I have friends who like to call me a foodie. I also have friends who call me a food snob. One friend always loves to bring up that it’s annoying that I can’t just go to IHOP with her and appreciate the pancakes. My response back is always the same: the pancakes at IHOP would be fine, but they won’t be anywhere as good as ones I make at home or some amazing independent breakfast spot we’d want to check out. And if I have a finite number of meals to eat in my lifetime, why do I want to waste it on a generic and tasteless chain like IHOP unless it’s purely out of convenience?
I don’t consider myself a food snob, though. I don’t look down on people for not knowing more about any number of cuisines. I don’t expect everyone to spend their entire Sunday afternoons cooking the way I like to. But one thing I will say is: if I am talking about something food-related I care about and you try to correct me, you better watch out because there’s very little chance I will be wrong. I know that sounds arrogant, but let’s say this: I don’t bullshit about things I care about. If you tell me about a current event and I’m unaware of it, unlike some people I know, I will not pretend to know what you’re talking about and babble on and on and pretend like I understand everything when I know nothing. I will admit I don’t know and listen. I will only talk when I really know what I am talking about. However, if I am passionate enough to go on and on about something and you try to correct me about something very basic, I will pounce on you.
Here’s a case in point. Tonight, I’m at dinner with my friend and his girlfriend. We’re discussing buckwheat pancakes, and I tell my friend that buckwheat pancakes are actually gluten-free because buckwheat is not actually wheat or grain; it’s a misnomer and comes from a seed. He immediately freaks out and insists I am wrong.
Friend: It’s not gluten free — it’s a grain! Wheat! Buck-wheat! Wheat!
Me: That’s just its English name and is a misnomer. Buckwheat is made out of ground seeds. It’s closer to quinoa than it is to the wheat in your bread.
Friend: It’s buck-wheat! (turns over to his Japanese girlfriend, because apparently Japanese people eat soba noodles, which is made of buckwheat, so of course she has to be an authority on this). Right? It’s wheat!
Girlfriend: Yes, it’s buck-wheat. (She’s speaking way too slowly and both of us are getting antsy).
Me: (there’s no way I’m letting this go) No, again, it’s in the name. Buckwheat is not wheat. It’s closer to a fruit than it is to wheat. Why don’t you just Google it and you’ll find out. Why do you think gluten-free people are using buckwheat flour now?!! Do you think they’re trying to kill themselves? These are all facts. There’s a reason these “ancient grain” flours are so popular now.
Girlfriend: (timid) It’s not a real wheat.
Friend: Ooh, okay. (decides that I am now right)
It’s always nice when you can claim authority of a food just because of your country of origin. But hey – even if she didn’t agree with me, her passport wasn’t going to be a reason for me to stop arguing. That’s what Google is here for.
That’s the other takeaway from this, though. A name doesn’t always mean much, particularly when the name is an English name. If it’s an Asian name, chances are the meaning is there. English – meh — not so much. Here is another case to illustrate this: buttermilk. THERE IS NO BUTTER IN BUTTERMILK. My father-in-law loves to mention how caloric and unhealthy buttermilk must be for you because of how much butter is in it — no fail, it happens every time the word comes up in conversation. I always remind him that it’s just soured milk. Back in the day, buttermilk was the liquid that remained from butter churned into cream. Today, it’s literally just soured milk. You can even made it yourself by adding a vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of regular milk.