I want to replace the word "foodie" with something else. First of all, adding a diminutive "-ie" to the end of anything used to describe adults makes me want to punch a panda. (Those things really don't want to live, anyway. Look it up.)
Secondly, to add "-ie" to any mundane noun that we all require for survival is just asinine.
I'm an airie! No one enjoys breathing more than I do. I can identify different types of air. This one is cold; this one is warm and thick -- ooh! This one reminds us of the air we breathed that one time in fucking ROME. Have you been to fucking ROME? You should go. You'll love the air.
Food is a sensual experience. It transcends the metabolic and becomes, like art and music, that which nourishes our imaginations, our aesthetics, the undefinable soul. You can eat a Big Mac and instantly be seven years old again, sitting across from your grandmother in those shiny plastic booths looking at a Mayor McCheese statue. You can bite a forkful of risotto and be in Piedmont on your first Europe trip, scared to death of your new lover and picking fights to make sure they aren't going to just leave you there when things get ugly.
I once took a bite of refried beans at this old-school Tex-Mex dive and cried a little. Of all the refried beans in town, these were the exact flavor of those found in a bean and cheese burrito I used to get every day before work in San Clemente, CA. It was right before my mom died. I was living in my car and on friends' couches. I was 22 and wrote and drew in a huge sketch book every day. I was free and my whole life was before me and I ate this damned burrito until it proclaimed itself the author of this whole period of my life. Surely you have a burrito like that.
Anyhow, I get it. You love food. But you want to distinguish yourself from the others who love food - you really love food. But you aren't a chef or anything. You might have read Jeffrey Steingarten, watch "Top Chef" religiously, cook from the Julia Childs cookbook. Have a subscription to Bon Appetit.
Or let's go a step higher, yes?
You took a cooking-class vacation in Emilia-Romagna; you went to Brooklyn to learn to take apart a pig. You wear a t-shirt that says "Offal sweet." You read everything you can get your hands on about food, cooking, even hunting.
You're committed (or rich).
Awesome. Terrific. Passion = good. Learning = good. You want to define it. Who you are, your commitment. You want to say Take me seriously, give me the good eats, because I ain't no plebian palate!
So "foodie." This is it. The moniker for both types, and everything in between. Maybe you hate it and want a better word, but you hesitate to come up with one because you tend to shirk such easy definitions of yourself. And "food snob" makes you insanely sick to your stomach (or should).
To you demoted souls, I feel you. Just remember, a person is defined by their actions. Order the tongue and I'll appreciate your foodieness. Mostly, order it without pomp or a weird affected accent (you wouldn't believe how often I get this when guys order, especially wine), or a sinister wink to your date (rettttch), and I'll appreciate that you Get It. That you are One of the Good Ones. You are a better lover, a better liver, and a better companion.
But show up in my section and make tortured, twisted faces when I suggest the lamb's tongue sautéed with wild-honey pan sauce, but announce that because you are such big "foodies," then you "should get it," and I will know you for the insecure, bandwagon-leaping imposters that you are.
And you are legion.