. I’m headed to my hometown in Massachusetts next weekend and can’t stop thinking about a Greek pizza at this little hole in the wall place.)

  4. Here, here! Unfortunate for me, going full-on vegan (ethical veg, not health veg) means that I am completely on the outside of most social circles. I’m less a food snob, more a let’s-get-back-to-knowing-about-our-food so that we can better choices every day.

    Locally grown (less energy intensive), organic (why are we wrecking our soil?), the personal relationships we have lost (think farmer). And then there’s hunger. And waste. And how we’ve screwed up so many ecosystems and species. Never mind our being okay with churning out living beings like widgets (I really thought Auschwitz got us past all that, boy, was I wrong).

    Yes, Rachel, fruits and veggies are best as straight from the ground as possible, meat is best when it’s wild — or free to range their natural diets at the least. But many sre simply unaware. America’s feeding habits have a much larger an impact on others than the size of our serving platter or how much we saved at COSTCO.

    Food snobs, unite!! And keep it up, Rachel. πŸ™‚

    • Welcome to the club, Shannon!

      My favorite part of eating locally (besides the taste) is meeting farmers and food artisans.

      Like you, I like to know where my food comes from. I wish more of it came from my own backyard.

  5. I know what you mean. I start to talk about food and I feel some people tune out. So I try to create a happy medium. In many settings I talk more about the dish I made rather than the ingredients. I try not to overly share or push my values on others for fear pushing them away. So I might add in small details, these local strawberries are better than the California ones. Or how I buy Murray’s chicken because no matter what you do to it it never dries out. Baby steps, then some people slowly come around. I’m conscious about what I eat and where I eat, but I’m not going to go as far as stick my nose up at dish a friend brought over or judge the ground beef they’re using at their own bbq that they invited me to.

    • I have fellow food lovers that I can chat with about this stuff, but sometimes I go overboard with my other friends. I always over-explain.

      And I NEVER stick my nose up when eating at a friend’s house. Good thing is, I’m not picky at all. I will eat anything, but choose to eat a specific way at home.

      I keep telling my mom that local strawberries taste better than California grown, but she insists on buying Driscolls!

  6. All joking aside, I appreciate your food knowledge and enjoy reading about fresh foods and recipes you like. My wife gets a box of produce from some organization that’s usually pretty good, otherwise we’re stuck buying it at the store because kids drain all of our energy to do it any other way.

    • Yay for boxes of produce! I like your wife. I’m just going to throw this out there: Sometimes heading to a farmers market to buy produce is cheaper than the grocery store (and tastier) AND they have fun stuff for the kids to do. At least that’s what the closest farmers market is like near me (and someone sells fresh, oven-baked pizza from a food truck). It’s like a fun family activity. See? I did it again…

  7. Spending that week in the deep south, my wife and I at one point looked around the cafeteria-style restaurant we were in (which was excellent) and reflected on how far out of our element we were. The idea of asking if the meat was local and had been ethically raised was mortifying to even imagine.

    • My dad’s family is from Mississippi, so I’m familiar with the Deep South. I’ve never seen so much fried food!

      Sometimes I find it hard to reconcile my views on Perdue chicken with the fact that so many people in America and the world are hungry. Makes me feel spoiled and well, snobby.

      Have you see that Portlandia sketch about Colin the chicken? So ridiculous – may I never become a food snob to that degree!

  8. I love this post. Thanks for starting the club, Rachel!

    I’m proud to be a food snob (although I like that you called it having food values – I think that’s probably more accurate). Since starting a CSA, blogging and learning from other bloggers, eating locally and being thoughtful about the food that I buy has become more important to me. I like talking to the people that grow the veggies and raise the chickens that I eat! Not only does it taste better, but it makes me feel better.

    • The CSA has been such an influence on me, too, Melissa! I love trying new veggies and recipes.

      I think that’s a good word for my food philosophy – “thoughtful.” I’m learning so much by being thoughtful about where my food comes from.

      I wish I could raise chickens in my backyard – no room for a coop!

  9. I’m such a food snob that I refer to myself in the third person by my silly blog name. And, I’m kinda having an issue with my lame blog. Like, I’m too good for my blog or something. Kinda over it. I actually haven’t been posting much because of it. I’m hipster on my blog. Geesh. I need help. Will there be a special meeting in the club so I can address this?

  10. I’m soooo with you on the hot-house tomatoes. Other than that, I’m afraid I’d be blackballed from the Food Snob Club. I like Costco chicken and bottled salsa.

    Tell your mom I’ll be over for dinner at 6 and I’ll bring a box of Little Debbie brownies.

    • You just made me think of Fudge Rounds and those little round oatmeal pies. Ah! I used to eat Fudge Rounds and Coke for breakfast!

      My mom will also be serving salad out of a bag and mozzarella sticks (I can’t turn my nose up at those – they are GOOD! I just eat them at her house, not mine.) I’d eat Costco chicken with you anytime, Peg!

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  12. I share the affliction. The worst part is that people become too terrified to invite you to dinner. But that’s ok. I probably wouldn’t like it anyway. πŸ˜‰

  13. You and your Mom are so cute! And you match! Love it πŸ™‚

    I admit to being a bit of a food snob (except when drunk, then all bets are off) I eat primarily vegetarian or vegan unless I know the meat has been sustainably sourced and the eggs and milk are free range. It just means doing a little bit of research before I eat out and getting my friends to cook vegetarian meals when I come around. And obviously I know what I’m buying and cooking with. It’s actually pretty easy. (except for drunken KFC)

    • Drunk food tastes so good! I usually eat an entire bag of potato chips.

      The only hard part about eating this way is finding stores near me that offer really good meat. I have to plan ahead and stock up the freezer, because the nearest store that offers excellent products is about 40 minutes away.

      Unfortunately, KFC is MUCH closer.

  14. Oi, not only do I resonate with what you’re saying, but I GET IT! It’s a true study in human interaction to observe how people admire/revere/fear the choices of others. I used to be a practicing vegan, and sometimes, it would feel like an individual who ate meat was out to make me feel poorly for my decision. While I’m lamenting and relating, I’ll add in that I studied English at university; so I have grown accustomed to people apologizing before speaking. As if I am the grand chancellor of words!!

    • My friend just went vegan and is losing weight in a healthy way (38 pounds so far!) but her family still doesn’t understand. Being vegan is looked at as a disease sometimes!

      Thanks for commenting, Laura Beth! I hope my words are acceptable to you. πŸ˜‰

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  16. I’m a food snob, I live in Portlsnd Oregon and am fortunate to have all the local produce we have here. I will, infrequently, visit a fast food place called Burgerville but even they source their supplies and food locally. In season and local taste better, I’m not sure if that’s being snobby though, or just gravitating to what you like.

    • Oregon has some good food, or so I’ve heard! I agree – it’s all about taste. Local food is better tasting and better for you. I like to think of it as discerning, not snobby. πŸ™‚

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