Posted by: jevcat | June 4, 2010

Philophages Unite!

I would like to speak out on behalf of a misunderstood minority, a class of people that has been so overlooked as to be without a name.  Until now:  the philophage.

Put plainly and simply:  we love to eat, we adore food.  Other coinages simply don’t fill the bill:  “foodie” smacks of a trendiness we would find far too limiting.  “Gourmet” implies an elitism that would restrict our catholicity of taste.  We are as happy scarfing down down-home fare from Country Living as devouring elevated delights from the pages of Martha Stewart Living. 

Ordinary people eat because they get hungry and because it is pleasant or they are nervous or bored or being polite.  We do that, too.  But for us, eating, properly understood, is also an art:  taste, texture, all the elements of food are as the instruments in a symphony or color and brush technique in a painting.  To the true philophage, each meal is a process of experimentation and adventure:  How do these peas taste?  Now how do they taste if I eat a bit of mashed potatoes first?  If I take some peas and chicken on my fork at the same time, will they amplify or detract from each other’s flavors?  We are explorers in a world often invisible or unavailable to those who share our table.

It is something that is impossible to explain to those who do not share it – take my doctor, for instance, at our three or four times a year reviews of my general health.  These often involve uncomfortable discussions of my weight, which would be perfect if only I were, say, a foot taller.  (But then, I never was much good at basketball.)

To the true philophage, good food is as good as good sex.  Good food can make the earth move – and let’s face it, how often is sex really good enough to make the earth move?  Enjoyable, yes, but registering low, if at all, on the Richter scale.  And purchasing it is illegal in most states.

Personally, food is my drug of choice.  Food soothes me, lifts my mood, gives me energy, makes all things seem possible, and does so without impairing my thinking or my driving ability (well, we won’t discuss the one about reaching into the back seat to get the French fries placed there so as not to eat them all before arriving home).

Unlike others with potential substance abuse issues, we cannot go “cold turkey” (actually we’d love to go cold turkey – leftover turkey, stuffing, and cranberry jelly sandwiches being one of life’s joys; and cold lamb sandwiches are succulent – but I digress).  I have contemplated attempting to lose weight by eating only those foods I do not like, but a diet consisting entirely of liver, anchovies, and sardines raises its own health issues.

Philophages are not necessarily cooks.  One need not be a painter to marvel at Vermeer’s use of light or the genius of Van Gogh’s application of paint in Starry Night.

Good food can convert the soul.  One must say “thank you” to someone for the miracle of heirloom zapotec and brandywine tomatoes, the revelation of ripe strawberries or field-fresh corn, the transporting ecstasy of that brown stuff at the bottom of the roasting pan. 

So I say:  philophages of the world, stand proud.  Others may brave outer space or ocean’s depths.  We will venture to explore at the local diner.  Amen.


  1. Yes, yes and double yes. I love liver. the only thing I do’t like is mint. You are great.

  2. Comrade, I salute you…with a cup of tea and delicious rye toast, salted butter and blood orange marmalade. Yumm to Thee!

  3. Could we form a Philophage club? I’m one of those whose cooking skills are only rudimentary, but I do delight in eating and exploring food. I always did. My parents used to brag about what an un-fussy eater I was; a child who would try anything and liked al most all of it. ‘Tis still true..

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