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Can you have a fulfilling relationship with a non chowhound?

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I am just curious. If one of your strongest passions is food and you have someone who hypothetically thinks food is for sustenance, does not cook nor has a desire to learn and can't understand what it is about food that moves you. They say that a person who is passionate about food tends to be passionate about life. What do y'all think. For those that are married to non chowhounds in the most extreme sense. Are you fulfilled? Or do you wish you were with someone that shared your love of food. For singles, can you be happily married to someone that has no passion for food?

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  1. I have been in relationships with non-hounds in the past but it is now one of my top requirements. I won't even think of a relationship with a smoker, vegan, or a non-hound ever again. It makes me have to give up too much that is important to me. Why have a difficult life and relationship? Of course this is just my personal view. I admit I've become both picky and selfish as I got older.

    7 Replies
    1. re: the rogue

      In response to Hallie's post, oh but I wish it were true. I have an otherwise good relationship with a man who considers cream cheese and jelly on white bread to be among his favorite "meals." Although he will usually eat what I prepare, he is suspicious of most green vegetables and cannot tolerate any form of spice. When he consents to a Chinatown (NYC) meal, he will order sweet and sour chicken and I consider it quite a feat to have broadened his horizons enough to include roast pork and wonton soup at Noodletown...npow that he has discovered that soup he will look no further on their menu. Needless to say this is VERY frustrating for me.......especially since a large portion of my free time is devoted to thinking about/shopping for/reading about food.....What to do????? How about linking up others in this position for dinners in, say, Chinatown, where it is especially frustrating to be accompanied by a non-foodie???

      1. re: erica

        My sympathies to you Erica, I was there once too. Give it time. Horizons do expand. I'm still the most gourmet minded of the two of us. My husband still craves Burger King - no one is perfect.

      2. re: the rogue

        You have to go with what's important to you. You of all people know that we can't count on other people to adapt to our needs. I was married for years to a man who thought it was a waste of time to put effort into cooking complex (or even just enjoyable) meals. His mother never did. He didn't hesitate to tell me so, too.

        Eventually, it got to the point that he was critical of the fact that, after cooking a nice meal, there were more dishes to wash (additional waste of time) than if something had been slapped on a plate and popped in the microwave.

        He thought he'd show me how it's done in an efficient manner. I got home from work to find meals like canned beef stew, or mac and chewy cheese (no sauce) with mushrooms that hadn't had the grit removed, or spaghetti that had been boiled, but not drained, and held in the pot of hot water until serving time.

        "I can laugh about it now" implies I didn't find this hysterical even then. I remember stifling a smile about the grit dish.

        He's now married to a woman who also dislikes food, cooking, and eating. He needs to find other things to criticize her about. My daughter tells me that once, she heard him say to his wife, when she was refusing to cook a meal, that I used to cook all of his meals gladly...

        1. re: ironmom

          May I also vent here?

          I have it better than you, but the same problem. On the one hand, my husband is a serious foodie, and loves to tell people what a great cook I am. Is always complementary of my efforts, etc.

          However, he is also an anal-retentive clean freak. So he alternates the comliments with telling me he would rather have no dinner than me making a mess in the kitchen.

          This problem was compounded when I broke my leg (pun?)and he "made dinner" for weeks without making a mess. The fact that my Mom kept the refrigerator stocked with food which he merely put on a plate and nuked does not seem to compute.

          It has gotten so bad that we argue every night about putting dishes in the dishwasher. He believes using the dishwasher is "lazy" and now washes the dishes. He has a chip/break average that would just about get him in the major leagues.

          ARRGGGHHHH!!!!! Thank you for listening.

          1. re: anon

            Tell him you want to use the dishwasher for the sake of the environment! It's supposed to use less water than washing by hand. My parents used to fight over whether silverware should be sorted when you load or unload. My mother finally came out with 'but the spoons stick together if they're in the same compartment' - winner!

            1. re: anon

              The dishwasher also sterilizes the dishes, using much hotter water than hand washing! An impt point for someone who wants clean!


            2. re: ironmom

              Wow... At least he's your ex...

              I would think that I'd be ever so appreciative for someone who put in that much time, even if I didn't care for it. But then again, I have had times in my life where I didn't know how to accept things gratefully or show appreciation... it was a long, hard learning and growing process.

