The blogosphere is teeming with foodies, and the most influential of them all is arguably the anonymous blogger known only as Food Dude. Food Dude runs, a popular site dedicated to restaurant reviews, food news, and, of course, speculative gossip and rumor-mongering.

Mercury: What qualities should every foodie possess?

Food Dude: (1) You need an insatiable desire to be the first one to eat at any new restaurant, and if possible blog every step of the meal along the way, to rub it in all your foodie friends' faces.

(2) You must take lots of pictures so that everyone in the restaurant knows how important you are.

(3) You must have a better sense of taste and a greater knowledge of food than any of your friends, and have the ability to look condescending when they say how much they like Olive Garden, even when you secretly crave the bottomless soup and salad yourself.

 What books and music do foodies enjoy?

Books: anything that will look good on your coffee table, and impress your foodie friends. They should be big and glossy, preferably written by famous chefs, and be full of complicated recipes that no one can actually make. You must spend hours rifling the pages to make them look worn—splashing a bit of sauce here and there improves the "I've used these recipes" effect.

 Music: A foodie picks music as carefully as he pairs food and wine. A light salad goes best with jazz, where a hearty stew is better with blues. Seafood calls for something snappy and sparkling, while foie gras, being rebellious, goes best with Pete Seeger. Something depressing, like Lean Cuisine, matches very well with Morrissey.

 How did you learn so much about food?

When I was a kid, my parents would drag me on food tours all over the world. Before we left for a restaurant, I would sneak out of the hotel to the nearest fast-food joint, and fill up before I had to face frog's legs and oysters later that night. In the end I got so sick of McDonald's that I started eating the disgusting things, and actually liked them. Over time, I realized I liked being abused, and so I started working in restaurants where I could be screamed at and spit on by chefs. One of the few in the industry that wasn't busy killing my palate with cigarettes, I was shunned by my peers and spent much of my spare time reading cookbooks by myself.

Can a poor person be a foodie?

 Of course; no matter how poor you are, as long as you know where the "in" restaurants are, you too can be a foodie.

The famous dish "puttanesca" was supposedly invented from restaurant leftovers to trade with whores for their services. This sort of trade is a good way to get your foot in the door of any restaurant. If all else fails, there is always the garbage bin option. While most foodies would never leave the slightest trace of food, there are always a good percentage of West Hills housewives who diligently follow their lawyer husbands to the best restaurants, but only push the food around on their plates. This means lots of good scrapings from the kitchen—a $60 steak that's hardly been touched!

Can a vegetarian be a foodie?

 In short, no. To be accepted into the card-carrying association of foodies, one must sit down to a full dinner of various meats and internal organs. Failure to finish the dinner will result in your foodie card being denied. I can't tell you where to get the card. It's innate; either you know, or you don't.

Foodie guilty pleasures?

Every foodie has guilty pleasures, or more appropriately, "weak moments," where, after a long night of too much fine Bordeaux, they wake up with remnants of Taco Bell nachos between their sheets, but no memory of where they came from. I live in constant fear of waking up to a Portland Mercury front page titled "Foodie Exposed" and a large picture of myself putting Cheez Wiz on a Ritz Cracker—or even worse, putting good cheese on a Ritz Cracker.