Foodies—they’re all around us. They look and walk and talk just like you, but, inside, they’re different. Whereas you—or someone normal you know—may run on calories and social acceptance, the foodie gains strength and energy by tracking down obscure regional specialties, or shoving rainbow-stained cheeznut churros (trademark pending) in their gaping insta-maws, or making bone broth kombucha in hand-spun clay pots or whatever.
You may know a foodie. Or maybe you’re friends with one. There might even be one in your own family. And since Justin Bieber’s rendition of Little Drummer Boy has made its way to Uber drivers’ playlists, you know it’s the time of year to buy your hypothetical foodie a gift. That is an easy thing to, but a hard thing to do without making them completely hate you and/or the entire holiday season.
I don’t know if you know this, but I am a foodie (technically I’m half foodie on my mother’s side, but that’s the side that counts), so I am qualified to offer advice. This is my advice: Stop buying them a bunch of stupid bullshit.
Once you establish that you love food, every single gift you receive for the rest of your life will be a stupid kitchen gadget. Or a variety pack of infused olive oils, or a novelty cookbook, but mainly the gadget thing. And it sucks.
I’m in the middle of moving to a new apartment, which means I was finally forced to clean out my “Kitchen Shit I Don’t Use” drawer, and it was a depressing treasure trove of old Christmas and birthday gifts. There were the pulled pork shredders, a vacuum sealer, salt and pepper shakers shaped like hippos, a microwave egg poacher, a crepe pan, an avocado pitter, a garlic press, a spiralizer, and a Slap Chop. Yeah, someone actually got me a Slap Chop.
I used the vacuum sealer once to try and sous vide a steak, but it turns out vacuum sealers will turn your meat brown. I tried to use the Slap Chop to make pico de gallo but it just mashed my tomatoes. I went the last several years using absolutely none of the other gadgets. My egg poacher is called a pot, my crepe pan is called a pan, my avocado pitter is called a paring knife—you get the picture.
If you subscribe to the “it’s the thought that counts” theory of gift-giving, and you just want to show the foodie in your life, “hey, I care just enough to notice literally the most basic thing about you,” then, by all means, by them the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker (25475). But as a foodie on the receiving end of that, know that your stupid gift gadget taking up valuable counter/drawer/eventual landfill space will become a seed of resentment that grows day after day, month after month, year after year, until your existence is purely synonymous with anti-consumerist, possibly anti-holiday rage. I don’t want to say the spiralizer ruined Christmas for me, but it ruined Christmas for me. Forever.
If you want to make the foodie’s life better, ask them what they want and need. Use your mouth words and communicate with them. Maybe they really want that Shun Premier 8-inch Chef’s Knife (HINT HINT), and you pitching in with another couple friends/family members to get it would mean a ton to them, and the gift would actually be put to use that way. Or maybe it’s a new cast iron Dutch oven (ALSO HINT), or a really great walnut cutting board (PLEASE GET THIS FOR ME), both of which are worth a million spiralizers.
I hold firm that asking people what they want does not make the gift giving process any less special, and if we’re going to embrace our status as capitalist sheep, we might as well make sure the end result is put to good use. Also, if anyone wants to buy a Slap Chop, find me on Craig’s List—$5, obo.
Josh Scherer is the Senior Food Writer at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @CulinaryBroDown. He once ate a six-course Thanksgiving meal at Taco Bell, and Thanksgiving is kinda like Christmas.