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Other than taste, what motivates you to live as a chowhound?

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For me, after taste comes immediate well-being. I feel much better when eating my own home-cooked meals from a range of ingredients on hand.
I also like the feeling of carrying on tradition when I make a very healthy olive-oil based and meat-free meal, or from the other side of my family, the occasional sour-cream and chicken concoction that is just so good I only need one piece.
There's probably a number of other reasons, like being generous to my friends w/home cooked meals, the enjoyment and relaxation I get from shopping and preparing food, etc.
And of course, there's the satisfaction from knowing I will probably be able to avoid most diet-related illnesses given the way I eat. Yesterday I had lunch at the hospital Wendy's on campus, ironic location given the prevalence of obesity related illnesses, which makes me feel that chowhounding can adopt a much more serious role.

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  1. We whose find artistic pleasure in food can avoid the worry of where and how to deal with too many possessions. With a gift of food there is never the problem: "We can't get rid of that - It was a gift!"
    Food is simply the most practical way to repeatedly indulge the impulses to create and acquire beautiful, precious things.

    1 Reply
    1. re: atheorist

      Beautifully put. I couldn't agree more.

    2. Food brings people together.

      1. For me, taste would come first--I am convinced that the American palate is losing the battle of quantity v. quality.

        A close second would be that I believe that it's important to remember the old ways, and the care that goes into a well crafted meal. Similar to another post on the boards, we've gotten so casual about how we dress, how we speak--anything goes, it seems. Well, I like to set a table correctly, and to cook from scratch, and to be picky about what I choose to go into a dish. Like Tony Soprano (ironically)said in an episode, "In this house, it's 1950"

        1 Reply
        1. re: thegolferbitch

          I couldn't agree more. Too many people think that by opening a bag of frozen meatballs and covering them with bottled sauce that it means they are cooking from scratch. I can't stand it. They are the same ones who would taste your homemade meatball and tell you it doesn't taste 'real'

          I want people to know what real food tastes like, and I want them to be able to cook it at home. That's why I teach people to cook. And it's why i don't compromise in my kitchen. I spent too many years eating tasteless and boring food because it was all I could either afford or knew how to make. Now that I have expanded my skills and taken it to new heights, there is no end to what I can make in my own kitchen. And it is totally satisfying to me to make a wonderful, unhurried meal and enjoy it fully, to leisurely sip a perfect cup of coffee or bite into bread warm from the oven; a pizza crust from scratch and cookies that actually taste like cookies. Life has been streamlined to DEATH and I hate it; everything is automated and broken down to be easier, cheaper and less healthy for you than at any other time in our history. It's awful. The ability to create magic in our kitchens is worth every moment of time and each cent spent pulling it together.

        2. Second this opinion. I get such a smug feeling when Mme Zoe and I sit down to a table with real silver, nice plates, candles and gasp! one wonderful meal after another made from scratch. Never a prepared box enters this house (other than Trader Joe's pizza for emergencies). Oh, I forgot, real cloth napkins too, ugh to the paper things. I don't see any reason not to live like Queens when we have all the stuff, its called, USE IT, don't look at nice tableware just for holidays.
          We have a lot of fun discussing what to eat for the week. Just had an eggwhite omelet with fresh basil from the garden (this is LA and its in the 70's again) parmesan, onion flakes and a quarter of a chicken pate flute which was our lunch yesterday from Bristol Farms. OK I cheated on that one but Mme Zoe was feeling down in the dumps and needed a stop at this gourmet emporium near our house for her lunch yesterday.
          As GolferBitch points out, things are sliding - however I am happy to see that ChowPupLet (g-daughter) really appreciated a recent dinner party to celebrate her new job and we found her in the kitchen washing the Lennox by hand, together with the silver - I thought she was preserving her inheritance!

          4 Replies
          1. re: ZoeZ

            I know that smug feeling! I live alone, but as my sister says, I'm the only person she knows who cooks 3-course meals for herself. Sometimes, on Sunday morning, when I have a lovely breakfast of perfectly sunny-side up eggs, good bread, good butter, halloumi cheese, and avocado and tomato, and drink my coffee, freshly ground, in a little white cup with a saucer, I feel so happy. Which is basically why I am a chowhound, when the world seems so unhappy and overwhelming, especially in my work as an immigration lawyer, taking the time to make something from scratch, to take some care to enjoy small, basic pleasures gives me the energy to keep going.

