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Jul 14, 2008 09:40 PM

Do you ever like the crappy better than the excellent?

Or another way to say it...the cheap instead of the fine. Or how about the fake instead of the real deal?

The specific topic I'm talking about is Maple Syrup. Now you must understand that I myself am a foodie. I am all about the finer things...the subtle nuances that make up flavor complexities and undertones. I love quality food in all of it's forms...except when it comes to syrup.

I don't like high-quality maple syrup nearly as much as I like Aunt Jamima or Mrs. Butterworths or any of my other fine syrup ladies. I've tried 50 different types of moderately priced to very expensive maple syrups and I just don't like them nearly as much as the crappy, high-fructose corn syrup, never even smelled a maple tree syrups.

Is something wrong with me? My wife is the same way. I enjoy cooking some dishes with good quality maple syrups...such as roasted butternut squash or baked oatmeal...but on pancakes? I need the two-dollar, microwaveable-with-a-tell-me-when-it's-hot sensor.


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  1. i hear you on that. sometimes foods don't need the gourmet deep rich versions, and sometimes the saccharine almost fake sweet maple syrup is just the ticket.

    baked or stovetop mac may be "excellent," but sometimes that crappy kraft is just what i need.

    then of course there are also the few times when betty crocker or duncan hines cream cheese frosting in a tub is money as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Emme

      I have to be honest I really prefer the Kraft stuff over all the fancy mac stuff.

    2. I've never gotten the big deal about Haagen Dasz. Not sure that I've tried any MORE premium ice cream than that, but I'd far rather have a bowl of Breyer's, Dreyer's, Crystal, or basically any other brand...something about the texture of HD just isn't very enjoyable to me.

      And when I'm craving chocolate, sometimes a dark Lindt bar won't cut it and I'll need to purchase a crappy Mars product. Yep.

      65 Replies
      1. re: Olallieberry

        There are a lot of "crab" dishes I've had which I much prefer with surimi (i.e. fake crab) than with the real deal. If youve ever tried to make a crab rangoon with real crab and actually be able to taste the crab you know what I mean.

        1. re: jumpingmonk

          Thats what I thought of immediately, fake crab. I remember being lectured by Michael Chiarello on Napa Style about how horrible fake crab is and thinking to myself "I like it"

          1. re: laliz

            I know, every time I order a California roll I cringe inside a bit about the whole fake crab thing, but it's one of my most favorite things to eat.

            1. re: jme90

              Have you tried a California roll with real crab? It's really good!

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Yes, the real crab ones are very, very tastee

              2. re: jme90

                The thought of eating a California roll makes me cringe!

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Oh stop it! If you were hungry enough... haha!

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    hmmm... let's see. California roll? Well, if they left out the cream chees, then took out the fake crab, and no avocado it might not be too bad. I'm with Sam on this one! Rather have really good tomago, but how often does that happen?

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Cream cheese makes it a Philadelphia roll.

                      1. re: Jennalynn

                        Thanks, Jennalynn. I realized my error after posting, and noted the mistake in a subsequent post. :-)

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    well thanks for sharing that. Is the purpose to make me feel bad?
                    If so, you have succeeded. I read all the time about food I would never eat, but I do not feel obliged to make derogatory comments.

                    1. re: laliz

                      oh laliz, don't feel bad. i don't think that's sam's (or anyone's) intent at all. there's food i eat that most chowhounds wouldn't touch with a 50 foot pole. food love and hate is a deeply personalized thing. you can make fun of sam for liking chef boyardee ravioli and me for liking those blocks of horrific top ramen noodles. take ownership of your love of CA rolls and strut it!

                      1. re: cimui

                        Thanks. I have never had (or heard of) cream cheese in a California roll.
                        BTW, I like chef boyardee mini spaghetti and meatballs.

                        I don't like putting people down for what they like, I probably won't be doing that.

                        1. re: laliz

                          I also never heard of cream cheese in a California roll either. Well, you've got crab rangoon. Guess this can't be any more different.

                          I agree that people shouldn't put down others for what they like. And I'm certain that Sam wasn't doing that at all. He's got a "zany" sense of humor -- it was a play on words. It's sometimes difficult to interpret intent when one is communicating this way.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              I was introduced to sushi about 15 years ago, the group I was with offered me California rolls. I do love avocado with wasbi and soy sauce. I know I know!!!

                            2. re: laliz


                              to be fair SF said he did not like California Roll, not Laliz. And on a food board for every person that likes a dish, someone will not like it. Sorta like the zero sum game of cuisine.

