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Dec 30, 2007 12:59 PM

Is there such a person as a "CHOWHOUND" purist?

I have been challenged to conduct a discussion about what is mean't by a CHOWHAND purist in the thread in General Topics; .....The Modern MICROWAVE oven?

I was implying that some food 'affectionados' might abstain from using a microwave oven in their cooking efforts
In what ways, if any, do you consider yourself a purist in regard to modern MW ?

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  1. I don't reallly think there is such a creature as a ChowHound Purist. CH's are, by nature a very opinionated and diverse group who love food and many "off shoots: of the subject of food, EG: Those things related to eating/cooking/tipping, etc, etc,etc
    I don't believe there is any specific 'playbook' and purists love to follow the playbook...
    Without "rules" a purist would have a difficult, if not impossible time of it. Aside from the rules imposed by the 'ChowHound Poilce' there are no rules

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      If you choose not to use one or more of the now available tools and techniques for turning out great food (including the MW), for whatever real or imagined or misguided reason, then that's your choice and I'm sure you will still turn out good food. BUT, do not then place yourself in the category of 'purist' apart from those of us with more open minds. Do you restrict yourself to cooking only on open fires and shun artificial refrigeration using all of these strange chemicals? Do you actually hunt for your protein and grow your own vegetables, or do you rely on that stuff available commercially that's been butchered days ago, transported on smelly trucks, treated with all sorts of chemicals to preserve them. The real food 'purists' tended to die at very early ages...

      1. re: bnemes3343

        "The real food 'purists' tended to die at very early ages..."

        While I like the tone of most of your post, bnemes, I take issue with this statement and lack of substantiation. I THINK I know what you're getting at, but would like some clarification, as it's a pretty broad generalization. Data?


        1. re: cayjohan

          Ok, I thought it was clear (guess not) that back when humans hunted for and grew our own food and cooked on sticks over an open fire, we didn't exactly live to ripe old ages. I would classify them as real 'purists'. I think my point was that embracing newer techniques (and a microwave is hardly 'new'), tools, etc., does not make one less of a food purist. There are actually culinary school grads who use a garlic press (although they will deny this to the death). There are all sorts of 'modern' conveniences that have made it simpler for the average cook to produce really nice results. If you choose to use a food processor to chop your onions, I might roll my eyes a bit, but I would not label you a non food 'purist'.

          Now, on the other hand, if you opened a blue and yellow cardboard box to make a great mac and cheese, I might have to say something...

          1. re: bnemes3343

            Thanks, bnemes, and sorry to poke at you with that meat roasting stick...

            Still, there are those of us who do use hunted game, who do raise veg and buy it from farmers, and we are not dropping dead at age 40( Thank god, as I'm way past that..). I don't really think that's the definition of "purists." I frankly don't know what a "purist" would be (please don't let me mention all my undergrad studies on 1939 Europe...), but I do agree with you that a MW is not going to disqualify one for the title, whatever it may be. My point in reponding to you is that it is not one or the other. Food on a stick-over-the-fire is still good, as is some food in the micro (mmm...steamed veg...). Don't get me started on why we didn't live to ripe old ages in the times you're citing...

            When we start to speak of being "pure" in any discipline, we are walking a very slippery path. I think that we as thinking and innovatve humans with (presumably) large brains can devise ways of cooking that are generally appropriate and tasty, with what tools we have. We have MWs and they are great, in my estimation. It does not mean, however, that we should think that food not MW'd, or otherwise modern, is suspect.

            We're mostly on the same page, we on this thread. I must say, however, that the occasional box of Kraft M&C is a delight, with lots of pepper. :-)

            Cheers...and I have to say this is one of the more interesting threads in a while.


            1. re: cayjohan

              Well, happy new year to you, and many more! Yes, I think we are basically on the same page. Whatever it is that anyone does who truly loves to enjoy great food, even if it is mac in a box, more power to them. I think it is the great diversity of views and experiences that people bring to this site that make it really great. And the opportunity fot all of us to learn from others, no matter how smart we thought we were....

    2. A Chowhound to me is someone who is constantly in search of deliciousness, be it out of Grant Achatz' kitchen, out of a street tamale vendor's cooler or out of a microwave oven. My favorite Chowhounds are those that are equally enthusiastic about them all.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MSPD

        I guess I am a purist in that I do not use my microwave oven, except to reheat soup, boil water, etc., and it's a conscious decision I've made. I LOVE the act of cooking, that includes bubbling away stews and veggies and whatever else on the stove top using my favorite cookware, my well broken in 17 yo Le Creuset pots. I find the act of cooking and cleaning up the mess a joy. I'm not interested in short cuts of any kind.

