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Nov 1, 2001 05:55 PM

Dealing with non-chowhounds

  • s

Okay.. here's a general sort of question for everyone. I'm sure you've all met and probably have friends who are totally non-chowhound-ish.. how do you deal with them when you go out or try to make a meal?

eg: this girl I know when trying sushi, picked up a piece, dipped it in the soy, and placed it in her mouth and spit it out when she tried to chew because 'the rice wasn't hot' (nevermind the fact that she didn't notice that when she picked it up)

Or someone that prefers 'americanized' chinese food - the stuff you find in those nasty mall foodcourts and stuff and won't touch anything that looks 'authentic'..

Am I just being too picky, or do these people drive anyone else nuts?? :) It's not a big deal to me, except when we try to go out for food together!

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  1. It's a challenge, I have this problem with my family too. I got a rant from my mother the other day when we had recommended a steak place in Palm Springs and she saw the menu and flipped over us paying $27 for a ceasar salad for 2 when we go there. (LG's in Palm Springs/Palm Desert, best tableside ceasar ever).

    But I love my family som I put up with their un-chowness.

    3 Replies
    1. re: muhlyssa

      It's good to know I wasn't alone in my frustrations! At least I don't know too many people anymore who say "Oh I don't like that" even though they've NEVER tasted it! Ah well.

      I guess it's hard for some people to see sometimes what you pay for is more than a bowl full of lettuce and croutons... hey, there's always the $0.99 caesar at Wendy's with those packets of dressing. :)

      1. re: muhlyssa

        Could you nicely ask them to hush up when you're ordering and eating?

        1. re: muhlyssa

          My mother never complains about the menu prices at finer restaurants when we are treating, but always feels compelled to chip in at the end. I find it endearing!

        2. People who refuse to regard food as anything more than sustenance are aggravating because they are positive that, since they eat as much as we do, their opinions are just as valid. I try to be compassionate and remember that many people seek comfort from their meals, not challenge or enlightenment. With borderline boors I can usually be happy with something simple: everyone likes braised short ribs and mashed potatoes. Or we go out for Mexican, not Peruvian. Your post touches a nerve because here in Milwaukee (much to my shame I assure you) the local paper's "Reader's Choice Awards" chose Red sLobster for best seafood, Bakers Square for best desserts, and Cousin's Subs for sandwiches (3rd place thank goodnes). While Milwaukee is no culinary mecca, things are not that bad. I kept wondering why people who eat at those kinds of places exclusively even thought they had the right to vote...But they do, really. How do I deal with non chowhounds? My mother always said "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." I place them in the same league as people who have very different (i.e.wrong) political opinions and avoid them. Snob? Maybe. But it's easier on my stress level.

          17 Replies
          1. re: christine

            This is a bit off topic,but your post reminded me of a trip to Erie, PA, for a family wedding. We found a cool little Greek family diner for breakfast, and the food was clean, fresh, basic and good. Our local family members were horrified that we hadnt gone to the local Chain/ Applebys/Coffee shop. What's the deal !! are people brainwashed by relentless advertising that chain restaurant food is good??

            1. re: tanyal

              I found a pretty good Thai place in a local stripmall (Suko Thai on Watson if anyone's from St.Louis). I was coming out the other night and noticed that the local CountryBuffetClone was packed--packed i tell you. Go figure. Most people like the cheap and predictable. Have you ever been mad and sad at the same time? I had a colleague who spent a week in Paris and took most of his meals--honest to god-- at McD's.

              1. re: CliffA

                Reminds me of friends who made their first trip to Paris a few years ago and asked me for advice--they planned to self-cater and asked if I knew of hotels with kitchenettes in them. I had to give serious thought to the merits of keeping them in my address book after that, but set them straight and they ended up having a wonderful time, without cooking a single meal (or breaking their budget).

                1. re: James

                  To be fair, having lived in Paris I know that there is spectacularly good food available at chacuteries that you take home and simply heat up. My husband and I went to restaurants as often as we could, usually twice a week. Most of the time I cooked dinner, using the incredible ingredients available at the markets along Rue Clair. But occasionally he'd pick up something from a chacuterie on his way home from work, and most of it was every bit as good as anything you'd get at a one-star restaurant.

                2. re: CliffA

                  This reminds me of when I was flying home from Italy. My seatmate, a very nice guy who worked for the military in some capacity, was returning from a stint in Rome. The topic of conversation turned to food and he said that he didn't know where to eat when he was in Rome, so he ate at McDonald's most of the time.

