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Is chowhounding ever a chore?

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  • fara Nov 29, 2006 02:05 AM
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I mean I wish I could be happy with any old thing for dinner, and sure it's healthier to eat real food -but when you're pressed for time as a chowhound, food seems take an unnatural priority compared to other people.
It could be that cooking is also a de-stresser, but even when I'm getting take-out or eating a cold dinner it requires so much effort. There really is no other option than good food though-
Tonight I was craving a chicken-mushroom dish my grandmother used to make, so I improvised something with chicken thighs, cream, fresh herbs, dill, portabella mushrooms and baked the whole thing after various sauteeing. I also used up the various greens in my fridge in a pot with garlic and olive oil.
If I ate mcd's i would feel depressed, but it does seem like I wish I could be happier with crappy or even simpler food sometimes.

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  1. Surrender to your nature, Fara--enjoying good food is hardwired into your brain. Always better to ride the horse in the direction it is going. Food has been compared to love by more than one great thinker, not to mention shrinks. So, a chowhound makes the effort, becuase he/she is driven to it, to prepare or give or get delicious food, e.g. love. There are far worse vices you could have. Bon appetit!

    1. I actually think about this a lot! I find myself treking around the entire city obtaining ingredients for a recipe, bc (as you know) the shop where you can purchase the BEST vanilla bean isn't necessarily where you can get the widest selection of raw sugar! Another big effort is traveling - not only do you have to pack, arrange for animal care, tie up loose ends @ work, but you must do extensive research (of course beginning right here on this board)on dining options, the distance from where you'll be staying to these restaurants, where the best places are for quick bites in the areas you may be visiting - just in case, and on & on. But, yes, I agree it definitely pays off in the end! I'll never forget, a time when I was visiting a friend in Atlanta & I insisted we go to this indian restaurant just off a hwy - Udipi. She was rolling her eyes (as the un-chowhouded usually do) & saying, "but there are restaurants much closer". After our meal, she understood - it was amazingly fresh, reasonably priced, delicious food in the middle of nowhere. Great, now I've made myself hungry for indian food.

      Being a chowhound - it's a blessing & a curse...

      1. I never find it a problem when I'm cooking...I'm either cooking something I know is good or trying something new, which is an adventure. And I actually enjoy going out of my way occasionally for ingredients--it's a good excuse for a trip.

        But going out with people can be a little stressful. For instance, when you're with some un-chowish people who want to go someplace that isn't very good. I really can't stand paying (sometimes a lot) for food that isn't good, or that I could make better at home. But in those situations, if I can't beat 'em, I join 'em. A meal with friends is always worthwhile, even if the food is bad. And luckily, you can find something edible on most menus.

        1. The problem with working a professional job is that you often don't have a lot of time to cook in the evenings -- and in Los Angeles this is compounded by our ridiculously bad traffic.

          Being a chowhound is evil then, because it's too easy to say "I am NOT cooking tonight," and realising that you know absolutely everything worth eating within a 5- or 10-minute detour of your commute.

          Last night it was banh mi...

          1. Hello.. I've never read the official Chowhound site's mission statement, but from crosstalk on the boards, I gather it has something to do with the original owner's ideas about "Deliciousness". For me, that's more about finding something delicious in whatever I may be eating (from humble to exalted), as opposed to doing hard-target searches for the best examples of a genre or cuisine or the best ingredients. Now, I do like finding the 'bests' in restaurants and foodstuff, but I don't get paid to do so, and thus it's a bit down on my priorities list. Yeah, eating a sad little fastfood meal can potentially bring on a mini-depression of sorts. BUT, even at McD's there are ways to be a chowhound. Ever sneak a baggie (from home) with leftover sauteed chanterelle mushrooms into McD's, to spice up your Big Mac? How about sneaking in a small jar of homemade habanero-flecked catsup into a neighborhood bar that serves gourmet burgers but refuses to serve catsup with their burgers and fries (Father's Office, anyone ;-)? Just as there can be found something innately cute and adorable in the most haggard and unwanted puppy from the animal shelter; and just as the most non-descript and 'against-type' gal or guy can become a genuine 'find', if left secluded together with them on a desert island; I feel that the most pedestrian food can be deemed worthy of praise for 'deliciousness', if approached with an open mind and empty stomach. Example: I generally hate the whole 'Big Gulp' concept at convenience stores. But years ago, after spending two weeks on 'vacation' in Egypt and sipping 4 ounce bottles of luke-warm Coca Cola and having to turn down Nile River-produced local ice cubes (due to danger of illness), I was damn proud to stride into my local 7-11 and tank me up on some icy cold Big Gulpin' excess. Delicious? Hells yeah! So, next time you find yourself in the drive-thru lane and they hand you your tired burger, remember to check the catsup packet and feel pride in the knowledge that the catsup you dine upon is "Fancy" :-)