          2. Yes, Of!Course. Cooking and Eating are two different things :)

            1. When I met my husband some 7 years ago he was a non-hound. Since we have been together he's been totally converted. Our joint passion is food and fine dining -this was a man who was brought up on frozen pizza, now he won't go near anything but the fresh, wood-fired variety. Good things can happen. Chowhounding, I believe,is contagious. Those who eat to live (rather than live to eat)in many cases just never had the exposure to good food or fresh food or properly prepared food - when you finally do expose them to it an entire world opens up for them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Hallie

                I agree; my husband was not a chowhound when I met him but has converted smashingly. I don't think I ever made an effort to change him, but this happened gradually as he expanded his frontiers because of what I was eating or where I wanted to go.

                We gave a party a few years back, for which my husband turned out pizzas on the grill, with toppings such as gorgonzola, sun dried tomatoes, sauteed shiitakes, smoked salmon, etc. A very old friend of his was there and remarked on the change: "When I knew him before, if you could drive up to it, he would eat it. Look at him now." (He still likes the drive up stuff, but now he swings both ways.)

              2. I spend every waking and sleeping moment considering my next meal; where it will be, what I'll order, accompanying wine, etc. I spend hours and hours reading magazines and cookbooks. I spend everynight on this addictive board. I spend weeks planning menus at home. I get totally excited finding new asian markets, a new source for salt cod, or fresh sweatbreads at the butcher.

                My wife wouldn't eat, if you didn't remind her. And then she'd probably grab a yogurt, and only eat half.

                But she loves me, and she totally indulges me. We go out for Vietnamese for example, I order, and she picks at the food, usually finding something she likes. I know to order one "safe" dish like grilled beef, and then softshell crabs and green papaya salad for myself. At home, my hobby is cooking, and she enjoys the time to herself while I'm busy chopping and saute'ing.

                It works. It's not perfect. But if the non-hound is reasonably flexible, and appreciates your love of food, it's not a "deal breaker."

                3 Replies
                1. re: Pappy

                  just curious, is she skinny? I'm starting to have a problem being a 'hound and a size 2 now that i'm AGING.

                  1. re: danna

                    She weighs the same today as the day we got married!

                  2. re: Pappy

                    I could have written Pappy's first paragraph myself. I'm happiest when I'm reading a cookbook or culinary magazine; I plan my next meal continuously and obsessively; I've devised and written over 1,000 recipes; I food-shop EVERY day, scrutinizing at least three stores and, on its four-days-a-week schedule, the Union Square Greenmarket; even if I already have the ingredients I'm going to need; restaurants are my passion; and most of my friends and family are at least on the same wave length, if not nearly as obsessively.

                    My life partner (of 11 years) is NOT on the same wave length, but he really understands my passion. He grew up on Michigan's Upper Peninsula in a huge, rather poor family, and when I met him, the fanciest dish he'd ever tasted (once) was coq au vin. His palate is timid and quite fussy. He can't tolerate anything spicy, he's allergic to nuts, he loathes all seafood (except clams, shrimp, and the occasional tuna), and there's a substantial list of foods he hates (beets, cold soups, raspberries, etc.)

                    But he really tries. I cook all sorts of dishes, and he likes many of them. He's become passionate about certain foods, most of them prohibitively expensive: seared oie gras tops the list (but he doesn't like any pâté!).

                    When we met, he was perfectly happy feasting on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich--for dinner! Now he loves hanger steak in a shallot-red wine sauce, new potatoes roasted in goose fat, and roasted asparagus with manchego cheese. He's a dessert freak and I'm not, so I make him all sorts of sorbets, fruit pies, and cookies. Perhaps because he's 13 years younger than me, I think of his palate as pretty childish, but he's come a very long way.

                    Two things make all of this a non-issue in our relationship: (1) He completely understands my obsession and indulges me fully; and (2) he really is willing to taste almost anything--at least taste it. And when he likes something, he'll eat it night and day.

                    I don't think it would be possible for a hound to be with a non-hound for very long if those two factors weren't at work. Opposites may attract, but they don't usually stay together.

                  3. I recently mentioned on the Pennsylvania board that my husband is excited about the Olive Garden next to his hotel, and that his favorite meal is Shake & Bake chicken & boxed mac&cheese. (Another favorite is boil-in-bag creamed chipped beef and instant mashed potatoes.) He is perfectly happy with frozen whatever, and loves fast food.

