Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Sep 14, 2006 05:00 AM

On the word "chowish"...

Every now and then one comes across the word "chowish" on the boards. In such cases I find myself quite puzzled. It's a bit of jargon, and being a bit of jargon it's to be expected that innocent bystanders may not have the sort of facility with it as those in the know. So what does it mean? Does anyone in the know find it irksome?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't find it irksome or even cute; it serves as shorthand in a couple of senses. It can be used to describe behavior appropriate to a Chowhound. For example: "My husband was particularly chowish last weekend; he made puff pastry from scratch and then a creme anglaise to go with it."

    It can also describe the quality of a food, letting readers know that it's the sort of thing those of us who read Chowhound might find interesting.

    1. "My friends thought the place was good but they're not very chowish" = they aren't very critical about food.

      "Any chowish places in the area?" = worth seeking out for good food

      1. Bit of a tangent, but when posters refer to the (higher) cost of a meal as 'spendy', I wince. 'Spendy' doesn't seem to be much of a shorthand phrase for anything, but rather an ill-fitting catch-phrase employed for lack of a better description of pricing. No big deal really, and I suppose it's the awkward sound of the term that actually bugs me...

        1 Reply
        1. re: silence9

          That's an Upper Midwest thing -- things in Minnesota are definitely getting spendy.

        2. Thanks for the replies. I guess what's particularly puzzling to me is when the word is used in what (for all I can tell) are incompatible senses. For instance, surely one can find posts which suggest some spendy restaurant (sorry, I couldn't resist using "spendy") isn't particularly chowish. But one can also find posts which confess that taking delight in some tasty, though perhaps mass produced, potato chips isn't chowish.

          Am I wrong that these are incompatible uses?

          12 Replies
          1. re: eleatic stranger

            Well, different foods, places, and sensibilities seem Chowish or not, depending on which regional boards we're talkin' about.
            Things are are a lot different on the "Big Boards" like SF, LA, NY
            than on the "homey" boards like the Midwest , PNW, The South.....
            Things differ both in attitude and # of posts.

            1. re: eleatic stranger

              So, then I'm the one that made you irritated...
              I was using the word in the sense that I knew that a lot of Chowhounds would probably look down on me because I like a mass-produced chip... maybe I should have said "Chowhoundish"... would that of made you feel better? (Not trying to be a smart ass, just trying to find out why it irked you!)

              1. re: Katie Nell

                I'm sorry if you have the impression that I'm irked. I'm not, just puzzled.

                1. re: eleatic stranger

                  Well, you used irksome in the original post, so I assumed, that you were indeed irked.

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    That was in the context of a question about what those-in-the-know think! I didn't mean to imply that my answer to that question was yes, since I don't count as one of those-in-the-know...

                2. re: Katie Nell

                  You know, I think true hounds can appreciate all levels of food, and need not look down on mass produced chips, for instance. If you love it, it's chowish to anyway. It's about the passion! just a little side note...

                3. re: eleatic stranger

                  To me, the Chowhound aesthetic is one of emprical subjectivity.

                  If I find something delicious, it doesn't matter if it's mass-produced, cheap, trendy, or advertised on TV.

                  If I don't find something delicious, it doesn't matter how much I paid for it, what kind of references or pedigress it has, or how elaborately it's plated and served.

                  If you like to eat something for some reason other than deliciousness--for example, nostalgia for Count Chocula or frozen fishsticks--you could say that was not chowish.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Right, in a delusional Chowhound world, it would be that way. But, people often get flamed for saying that they love, let's say McDonald's Filet O' Fish, for example.

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      People might flame you for it, but no one can tell you what tastes good to you. Taste is a subjective thing, and you like what you like. It makes it easier to "defend" your position here on the forum if you can be specific about what specifically appeals to you in a certain food, but, at the end of the day, we're all entitled to our own opinions, even when we disagree.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        People who think there's great food at McDonald's have the Chains board, where they won't annoy people who know better.

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I believe the McDonald's thread was on the Chains board...and, yes, the debate did border on "flamey."


