HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Runs in the Family?

I've seen a number of comments as asides in other threads about parents' awful cooking: everything from cans, burnt, veggies boiled to mush and so forth. And the offspring become chowhounds in spite of it. I've always thought I became a 'hound because of my parents' cooking and enthusiam for food; they loved it and prepared it well, and passed on that love to my sisters and me. Does chowhounding run in your family? Know anyone raised in a chowhound family who failed to pick up a love of food?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My father would go to the grocery store and come home with at least one thing he'd never eaten/cooked before (which was how he came to cook a duck when his eldest child was about 7). When we ate out, the parents would almost always look for something on the menu they'd never eaten before. My (four) brothers' friends used to tell my mother, "Mrs. B., sometimes I'm not sure what it is you're making for dinner, but it's always interesting - and usually good!" She subscribed to just about every "women's" magazine of the day - and tried just about every recipe she could. Entire family is food-crazed - and cannot understand one cousin who insists "Food? It's just fuel. What's the deal?"

    1. In her own truly weird way, I guess you could say my mother was a "foodie." She loved weird recipes. And I've already mentioned in another thread how she once kidnapped my haute cusine roast Christmas goose and took it to her house to make goose tacos.

      One time I went home on a visit and she proudly served me a slice of "Mock Apple Pie." It was sort-of okay, but if it wasn't for the cinnamon, there was no clue it was supposed to be apple But she was so proud. "Mom, what is this?" "Well, you make a double pie crust and you fill the bottom crust with a box of Ritz cracker. You break them in half or thirds, then you cover them with sugar and cinnamon and a little lemon juice and lots of butter. Then add the top crust, cut a vent,, and bake. Isn't it wonderful?"

      I stared at her a minute. My mother was *always* on a diet. "Mom, you got a box of Ritz crackers handy?"

      She reached in the pantry and handed me one. I handed it back, calorie count up. "How many calories you think there are in the whole box?" She blanched, then fed the remaining pie to the garbage disposal.

      When she died, I inherited her cook book with a gazillion weird recipes she had clipped from newpapers, magazines, and food boxes. Among them was a recipe for a popcorn stuffed turkey. Yup. You stuffed the turkey with popcorn and baked it in a very hot oven until the popcorn popped. I am certain that recipe was a joke. Maybe from an April Fool issue of some magazine. But I aslo have this feeling deep within me that at some point in her life, she tried it...

      4 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        Love the stories, but am sickly intrigued by the pop-corn turkey recipe. How bad could it be?

        1. re: Shayna Madel

          i googled it, apparently you can use popped corn, but not unpopped

          "And whatever you do, don't fall for that hoax popcorn stuffing recipe...as the myth goes, you put unpopped kernels in the stuffing and when it blows its a** off, the turkey is done. Doesn't work...never will, because the internal temp of the bird is too low...you end up with a mess of stuffing that is inedible because of those kernels, too."

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I found the same type of thing when I googled after I posted. But it's so intriguing, just the same.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              That's my mother's recipe! The one where you blow the a** off. And I have this feeling she probably tried. Hey, if anyone else shares her compulsion, maybe with a Cornish hen... '-)

        2. My mother is a wonderful cook who has great enthusiasm in food. My whole family enjoys eating at new places, trying new things. I think it may also be a cultural thing as I've learned many Vietnamese people really enjoy eating. Though, I don't think anyone in my family is as much a fanatic of food as I am.

          1. My parents were both foodies. My dad (now deceased) was Persian and would eat anything and everything. He just wasn't afraid of food. My mom has been involved in the restaurant business her whole life and most recently owned a gourmet biscotti company. She is an amazing cook. I don't like things too crazy, but I'll try mostly anything. My brother, on the other hand, was the kid who would only eat McDonald's. We ate out 4-5 times a week, but he would be the kid at the Korean place eating just rice and chicken. He's 29, and a little better now, but I'm sure that fast food wrappers still line his apartment.

            1. Probably got most of it from my father, who traveled all over the world on business and would bring home "ideas" of meals he had while traveling, which he'd then experiment trying to make himself. I get the "open the cabinets and combine flavors" cooking method from him, whereas Mom was more a by-the-cookbook type of cook until she got comfortable with a particular recipe and it became second nature. Mom likes good food, but she didn't much like cooking it (even less so now that she's in a retirement community, and her taste buds have been increasingly less able to taste as she gets older). She abdicated the preparation of things to me as soon as I showed interest in cooking.