                    We do get along fine, even though he teases me about reading cookbooks and mags for hours on end, and thinking endlessly about restaurants. He even likes the shape my body has become due to my passion. And yes, he forgets to eat if I'm not there, spending his per diem on clothes and beer (PBR no less!).

                    Some of them can be trained. He now loves the meat at my favorite independent grocery. He eats Chinese (although I doubt he has had authentic - it just isn't available where we live). He devours my cooking, and now prefers homemade white bread to Wonder, quite a step up. In fact, when I tentatively suggested the Italian alternatives to Olive Garden that I collected from the Pennsylvania board (thanks again guys!), I expected a lukewarm reaction, and expected to have to trot out the "bad memories" stories. Instead he said, "We don't have to do Italian. There is a Vietnamese restaurant here, and also Ethiopian." I nearly died of shock!

                    That said, I *was* on a diet when I met him. I might not have gotten involved at all if I had known his background (food background, of course).

                    1. I take credit for a chowhound conversion of sorts. When I first started seeing my wife, her idea of food was some evil but necessary fact of life whose sole function was to make her fat and miserable. The two things she ever cooked were: pasta with eggplant and red sauce and skinless chicken breasts.

                      Since then, she still has hard time with food, but she's much more adventurous, and I've discovered she has a MUCH better palette than I do. I always ask her advice for correcting seasonings, and follow it blindly. She'll now take over my chicken bones, and eating lamb is no big deal. Butter is something she buys more of when we run out.

                      So, now that she likes food, in some ways she's more miserable than ever, because I'm always cooking it and its much harder to avoid. I think it will always be an issue for her

                      1. This is almost a cultural question for a chowhound! Sort of like, can two people from two different countries marry each other and still be happy? I guess the answer lies in... how much of a chowhound are you? And how willing to give and take are both of you?

                        I love my food, the only thing better is to share my food with others. My three best friends are a woman who enjoys her food so much that just by watching the way she chews her food, I am drooling for whatever is on her plate, the second is a chef who maintains her passion for food enough on her off hours that she has chased me around the apartment trying to get me to put a spoonful of this really really spicy sauce in my mouth straight from the bottle because she thought the flavour was so amazing, and the third is a gentleman who will, upon seeing an interesting leaf that he's never seen before as we're walking down the street will walk up to the plant tear a leaf off and put it in his mouth and chew. He insists that he's going to find the next great herb this way.

                        I love to be able to share my enjoyment with someone, a meal just isn't the same if when you are in ecstasy over something that you are eating, you can't put a forkful of it into someone else's mouth and have them have the same reaction.

                        That said, my husband was definitely not a chowhound when we met. But he is someone who by nature likes to enjoy things and is very very giving and tries hard. He is now, completely converted and also agrees that he could not be with someone who was not a chowhound. I proudly watch him play musical plates with my friends, (probably to the amusement of waitstaff on our odd manners, at great restaurants the five of us will all order different dishes, eat our share discuss it and then move the dish over to the person on the left!) watch him engage with enthusiasm in debates over "what are the three best sushi restaurants in new york city?", and be more than willing to savor bone marrow, chitterling (intestines), and basically anything that looks appetizing!



                        1. Well, it's like they say, opposites attract.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: 2chez mike

                            Opposites may attract but it's the complements who stay.

                            1. re: the rogue

                              And, it's the ones who stay you want most to leave.

                          2. c

                            Before I was married (although it still applies now that I am married), people used to always say to me that I'm going to have to find someone who loves to cook. When I first got together with my husband, I realized that what I really needed was someone who loves to EAT! And he does. I had dated someone who's finest food decision was to debate the presence of pickles in fast food burgers. My first meal with my husband was Indian food- he had never had it before and he loved it. He loves all the food he's discovered with me. We actually have the same exact taste in foods, too. If he needs to go to the bathroom I could order for him before he looked at the menu (not that waiters do or should take the order without him there).

                            1. Doubtful. You only live once. Don't settle for less than someone who is passionate about the things you're most passionate about. I'm a writer, chowhound, and jazz-lover. It took me a long time to find her, but my soulmate is also a writer, chowhound and jazz-lover. Someone who is passionate about sensual & artistic things is also going to be creative in the bedroom, creative and open-minded in the way they see the world, passionate about life! Every day will sing its own song! If you find someone like that, don't let them get away!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Doug

                                Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

                                1. re: Doug

                                  That sounds beautiful!!!!