            1. I completely agree with the blessing/curse paradox. The curse is when you have to go out with your in-laws and you *hope* they choose Outback because that is the best possible scenario. Or you dread doing to a "reception" or "banquet" that is work-related because it is going to be difficult to choke down enough awful food to look polite. There is something to be said for blissful ignorance.

              The rest of the time it's joyous to return to a favorite restaurant, order that amazing dish, find a new place, anticipate the opening of the new ethnic place on the corner, read the boards obsessively before going to a new city, bringing friends to a spot they've never heard of and finding out later that they've been back repeatedly, proudly announcing--well, I made the crackers from a new recipe and I spiced the olives all week--when guests come over. all joyous.

              1. ...and maintaining a sense of fun and humor about all things delicious! If we are wired to "want" it should not exhaust us. Sometimes you just have to giggle and enjoy the food finds were you can.

                1. Mostly it's a blessing, but sometimes our pursuit of "deliciousness" can become a chore. Specifically when it's expected of us. I think once we have all been cooking and eating a certain way for long enough, our dinner guests or companions expect "something" of us. This could be always being asked to pick the restaurant that will make everyone sigh with delight (ugh - it's hard with a group of disparate palates) or it could be never being able to sit down with your extended family to a nice casserole of homemade macaroni and cheese, because they expect something more exotic and expensive from your kitchen.

                  Left to myself, the quest is never burdensome. It becomes so when one has to maintain some sort of misunderstood persona to family and friends.

                  Are we not human? Do we not lust for tomato soup and grilled cheese sometimes? :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cayjohan

                    Yep, I feel the same way. It can be exhausting when everyone expects you to have the answer to everything involving food.

                  2. Yes. Sometimes going to 3 different grocery stores, the butcher and the bakery is NOT my idea of fun. It is when I'm exploring a new neighbourhood and have some time to myself, but not the same old places every weekend. I am trying to simplify all the time these days - but it still hurts to know that good croissants, Cajun takeout, ban mi etc are all *just* out of reach and it occupies more mental space than I would like.

                    Another thing is that I have intimidated my husband right out of the kitchen. He is a good cook and apparently baked before we got together, but I rarely get to see this side of him and it's my own fault.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: julesrules

                      julesrules wrote: "Another thing is that I have intimidated my husband right out of the kitchen. He is a good cook and apparently baked before we got together, but I rarely get to see this side of him and it's my own fault."

                      julesrules..boy does that observation ring true from my childhood...my working mother unknowingly did the same thing to my Dad until the stress of doing it all got to her.

                      Then our family instituted a "it's your turn to cook" policy of sorts. We each had our own "night" to prepare a family meal (house of six) and it really enhanced our skills, recipe knowledge and made dinner FUN again!

                      I have gone into my marriage & parenthood trying to encourage the same "all cooks welcome" strategy. So far, so good but the new wrinkle is we must promise to eat, praise and support whoevers turn it is to cook. No exceptions. No chore.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I did the same thing to my husband for a while till I realized that it was stupid to behave in a way that kept someone else from doing the cooking sometimes. We now have a 'shut up and eat it' policy and it is a good thing.

                        And yeah, about the shopping... I have to go to three different stores to make nachos. I mean, they are just nachos. Sometimes I think I should get a life.