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On Your Table Blog

March 9, 2023

What is a foodie?

What is a foodie?

by Brandon Lindstrom

The first time I was ever dubbed a foodie happened to be at the AFBF convention in Puerto Rico this winter. I picked out some various places around San Juan for the group to eat, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food, so they decided I knew what I was doing. Joke’s on them! I make stuff up as I go.

First off, I’ll define what a foodie isn’t: someone who simply likes to eat. Everybody loves to eat. Americans are the best in the world at eating. Even the picky eaters…it’s just a matter of what. Even supermodels probably have their favorite brands of bottled water and rice cakes.

I define a foodie as someone who has a curiosity about food that makes the experience enjoyable.

Prior to that trip, I had zero knowledge about Puerto Rican food. I had never even been to a Puerto Rican restaurant (there is one in Bismarck I hear is pretty good, although I’ve never been there myself). So, in the airports on the way there, my curiosity got me researching.

A big part of food, to me, is history (I love history). I did know that there would be a lot of Spanish, African, native Caribbean, English, Portuguese, and even Chinese/Indian influences in Puerto Rican food. That gave me a general idea of what dishes might be like. Hint: plantains, beans, rice, and seafood.

My next research step was to figure out what some of the main dishes of the area were. Here are what ended up being two of my favorites:

Mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish is made from fried green plantains or fried yuca, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and pork cracklings, then mashed. It is usually served with a fried meat and a chicken broth soup. Diane, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arroz Mamposteao on right

And Arroz Mamposteao, which is basically bean stew, cooked rice and ripe plantains (pictured on the right in the photo above).

After that, it was as simple as Internet searching places in San Juan that served some of the dishes I had found.  And once you’re at a place, there’s no shame in looking up unfamiliar menu items on your phone. I even do that in Fargo from time to time. It’s a great way to discover new things to try.

My next step was to try some of the SAME dishes I liked at different places, to get a feel for what the general flavor was supposed to be.

Were these dishes authentic Puerto Rican food? After all, it was Puerto Rican food IN Puerto Rico. I’m not sure, because I never use the word authentic. Did I have the same dish in Ponce, a city on the other side of the island? No. Did I have it cooked at somebody’s house, to see what the same dish home-cooked tastes like? No. I can no more tell you what “authentic” Puerto Rican food is than I can tell what the be-all-end-all authentic North Dakotan recipe for knoephla soup is. That's why I don’t use the word authentic, ever. But you CAN get the general idea.

So that’s my thought process as someone who was deemed a foodie, and how you can just land in an unfamiliar area and confidently go find good stuff to eat. You DO have to been an adventurous eater, too. In the words of Mom: “JUST TRY IT ONCE.”

Brandon LindstromBrandon is a former Young Farmer and Rancher Committee chair and the current Cass County Farm Bureau President.