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lawyerlady Jul 20, 2008 08:31 PM

i'm very picky about what i eat and where i eat it. i love seeking out interesting, delicious foods whenever i go on trips or move to a new city. it's a hobby of mine and i look forward to it. however, i find that the people i associate with--friends, family--are content meeting up at local chain restaurants. it really goes against my principles (for reasons other than chowhounding...supporting local businesses, etc.) to eat at these chains. so i find myself trying to make other types of plans with people besides eating out (like hiking, movies, etc.) because i don't want to eat the food at chains nor waste money eating at them. only problem is: most friends don't want to do anything else but meet up for lunch/dinner and they are usually not open to anything but chains. how do other chowhounders deal with this? i like my friends but i can't eat at chains just to sustain friendship...is the chowhounder's life a lonely one??? am i weird because i want each meal to be delicious and if i'd rather cook at home than spend money on crappy food???

  1. a
    anzu Jul 20, 2008 09:25 PM

    Thankfully, the only friends I have who want to do this are on the east coast. Sometimes I suck it up and deal with it, b/c I haven't seen them in years. So last time I was out visiting in NJ, we ended up eating at a P.F. Changs, which is so vile I won't even touch it over here, much less to fly 3,000 miles to be taken to one. . .. But it was a sweltering summer day and we both wanted AC, and I had luggage with me, and the main point was to see him. :-P But this is one of the reasons I don't miss my hometown.

    The last time I did see friends from my hometown and they suggested going to a TGI Fridays, I assertively said, "I'm here for 2 days. We don't have real pizza or bagels in California. I want to go to either a bagel place or a real pizza place." and they were fine with that. I intend to suggest that every time I see them.

    Sometimes, if it's someone's b-day, etc., the main focus is the getting together, so I'll do it, but as someone who doesn't eat out often, I agree that I don't want to waste $ or extra calories on crap food. As I said, all of my friends here are on the same wavelength wrt. food, and I'd say 80 percent also are infrequent eat-outers like me, so it's less of a problem here. But back in the days, I used to just suggest alternative things (like let's walk around the block to catch up, or come over and play scrabble, etc).

    Can you cook together as an alternative?

    4 Replies
    1. re: anzu
      hill food Jul 20, 2008 10:51 PM

      anzu - you're in SF or LA right?

      On the EC we sadly just don't have many easy to find mid-range places outside of NYC proper.

      here seems to be event, account or dump. and that's what I truly miss about SF.

      so I'd go with your gut (I mean instinct) and just ask for real pizza on visits. it's what I do on my even more challenged trip home.

      1. re: hill food
        m
        ML8000 Jul 21, 2008 12:11 AM

        HF, I work in SF proper and I have co-workers who opt for the safe pick even if the company is picking up the tab. I'm talking Buca di Beppo and sometimes very safe "okay" non-chain stuff...but never anything interesting, new or different.

        I understand there are many tastes and preferences to navigate and a group is a hassle and price nix many...still, you'd be shocked at what people come up with...rarely what SF is good at. You can be right in the midst of heaven and still experience hell...a cruel ironic hell.

        Oh well, thankfully friends are another deal.

        1. re: ML8000
          hill food Jul 22, 2008 01:22 AM

          ML - when I lived there, it seemed like the office was crazy about North Beach Pizza. not bad, but...not my favorite crust.

          I could name other places that were fine, just not great. I name NBP as they won't hurt for business.

        2. re: hill food
          f
          fara Jul 23, 2008 08:04 PM

          hill food, east coast with no mid-range? where are you exactly?

