The “Gentle” Food Snob

Published March 4, 2012 by Maryanne

The first time I was called a “food snob” I took it as a compliment. At one time, about six years ago, I was known as a “raw foodist” — a person who eats nothing but fresh food (unprocessed, unfiltered, unpasteurized, uncooked). Unless I ate a mango out of season, anything that touched my mouth was absolutely delicious because I brought nothing but fresh and prepared it myself (the dish pictured above is one of my raw delights, mashed bananas and sliced kiwi with raw cacao nibs — all organic).

At one time, there were only four restaurants I would eat in and they were all in NYC: Quintessence, Bonobo’s, Caravan of Dreams and Pure Food and Wine. Had I dined anywhere else, I would be eating prison rations because the menu choices were so limited.

Over the years, I let down my guard. I am still a food snob, my first preference being home cooked meals from scratch (by me, my husband or any friend/family member — in that order); second, the NYC raw restaurants; and third any vegetarian restaurant or a health food store that offers seating and fresh meals. BUT, although still a food snob, I am now a more gentle one. I will go out to eat at any restaurant — including diners (surprise, surprise) and enjoy the meal. I swear!

Diehard raw foodists, health enthusiastics, or foodies who would simply refuse to step foot into a diner may not get this, but hear me out …

During my raw food years, I’ve had several bad reactions to non-raw or non-organic food I consumed when dining out. These bad reactions consisted of mainly rashes, but also bloating and stomach aches. I’ve had similar reactions during parties when someone claimed something was all natural and it wasn’t, therefore I ended up running to the nearest health food store for probiotics. Eventually I started bringing my own food everywhere, including restaurants.

I was beginning to feel like a freak. I had to stop and ask myself, “Do I really want to be THIS pure?”

Vegans and vegetarians I met online would always give me holier than thou attitude saying that I needed to meet more vegan friends, which to me sounded cult-like and scary. Thank you very much, but I like the friends I already have — non-judgmental.

Little by little I started weaning myself back on cooked foods. And admittedly not always healthy foods either. After three years of not consuming pasta, bread and sugar, I let myself have a treat slowly and surely until I was able to eat restaurant food or non-raw food without an adverse reaction.

Now I can eat ANYWHERE without fear.

Do I still believe in raw and health foods? Yes, but I also believe that isolation isn’t healthy. If you live on a farm or in California where there is a great abundance of natural, health food — then God bless you. But most of us don’t. And most of us don’t have friends and family that eat as healthy as we’d like them to, but you know what? It’s OKAY!

I believe that good food is essential to good health. But it’s more than food. It’s love and friendship. It’s exercise. It’s listening to music. It’s having pets. It’s having a career and/or hobby you absolutely love. It’s having dreams and following your heart’s desire. This is probably why people, like say, Steven Tyler, have been through the mill with drugs and adversity and still look amazing in their 60s. It’s all a state of mind!

Food is something you can’t escape, so why not enjoy it to the fullest, under all circumstances. Meals should be enjoyed, not feared. Six years ago I was so obsessed with health, I was underweight and nervous all the time. Now, I could afford to lose five pounds, but I am content and enjoy life more because I can go anywhere and not be afraid if there will be something I can or can’t eat. Nor do I obsess over what is in everything. I do my best at home and when I’m dining out, I just hope for the best.

So, these days, 60 percent of the time I am preparing food for myself (raw or organic), 30 percent of the time I enjoy a healthy meal not prepared by myself, whether it’s an Amy’s Organic TV dinner or a meal at Veggie Heaven and the other 10 percent of the time I’ll go to a diner or treat myself to french fries or cold sesame noodles. To me, this is a wonderful balance — truly having my cake and eating it too.

And when I go out to a restaurant or to someone’s home and the meal isn’t up to par, I will not complain, but rather make up for it with my next meal. So even though I’m still a food snob, no one notices. Not that there is anything wrong with being a foodie or a food snob, it just means you embrace a good meal. But when someone wants to spend time with you and he/she chooses a restaurant, I think it’s in bad taste, not to mention bad for the digestive system, to snub a meal by merely saying, “It’s alright” and making a face.

If you must express your displeasure (and I admit, I am guilty of this myself), at least say it with some positive force behind it … like, you could say, “It’s not that great, but wow, what a fantastic conversation we had! I always love hanging out with you!”or “Food sucks, but what a good waiter!” or “Limp lettuce, but the atmosphere is stellar!”

Now THAT is a gentle food snob and something to truly be proud of! Changing my healthy ways was probably the healthiest thing I ever did for my psyche!

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9 comments on “The “Gentle” Food Snob

  • I didn’t know for sure you were introducing restaurant food back in, but once in a while you would mention going out to eat somewhere, so I had assumed. Anyway, what a wonderful way to let us know. Your writing was “delicious.”

  • When you are old enough to retire, come to Florida; we have such a long growing season and a climate that supports a huge variety of produce. You can garden, eat well, write … and chase away snakes and alligators for exercise.

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