              1. I grew up with a real mix of influences. Three extremes. My mom used to bake a lot and has a few specialties up her sleeve, but she tends to stick with what recipe/themes she knows. My grandma was a fantastic cook. Before she got sick she loved to cook, but always had to do it on a tight budget. She never measured anything, and always improvised. My aunt, on the other hand, is a total foodie, and she refuses to cook anything without the best, gourmet, and/or organic ingredients. So, I guess I fall somewhere in between. I sometimes cook more out of necessity than desire, but I do enjoy cooking, and I love good food, and buy the best available ingredients when I can afford to. But I still know how to concoct a tasty meal with very little money when I have to! And I love to improvise, and try cuisine from all over the world.

                1. Neither of my parents are Hounds. I grew up surrounded by boiled meat, boiled potatoes. And when we had veggies they were boiled until mush. Both parents live alone now. Dad eats hot dogs and microwave meals. Mom eats eggs and toast, sandwiches with cheap deli meats. She does like fish now, which we never had as kids. Neither of my sisters grew to be Hounds either, except that they will eat foods from other countries on occasion.

                  1. My mom was never much for cooking (though she makes a great apple pie.) I can remember going away to college and thinking, “Gee, this food isn’t so bad.” She used to buy ice cream in flavors we didn’t like to make it last longer (though admittedly that was in part a product of finances) and regularly says she wishes she could just take a pill and avoid eating all together. My dad is much more of a foodie but he never started cooking until I was into high school. My parents did take us out to non-fast food places when possible when I was growing up. They didn’t have the $ to do it often but we loved the feeling of being in a grown-up restaurant, and my dad always encouraged us to order anything we wanted from the adult menu. That might have something to do w/ it, as all three of us are foodies. We also all went away to college and moved to various places afterward, and I think that kind of immersion in different cultures helped.

                    My husband was apparently a very picky eater when young, and he lived w/ his mom and grandparents on a farm where his grandmother would boil a chicken for dinner every Sunday. (Just boil it up and then pour the stock down the drain, which makes him cringe now.) His dad lived this kind of mountain man existence in Alaska and so when Jack was old enough to visit for the summer he had to eat whatever was available (including things like fermented beaver and bear fat.) He credits that w/ getting rid of any pickiness. Then he moved to Anchorage for his last two years of high school (bigger school, more class opportunities) and lived w/ a couple of 30-year-old friends of his dad. They would work on the pipeline for weeks and then come home for weeks, so they had lots of downtime to cook and got him interested.

                    In summation – in our generation, we all are foodies, but w/ the exception of my dad, no one in prior generations of our families was. I think part of that, though, was a lack of financial and cultural opportunities. Certainly as my dad became more successful he became much more interested in trying new thing. But that’s not all of it, as my mom is just the opposite.

                    1. I grew up in a family of non-chowhounds. My sister is still that way, and I think looks at food as simply as nurishment instead of something that should be enjoyed. My mom on the other hand now travels internationally, and dines out with my wife and I, and has expanded her eating horizons.

                      Food growing up was what I call World War II mess hall food. Creamed tuna on toast, meatloaf, overn fried chicken, etc. We had a roast every Sunday, and lots of potatoes. I didnt start eating rice until I was 18, and pasta was rare as well. Salt was the only seasoning used in cooking

                      My awakening came when I got my first real job at 19 working at a deli & Philly Cheesesteak hole-in-the wall restaurant as a grill cook. I got exposed to hot peppers, capicola, the philly steak, hoagies, gyros, etc, and my taste buds were awakened. I went on to work at various other restaurants, hotels, and catering operations, and expanded my food knowlwedge, and exposure. I am a self taught scratch cook. I never wanted to be a chef, but enjoy now the "free" cooking education I received while making a living or more like scrimping buy as a line cook.

                      Nowdays I still enjoy a roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, but I now enjoy Korean BBQ, Sushi, dry aged prime beef, cheeses, seafood, vegetables, mexican food, greek food, cajun food more.

                      1. I grew up in a chow enivronment. My family was full of excellent cooks. My Mother even used to make homemade bread, she had huge vulcan stoves and when preparing for parties she would use the whole thing. My Aunt still cooks a lot, and I have lots of wonderful recipes passed through the family. I was also introduced to a lot of differnt things when I was young. I learned to love veal, dry blue cheese with vinagrette and other things at a very early age. I also had an Amish Nanny who could cook like none other. I have a lot of her recipes, too.