                              So jfood likes chef boy r dee ravioli and dislikes top ramen noodles. So is he approving or puting down Cimui. Neither, he is commenting on the food, not the person.

                              If you knew SF from other posts, he is far from snarly (only when he eats out dated food :-))).

                              1. re: jfood

                                crap ramen's the best, dammit. ;) i actually had some for last night's dinner, drizzled with toasted sesame oil and a sprinkling of chopped scallions, while reading this thread. i wouldn't take it over the real stuff, tho...

                                1. re: cimui

                                  little jfood survived on it in college so there is a sweet spot in jfood's heart (and a dent in his wallet even on sale) for it, but just not to his liking, c'est la vie.

                                  1. re: cimui

                                    The tragedy is that most people in the US seem to think crap ramen is the extent of it. It forces me to introduce people to Tampopo to explain the wonders of ramen.

                                    1. re: queencru

                                      You mean the movie Tampopo, not one of the ramen shops named after it? It's a movie with several layers of meaning, one of which is Itami's sly dig at the Japanese obsession of making a big deal over simple things.

                                      1. re: queencru

                                        i love the crap ramen, and recently decided to try "the real stuff." i live on SoCal and went to what is regarded as one of the best ramen restaurants in town.

                                        i hated it. it was awful.

                                        i am just destined to love my trashy ramen only.

                                        1. re: Jelly71

                                          Jelly I am with you on the crap ramen - LOVE it....the good stuff - meh - not so much

                                      2. re: cimui

                                        Cimui, I feel the same way about the Chapaghetti noodle packages. These are the Korean instant chachangmyun packages (noodles in black bean sauce). They are an item that is quite unique, I really like them for their own intrinsic qualities. But as you say, they are not the real stuff. There is a time and place for both insta noodles and real noodles, and a place in my heart and stomach for both.

                                        1. re: moh

                                          someone found a way to make chachangmyun instant? sort of brilliant. i'm going to have to look for this stuff!

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            Here is a link to a photo of Chapaghetti. The company is Nong Shim. You can find it in nearly all Korean grocery stores.


                                            Edit: I don't think that link works so well. If you google chapaghetti photo, you will see what the package looks like. It is pretty handy to have around the house when you get a craving.

                                            1. re: moh

                                              I freakin' LOVE chapaghetti!!! The kooky name, the mini oil packet, all of it! :)

                                              1. re: sogi

                                                Chapaghetti is awesome. I like to doctor it up with some frozen peas and corn when I cook the noodles, makes me feel like I'm addressing vegetable consumption issues. And of course, some dak kwon (the yellow pickled daikon pickle) with some vinegar over it as a side accompaniment. YUM! Dinner in 5 minutes, gotta love it.

                                                1. re: moh

                                                  moh, just wanted to say: i picked some up at the han ah reum market in nyc last week (for almost as much as the real deal!). i am a fan. =) thanks for the tip.

                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                    Cimui, similar to your point about the ramen, Chapaghetti too can have a time and place. I'm glad you are enjoying the product!

                                                    1. re: moh

                                                      Please explain what chapaghetti is. Thanks!

                                                        1. re: Humbucker

                                                          Humbucker! What a great site! I enjoyed reading about the different tricks to make the sauce the right consistency. This is indeed a tricky thing about Chapaghetti.

                                                          Michelle Cindy, Chapaghetti is a packaged noodle product that approximates Ja Jang myun. Ja jang myun is a Korean noodle dish made of thick noodles covered in a sauce made of black bean paste and various cooked vegetables and meat, usually diced. The black bean sauce likely came to Korea via China, but it has become Koreanized, so it is a little different that the black bean sauces that are Chinese in origin. Chapaghetti is an instant version of this dish. Like ramen, the package comes with dried noodles and flavour packages. There is a package of dried vegetables and seasonings a package of brown powder that gives the black bean taste, and a package of oil so the noodles don't stick too much. Like instant ramen, it is convenient to have at home, has an odd appeal, but isn't meant to replace the original product made from scratch. It is very convenient though.

                                        2. re: cimui

                                          I like the cheap Asian ramen sometimes- a lot.

                                        3. re: jfood

                                          Agree. Read some of SF's other posts. He is very kind. The best!!!

                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                            Absolutely. Sam is a prince and would never harbor an unkind thought about a fellow Hound.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Oh definitely. Never an unkind thought. Ever.