            1. re: ZoeZ

              "I get such a smug feeling when Mme Zoe and I sit down to a table with real silver, nice plates..."

              My smug feeling comes from appreciating cuisines the chain-restaurant diners will never know ... and at those places, usually food of a quality the others will never know. Not that they'd know quality if it bit 'em in the rear. "Look, Brad, they've got yet another entree slathered in Jack Daniels sauce out of a 55-gallon drum of the stuff!"

              One other reason I'm a 'hound:

              I'm not young anymore - a lot of stuff that used to work just fine doesn't work now. Gone is the mobility and the energy, and more. Experiencing exciting food is one of the dwindling number of sensual pleasures left. And on the positive side, at this age I've learned to appreciate aspects of food that I just couldn't comprehend when younger.

              1. re: wayne keyser

                I know that same smug feeling. I can't tell you how many times I have gleefully told my husband, "Bet nobody else in Bloomington is eating this!"

                1. re: jillp

                  Funny you should say that, my husband is always saying that about our meals. I love being able to put a healthy, wonderful tasting meal on the table and enjoy the cooking process completely. Being able to have great meals-sometimes gourmet and sometimes plain comfort food, is one of the great pleasures in life. I pitty people who don't enjoy food and just eat to stay alive. They are missing so much!

            2. taste first obviously, but that relates to me directly. Few things give me greater pleasure than the look on other peoples faces when they enjoy what they are eating. So I guess that's still taste - but not my own! To make others happy through my oen endeavours. Now that sounds smug!

              1. Many of the previous posts echo my sentiments. After taste, my primary motivation for being a Chowhound is that I love the activity of cooking, both the task and the fact that most of the time, I am cooking alongside my husband. We have a grand time in the kitchen.

                And I, too, enjoy knowing exactly what's going into my food. Or not going in, to be more precise.

                And then there's sitting down and just enjoying the meal. Like ZoeZ, we use the good stuff every evening. Good food deserves a good setting and we deserve to enjoy it that way.

                And as another poster mentioned, food brings people together. If you're having a truly good meal, it's hard to be cranky with someone.

                1. Eating well (in all its aspects) is one of the ur-satisfactions of life but the desire to explore, expand cultural and taste horizons and have new experiences in this arena is certainly a major factor in chowhounding.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Totally agree with the expansion of cultural awareness. I've always thought that the best way to understand someone is to sit at their table. Sharing a meal is a great entry point for understanding. Enlarged upon, eating the food and learning the food traditions of other cultures is a really easy and satifying way to open a window on the world.

                    Touchy-feely liberal? Maybe. But it's such a simple way to experience a lot more in life. Plus, we all gotta eat. Might as well eat well.

                  2. Eating well equates to living well. And my husband and I want to enjoy life to the fullest extent. Life is too short for mediocre food and wine.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I like to learn new things. Food is something you can talk about with anyone you meet. I mean, everyone eats, yes? There's always something new to learn, if it's about cooking it, serving it, growing it, different varieties, techniques, regions, customs, etc etc etc. You never really exhaust a whole planet.

                      And it's really cool to have someone Chinese look at me (blue eyed gweilo) and say "wow, you like *real* Chinese food!"

                      1. For me food can be a Proustian madeleine and a subway token to a restaurant can be a ticket to a fabulous and foreign world. I wrote about this before, when someone asked me about the food in Ghana, which I visited long ago.


                        When I eat in Chinatown in a vast and crowded banquet hall surrounded by happy Chinese families, for that moment I feel happy, and Chinese, and part of the family.

                        1. food can be perfect in itself-a great croissant,piece of cheese-food can be vital-need it to live-it can be humble-it can be sublime-I find simple best-

                          1. Since I am hopelessly lazy when it comes to cooking at home, a lot of the above doesn't apply to me (unless I were to eat in YOUR homes). So since so much of my eating is done elsewhere...

                            Besides taste, I love the hunt, finding that little gem. Be it high or low, I love when I order something and it comes out better than I expected. I love the surprise, the revelation of tasting something new, the look on someone else's face when they are ooohing and aaahing. I love the restaurant business, the people who work in it, the gossip, the hardships of the business, the ups and downs, the illogic of so much of it. The drama is pretty darned entertaining too.

                            Plus I may be mentally deranged and just a little obsessed.