                                2. j
                                  Jennie Sheeks

                                  Reading your question made me think of my last beau, who was the first man I'd ever dated who loved food & wine the way I did.

                                  When my Mother would wake me for school in the morning, my first question would be "What's for dinner?" She would chastise me saying, "Good Lord honey, you haven't even had breakfast yet!" My earliest memories are meals in Europe on 6 week trip when I was 2. I would beg to accompany Mother to the grocery store and delighted in the aisle of foodstuffs. Currently lacking bedtime reading, I'm reading the old edition of Joy of Cooking. This is simply ingrained in me, it's something nearly genetic. It's a lifestyle.

                                  I'd dated men who were willing to accomodate my obsessions with food, and even some who unbeknownst to me at the time, worked on developing their knowledge secretly to keep up with me. I dated a French chef who made decadent crepes but only ate fat-free food, being a gym junkie. What a drag that was!

                                  But, on the second date with my last beau we went to the upscale grocery store together where he let me pick out whatever I wanted him to cook for dinner. We had both beautiful tiny lamb chops and salmon that he cooked on the grill and three bottles of rare, well cellared wine. It was a revelation to have someone who knew as much and even more than I did. When the relationship ended (and badly at that)I decided that a passion for food and wine was a must. Even if it's not a fully developed passion (like mine), it can be someone with the potential to be a passionate eater.

                                  I am a diversely creative artistic person. If I am interested in someone romantically or platonically I ask them about food because attitudes and behaviors about food are often revealing of other areas in their lives.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Jennie Sheeks

                                    Someone tell Jim Leff and the powers-that-be that we need a "Chowhounds Seeking Chowhounds" board. I can picture it now...

                                    "SWM 'hound, enjoys eating all asian cuisines, and cooking bistro fare. Dislikes vegetarians and large supermarkets. Wine cellar contains 900 bottles, including many fine Amarones and Reislings. Seeks fellow hound with similar passion for food and drink, ideally with well-seasoned wok, large cookbook collection, and experience with hand-made oriental noodles.

                                    1. re: Pappy

                                      Perhaps one day.

                                      But in the meantime, rather than use this board for matchmaking purposes, please: let's keep the discussion chowcentric.

                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                        Sounds like something that could be converted into a cost center to me.

                                  2. Brian, who's idea of a nice night out was Sizzler. He lasted less than two months.

                                    1. Hell no. Food is crucial. It separates the creative thinkers from the rest of the world. If you want a boring sex life, boring travel life, boring cultural life, boring home life, settle for less. My advice: Find the most creative mate you can!

                                      1. This IS an interesting topic -- I don't know though that is tells me much except I may be older than a number of you, which isn't a good or bad thing..... just a fact.

                                        MY SO need not be a chowhound. As long as they'll taste different foods and eat on a daily basis and they don't dislike spending time searching with me food good/great food, we can survive. They also need not cook.

                                        Passion for life can be found in many things, which someone, giving me a laugh, mentioned brings joy to the bedroom, such a in sky diving, mountain climbing, song writing, a love of music/arts... I had relationships with people who enjoyed all of those things, but yet weren't as crazy about food as I was.

                                        As long as we could share and support each other, that was fine and still is with me.

                                        Oh there is ONE requirement though, they can't complain about what I spend on dining out, grocery/food purchases, or cookware and kitchen accessories.

                                        Good luck to all of you in your search for your chowhounding mate of a lifetime.

                                        1. j
                                          Janet A. Zimmerman

                                          Seems to me that it's a mistake to lump all "non-chowhounds" into one category. I'd break them down into at least three main categories:

                                          First, those who simply have not been exposed to much variation in cuisine or good food, who grew up in households without much exposure to anything but casseroles.

                                          Second, those whose palates are not very sensitive (and there is a genetic component here) and who thus can't perceive the taste intensities that others can.

                                          Those who dislike or distrust any new or different foods, more from psychological reasons than from any real reasons of taste.

                                          Obviously there are combinations and permutations, but these are three very different types of person with different capacities for learning to chowhound or at least live with a chowhound.

                                          I'd say that the first type is your best bet -- such a one might well discover a latent chowhound tendency when exposed to new and better foods.