      2. amyzan Jul 20, 2008 11:46 PM

        Oh, I used to have this problem. It's a conundrum. The suggestion of cooking with friends instead of eating out with them didn't work for me. I discovered my friends cooked horrible food, too, a la "semi home made." Erg. It's awful, to have to choke down food in front of the cook. At least in a chain restaurant, it's not personal if you just push your food around the plate. What's worse, when everyone is congratulating the cook on her tasteless chocolate cake, you feel pressured to participate, making yourself a fake in the process. Oh, it's no fun at all. You know, I ended up sort of breaking up with some friends over this. Actually, the food was just a symptom of me eventually realizing I had nothing in common with them. I didn't like their taste in restaurants, movies, bars. Their parties were either snoozeworthy or high school dramas. It took a while, but I found friends who liked going to locally owned and ethnic restaurants and searching out fun shows, concerts, little known things to do. I am still in touch with some of those friends, even after moving halfway across the country eight years ago.

        But, if you like these people, I'd suggest you rotate choosing the restie. That way, at least a few times you'll be able to choose a place you'd enjoy. Try to sort out what people object to exactly about the locally owned places--is it that the menu changes and they don't know what to anticipate? Try to address whatever the issue is, by sending them a menu link, etc. or picking a place that always has certain dishes.

        Good luck, and let us know if you happen on a solution.

        2 Replies
        1. re: amyzan
          d
          dolores Jul 21, 2008 03:25 AM

          lawyerlady, happily there are a group of folks who are as interested in eating out as I am. Sadly, there are not that many outstanding restaurants in this area.

          We make do with the good to very good places and a good time is usually had by all. But no, the desire to instead cook at home is never ever one that occurs to me.

          1. re: amyzan
            Katie Nell Jul 22, 2008 09:58 AM

            Rotating the restaurant choice is what we've started doing at work, although I would call them more work friends than life-long friends. We haven't implemented it yet, but we're talking about making a set of dice, where the numbers correspond to certain restaurants.

          2. cassis Jul 21, 2008 05:58 AM

            It is a problem and I'm glad lawyerlady brought it up. I have no problem eating with my family: parents and 3 sons are all equally chow centeric. Trouble is, they live all over the globe. My friends tease me because I talk about food all the time. Recently a few of them have been willing to venture out of the ordinary with me, with modest to delighted degrees of success. This because I printed up and distributed a list of "must try" mostly ethnic Boston restaurants. The first outing (tibetan) was not a success, there were six of us, the build up was excessive, everyone seemed to have some dietary restriction, and was coy about sharing. Most recent outing (tunisian) was spontaneous, just three of us, we shared, they were delighted and I think it whetted their appetite. These dear friends have never even tried sushi, so we have a lot of ground to cover!

            It's hard for me, with my background, to understand their shyness when it comes to trying new foods. Perhaps they feel they have already progressed far beyond the jello salads and canned sauteed onions of their childhood. Maybe I just have to keep trying, and hope that one pleasant experience will finally unlock their sense of adventure! Meantime, I will just have to hone my eating solo skills.

            Wish chowhound operated something like opentable, hooking you up with a chowish dining companion as well as a table!

            12 Replies
            1. re: cassis
              goodhealthgourmet Jul 21, 2008 05:29 PM

              "Wish chowhound operated something like opentable, hooking you up with a chowish dining companion as well as a table!"
              ~~~~~~~~
              now that's gotta be one of the most brilliant ideas that ever graced these boards!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                l
                LJS Jul 22, 2008 08:29 AM

                There was a Toronto Chowhound getogether (GTG) when I first came onto this forum (2-3 years ago). But there are all kinds of rules about how you put these together: I got bored and didn't follow though: maybe somebody who has done this chime in?

                1. re: LJS
                  goodhealthgourmet Jul 22, 2008 08:58 AM

                  there have been countless CH meet-ups [both official & unofficial] in various cities. actually, i had to opt out of one in LA at the last minute, and i had really been looking forward to it.

                  but i took cassis' suggestion to be more of an idea for matching up hounds who realize that, for whatever reason, they will be dining solo and would like to enjoy a good meal with a fellow CHer who would also appreciate it.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    cassis Jul 22, 2008 10:23 AM

                    Dining solo has been addressed in other threads, but lack of a DC is what keeps me from trying as many places as I'd like to. I have "friends", as I said, but they are by no means as adventurous as I am; there have been big hound get-togethers since I joined but I havn't been able to join them, and I'm not comfortable dining solo at night.