                        The BF though came from a very non-chow family. His sister and brother are def not chowhounds in the least. He is a little better though, he will try new things and will eat different stuff that I make all the time, at least, but he still likes instant mashed potatoes. That always has made me so sad. I tried to help his brother become more into food when he lived with us this summer, but I don't know that it worked all that well.

                        1. Your upbringing sounds like mine, mordacity. My parents both grew up poor, but as they became adults and got more exposed to the wider world, they developed a real love for cooking and food. Dad especially since he was in the service and stationed in Europe during the 50s. Both of my parents cooked, and were not afraid to try challenging recipies--I can remember one time when they both stayed up into the wee hours making this cake that had 32 layers that had to be brushed on and baked one on top of the other; it was one of those things where they just saw the recipe and just had to try it, not realizing until it was too late that it was more work than they were prepared for. The cake was good, though!

                          For years they had subscriptions to all the food magazines, which they actually used and kept for many years. They've since stopped most of the subscriptions now that they've learned that lots of good recpies can be found on the internet.

                          When I was a kid, we rarely "ate out" at fast food places like many of my friends' families. We'd always go a regular sit-down restaurant (not always the expensive kind, but a sit-down place of some sort) and even though I'd usually get the typical "kiddie" fare, they'd always have my try what they were eating to expand my tastes. All I know is none of my other friends when I was 5 had ever eaten abelone!

                          Now that they're older, though, I'm finding that our roles have reversed somewhat. But much of that is due to medical restrictions. When I've gone out when them, they tend to stick to "safe" stuff while I'm more adventurous. But they still cook quite a bit, collect cookbooks, and are addicted to pretty much all the cooking shows on PBS.

                          Anyway, I'd say that my adventurous food spirit was definintely inherited!

                          1. I'm blessed to be a third generation foodie, my paternal was a hotel chef, may maternal grandparents ran a clam house, my mom's college degree was in home ec(!) and my dad grew up in kitchens.

                            My brothers and I grew up helping out in the kitchen from the time we could grasp a cooking implement. We shopped in weird ethnic groceries in the 60's, avoided chains and fast foods like they were the plague. Mom bought at least one new cookbook a month and worked her way through it, we all learned to be fearless in the kitchen.

                            Summers with my grandfather were spent dining out at holes in the wall throughout New England, learning how to judge the quality of a resto from the thousands of small details and how to "accidentally" stumble in the kitchen to get a look. He taught me the great wisdom of "learn to cook and you'll never have to get married".

                            My wife comes from almost exactly the opposite background, the cooking as chore school. Her mother put a hot meal on the table every night but it didn't go much beyond that. She still recalls boiled radishes (anyone else ever heard of this?) with horror and won't even eat raw ones. She's now every bit as chowish as me and I've even made inroads with my in-laws.

                            1. i definitely became a chowhound because of my parents. dad is willing to eat anything at least once. when they went grocery shopping - both my parents always brought home new things. i especially remember when my dad brought home a durian - our car smelled like one for weeks.. my mom is an excellent cook - willing to try new recipes - made all sorts of american and asian dishes from scratch. we tried all levles of restaurants - from dives to top notch. traveled internationally and ate everything - fish head curry, frog legs, beans on toast. so happy i have parents who encourage open-mindness to new things.

                              1. I have never thought of my parents as chowhounds. Mom was a great cook, but in a predictable middle-America way (pies, pot roasts, casseroles, chopped salads). My Dad is of the salt-and-pepper are the only seasonings ilk. BUT: I did grow up with absolutely fresh and wonderful ingredients, from garden, farm and hunting. Perfectly fresh eggs. Grass-fed beef raised a football field's length away. Game. The bounty of homegrown tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beans, ad infinitum. And, despite this salt-and-pepper mentality, my Dad always rhapsodised about things like wild boar, bear, suckers, etc, that perhaps led to my interest in a broad range of foods.

                                My kids are definitely cut of the same cloth as I am. Open minds and developed palates and a love of the fresh and delicious versus the manufactured and chemical-laden. My sister, while an "eating-out" chowhound, has not yet embraced the full joys of the kitchen - that will come eventually.

                                I have never known anyone who grew up in a chowish family that narrowed their food focus (other than for, say, an allergy or medical reason). Maybe we never go back after a taste of what's out there.

