It's not a good practice to start on a negative note, but at times it is imperative to do that to get a better understanding of the elementary subjects of, say an article. To truly appreciate the difference between the two terms we are going to be discussing in this article, that is Gourmet and Gourmand, we need to get certain terms out of the way. So, let’s start with an everyday term, such as ‘foodie’. This term comes up in our everyday lingo multiple times, but there would be few who would know that this term is just a wee bit negative. True, that just like the word gourmet, it implies ‘a lover of good food’, but it also carries the meaning of ‘having food in excess quantities’, which is not a good thing, and it brings us closer to the meaning of Gourmand. So, it should be noted that the word ‘foodie’ is something that the learned ones with an enormous appetite don’t want to identify themselves with.
Then, we need to ensure not to use the word 'epicure' instead of 'gourmet'. The textbook definition of ‘epicure’ is ‘one with sensitive and discriminating tastes, especially in food or wine’. This goes a step further than compared to ‘foodie’ when it comes to negativity because it has a secondary meaning, which is ‘one devoted to sensual pleasures’. So, it becomes very obvious that one needs to be very careful when selecting a word to describe words like Gourmet and Gourmand. This is particularly true in the case of the former.
One might ask, why are we so focused on Gourmet and Gourmand when even after we eliminate words like ‘foodie’ and ‘epicure’, there are so many words to describe food and drink. The answer to that would be that these two words are probably the best descriptors when we consider the two basic elements of food and drink, which would be quality and quantity.
Gourmet vs. Gourmand
To differentiate between Gourmet and Gourmand, we can focus on quality versus quantity, as mentioned earlier. Gourmet tends to go more with quality, while Gourmand leans more towards quantity. When you talk about a person being a Gourmet, you are giving him credit for a refined palate and the ability to discern finesse. On the other hand, a Gourmand is expected to act in a gluttony manner, he might be able to tell the difference between ‘rich’ food and routine dishes, but his focus is on consuming more and more of what is being served, irrespective of the quality being served.
Differences Between Gourmet and Gourmand In Tabular Form
|Parameters of comparison||Gourmet||Gourmand|
|Period to which it belongs||Belongs to a more recent past||Older, in use since the 15th century|
|Focuses on||Haute cuisine||High Consumption|
|Form of eating||Elite, high-society||Populist|
|Knowledge about fine dining||High level||From small to medium level|
What Is Gourmet?
Gourmet, the word, has its origins in the French language. Strictly speaking, it means a ‘wine broker’, in French that would be called taste-vin. It is pronounced as gor-MAY where the ‘u’ and ‘t’ are silent. It is an idea that has culinary associations and is related to fine dining. Gourmet brings to mind elaborate preparations and aesthetically cooked meals served over seven courses. The number of courses included in the meal is big but the same can’t be said about the servings. The amount of servings tend to be small but costly. The ingredients of the meal are normally rarities for that particular region, and that explains the expensive nature of the meal. The dishes per se are more often than not affected by the interactions of various cultures, and an overlap of traditions can also be seen.
A true gourmet considers food to be an art and/or luxury. To him, the making, eating and displaying of the food items is an experience in itself. A true gourmet is excited about his food to the extent that he would even delve into researching the historical data available on the food item. He goes a step further to find out the origins of the food item. He is meticulous when it comes to the preparation of the same. He is very choosy when it comes to selecting the ingredients. He makes sure that these are of the best quality.
Types of Gourmet
As the name suggests, extra caution and care are exercised when this type of food is being made. It is not available everywhere and locations are earmarked for the making of this type of food. The same holds for its ingredients which are not available in most grocery stores, and if at all they can be found there they would be available in small amounts only and that too only for certain times of the year. These food items are distinct, their flavor is not common, and even the texture might vary.
A gourmet store is a place that stocks the best quality ingredients from the world over. Having the right kind of connections helps the store owners to import food ingredients that are not available in their region. Other than the ingredients the store which is therefore one of its kind, also carries the necessary equipment that helps in the preparation of gourmet dishes.
The techniques and the ingredients used by a gourmet restaurant are what sets them apart from any other restaurant in their area. The gourmet dishes thus prepared are of the highest standards. The dishes we are talking about here are a welcome change from the dishes that are prepared in the other restaurants. Even the best connoisseurs of food and drink feel that their palates are being challenged.
A gourmet chef is someone highly skilled in the preparation of various dishes with the help of the best of the ingredients. His talent in the field of cooking leads to him deploying new techniques while preparing gourmet dishes. But his talent is not limited to the preparation of dishes, he goes a step further by presenting them in the fanciest manner.
A Gourmet Kitchen features high-grade appliances that are used in the preparation of gourmet dishes. These appliances offer the benefit of convenience as well. They offer easy storage space and counter space which make the chef’s job a lot easier.