                    1. re: cassis
                      goodhealthgourmet Jul 22, 2008 02:30 PM

                      i hear ya. if you were in NY, i'd have dinner with you!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        cassis Jul 23, 2008 09:24 AM

                        hey thanks! I might take you up on that next time I am in NY.

                        1. re: cassis
                          goodhealthgourmet Jul 23, 2008 04:32 PM

                          you know where to find me :) i'll bet we could even round up some other local hounds to join us.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            thew Jul 23, 2008 06:00 PM

                            im up for a NY chow

              2. re: cassis
                f
                fredid Aug 3, 2008 05:47 AM

                Cassis - (and anyone else from Boston - one of these days I'll be brave and "sticky" this on the Boston board) - A couple of CHers and I eat out at "hole in the walls" etc., almost every weekend - If the vibe is right for all concerned, we would welcome others! In any case, you could always call a chowdown (pick a restaurant and a date and time, make a post, "report" it, and ask mods to sticky it, which'll keep it at the top of the board) Or - if someone sets up a Google, Yahoo, or MeetUp group for Boston, I'm sure they'd get lots of responses! Details: use my CH name, with 54 and y,,,(you know the ISP) to reach me. And for chowdowns, you could just pick a restaurant w/no date, but be prepared for lots of email back and forth.

                1. re: fredid
                  t
                  Taralli Aug 3, 2008 07:04 AM

                  Met Fredid & another hound at a chowdown, which prompted the forming of our little chowband. This weekend's foray was to the tiny Miami Cafe in Boston's South End where we requested extra tableware & shared dishes as usual. Also chatted w/other patrons about their choices, this all amidst the crashing thunder, lightening & torrential downpours outside. Altho' it was just the 3 core peeps this weekend, we usually check in w/a few other hounds we've been to mini-chow outtings with to see if they'd like to join. Some of us are able to get together for lunch during the week & some spontaneously after 5 for dinner. The opportunities are delightedly endless & I'm looking forward to our next adventure in sharing.

                  1. re: Taralli
                    cassis Aug 4, 2008 06:15 PM

                    Thank you, fredid and Taralli! I don't think I'm ready to call a fully fledged chowdown--I only joined last fall--but I would love to join your group next time you have space at the table, and as long as it's a hole in the wall. I added my email to my profile, and I look forward to the next level of exploration!

                    1. re: cassis
                      Rubee Aug 4, 2008 06:31 PM

                      Good for you! I've had the pleasure of dining with fredid and taralli, and you're in for some great meals. ; )

              3. rockandroller1 Jul 21, 2008 06:25 AM

                It's tough, but outside of the other person's suggestion of rotating restaurants so that you at least occasionally get to pick a place you like, yes, you have to suck it up to continue those friendships. It's just the way a lot of people are and if you want to socialize with them, you have to put up with it. The hope is that you might develop a closer friendship with one or two of them and perhaps you'll be able to steer that more towards every other time one of you selects something, so there will be more chowish places than chains. But with even small gatherings, let alone larger, everyone gravitates towards chains.

                I used to have a group like this and we all fell out of touch the year I went without a car because most chain restaurants are not on the bus/rail line and people (understandably) got tired of picking me up and dropping me off. I found that after that year, most of them weren't really good friends anyway and I didn't miss getting together with them. So now most of my meals out are at chow places because they're with mr. rockandroller or my mom, who is also an amateur CH. There are also sometimes groups you can join, like local groups in slow food or egullet, who organize group dinners and that has been helpful as well.

                12 Replies
                1. re: rockandroller1
                  r
                  Rick Jul 21, 2008 05:55 PM

                  The part I hate is how we're supposed to be the ones to suck it up and go the chains/mediocre restaurants. Why can't the chain people suck it up and go to the ethnic/hole in the wall/etc. type places? It seems that others think we'll eat anything so for us it's not a big deal. What they don't get is that we'll pretty much try anything, but prefer to avoid mediocrity or worse.