                                1. As a kid, mom cooked everything. Not very well, but it was food. Very English. Dad was always up for trying something new. I started trying new places in high school, and once in college I’d try anything. Now Dad is always up for spending an evening going around town and trying bits of this and pieces of that (awesome) when we get to hang out. I really think my partner helped introduce me to trying more foods more than anyone else, though. For me it’s been non-family all the way for chow stuff!

                                  1. To your last question: Having chow parents and grandparents is certainly no guarantee of chowishness. Only 2 of 5 in my family know or care about food, and I don't think you will find too many people more chowish than my parents.

                                    1. My mother is the worst cook in the world and admits it freely. My great grandmother on one side, and my grandmother on the other side, were very good, but I was too young to be influenced. My older sister is a gourmet cook who has been honing her skills for many years. I take after my mother -- the only thing I cook that my husband likes is my coffee! sad but true. But, we all love good food -- I think because my mother is such a bad cook we learned at an early age to eat out at the best restaurants that we could afford so as to have an enjoyable and special meal.

                                      1. As is often the case, the Chow gene skipped a generation in my family. My (maternal) Grandmother is a wonderful cook, especially when it comes to Hungarian and Ukranian comfort food. She taught me how to make my first specialty, French toast, back when I was barely old enough to reach the stove. I loved nothing more than to make french toast for my whole family on weekend mornings by the age of 10 or so.

                                        My Mother on the other hand thinks a salad should only be made with iceberg lettuce and thinks nothing of serving pre-packaged, frozen chicken pot pie for dinner.

                                        My family is actually very mixed when it comes to food, Dad has travelled the world a few times over on business and therefore has a much broader appreciation for food, which I have also inherited from him. He took me to my first Michelin 2 star rated restaurant in Amsterdam for my 18th b-day and I still remember how great that dinner was! He hates nothing more than to travel with a certain aunt and uncle who will only eat at restaurants that serve bland chicken. If a menu looks remotely interesting to Dad or I, I can guarantee half my extended family will refuse to eat there!

                                        1. Houndishness certainly runs in my family, though it manifests itself differently. In the early 1920s, my great grandmother (on my mother's side) was dying of cancer, so a divan was dragged into the kitchen so she could teach her eldest daughter (my great aunt) to cook for the family after she died. My maternal grandmother (youngest daughter) never really learned how to cook very well, but that sister of hers was great - I still remember her roast beef, peach pie, and red velvet cake. My paternal grandmother was a superb cook, and taught my mother how to cook. My father (now a healthy 80) is quite a good cook. He's not very adventurous any more (he was pretty daring, before), but still really quite good, as is his longtime girlfriend. My mother was extraordinarily adventurous, and back in the day would take a run at just about anything, and I can't remember a single failure. Now she also tends to stick to the tried and true when she is at the stove, but if someone else is cooking is still game for anything. As a child, I was left in the care of a Friulan woman during the day, as both my parents worked outside the home, and she also was a great cook. Her mother ran a boarding house, and she was often the cook. It was a mulitcultural boarding house, so she she learned not only the Friulan standards, but many other things as well. She was a huge influence on my palate, though I never did get to try musetto. Both my sister and I love to eat, and cook, and I'll say immodestly that we are both quite good. Interestingly, the one real difference in our respective culinary formations is the Fruilan inflence on me; now, my sister shows a stronger tendency toward Asian cuisine, whereas I tend to be more toward the European. That said, we'll both try anything, and her husband is always game. Her daughter isn't much of a cook, but has hooked up with a guy who is, and both love food and are quite adventurous. So, we're on to our fifth generation of hounds. Lucky us!

                                          1. Not sure I would label my grandmother and mother Chowhounds, but definitely good cooks in the limited food repertoire they had. I'm of Jewish Hungarian background and both were excellent at apple strudel, poppyseed/nut strudels, chicken paprikash, beef goulash, stuffed cabbage, pot roast, brisket, etc. My grandmother was a single mother in Europe during WWII and was a cook at several restaurants in France (Pyrennes). My mother didn't actually learn to cook until she was a bride in the US in the early 1950's. She tried to extend her repertoire to the cooking of the day - she made an awesome tuna noodle casserole, salmon patties with mushroom sauce, spaghetti & meatballs, etc. Both my brother and I are pretty decent cooks. MY DH grew up in a family where my MIL didn't care much for cooking and my food was definitely part of the attraction! Brother married a woman who loved to eat but not to cook, so he learned to cook out of necessity. Too early to tell about the DDs, they are not exhibiting signs of cooking, but might consider them CHs in that they appreciate good cooking and diversity of cuisine.