since What is gourmet? When I was young and married (a poor graduate student), I had a dinner party and served a five-can casserole. This dish involved cream of mushroom soup, fried canned noodles, and canned chicken. The result wasn’t very good. Today, the thought of “canned chicken” makes me cringe.
Writing this blog for GourmetGiftBaskets.com for a while and started thinking about the word “gourmet.” What exactly does it mean?
What is Gourmet?
A broad definition is a person who has refined taste, who enjoys high-quality, well-prepared food. Also referred to as a gastronome, foodie, epicure, epicurean, gourmand, or bon viveur.
The English teacher in me also notes that gourmet serves as an adjective (as in Gourmet Gift Baskets, for example). We recognize gourmet wines and coffees, restaurants, cookbooks, and even kitchen appliances. Anything to do with producing and relishing fine foods and drinks can rightly be called “gourmet.”
Wine Tastings and Dining Clubs
Gatherings such as wine tastings and dining clubs are gourmet. There is a niche industry of gourmet tourism that caters to people of discriminating tastes. Cooking shows – like those on the Food Network — are tremendously popular. The most famous publication, Gourmet Magazine, began in 1941 ended print publication in 2009, but the brand continues online (the Epicurious website) and in the general media.
The word “gourmet” is synonymous with the culinary arts. The “art” is an integral part of enjoying good food and drink. Gourmet also means an aesthetically pleasing presentation, attention to detail, the just-right balance of flavors to complement each other.
Foods thought of as “gourmet” – like goat cheese and caviar — are now found in ordinary supermarkets. Foods that are not usually considered exquisite (like bacon and salad oil) can be elevated to this status by special processing or unusual ingredients (honey-cured bacon and macadamia nut oil). There’s the ordinary turned extraordinary. Hamburger meat? No. Cured Angus beef? Yes.
Food that is basic to the indigenous people who eat it (quinoa, for example) can also achieve this elite status when introduced to a new culture.
The term “foodie” gained popularity in mid-1980 (first used by food critic Gael Greene in New York magazine and then popularized in “The Official Foodie Handbook”), and is a humorous synonym for the word gourmet.
Common wisdom asserts that there are people who eat to live and those who live to eat, the latter of whom may be called foodies or gourmets.
My husband is an incredible cook. We love sharing good food with good friends. Enjoy going out to dinner and discovering new restaurants. As I write this, he is playing poker with a group of his buddies. Along with the pretzel sticks and beer, he put out a tray of sweet and spicy mozzarella-stuffed peppadews. Maybe we are gourmets… since I know we won’t be eating five-can casserole anytime soon.