        Funny you bring this up. My SIL cooked our entire Christmas dinner (including the Stovetop stuffing) in the microwave. When we got together at the MIL's to cook Christmas brunch earlier that day she rolled her eyes at me for cooking the bacon in the oven. She thought it should be done in the MW. I cooked the eggs on the stove top, she cooked them in a bowl in the MW.

        I LOVE to cook and realize that not everybody does and try not to judge them nor do I try to convert them. My least favorite gifts this year were the electric knife given to me by my SIL, and the Chop Wizard given to me by my Mom. Maybe next Christmas I should give them Global knives...

        1. re: Axalady

          You might want to give the electric knife a chance--it's a great tool for rustic breads as well as slicing flank/flat iron steak very thinly. We were ambivalent about them until we got one, and it's been pretty useful for those things. We have decent regular knives but sometimes it's nice to use the technology.

          And...LOL about dinner in the microwave--gag me with a non metallic spoon! Reminds me of an old boyfriend who also cooked everything in the nuke. If I wanted salt and pepper on my food, I had to bring my own. He was strictly a food as fuel kind of guy. My husband is the complete opposite!

      2. I'm kinda grossed out by foods cooked in the microwave. I have no idea why, I just am. I don't have an issue with the microwave for re-heating or simple things. But, I know people who will cook a chicken breast in the micro, and that just seems wrong to me.

        I think a Chowhound uses everything they have available to them to make the best tasting food possible. It's not about being fancy or doing things the old fashioned way, it's about being stuck in a room with a cup o' noodles and a few spices and making something tasty.

        The things I would look down on are the unnecessary short cuts. Pre-cut onions that barely taste like onions. Lemon juice from a bottle with that funny taste. A couple extra minutes makes all the difference.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

          No artist that I know would consider a MW! The way you describe your culinary preparation habits I would tend to put you in the purist category ZZ

          1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

            There's no doubt that plenty of foods cooked in the microwave come out kinda gross. Too many people use it for jobs it's ill-suited to perform. IHMO, it's even an inferior tool for some things that it does fairly well, and that many CHers advocate. If I need a baked potato in 10 minutes, it's the only choice, but under those circumstances I might go for mashed.

            As for cooking a chicken breast, it really depends on the preparation method. If you're thinking grilled chicken, the microwave is simply the wrong tool for the job. But if poached or steamed chicken breast is on the menu, the MW can handle it very well, thank you. The only difficulties are the potential for uneven cooking and the very short window between doneness and, well, rubber. A good recipe and good technique are required to get satisfactory results.

            Easier to get right are things like simple steamed vegetables. I don't know the last time I steamed broccoli or cauliflower or green beans on the stovetop. Put 'em in the serving dish with a little water, cover with a plate, and zap until crispy-tender. Voila. And one less pot to wash.

            So to respond directly to your post, you may be grossed out by foods cooked in the microwave because they're being cooked improperly. Here's my definition of a MW purist: if you can tell a food has been nuked, then it shouldn't have been. If it's indistinguishable from similarly-prepared food cooked by some other method, then MW cookery is as "pure" as it gets.

          2. When our microwave broke around three years ago, my wife and I made a decision not to replace it, and have never regretted it! I don't have anything against them- in fact I love those ham and cheese sandwiches that you get in convenience stores that are made for the microwave... It is just that when we actually had a mw, we "cheated" and used it for stuff that really was better being cooked by conventional methods.

            I don't care what anyone says, baked potatoes and bacon are much better when they are cooked by traditional means!

            I kind of miss the popcorn sometimes, but air popped is at least healthier...

            1. A microwave is an appliance, just like a stove, oven or coffee pot. Used well it can help turn out wonderful food and/or drink. Put bad food into it, you'll get bad food out....put good food in and do bad things to it, you get bad food out. But, put good food into it, do good things to it, you get good food. There is nothing inherently wrong with a microwave and rejecting anything cooked in one out of hand doesn't strike me as a reasonable thing. Certainly anyone is free to reject it, I just find it unreasonable to do so.

              Thus, there is no such thing as "purist" because there's nothing to be "purist" about.