                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                As I recall, Sam sanctioned my combined search for the stinkiest tofu and the strongest Limburger. Plus, we share a passion for Chef Boyardee ravioli eaten straight from the can, but I just can't get him to joyfully revert to his native chopsticks on that one.

                                          2. re: laliz

                                            Oh, laliz, please don't misunderstand! There are a few of us aroud here who are traditionalists when it comes to sushi, and we are NOT putting anyone down. For me at least, what I'm putting down is what fusion does to food. And I'm the one who mentioned cream cheese with California roll. Cream cheese is in a Philadelphia roll. Or at least that's how they make it around here.

                                            My problem with fusion is not fusion per se, but for me the problem is that once fusion sets in in ANY ethnic food, it doesn't seem to take long at all before you can't get the original unless you make it at home! I've probably been eating sushi for about sixty years. I am not Japanese American. Just grew up with a lot of friends who were, and when we played at their house, we ate what their mom cooked for lunch. Often it was sushi. As a young adult living in SF, CA, there were some great Japanese restaurants. And cream cheese, or ANY cheese, for that matter, is not "native" to any kind of Asian food. Neither is avocado. I wouldn't want it in my sukiyaki any more than I want it in my sushi. And I'm allergic to fake fish. And suxhi with fish isn't the only kind of sushi!

                                            So some of us, me in particular, take great pleasure in grousing about our losses. Don't take it personally, and it is NOT directed "at" you. From me, it's a wail of desperation at fusion wiping out the original forms of any food I love.

                                            Feel free to sing the praises of any kind of food you iikel But I reserve the right to disagree. Doesn't mean your choices are wrong. Just that they're wrong for me. Apologies if I offended you! Tha was never my intent. :-)

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Oh Caroline, how I agree with you. What a relief it is to finally have a place to whine amonst others who "get it." In S. Florida, we went from 1 good Japanese place within 10 miles to 10 mediocre one's within 1 mile, in a matter of a couple of years. Unfortunately, almost all of them are compelled to be "Thai/Japanese" blends. Don't get me wrong, I love both Thai and Japanese food, just don't need them co-habitating. What the heck is wrong with doing what you know and doing it well. Why must every restaurant pander to the lowest common palate? And while I'm ranting, what the heck do chicken wings have to do with pizza joints anyway?

                                              1. re: mrschef1

                                                LOL! Fusion is rampant! Pizza Hut/Taco Bell drive throughs!

                                                A couple of weeks ago I was looking for an "upscale" Mexican restaurant to take a friend to lunch, so I was checking out restuarant menus on line. The first one I checked out had Thai-Mexican tacos, with pineapple-basil pico de gallo! (We didn't eat there.)

                                                I figure we're about fourteen years and seven months away from the time when every restaurant in the world will serve the same thing: Fusion stew, with matzatillapitanaanuffin bread! But that's okay, 'cause I'm gonna get filthy rich selling black market baloney sammiches on gummy white bread! '-)

                                                1. re: mrschef1

                                                  In Western NY chicken wings grow in the kitchens of pizzarias. Can't have one without the other. Just one of those crazy combos....

                                              2. re: laliz

                                                Yea, really; don't let people make you feel bad. If I were offended every time someone has disagreed with me I would have to be sedated and fed California rolls. Really.
                                                Tastes vary so much, you cannot take any of this personally.
                                                Tonight, we just ate a a place that had a great view. Food was not spectacular for the price. Mostly, I think we paid for the view and it was not inexpensive. Some would cry foul, others would be ecstatic and I had a glass half full.
                                                Me, I prefer sashimi and I don't care for fake fish. I love avocados! Give me crab and avocado any day!

                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  We often make avocado halves filled w/ crab salad as an app. or as part of a salad. :}
                                                  King Crab

                                                2. re: laliz

                                                  L~ Oh I'm with you too, I think you and I are each entitled to eat what we want, anyway we want , and at whatever temperature we want and not feel like we're from another planet.SF is just giving you a bad time, he's a pretty nice fellow. Sincerely.

                                                  I've been here over a year now, and you will get the opportunity on occassion to speak up about why you like something and then the debate is on to change their minds. I found that it is not so important as to what I like, more importantly it is what these CHers like and why and that it's up to them to convince me. Oh and they will, truly!
                                                  Ahem.... oh and for the record... I stopped refrigerating my tomatoes...;D Lookout L they're going to kill me now....ahhhha eekkkk!

