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Nature versus Nurture [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

Are you from a family of Hounds or are you the odd one out?

I am a Hound whose quest for deliciousness evolved (and it still evolving) in the last 10 years. I grew up in a family that goes oversees and searches out the nearest McDonald's. Seriously, my Dad called me about three years ago to share the exciting news that he started putting onions on his BBQ sandwiches and they were "not bad".

How about you? Are you from a Hound Family or does you family of origin think your food preferences are odd?

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  1. Nope, didn't grow up in a Houndish family. My mother was visiting me and my wife the other day and commented that she has no idea how I've developed the tastes and likes that I have now (although she's often game to try new things when she's with us). My Dad has developed into quite the hound himself since he and my mom split.

    So, my family is not one that was houndish when I was growing up, but none think my food prefs are odd, though no one is sure where they came from.

    1. My parents are Home-cooking Hounds but don't have the means to be Restaurant Hounds to the extent that my husband's family and sometimes we are able to be.
      My home-cooking skills & curiosity were definitely cultivated by them!

      1. Haven't had much time to "play" on CH lately (5 month old baby) but just caught this thread and had to write.

        I grew up in a family of eaters and hounds. My mother was a wonderful cook, as was/is her sister. She was of jewish heritage and her cooking showed it but she could make the meanest eggplant parmagiana and corned beef and cabbage, etc. You get the idea. We also ate out 2-3 times a week since we were very young, not McD's but NYC restaurants - Spanish/Italian/French. I thought a shirley temple was called an "on the house" for years since that is what the owners of our usual haunts used to say as they placed them in front of my brother and me. :-)

        Anyway, my father is remarried and his wife is not a cook (though she thinks she is), to put it kindly. We suffer through holiday meals as my dad oohs and aahs. I wonder if he is faking it but it sounds pretty genuine. So, I also wonder if it is his age or if he never was a hound and just went through the motions. My mother and I could and would eat practically anything as long as it was "worthy". A hotdog with mustard and sauerkraut, crispy from the kosher delli could be heaven on earth. :-) My mothers famous brisket recipe lives on at holiday time (I miss her so much).

        So, to answer the quesiton, it appears to be nurture with my brother and me, though he cooks differently than I do, he cooks. We are both very concerned with what we eat and it seems to spill over onto others around us.

        So, though nature must have a little something to do with it, I am going with nurture. My hubby LOVES to eat and can cook a mean breakfast but his mom is not a very good cook (though she tries very hard) and his cooking is very simple and limited but oh so appreciated by this tired mom..

        1. My mom and dad are both 'hounds and have belonged to a gourmet group for at least twenty years. They're always searching out good food. My mom is a great cook who taught me a lot.

          Grandparents on both sides are not such 'hounds. My dad's mom eats a lot of takeout. She enjoys food, but is not quite a 'hound. Same with my mom's mom. She has a few dishes she does well, but doesn't branch out from them and really doesn't know how to cook past those dishes. She likes certain foods, but definitely is not adventurous with her palate and doesn't feel the need to search for "heaven on a plate", like I am.

          1. My mom cooks just like her mom (came over from Ireland) - boiled canned or frozen veggies, large hunks of salty meat, and parsley potatoes. Our mac 'n cheese was boxed. We almost never ate out. When it was her bday, dad would sometimes take us to Red Lobster. After my parents divorced, my mom moved to the shore where she discovered good seafood. Then she got a job in a restaurant and learned more about fresh ingredients and ethnic foods. She's still shocked when I cook for her, though. One time she asked me what was in the stirfry even though she'd had asparagus a million times. When I told her what it was, she said "what brand?" Had only had canned before.

            I think my houndishness came from my years working in restaurants. I'll never forget working in a Mexican place where the food was your basic Americanized stuff. Then the kitchen guys would cook something different for the staff, and it was always so much better.