Examples of a Gourmet Meal
Smoked Ricotta Tortelli and Tomato Consomme
An Italian dish where ricotta cheese is stuffed in ravioli. The final serving consists of asparagus which is sauteed and tomato consommé which has been made fresh. The final appearance can be misleading as it is not just about that (which is awesome, to put it mildly), it’s the flavor that drives you nuts because even though the appearance is nothing short of great, the flavour outweighs the appearance. Elegance is what the dish is about, and it’s a great way to show off your skills, The flavour as already mentioned is clean and fresh, and the tomato’s essence is a screamer.
Sesame and Coriander Crusted Basa
It’s the little things that make a difference. But first things first – it starts with marinating the fish fillet, the marinate consists of a mix of spices. As soon as the marination process is over the fish is put on a grill and left there till it turns golden. Then comes the turn of the ‘little things’. The coriander leaves take on the responsibility of adding the flavour to the fish, which is now fried and golden. The crunch that we feel so elated about, is created by the Sesame leaves. And because no stone has been left unturned, this dish and its recipe have even been aired on Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kitchen.
What Is a Gourmand?
A gourmand is a person characterized by an insatiable appetite. His devotion to eating food is obsessive and unhealthy, there’s no stopping him when huge amounts of food are available. The quality of food doesn’t deter him, nor does he stop to consider how the food was prepared. He just wants to have lots and lots of food, the taste and the presentation are not factors that he would pause to consider. He overeats to the point where he is considered a glutton and thus presents a very negative character trait to the world around him.
However, with time, there has been a softening of the stand on the meaning of Gourmand. Even now, it’s not exactly positive, but the term Gourmand nowadays is not used to describe a ‘glutton’, though a Gourmand is still considered someone who consumes good food in large quantities.
Difference Between Gourmet and Gourmand In Points
Approach to Food
One can make out from the definitions of Gourmet and Gourmand that their approach to food and drink is very different. The former believes in quality while the latter is more concerned about quantity, rather than quality.
Level of Sophistication
A Gourmand is not focused on the sophistication part of having a meal. He is just someone who overindulges in the food and drink and is a glutton for the most part. A Gourmet is concerned with having and maintaining quality. He believes in refinement and sophistication.
Knowledge About Food and Drink
A gourmet is an expert on food and wine. He has an eye for detail and will choose the best dish and the finest wine. A gourmand lacks such knowledge and will have anything that is served to him as long as there is a lot of it. As opposed to the finesse that a Gourmet exhibits the latter is known for his contemptuous behaviour.
Eating Out vs. Home-Cooked Meals
It has been established that Gourmands are greedy eaters who continue eating even after they have been satiated. One can therefore deduce that they are more comfortable in a home setting where there is no one to check them when they overeat. The same is not true for Gourmets who like to be seated in a fancy restaurant when they are consuming their favorite dishes. Fine dining is a concept that applies more to Gourmets.
It should be noted that the difference between the 2 terms can vary according to the context they are used in, which means there is a different way of looking at things when the context changes. Consider the following –
If you consider only the wine industry, then the meaning of Gourmand changes. Here, the term Gourmand refers to a person whose palate can distinguish between different kinds of wine. But in the gastronomy industry, Gourmet still rules the roost as that is the term concerned with the creation of high-end dishes.
Gourmand is more applicable to settings that are casual, and a good example of that would be a backyard barbecue. Formal settings would require the usage of the term Gourmet as fine dining with its first-rate cuisine and carefully crafted interiors require a serious classification.
Then again, there could be some exceptions to the rules as well –
As far as France (the place where the two terms were first coined) is concerned, the textbook definitions of these terms stand firm. But that is not always the case in countries where English is the first language, because in these countries they are used interchangeably.
Serious Criticism vs. Small Talk
When critics talk about food and drink they have to stick to and maintain the context and the textbook definition of the two terms. This, however, might not be the case when it comes to casual conversation because here, the terms might be used interchangeably.
To sum up the article, we need to understand the distinction between Gourmet and Gourmand. Also, we need to bear in mind that, when in use in everyday life these two terms are used interchangeably a lot of times. There are times, however, when the correct usage is really important to avoid any sort of confusion. Last but not least, I’d like to remind the reader that we started this article on a slightly negative note, so it’d be only fair that we end it on a positive note. For that, we need to absorb some of the negativity that we have associated with the word Gourmand. Till now we have interpreted ‘Gourmand’ as a glutton. But, more often than not it borders on negative, and when we say that Gourmand overindulges in food and wine, there are times when we do that in a playful or light-hearted manner. The fact that overindulging in food starts in childhood also makes the ‘glutton’ part seem a mix of positivity and negativity. Further, nobody minds hanging out with a gourmand because it is quite likely that he can suggest a great place to dine, which can be accessed easily and has great food at affordable prices. The same might not be true in the case of a ‘foodie’ because a foodie for sure is another form of a glutton. Thus it can be concluded that both Gourmet and Gourmand can be fun people to hang out with.