From a posting mainly about Julia Child on my friend Erin Mulligan's Facebook page: (. . . I keep saying to Jim [her hubby] that the food in the states is food-ish as opposed to the food in Europe, which is food-y.)
I sent her a email asking her to elaborate on the distinction, and she replied: "Here's the theory in essence: a cucumber from Costco tastes vaguely reminiscent of a cucumber--it is cucumber-ish. A cucumber in Italy or from a good farmer's market in America really tastes like a cucumber--it is cucumber-y. Same with tomatoes, chicken, cherries, pork, butter, yogurt, etc."
Then we had a little chat. Erin explained that the orgin of her usage was born recently in Italy, while she was staying at a house and cutting cucumbers. From rooms away her daughter shouted, "I can smell the cucumbers." Not a typical experience for us stateside. Certainly at a stand of fruit at the typical supermarket--even at Fairway!--I can spend several minutes trying to inhale from a piece of fruit, no doubt looking like a coke fiend who's lost the trail.
Erin said that if she doesn't have time to go her her CSA or farmer's market, she winds up eating food that (angry language alert) "fuckin' looks the food in Italy. Visually the food in America is food but in terms of the other senses except maybe hearing, it doesn't have those aspects. It's one-dimensional.
"The issue is that the food most Americans eat--the food most people have access to--its food-y-ness has been bred out of it, so it's only foodish. And what do people here in America call people who are really into cooking and food? . . ."