            1. I grew up in a large extended family with influences from many food loving cultures--Spanish, Italian, German, American Southern. I grew up with good food and plenty of it, even though my parents didn't have a lot of money when I was a child. I didn't know people lived any other way. By the time I reached high school I was stunned to learn that some people ate out more than they ate home cooked meals.

              In the past 20 years I've taken my hounding into my own hands. I still remember going back to visit my Grandma when I was in my mid-20's and realizing that my cooking skills had outgrown her kitchen--the one where I had marvelled at her magical culinary talent. I think I still have a lot to discover as an eater and a cooker, but that's my nature. My nurturing just gave me a head start.

              1. My Dad believed there were only two allowable seasonings: salt and paper (still does); my Mom was a good home cook, but had a narrowly defined focus (I still thank her for gravy making skills). Excursions out of the meat-n-potato realm were usually in the baking category for my Mom, with whatever new recipe for a cake turned up in the Ladies' Home Journal. I'd like to say it was mostly my nature that led me to love good food. Still, the spirit of adventure my Mom showed with those crazy magazine clipping endeavors played a part, as did my Dad's love of all varieties of game, which squashed a lot of my squeamishness early on. There's the nuture.

                Still, my parents never branched out into many ethnic cuisines or classical preps. I did that, and am doing it with my kids. I think that nature and nurture do a complicated dance in this. I'll never know if it's nature that leads my kids to like sushi for breakfast and olive tapenade with smoked oysters on toast for after-school snacks or if it was the nurture - that we just always ate that way.

                My family of origin DOES think my food preferences are odd, but I really don't care anymore. There was a time that I did. We're making our own foodway tradition.

                1. I come from a family where my mother, aka Mater Beige proudly annouces "Your Grandmother didn't live to 102 by eating all those strange "ethnic" things" (for ethnic read ANTHING other than salt and pepper).. And I have posted her about her famous Cat's Vomit Stew (looks, smells and tastes like somthing the cat hurled up on the throw rug)

                  The most exotic thing she does is flavour soup with vegemite (DO NOT ASK)

                  So it sure ain't nurture in my case!!!!

                  1. My Father had an extremely limited number of food likes so as children we were not exposed to a large number of different types of foods. My personal CH tendencies came from some family friends how I got to know better when I moved to their town to attend college. After my father died we thought my Mother would finally be free to eat differently but we found that while she likes more food than my Father, in no way is she remotely houndish. My sister goes over and cooks for her on weekends and she sometimes complains to me that my sister is always putting green things (fresh herbs) and other weird things in her food. Most of my brothers and sister did not turn out to be chowhounds either, except for the above mentioned sister who is the creative one who found her chowhounding soul through cookbook experimentation.

                    1. Def. a family of Hounds. My father has traveled extensively because of business. On his trips it was always "where do the locals eat?" and "what do they eat"? He would come back with stories of eating quivering lobster sashimi, black chicken, capybara, etc. My mother loves to read cookbooks and trying out new spices and seasonings. She was tempted to move us to Singapore for the food. My older brother and I were exposed to international cuisine at an early age when we lived in England and were able to travel around the continent. My parents were always good at allowing us to order what ever we wanted and switching when/if we didn't like it. My mom still talks about when I first ordered escargot in Paris (7yr?). Convinced I wouldn't eat them all, she didn't order an app for herself. Of course I quickly ate the buggers and my brother eat all bread by dipping it in the butter. We are now working on expanding the palate of my SIL and my SO :).

                      1. I'm the odd one out, no questions asked. My mother's idea of fancy was putting the peaches under the cottage cheese instead of just spooning them on top. She was a decent baker though - we rarely had storebought bread in the house.

                        The scary bit -- she's about a 20 times better cook then her Mom is. With Gran's cooking, you're lucky if you can tell what food it is.

                        1. Everyone in my family loves to eat, cook, and talk incessantly about food. Everyone in my husband's family thinks cooking means opening a can or microwaving a frozen tray, and usually forgets to eat at all. This, however, might have nothing to do with my being Chinese and his being English...or does it?