5 Explanations for Quirky Foodie Behavior

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Line at Franklin's BBQ in Austin, TX
Line at Franklin's BBQ in Austin, TX (click to enlarge)

As a follow-up to my previous post, "5 Telltale Signs of Foodie Behavior in the Wild," I thought I'd share some of my own personal reflections that might shed some light on why we foodies are such a quirky bunch.

Sign #1: Can often be found waiting in long lines for food, especially for Sunday brunch or for trendy and/or obscure items.

While waiting in a three-hour line for Franklin's BBQ in Austin, TX, it definitely occurred to me (and several of my fellow foodies) that it was a bit absurd waiting this long for a plate of brisket and ribs. And this line was just as famous as the food; an entrepreneurial individual had even created a successful business renting out lawn chairs to weary BBQ fans standing on their feet for hours.

But we're great at rationalizing our actions. "I'm in town for SXSW; who knows when I'll be back. Might as well stay put!" Or "Well, this gives me a chance to finish reading that 800-page novel," and "This beer won't drink itself at 10AM." Several people came prepared and set up picnic blankets and had coolers full of drinks, like it was a parking lot tailgate party.

So was it worth it? You do wonder whether the food is delicious in and of itself, or if it's merely the anticipation, or the fact that you're starving by the time you actually get a chance to eat and anything would taste great by that point.


But lines, sadly, are a fact of everyday life, whether it's at the bank, hospital, post office or DMV. Might as well wait for something fun, right? While some will wait hours, or even days, for the newest iPhone, or concert tickets, or for the doors to open on Black Friday, foodies are willing to wait for a delicious meal. And yes, we're definitely guilty of chasing trends and hyping them up and can definitely suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out.) In the end, we need to eat anyway. So for us, as this is our passionate pastime, why squander the opportunity to really enjoy our daily allotment of  calories? Besides, we'll be able to flaunt the fruit of our labor later on (see Sign #4.)

Sign #2: Endlessly obsesses over menu before ordering.

What to get, what to get?
What to get, what to get? (Photo: Jenny Oh)

Speaking of FOMO -- this crops up whenever I go to a new restaurant, particularly one that has a lot of buzz, is out-of-town or expensive. When I know my ability to return to an establishment will be difficult -- whether due to crowds, location or the limits of my bank account -- the stakes are raised and I tend to fret over my order. Should I get what people are raving about (unless of course, it has melon or licorice in it)? Or should I choose a more conservative entree and eschew the entree that looks like a molecular gastronomy experiment gone awry? And don't get me started on menus that are mini-novellas, with endless pages to flip through. If left to my own devices, I'd sit there for an hour studying the menu (and shamelessly gawking at other diners' plates); fortunately, a server appearing at my table will pressure me to hurry up and make up my mind. But one unexpected perk has emerged after all of these years of scrutinizing menus: I rarely experience any regrets when it comes to my meal, whereas my husband often turns to me and says, "I should have ordered what you have. Can I have another bite?"

Sign #3: Waits to eat food until the perfect photograph is captured for posterity and social media.

Food Pornography
Yours truly, food pornographer in action while husband waits...and waits. (Dennis Pasco/Flickr)

So to answer the earlier question of whether my three-hour-wait-for-a-plate-of-BBQ was worth it -- the answer is yes. It was one of the best plates of BBQ I've ever eaten, and that's speaking as an erstwhile Southerner. But of course, I had to take a photo before I took my first bite of pork ribs.

I know that food photography in restaurants drives some chefs crazy, although some embrace it and even share their own snaps -- but the debate over etiquette continues, with a few establishments even resorting to outright camera bans.

I try not to be a jerk and never use a flash, take my photos quickly and discreetly when possible -- or not at all. But as a food blogger and connoisseur, I usually do have my point-and-shoot camera with me. My husband knows to wait until I'm done before he can eat, which admittedly, can be difficult at times (like when he's ravenous.)

But now I have proof that I visited the venerable Franklin's BBQ, and people just love to humble brag, right? As foodhunters, our food pornography is our virtual trophy.

Sign #4: Uploads food porn to multiple social media networks.

Franklin's BBQ plate
Franklin's BBQ plate: Even after three hours, I couldn't eat all of this amazing food!

Our images flood our friends' social media feeds like a tsunami wave, spawning envy from fellow foodies and ridicule from others (conduct a search for the "Meanwhile on Instagram" meme as a funny example.) Others use their photos to accompany their Yelp! reviews; I tend to collect mine in my food porn sets on Flickr.

I also try not to share photos of every single bowl of cereal I've ever eaten and other mundane items (although I did conduct a wacky challenge of eating and photographing bacon everyday back in 2009). As an amateur shutterbug, photos are not only my form of artistic expression but as a means of documenting my experiences. My travelogues from past trips (such as India, Indonesia, Japan and Hong Kong) include quite a lot of food imagery. I love frequenting marketplaces, which I believe are a marvelous mirror for a country's culture; I learn so much by observing people's interactions when shopping, cooking or dining.

Sign #5: Daydreams about the next meal while still eating the current one.


I'm definitely guilty of chatting about where to have dinner while still chewing on my lunchtime sandwich. The act of eating makes me think about food, want to talk about food and...eat more food. I'm fortunate to have plenty of enablers, erm, friends, who share my love for all things culinary and don't get bored by my endless foodie chatter.

Jenny Turducken
Posing happily with a bacon-wrapped Turducken served at one of my collaborative birthday dinners! (Trevor Hartsell/Flickr)