                            1. I love the hunt, too. I love stopping at farmers markets and exploring grocery stores in other places. I got a kick out of seeing dry ice machines at grocery stores in Alaska, the variety of fish coatings on the NC Carolina coast, and discovering fresh peach juice on PEI. For that reason I like to camp when we vacation so I can cook with local ingredients. I'm abolutely delighted with the variety of apples available at the grocery but it's even nicer to visit a local orchard and try a new variety. My husband's grandfather was an apple farmer but they only grew a few varieties. Nothing is easier or better than our local farmer's honor system corn stand. There are always 2 or 3 varieties available in labeled piles. And what a bonus to discover the church ladies in Bath ME have a variety of pies for sale (by the slice) during Bath Spirit Days. Hurrah for rhubarb! As a frequenter of the local ham and bean suppers I know good pie makers are dying off. I never bothered to learn how to make a good crust since I always relied on my MIL to make pies. After her death, when my FIL asked if there was anytihing I wanted, I grabbed the antique and frequently used crank apple peeler. I simply cannot understand why my sister and BIL rarely venture to non-chain restaurants. She always orders the same thing "because she knows it's good".

                              1. Food is as good as sex. And I get to have it three times a day!

                                1 Reply
                                1. I can't be the only person who grew up in a family where food = love. For me, the longer I slave over a dish (ex: making my own bread for stuffing), the better ingredients I use, the more thought I put into the meal = the more I love the person.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: librarian

                                    The food=love idea can be dangerous territory, too. I grew up with a mother who held that idea, but then proceeded to stuff that love, metaphorically, down everyone's throats. If one did not finish one's meatloaf, one did not *love* Mom sufficiently.

                                    I agree with you, librarian, on the love we put into food for our families being good.I feel similarly. But we walk a thin line when we start expecting a specific reaction of love in return (not that you have espoused that).

                                    I know a lot of people who also had mama-loves-to-cook-for-you-because-she-loves-you situations, and soooo many of them have food issues. Maybe I love to cook for my family, but I always use words that teach about the food or culture. I'm not criticizing the love-thing, only cautioning. Especially if you have kids. Especially if you have (like I do) a teen-aged daughter. Too many food issues in that social set already to add more.

                                  2. A number of things:

                                    1. Trying new things is adventurous, and allows you to "free your mind." Trying new-to-you food is an easy way to risk a little bit.

                                    2. Supporting local food-lovers, especially in restaurant settings, farmer's markets, etc. Rewarding those who work hard to provide great food is satisfying to me.

                                    3. Eating is a social thing. I was brought up eating dinner together as a family every night. It's still important to me that I enjoy the time with loved ones and friends over food that is wonderful. Great memories are created this way, but if the food's bad, it can detract from the time.

                                    4. Learning about food and understanding things that others share with me is important to me.

                                    5. I enjoy cooking as opposed to, say, changing the oil in my vehicle.

                                    6. When I'm old, and my parents are long gone, I want to still be able to make the food that reminds me of them, and allow the senses to take me back there.

                                    And that's just off the top of my head. Taste is *very* important, though.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: boagman

                                      Beautiful reply, boagman. I agree that supporting local food growers and local restaurants is very important. My husband's family used to be farmers but couldn't make a decent living at it. A local apple orchard can no longer afford their property taxes. When our son was growing up we had dinner together as often as possible. Now that we are grandparents my husband asked me to start having a weekly family dinner with his father attending as well. Keeping the family connected is very important to all of us esp after the 8 years our son was away from home.

                                    2. I work in a very logical, controlled, analytical profession - the computer industry. I don't play music anymore, I don't paint or draw well, and my non-technical writing is mediocre, at best. Cooking is my artistic expression, and it's also the way I demonstrate to my friends and family that I care for them.

                                      1. I'd have to say a lot of my motivation is purely epicurean. I think a childhood spent eating dull food set me up for an adult obsession with interesting food. Mom did what she could to feed a huge brood of kids on a tight budget, but local markets and the typical cooking style of her own era didn't offer much fodder for creativity.

                                        After college, learning to cook and find great restaurant meals on my entry-level salary was important to my dating life. A meal at a Boston restaurant (Icarus) in the late 80s really excited me about the Alice Waters philosophy of New American cooking. Extensive global business travel expanded up my horizons and enthusiasm for new cuisines.

                                        Things like a general sense of well-being and health from eating better are nice, but I consider them more like fringe benefits. Mainly, I aspire to be a bon vivant.