As we begin our final sprint in this marathon of a year, through the wonderful but hectic holiday season to our New Year's finish line, we've begun to wonder about choosing a single word that might sum up 2008 from a food-lover's point of view. Grand openings and surprise closings, blog-o-mania and the arrival of the gastropub - it was an eventful year for us foodies, and many options come to our opinionated minds.
Locavore, perhaps, as a tribute to the dedication and commitment of those who have made the effort to eat locally. Their numbers have certainly seen a dramatic increase in '08. Or, how about artisinal, a word that's had a great run here in Dallas, popping up throughout the city's food chain everywhere from gourmet shops to chocolatiers to restaurants of all shapes and sizes. We can now buy a slice of artisanal cheddar at the indie cheese shop around the corner, as well as a loaf of artisanal bread at the big-box grocery up the street, along with the latest Dean Koontz and a pack of Skittles. Don't us wrong - we love artisanal, but in 2008, it was everywhere.
(It's a word search - get it? We have no idea what's hidden in here...)
Or, if we were to simply wander the aisles of our local market, examining juices, jams, prepared foods and, yes, even shampoos and scented candles for evidence of this year's top trend, we'd invariably settle on pomegranate, the new it fruit. The jewel-toned, high-maintenance, pinata-like pom has even started making headway into the liquor store, of all places - what could be next? Pomegranate chewing gum? ("Powerful antioxidants for powerfully fresh breath!") We don't know about making this our Word of the Year, but can we at least all agree to move on to another fad fruit in '09? We nominate the humble but delicious banana.
In his column in the New York Times Magazine, the brilliant William Safire named frugalista his choice for Word of the Year. Its definition, "a person who lives a frugal lifestyle but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying secondhand, growing own produce, etc.", makes mention of food, but we don't know of anyone personally who has a Victory Garden out back.
We like the concept behind frugalista, though, the idea that one can be budget-conscious and fabulous at the same time. FP and I - in our humble opinion - would both fit into that category (although by her own admission, FP does shop a wee bit too much at Whole Foods to completely qualify). Indeed, the economy is on everyone's mind, and we're all doing everything we can to get more out of less this year. But, how better to quantify the food-centric frugalist?
We're thinking of someone, much like ourselves, who regularly shops two or three stores in order to get the most for her money. Someone who hunts for bargains, but also knows a true value, saving coin where she can, and splurging on the items she believes are worth every hard-earned penny. Furthermore, this individual would have a go-to list of local restaurants where he could find delicious, well-executed dishes to fit a tight budget, so that he'd never have to resort to driving-through when in search of an economical meal. But he'd have a little stashed away, a special savings account earmarked for his occasional trips to our city's food meccas, because staying in touch with tastemakers and top culinary talent would be high on his priority list as well. Finally, this individual would also know how to take advantage of bar menus, specials and promotions when dining out, in order to get a taste of the good life for a fraction of the price.
So, what to call this fashionable, frugal foodie? Here are a couple of our top choices:
Budgecurian: Imported French chestnuts at the 99-cent store? A budgecurian find!
Culinomical: Dining at home, then heading out for port and chocolates at the new hot sweet shop? You're so culinomical!
(just for fun) Gourmiser: Gary totally served Franzia at dinner last night, and I know what he's got down in the cellar. What a gourmiser!
Like any of these? Have a suggestion of your own for our Word of the Year? Let us know, and we'll narrow it down soon...