                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                    I don't think Sam was putting you down in any sense, nor was that his intention: my impression was that he was simply stating that he doesn't like California rolls. The thought of tuna in a can makes me wince, but that should hardly be an insult to anyone who likes tuna.

                                                    Relax. If Sam's comment - which was hardly an insult - upset you, you're going to have a hard time here on Chowhound, where emotions and opinions often run much higher than they have in this thread.

                                                    1. re: vorpal

                                                      I, for one, heart tuna in a can. There's something very comfort-food about tuna salad made with canned (in water, not oil) tuna, mayo, and scallions, on rye...

                                                      1. re: KosherHound

                                                        Yes, KosherHound, this is one for me too (only for me it's with mayo, mustard, chopped sweet pickles and some sweet pickle juice - and maybe a rib of celery if I have any around). This was my favorite thing as a kid, and I still get the odd craving for it a couple of times a year.

                                                  2. re: cimui

                                                    I love Cal rolls, Tempura rolls, Philly rolls, and other American concotions that the Japanese would never touch. I also love ramen noodles for a meal when I have had heavy food all day.

                                                    I am very much a foodie, but would honestly prefer a healthy lunch of Fresh California rolls and miso soup (which I know IS eaten in Japan, often in instant form) to crappy fast food, so sue me!!!

                                                    1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                      I skip the rice and go for a big sashimi assortment. I might eat one or two pieces of a very good roll, but sugared rice doesn't work for me any more.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        never eat rolls either. always sashimi. never been a big rice fan... just saw it as a vehicle for hot soy sauce :-)

                                                      2. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                        Sis, foodies do not eat Philly rolls. Cream cheese in sushi is just wrong.

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            Meh, foodies eat whatever tastes good to them. Isn't the whole point of this thread to talk about so-called "wrong" foods we love?

                                                            1. re: piccola

                                                              Word. I wrinkle my nose at the cream cheese rolls, but then I eat one and remember how tasty they can be.

                                                      3. re: laliz

                                                        laliz, I'm with you. To us kamaboko is not fake crab. It is just good stuff made out of fish.

                                                        1. re: laliz

                                                          I can't imagine how anybody could NOT like a California roll made with real crab! What's not to like with rice, cucumber, maybe a few radish sprouts, avocado, crab and nori? Yum!

                                                          1. re: DanaB

                                                            Unless of course you're allergic to crab :-).

                                                            California rolls or rather cones (with kamaboko) saved me from complete sushi withdrawal when I was doing my graduate degree in Waterloo ON in the early 90s. Nary a Japanese resto there, it was however possible to dig up or import the ingredients needed to make these bad boys in the residence kitchen. I was one popular gal, let me tell you :-) and they were good, if I do say so.

                                                            1. re: DanaB

                                                              I love California rolls made like this. Yum, indeed.

                                                        2. re: jme90

                                                          Crab baloney? I don't mind it as long as whatever it's being used for is cold. Can't stand the thought of it heated up.

                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                            Excellent point. I had it served to me once in a cream-sauced pasta dish -- blorg. Never again.

                                                        3. re: laliz

                                                          Many years ago we did a tasting of three different crab cakes with the public. The seasonings, binders and cooking methods were identical. The only difference was one used Dungeness crab, one was Blue Crab and the last one was imitation Krab.

                                                          Guess which won?

                                                          Imitation Krab was preferred by the public 70% of the time. And this was a paid food event, where mostly foodies attended. It blew me away but guess what in a blind tasting where I couldn’t see the product I picked the imitation crab cake too (gulp).

                                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                                            Doesn't the krab have more sugar?

                                                            "Sweet" tastes good to most humans.

                                                        4. re: Olallieberry

                                                          Olalliberry: I agree about the ice cream, but I'm even more extreme. I like the huge round gallon-sized tubs or neopolitan you get from the bottom of the Wal-mart freezer that are so generic they don't even have a generic name label printed on them. I like soft, creamy ice cream, and all the brands you mentioned to me are all too icy and thick.

                                                        5. This must have been a hard thing for you to admit :)

                                                          I don't even consider real maple syrup and Mrs. Butterworths the same type of food, so I do understand. You have learned to appreciate the attributes of the "cheap" alternative.

                                                          I grew up in an era when imported prosciutto (such as San Daniel or di Parma) wasn't available, and my cash-strapped family substituted Argentine versions of Parmesan because they couldn't afford or couldn't find Reggiano. Today, I can and do appreciate the difference in imported versus domestic prosciuttos, but I am one of the few who just doesn't go ga-ga over Parmesan Reggiano. Give me a softer, milder US-made version any day, and I can slice of hunks of it for a snack anytime I want. Same with the Argentine import, if I can still find it...

