Monthly Archives: December 2011

THE CULINIST MANIFESTO

1. A “Foodie” is an amateur Culinist, concerned with eating (enjoyment of food).

2. A “Culinist” is ultimately concerned not solely with eating, but with culinary art: cooking (ingredients + practice), then eating.

3. The difference between being a foodie and being a culinist is that one can become a foodie by paying for it, whereas  being a culinist takes practice.

4. The culinist understands that the soul of culinary art is the home-cooked meal. The culinist is a Maker, a DIY cook, a radical improviser; not necessarily a chef.  She respects those who have dedicated their lives to food as an industry, but focuses on cooking at home.  Witness the number of chefs who, when asked about their favorite meals, recall not a dining experience at a high-end establishment, but food prepared by a loved one in her own kitchen.

5. The culinist also recognizes the class issues of food. Although certainly cognizant of the joys of popular food culture– television, celebrities, magazines– the culinist recognizes that most of the trappings of popular food culture are accessible only to those who can afford them.  Although she uses fresh, healthy ingredients whenever possible, she recognizes that these ingredients aren’t always available or affordable.

6. The culinist enjoys dining out as much as anyone else, but instead of simply thinking “this dish is delicious– we should come here again!,” is inspired to try to recreate the dish in her own kitchen.

7. The culinist believes that basic cooking skills are accessible to everyone, not just the privileged few, and considers it a duty to encourage others to cook, and to cook for others.

8. The culinist encourages and supports local food movements and farmer’s markets, but sees no shame in taking advantage of less expensive options, or using out-of-season ingredients should the mood strike. If using, for example, out-of-season tomatoes, the culinist will find a way to compensate for their inadequacies instead of going without.

9. The culinist is a gustatory adventurer. A true culinist will try anything in her ethical alphabet, as long as it is considered food by at least one other culture. A vegetarian culinist won’t hesitate to dive into huitlacoche; an omnivore culinist won’t balk at entomophagy. A true culinist will enjoy a wagyu rib-eye, but will not hesitate to indulge in a Big Mac should the mood strike.  The difference between the foodie and the culinist is that the culinist will likely try to use these ingredients for herself.

OUR DEMANDS

ON NOMENCLATURE:

10. We demand to be recognized as culinists, who see the culinary arts as living practices instead of as commodities and consumables.

ON REVIEWS:

11. We demand an end to useless reviews of high-end restaurants that most people can’t afford.

12. We demand reviews of establishments accessible to average people.

13. We call for reviews of recipes which can be cooked at home; reviews of ingredients that are delicious and cost-effective; reviews of cookbooks that are practical, not celebrity-driven or full of expensive recipes useless to the home cook; reviews of grocery stores and retailers.

14. We call for reviews useful to the Home Cook, not the faddist hobbyists of the modern food scene.

ON INGREDIENTS:

15. We demand affordable and accessible high-quality ingredients.

16. We call for higher taxation of processed foods and tax-breaks and incentives for small producers. 

17. We also, however, call for an end to the bigotry of whole-food purists. A culinist attempts to fashion an amazing meal regardless of the provenance of the ingredients available, and doesn’t look down her nose at those who cannot afford to pay for high-cost organics or boutique ingredients. A culinist occasionally might enjoy a fast-food hamburger from a national chain or a sausage full of nitrates and doesn’t need a lecture.

18. We call for a greater tolerance of interesting and exotic ingredients. Someone who wants to cook at home with grasshoppers shouldn’t have to face cultural derision for doing so.

ON RESTAURANTS:

19. We call for greater recognition of those who actually do the cooking. We don’t care about the public face of the latest trend-setting gastro-fad celebrity persona as anything more than ephemeral entertainment. Instead, we are interested in the line cooks, the wage slaves, the home cooks. 

20. We call for restaurants to explore creative cuisine available for everyone, not just the wealthy classes.  

21. We call for multiple portion sizes for more menu items available in all dining establishments, which will reduce waste and make better food available to a wider audience. Less waste + a wider audience = more cost-effective dining.

IN CONCLUSION

22. The Culinist is a hands-on devotee of cooking as an art form that should be widely available to all, in home and out; that the cook should have access to the widest possible palette of ingredients; and that everything is worth trying at least once. Any other approach is mere foodery. 

Are you a FOODIE, or a CULINIST?