October 15th, 2010 | by KELLY CLARKE Food & Drink |

The Oregonian Hates Foodies and Everybody Not Eating at Shari's Right Now.



[Updated 2:45 pm Friday, Oct. 15, scroll to the bottom of the post for new content.]

Rarely are staffers here at WW struck speechless, but The Oregonian A&E section's "Non-foodies food guide" did it. Oregon's paper of record devoted four pages to explaining why foodies (ahem, you) are assholes and why you should spend your hard-earned dollars at Shari's, Taco Time, Old Spaghetti Factory and other quasi-local chains (Taco Time is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.).

Writer Lee Williams explains:
"I am not a foodie. To me, food is what you eat, not what you pray to. Call them gourmands, connoisseurs, picky eaters, or just plain old snobs. Foodies blog, write and chat about pet restaurants, trends and chefs. They leave little room on their plates or in their hearts for fast food, family dining and the untrendy. And they can be pretty mean to some places we love."

Well, okay then (cue trumpets for The O's long-awaited, post-Roger Porter direction in food coverage). The story goes on to applaud Shari's pie selection, call for a Taco Time vs. Koi Fusion taste test and even includes a sidebar, Jeff Foxworthy-style, on identifying foodies (e.g., they are rich; they hate America).

In a town that lauds biodynamic heirloom tomatoes in equal measure with Popeyes chicken and carts that serve fry-stuffed sandwiches larger than your head, the foodie hate (and what does "foodie" even mean, in this context?) seems weird if not downright misguided. As one Yelp commenter noted, "the article talks about foodies the way some folks here talk about hipsters or how Glenn Beck talks about liberals." I don't have any problem highlighting things to love at under-recognized restaurants (as a high schooler I lived on Shari's Oreo milkshakes and seasoned waffle fries), but did anybody in Portland not already know about these establishments? But maybe we simply aren't in touch with Portland eaters, whom we've always assumed were equal-opportunity gluttons, foodie or otherwise. We can't figure out whether the story was prompted by misguided faux-populism, demands from the advertising department or group dementia brought on by an office-wide outbreak of syphilis; in any case, its angry, anti-food lover's tone is puzzling and pissing off a hell of a lotta locals. (Read Eater PDX's delightful roundup of comments when you get a sec.)

Just to remind you, WW's own elitist, America-hatin' Restaurant Guide hits the streets next Wednesday (until then, you can read all our high falutin' recommendations from 2009). In any effort to help all of the city's poor, beleaguered foodies regain their equilibrium after The O's crushing blow against their their way of life this morning, here's a little taste of the Guide, with five places that serve food that tastes better and costs less than anything featured in the "Non-Foodies" guide today (click to enlarge).



UPDATE: Oregonian A&E Editor DeAnn Welker responds to commenters on the Oregonian's message boards:
Thanks for reading and for your comments, everyone.

I want to weigh in here and explain a few things.

1. I think the term "guide" is possibly confusing, and I apologize for that. This story was not meant to be a dining "guide" in the sense of our annual Diner guide (where you can read about the restaurants we reviewed and recommended this year) or even our restaurant reviews.

None of the places written about here are being reviewed in this story. Instead, this is a feature story about chains and/or longtime restaurants that are generally ignored by the food media (including The Oregonian), but that have deep local roots.

2. The fun poked at "foodies" was meant to be funny, of course, not mean. I consider myself a foodie, too, and I found it humorous.

3. The opinions in the piece are those of one person, the writer (though fully endorsed and supported by me, the section editor), and are not indicative of any larger agenda by The Oregonian. Unlike Diner, this was not something that took months of planning or preparation or the formation of any committees. It was an A&E cover story, plain and simple.

4. That said, I think this story was a refreshing change from what we at The Oregonian normally write about dining in Portland. Don't get me wrong: I am proud of our Dining coverage of the higher-end hotspots (including the recent A&E cover story on six hot new places, by one of our regular restaurant contributors, Michael C. Zusman).

But let's face it: People do eat at these places, and, in a city packed with locavores, it's cool to know which chains are locally based, isn't it?

Again, thanks for reading and taking the time to discuss this. It's much appreciated.

DOUBLE UPDATE: I just ate Jack in the Box for lunch in order to free myself from foodie slavery. I found that paying extra for seasoned curly fries was a good move. It really set off the flavor of my Spicy Jack chicken sandwich. Highly recommended local eats.
 
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