                                                          1. I have always had a warm spot in my heart for canned peaches. I don't actually like them better than fresh peaches; rather, they offer a "separate but equal" pleasure.

                                                            Another favorite: Carvel ice cream cakes. Somehow, a perfect food, even thought the ice cream is nothing special and the frosting is creepily greasy. Perhaps it's because of the Carvel cake magic ingredient, the crunch layer between the chocolate and the vanilla, but the whole is inexplicably much, much better than the sum of its parts.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Pumpkinseed

                                                              Oh yeah- for some reason I really like canned fruit salad. Of course I love fresh fruit salad as well, but I think part of the appeal is that melons are not my favorite and canned fruit salad never has any.

                                                              I also love the orange cheese on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, although I love the more authentic mac and cheeses as well.

                                                              1. re: Pumpkinseed

                                                                ah yes, canned peaches. esp. topped with good cottage cheese. reminds me of my childhood. my mom also did the "pear salad" deal, with canned pear, cottage cheese, grated cheddar on top. now at the cafeteria, you'd get the maraschino cherry on top!

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  Or just canned fruit, straight!! I grew up in Houston, and every hurricane season, everyone would stock up on canned peaches & canned pears in event of a hurricane. Around October or so, all the canned fruit would show up in kids' lunchboxes. Eating canned fruit at that time always had such a joyful connotation, that we had all come though another hurricane season. :)

                                                                  1. re: cherilyntx

                                                                    The pineapple c-rations were to die for in Nam, I couldn't get enough!

                                                                    1. re: cherilyntx

                                                                      How about old fashioned ambrosia? Canned fruit salad, mini marshmallows, dried coconut, maraschino cherry's, sour cream...all sorts of "bad" stuff, but oh my gosh that stuff was good!

                                                                  2. re: Pumpkinseed

                                                                    yeah, dip that sausage biscuit in the fake syrup. good stuff. then pull out the alka-seltzer. ;-) (it IS worth it.)

                                                                    1. re: Pumpkinseed

                                                                      "I have always had a warm spot in my heart for canned peaches. I don't actually like them better than fresh peaches; rather, they offer a "separate but equal" pleasure"

                                                                      I completely agree! I still get very excited when served canned peaches. I love fresh peaches, but our selection of fresh peaches is rather pathetic, it is very hard to find a good peach where I am. So I'd much rather have a nice canned peach than a bad fresh peach.

                                                                      I adore fresh fruit in general, but also appreciate a good canned fruit. They really are different beasts.

                                                                    2. I must have real maple syrup, homemade mayo and yogurt, good cheese, and traditional sushi. On the other hand I can relish both:

                                                                      A light elegant ravioli in Rome and a can of Chef Boyardee (as you've all heard me say before).

                                                                      Weisswurst from KaDeWe and a gas station corndog.

                                                                      A meal at the best in the DF and a visit to Taco Bell.

                                                                      AYCE Chinese (using my buffet tricks) and a 30 course state dinner in China.

                                                                      And I generally prefer street and market foods over fine dining in developing countries.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        Listen to Sam, people. I've read many of his posts. He's obviously "spanned the globe to bring you the constant variety of food." (Special thanks to the late, great Jim McKay.)
                                                                        I think it's a craving thing for many of us. Sometimes only a certain combination of flavors will do. And as Barry Foy so rightly says below, it's much more affordable.

                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                          Are you willing to share your buffet tricks?

                                                                          1. re: mukalu

                                                                            yeah! share!! i don't do ayce buffet anymore but its good to have tricks in my pocket to pull out later...

                                                                            1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                                              Oh, sorry, I mentioned this before as a weird eating habit: For breakfast bufftets and Chinese AYCE (some of my cousins in California like one of the better AYCEs), I never plate a mix of stuff but have a series of distinct courses. I carefully plate just a bit of one to three things that combine well, that need each other--and plate to make it look "gourmet"--possibly including a tiny bit of this and that from the rest of the buffet just for color or presentation. Then I sit and enjoy that plating; go back, get a fresh plate, and do another different course--until satisfied.

                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                I'm relieved to read that your trick is *not* to eat the fish out of the maki rolls and leave the rice behind. Then again, eating sushi at AYCE is dangerous, anyway. I got horribly sick off it once at one of those pay-by-the-lb. lunch buffets. Never again.