                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Oops, you said it first, and said it better.

                    2. It is jargon. If you go to the "Getting Started" button, then FAQ, a chowhound is defined.

                      "Chowhounds spurn established opinion to sniff out on their own secret deliciousness. The places they find today will show up in newspapers two years from now and in Zagat’s in four, when they’ll undoubtedly have grown crowded and overpriced."

                      IIRC, the old site's description also included finding the best non restaurant foods.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Alan408

                        I think it's right to suppose that what'd help is a definition of a chowhound. If we take this one as given, then it seems as though anything anybody likes--so long as they like it because it's tasty and not, for instance, because iall the cool kids do--is chowish. Even if a joint is regarded as good by "established opinion", in other words, it could still be a source of "secret deliciousness". I may love the hell out of Popeye's chicken even though it's widely regarded as being good. Are my Popeye's inclinations chowish or not? What shall we say?

                        By the way, Katie, if we take this as approaching a definition of "chowish" (and it's not yet clear to me why we shouldn't), then your affection for those chips is chowish!

                        1. re: eleatic stranger

                          My point is, that it is to me, but sometimes not to others. (I'm sorry if I'm coming across snotty... I always seem to get in trouble when I move away from the Home Cooking board! ;-) Anyway, I get tired of the snobbishness of being a Chowhound sometimes, and that's probably what came across in my chip post and this thread. I just like good food, just like good music, regardless of whether it's a popular notion or not. Sometimes I love a greasy cheeseburger or Popeye's spicy fried chicken or Al Green or Dolly Parton; does this mean that I'm a bad Chowhound or am tonedeaf... I don't think so, but I think some people truly believe that. (Just read the McDonald's thread!) I like what I want to like... and I'm just talking in circles now, so I'm just going to shut up! What were we talking about again?!

                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            I don't think it makes you a bad Chowhound if you like Popeye's. Someone whose tastes differ from yours may indeed believe you are "tonedeaf" or that your palate is unrefined, but that's just their opinion. There's probably someone else out there who has tastes similar to yours. The key is, you pay attention to what you eat and are always in search of deliciousness, whatever that means to you. I think it helps, too, if you're constantly educating yourself about foods.

                            EDIT: Actually, I think it makes you MORE of a chowhound if you are true to what tastes good to you rather than be swayed by the opinions of others. I'm not saying you should be rigid and closed to new ideas, but if you honestly like the taste of something, and not just for nostalgia reasons, who cares what anyone else thinks?


                        2. re: Alan408

                          That's what differs. For a lot of folks on the Outback boards, Zagat and Reviewers never enter the picture. "Chowish" to me would follow Mr. Lauriston's definiton pretty closely. Finding fresh food lovingly made, of whatever stripe.
                          Regional Foods done Well.
                          And Popeye's is Chowish, KFC is not.

                          1. re: bbqboy

                            As I suspected, there are (at least) two distinct notions of "chowhound", and so of "chowish", running amok on the boards. The question then becomes, as a way to settle the question what "chowish" means, "What's a chowhound, really?".

                            So what's a chowhound, really?

                            1. re: eleatic stranger

                              This is my definition, and my definition only, but for me, it's someone who is more passionate about food than the average person.

                              1. re: eleatic stranger

                                What is a Chowhound?

                                A Chowhound is someone who spends nearly every waking moment planning her or his next meal. Whether eating in a white-tablecloth restaurant or grabbing takeout on the way to work, Chowhounds hate to ingest anything undelicious. They won't hesitate to go far, far out of their way for even slightly better.


                              2. re: bbqboy

                                Mr. Lauriston's definition didn't specify "fresh" or "lovingly made" food particularly. In fact, it's compatible with his definition that stale food made by a curmudgeon could be chowish so long as the one who indulges finds it delicious...

                                1. re: eleatic stranger

                                  You're right. I added the fresh and lovingly made.
                                  Here's our PNW kind of Chowish debate.
                                  How far would you drive to get a Chowhound Meal?