How I Became a Food Snob

Souffle – not mine 🙂

It was inevitable. I grew up on dinners like this: boiled potatoes and carrots, meat, white bread, milk, and canned fruit for dessert. How could I not grow up to become a food snob – as an act of rebellion? It crept up on me slowly.

Step 1 – Living on My Own

  • When I left home, I realized I could actually make rice in a pot on the stove, and didn’t need either a rice cooker or Minute Rice.
  • I grimaced when I was invited to a friend’s place for dinner and was offered spaghetti from a can – I had never eaten it before.
  • I lost my taste for iceberg lettuce and graduated to romaine, red leaf, and – inevitably – arugula.
  • Although it took me a dozen tries, I finally learned to like fresh cilantro.

Step 2 – Upscale Substitutions

As my tastes became more adventurous and my salary increased, I swapped out ordinary ingredients for the snob foods of the day:

  • My favourite cheese evolved from cheddar to brie to chevre (with mango white Stilton as a treat)
  • I preferred feta and olives on pizza to pepperoni and mozzarella (and artichoke hearts would not go amiss)
  • I switched from bottled tomato sauce to pesto on spaghetti – then back to fresh tomatoes and herbs

Destined to become marinated artichoke hearts

Step 3 – Got All Holier-Than-Thou

  • I disdained hot dogs
  • I gave up McDonalds and Burger King
  • I developed taste for portabella burgers

En route to becoming a portabella burger

Step 4 – Benefits of Money and Travel

  • I like squash ravioli
  • I prefer gelato to ice cream
  • I have successfully made a soufflé

In my latest incarnation, instead of being a gourmand, I make homemade/rustic everything, which is, of course, its own kind of (reverse) snobbery. I am a fresh/veggie/ locavore foodie-in-training. On the other hand, I still have gluten, dairy and non-organic foods!

I have at least 3 non-snob holdovers:

  • Canned baked beans
  • Peanut butter and sliced bananas on toast
  • Kraft Dinner

Yum, nice orange KD!

Some habits never die!

If you are a hardcore connoisseur, you might relate to Esquire’s quiz, Are You a Food Snob?

Let me know!

18 comments

  1. I couldn’t have written that better myself. With the exception of the mushrooms…right down to Kraft. 🙂

  2. Hmm.. I’ve tried cilantro more than a dozen times and still don’t like it. Or the smell. But I will keep trying..

  3. I’m not a food snob, but neither am I a fast food junkie……..I didn’t complete the quiz are the answers were none I could use? So what does that make me……….I think normal!! I am actually a very plain traditional eater. As we rarely ever have Kraft dinner when I do have it, it’s classed as a “treat.” Mind you I prefer my own homemade mac and cheese if truth be told!!

    Gill

  4. When I was young and we went on holiday in the caravan mum always took packets of dried Smash potatoes and Surprise Peas (for those who have never had the delight – these are packets of tiny hard green lumps which are then plunged into boiling water for 3 minutes to reconstitute) both items very good if you were to be backpacking somewhere around the country and didn’t want the weight of carrying potatoes and tinned peas – but in a caravan?
    I am totally a fresh food, only organic, veggie now – perhaps it was something in my past that prompted this decision!!

  5. EcoCatLady

    I can totally relate to this post. I was raised on TV dinners, fast food and yes, canned spaghetti (mostly because it was something I could prepare myself and mom sorta checked out of domestic duties when I was about 8.) Anyhow, learning to cook was an act of supreme rebellion for me. Of course having a number of severe food allergies also helped push me in that direction.

    • Having anything other than plain, unseasoned meat and potatoes was new to me. However, I am happy I grew up with Real Food, and had nutrition figured out. When I was a kid, we had home baking every day, so I craved things like store-bought choc chip cookies 🙂

  6. This post really struck a chord with me. Until ten years ago a varied diet for me meant switching to a different brand of instant mashed potato and having brown bread for my cheese sandwiches, then I discovered the joys of cooking and I’ve never looked back and cringe when I think of how I used to eat. It has to be said though, tinned baked beans are simply the best and there will always be room for them in my life!

    • Until my child left home, we ate a lot of “kid food” like frozen french fries and breaded chicken strips. I am happy to have them gone from my life. But yes, the tinned baked beans have stayed!

  7. SarahN

    Hahaha souffle has become my ‘scratch’ dinner, as I almost always have the ingredients,and like (what you call)KD dinner, it ticks my comfort food desires/tastes whilst still being homemade. Totally still not into cilantro ( coriander to me). Smells and taste like stink bugs

  8. I laughed when I read someone served you canned spaghetti for dinner in their home. That strikes me as so funny! I wouldn’t say that I’m a food snob. But I do like food to taste fresh and interesting. I grew up in the era of the only seasoning ever used in cooking was salt. And yes, we had white bread sandwiches, twinkies, applesauce in a tin (that didn’t really taste like apples at all) and mashed potatoes from a box.

    The potatoes were my father’s favorite. When I had real mashed potatoes at a friend’s house, I came home so delighted that I’d been the one to learn “the secret” to making potatoes that tasted like something other than a box. I explained to my mom in great detail how my friend’s mom had made them. We still had potatoes from a box, to satisfy my father, but whenever I was making the potatoes I went to the store to buy some “real” potatoes to prepare for the family. This was seen as gourmet in our house! Okay, maybe I am a tad snobbish about food.

    • There seems to be a definite backlash against packaged food from people who grew up with it. One of the few things my mom made from a box was pizza, which came with a dough mix and a tin of sauce. So of course I had to get all snobby with pizza and make it very deluxe!

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