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Letters To The Editor
FAQs About Food
We welcome your questions and comments. Click here to send them to us now, or write anytime to Editors(at)TheNibble.com. Questions may be edited for brevity and/or clarity.
- Click Here For FAQs About Our Editorial Policy
- Click Here For FAQs About Technical Issues and NIBBLE Administration
Q. What are your favorite products? — Dave Stone, Pittsburgh, PA
This is our most frequently-asked question, along with “what gift should I get for a [fill in the type of person or occasion].” We have created a Gift-Finder section to compile our gift recommendations. And we’ve begun a list of everyday favorite products here.
Q. What’s the best food to serve at a bridal shower / Mother’s Day brunch / Halloween Party / etc. — Numerous Readers
We get many letters asking for recommendations. Every month, we create a new “occasion” recommendations list. You’ll find it in our Entertaining Guide section. We’re just starting, but with time, it we’ll get to absolutely every occasion out there.
Q. What’s the difference between a “foodie” and a “gourmet?” — Darlayna Rohani, Oradell, NJ
Definitions vary from source to source. Here are ours:
A foodie* can be defined as someone who has a passion for high quality food, and pursues it with zeal. Foodies are interested in all foods including everyday and casual foods like breads and potato chips, as long as they are of the finest quality.
- A foodie is a different psychographic than a gourmet. A gourmet is considered to be a person who has sophisticated tastes in food and wine. Foodies can be gourmets, but many foodies are not gourmets: They just prefer the best of the basics. By the same token, some gourmets are not foodies: They prefer their rarefied experiences, and are not excited, e.g., by the thought of searching Chinatown for the best scallion pancakes, or finding a truly amazing old-fashioned jelly doughnut.
*The term “foodie” was coined in 1984 by authors Ann Barr and Paul Levy, in The Official Foodie Handbook, a tongue-in-cheek observation of passionate food-lovers (including Levy) who would wax poetic about radicchio and have enraptured conversations about their food discoveries. The phenomenon was first recognized and described in the book by the duo, a magazine editor (Barr) and American-born journalist (Levy), both based in London.
So, what is a gourmet today? We would argue that today’s gourmet is a broader-perspective fine food enthusiast who pursues the complex and sophisticated flavors in the major world cuisines; and that there is still a dividing line between what is accessible and enjoyable to many people, and what is more rarefied and of interest to those whose palates and noses seek higher levels of nuance and challenge (i.e., the gourmets).
- A simplistic example might be the difference between the enjoyment of a fine Brie, appreciated by a large number of people, and an Epoisses, which is much more demanding of the nose and taste buds (and can be thrilling or off-putting, depending on which side of the line you stand).
One might also seek definitions for the following:
- An epicure is a connoisseur, a person who cultivates a refined taste, especially in food and wine. Epicurus was an Athenian philosopher who taught that pleasure is the highest good. Thus, epicureanism is touched with sensuous enjoyment. Gastronome and gastronomist are synonyms, as is gourmet—the emphasis being on connoisseurship as well as sensuous enjoyment.
- A gourmand is a person who is fond of good eating, often to excess, but generally a lover of good food. The word evolved from the Old French word for glutton, gormant. Here, the emphasis is on sensuous enjoyment over connoisseurship.
- A glutton eats voraciously, excessively and indiscriminatingly. The word is rooted in the Latin for “to gulp down.”
THE NIBBLE finds great foods for all kinds of foodies and gourmets…from those looking for the best everyday foods to those in search of the most sumptuous.
Q. What’s the difference between “specialty food” and “gourmet food?” — Rona Glasser, Sarasota, FL
As defined by the NASFT, the trade association that represents specialty food manufacturers, specialty foods are smaller production items that tend to be of a higher quality ingredients than traditional, mass-market foods. In addition, many are made using time-honored, artisanal techniques. Gourmet food is a subset of the larger category of specialty food.
However, the answer to “what is gourmet food” is complex.
The dictionary says gourmet foods are “of the highest quality and flavor, prepared well and presented in an artful manner.” But this can define a beautifully presented bowl of steel-cut oatmeal or a piece tuna, grilled rare and artfully presented. Few would call these dishes “gourmet.”
No one would call a steak “gourmet.” But is Kobe beef gourmet, because of its rarity and expense? And few would call a $5 bottle of balsamic vinegar a gourmet item, but what about the $150 bottle, aged 20 years? If the category itself is not “gourmet,” does rarity make it so?
Logic would say not, just as a limited-edition, costly track suit made by a great couturier does not make it couture.
As with the previous discussion of what defines a gourmet, gourmet food must be defined by complexity and nuance—not rarity and expense. It is the challenge to the palate and the degree of connoisseurship required to appreciate it—whether it is roquefort ice cream, affordable by almost anyone, or golden asetra caviar, accessible to few.
Q. How can I write for THE NIBBLE™/become a food writer?
Click here to send us an e-mail with writing samples and indicate your areas of interest. If you do not have food writing samples, you should create one or two short reviews of your favorite specialty food products in the voice of THE NIBBLE™. If we don’t proceed with an assignment at this time, it could be that we have nothing appropriate to your level of expertise; or that your own style of writing isn’t a good match with the particular style and voice of THE NIBBLE™.
Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
We could publish an entire magazine just on this topic! There are so many exciting restaurants everywhere we go. However, for five interesting alternatives just in our home town of New York City, click here. Caveat emptor: these are luxury restaurants.