                                          The second type would seem to be the sort who might indulge your chowhound tendencies and even vicariously enjoy all your chowhound activities, but just won't ever appreciate them the way you will.

                                          The third type? Forget it.

                                          As far as passion goes, people can be passionate about all kinds of things. A lack of passion about food, while it might be lamentable, is not an indication of a total lack of passion about everything else in life, much as we might like to believe.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Janet A. Zimmerman

                                            I'd add a fourth type: Those for whom food is the enemy, the self-abnegators for whom the perfect body is worth any sacrifice, those miserable human beings who add nutrients to the body on a regular basis only because it needs refueling. Ick.

                                          2. When I met my husband 35 years ago he had no interest in food beyond sustenance. His family ate the same thing every week(it's Monday, so it's chicken day). I had to talk him into trying liver because his experience of it was overcooked and dry. I quickly realised he had a very good palate and enjoyed good food when presented to him. Like a previous respondent, I rely on my husband to tell me if there is sufficient salt etc. in a dish. Ironically, he has always been more adventurous ordering in restaurants than me.

                                            That said, he could go the whole day without eating or thinking about food, and ultimately only eats what is put before him by me or a waiter. Although he is very hard working in many arenas - he has commented when watching a cooking show with me that preparing food is too time consuming and he never does. When I'm away he picks up dinner, but it's always something tasty(he's choosy where he gets his pizza).I can hardly recall him opening the fridge, except if he is thirsty.

                                            I think the bottom line is that your SO doesn't have to have the total passion about all aspects of food that you do. The pleasure of eating and enjoying good food together has been good enough for me.


                                            1. Like others have said so beautifully, I think a passion for food is symbolic of a passion for so much more of what makes life extra special. The extra special person is the person who shares the same crucial passions (food, literature, art, music, exercise...whatever) that you do. Food brought me together with my special someone, who was previously just a great friend. Luckily, food is a crucial part of dating, so it makes is easy to find the most special one. :)

                                              1. What a great question. I have been thinking about this issue for several days now.
                                                The points presented for pro and con are excellent.
                                                I myself married a man ( in another lifetime) who shared my passion for music and dancing.
                                                This relationship did not last, not because of our shared interests, but because of the lack of maturity on both of our part and other issues.
                                                However I find it difficult at this point to even have a friendship with someone if I do not share at least some passions with them.
                                                Such as food or music, to name the things on the top
                                                of my list.
                                                Two of my friends and I used to have a standing date each Friday night to go out to dinner together.
                                                I found out after a month or two that their repertoire of restaurants was limited to about 6 places in town, after this they were ready to repeat the cycle.
                                                Going out to new exotic and different places just was not going to happen, ever.
                                                I remember one time, when all of us were hungry, being in the vicinity of one of my favorite noodle houses which served Taro cakes.
                                                I was dying for some of those.
                                                My friends and I were standing in front of the automatic door of the restaurant, which kept opening and closing as our debate went on.
                                                They were deciding on what would be to their liking on the menu.
                                                They found nothing, because they do not eat beef, any kind of seafood, dishes with egg or milk in them.
                                                I ended up being furious, about to wring their necks and no longer have a Friday night dinner with my companions.
                                                I think it is possible for mates to not be equally passionate about food, however if partners lack the maturity to try other things and the ability to compromise with one another at times it ain't going to work out.
                                                At the same time if all of the passions are shared and maturity is lacking the partnership is not going to be a good one either.

                                                1. Great question. NOOOOOOO!!!!!! And don't kid yourself into thinking you can change someone. Find a chowhound (i.e. open-minded, creative person). As others say, don't settle for less.

                                                  1. No!!! I have not had a very good experience dating non-chowhounds. They just didn't understand me and my great love for food. A couple guys I dated always whined about how much money I was spending on dining, cooking, and wine. I don't buy a lot of clothes so most of my disposable income goes to eating. One guy would put me down all the time, telling me I was going to get fat and ugly (I weigh 115 lbs!) if I kept up with my habit, complaining that I wasted my/or his money and that I was spoiled. Obviously, that didn't last very long, but I'm totally better off without him. I'm seeing a chowhound now and I am a lot happier. He enjoys cooking with me and understands why I need to drive a long distance to try this dish at a new restaurant. I'm not saying that it cannot work out if you are seeing someone who is a NCH, but it's sooooo much better when you do.