Philadelphia Food Photographer
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Stories

My thoughts put into words and photographs.  Come travel and dine with me!

I live to explore food and food culture.

Sister in law's mom and aunt in Vietnam.  This is how they cook in the villages in Vietnam.

Sister in law's mom and aunt in Vietnam.  This is how they cook in the villages in Vietnam.

Just don't you dare call me a foodie.

Over the past several years the word foodie has been attached to to our vastly growing food scene.  So much so that it has entered our day to day lexicon whenever someone talks about food.

"There is this dish that I saw that looked good.  So I went out to try it myself."

"Oh!  So you are a foodie!"

Tim Weckerle, writing what's going on the menu.

Tim Weckerle, writing what's going on the menu.

That is what it has come to, describing just the enjoyment of discovering some food as being a foodie. Just as that is a generalization of the definition, or rather usage, the whole concept of a foodie is a sweeping generalization.  To me it sounds like someone who is looking to complete their bucket list like a tourist who has a bucket list of places they want to go to just so they can tell their friends and family they been here.  There is no sense of urgency to seek a deeper meaning to why that food, or place, is important to that culture or story behind what made that food.  Just... I ATE THIS!  I BEEN HERE!

Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa

Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa

This is a pretty deep description of the concept of a foodie, and summation of why I am writing this, that I read on twitter from Helen Rosner (follow her!): "People who are only interested in food are boring. Be interested in how food reflects, changes, is changed by, and intersects with the world"

That is what infuriates me when someone uses the word foodie and the people who consider themselves as "foodie."  As mentioned, there is only the bucket list mentality that I need to eat this and eat that.  Totally reinforcing the notion of ignorance, consumption, and blindly following.  I find that hugely troubling.  When someone is following some food trend, they aren't bothering to understand why that dish became famous, what the chef and his/her team gone through to make that particular dish, where that dish originated.  Unbeknownst to majority of the those with mentality, much of the very famous food that they have to try came from poor villages where every ingredient had to be cooked in a way to make it edible.  Food like pho, started out in a poor village in Northern Vietnam, actually much of Vietnamese cuisine started that way.  You wouldn't know that unless you looked into the history of a particular dish.  But it is so much more than just doing a google search of the food.  It's about asking questions and conversations with the people making and/or bringing you the food.

Chad Kubanoff of Same Same in Philadelphia

Chad Kubanoff of Same Same in Philadelphia

As a food photojournalist and editorial shooter, part of my job is documenting the dishes that I am sent to photograph and the environmental portraits of the people who made it.  Even if I wasn't being paid, that is how I approach my personal work.  While the dish is necessary, the people and culture behind it are way more important. 

Do yourself, and us, a favor, disavow the term "foodie" and seek deeper meaning in whatever you enjoy.