                  1. re: lad1818

                    My non-chowhound sister returned from Italy saying that the Italian food in Italy wasn't any good. I nearly ruptured my eardrums trying not to laugh.

                    1. re: EWSflash

                      My girlfriend did the same thing. She said it didn't taste anything like Olive Garden.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          We've been BFFs for over 20 years, and yes, she's a keeper!
                          I don't think I could tolerate my hubby being an unfoodie, but my friends, they can eat whatever they want.

                        2. re: kitchengardengal

                          well she was kinda right. the food in Italy is pretty much not like Olive Garden (and vice versa)

                  2. re: tanyal

                    My town was full of funky coffeehouses before Starbucks muscled its way in. Only then was a co-worker of mine willing to go to one. Go figure, sad. Now, on their lunch hour they go to Starbucks in a huge mall, which takes up most of the hour, in order to avoid buying their latte drinks at a conveniently located privately owned drive-thru.

                    1. re: tanyal

                      Brainwashed? Actually, yes. and habituated to bombshell/fake tastes. Read Salt, Sugar Fat.
                      And ad-bombed into paralyzing embarassment that they will look stupid or silly if they are unfamiliar with anything in a new environment.

                    2. re: christine

                      I agree with you 100%. Our local poll is always full of chains as well. Which points up just how unexpanded many folks are when it comes to food and how rare chowhounds really are. I also find myself avoiding meals with certain friends. It's just too painful, Lovely folks, just not meal-mates. Family can be difficult too. I once made pavlovas for a family Christmas with fresh berries and Grand Marnier decorated with chocolate leaves. (No one had ever eaten meringue that wasn't on top of lemon pie.) I called ahead to make sure there was heavy cream. I was told, "We've got lots of it" No one could understand why I spent 3 hours on Christmas Eve combing the Hudson Valley looking for real cream, when the fridge had two kinds of the fake varieties.

                      1. re: scottso

                        They don't understand why I trim off and throw away the frosting from bakery cakes. You know, the emulsified shortening/chemical soup kind. People who should know better tell me that it has cream in it, so it's good.

                        That's kreem with a k.

                      2. re: christine

                        Once I started reading the results of my area's "readers choice awards" I sort of lost respect for the rewards, as we had similar results as yours.

                        I "tolerate" those franchised restaurants, but if I have any say in the matter, I refuse to eat in any of them. I'll take a local well-visited establishment any day.

                        1. re: christine

                          In Reno, there's a fancy-dancy Chinese place that ALWAYS get "Best Chinese." Every year. It's not even close but it makes the 'average' non-chowish diner comfortable. My late MIL would only go there if we wanted Chinese.

                          1. re: christine

                            I couldn't Agee more. I had a man the other day tell me that white anchovy was a terrible addition to the Caesar salad on my menu...... So he gave us a 5/10 rating...... I can not stand people who think they are pro chefs and critics and clearly know nothing.

                            Best think for me, laugh at them and move on. Forget about if.

                          2. Chowhounds love challenges. And I view these sorts of people as challenges.

                            If they're simply naive, then you'll have the wonderful experience of unlocking an entire world of enjoyment for someone, and taste it through That's a particularly good sort of challenge. Of course, one can always cop an attitude of condescension and disgust. But that's not half as satisfying as opening vistas for someone.

                            If you're dealing with someone who's stubbornly and defiantly opposed to the idea of eating well, that's a different sort of challenge. But every dead weight has a fulcrum. You've got to dig deep. Figure out what food moves them, whether from ethnicity, nostalgia, or sheer whim. It's probably an unexamined pleasure, so it won't be easily extracted. It will require work and patience. But once you've found a fissure, any mind can be effectively blown.


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              "...once you've found a fissure, any mind can be effectively blown."

                              very true

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                really generous and good-hearted, Jim. you're a good example.
                                thanks for the perspective

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  ...and realize when you've been outgoobered and it's time to give up.

                                2. If you stay patient and keep offering your friends occasional tastes off your plate, you never know when their epiphanies will hit. I was very unchowhoundish the first half of my life. My mom would make pretty cool after-school snacks like monte cristo sandwiches and I would be like, "Yeah, whatever." For dinner she would make us even cooler stuff like jellyfish salad, geoduck sashimi, and sea bass chigae -- and I would silently wish for KFC so I can eat like "normal people". I finally had that Moment of Clarity where I understood her curiosity. To sum up, you're probably being more of an influence than you realize!

                                  1. Somewhere on this site there's a link to an article in The Onion-- "Man Mistakes Spanish Restaurant for Actual Mexican Place" (Or something like that). Or just go to . ANYway, it's pretty funny and related to what you're talking about.