                  1. re: Rick
                    livetocook Jul 21, 2008 08:02 PM

                    "What they don't get is that we'll pretty much try anything, but prefer to avoid mediocrity or worse."

                    I like that statement!! So true.

                    1. re: Rick
                      lynnlato Jul 22, 2008 07:58 AM

                      "Why can't the chain people suck it up and go to the ethnic/hole in the wall/etc. type places?"

                      Exactly, Rick! If they don't give a crap about food and know that we LOVE food, why then don't they suck it up and all us our indulgence? They can sneak in their extra value meal and everyone is happy.

                      1. re: Rick
                        s
                        soupkitten Jul 22, 2008 08:58 AM

                        see-- i think we can avoid this if we pipe up.

                        non-food-minded people choose chains out of laziness. everybody will know the menu, there won't be any unusual specials, the price point is firmly established, service will be adequate and there might be coupons at the end. yes, they consider all of these things to be "good attributes" for eating establishments.

                        this is when the running list of chowhound "must go to" places is invaluable. if the group is planning on hitting CF, you can pipe up with "ooh there's a great little mexican place with the *best* tres leches cake right by there. cheaper too!" appeal to people's tastes in cocktails, desserts, bubble tea, whatever. tell them that you're trying to support independent businesses over chains because more dollars stay in the local economy-- so going to the new thai place is our patriotic duty, y'all! as a last resort offer to pick up part of the tab, ice cream afterward, etc if they'll follow your lead just this once. after a few successful forays they may get the idea that it can be okay and fun and different and something to talk about afterward. but you gotta bust through the comfort zone first. give them a reason to humor you first, lead with tested, sure-fire-win places, then progressively *up* the adventurousness & deliciousness until your formerly tepid and bland cohorts are happily slurping up bulgogi, lengua, pho and wat with the best of them. but you gotta take the lead and *always* suggest the chowish alternative to the chain, and do whatever it takes to drag your buddies there-- even if it means being a little insistent at the beginning, and even if it means picking up one or 2 tabs at the outset. don't be a jerk, don't be whiny, don't expect them to change overnight, but be a force that constantly pulls toward the deliciousness in a positive & encouraging way.

                        1. re: soupkitten
                          r
                          Rick Jul 22, 2008 09:51 AM

                          Sounds good, but didn't work on my friends. After our NYC trip one of them got pizza at the aforementioned chain and she thought it was better than Joe's Pizza! We tried for years to get them to an Indian buffet but "they don't like Indian" even though they've NEVER tried it!

                          Thankfully my 23 year old cousin has started to turn into a chowhound and he and I have been eating out together a few times a month. We're planning a trip to New York just to eat. My wife is pretty adventerous, but there are still some things I just can't get her to try, like Korean BBQ and Dim Sum.

                          1. re: Rick
                            Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 10:11 AM

                            I can understand your friend preferring a chain pizza to Joe's. Not sure if it's because their taste buds have been so acclimated to it, but, believe it or not, I know people who have issues with eating anything that isn't processed. They just can't have fresh food and need to eat things that are either highly salted, have preservatives in them, etc. I knew somebody who lived on Hot Pockets, Tuna Helper, Taco Bell and her linguine and clam sauce made with canned clams. Any time she was faced with freshly made food, she thought it was disgusting. Do they put addictive drugs in processed food or something?

                            Your friends with the Indian food thing doesn't sound like fear of non-processed foods but fear of anything different. Sigh! I once got into a big argument with two guys because they refused to go to an Indian restaurant in NYC. It wasn't because they were hesitant to try something different that irritated me. Everybody has different thresholds of what they'll try. The guys kept insisting that all Indian food has roaches in it because Indians don't believe in killing bugs. They refused to believe my explanation in the Department of Health, and I was so frustrated that I couldn't reason with these two imbeciles. Their rationale for refusing to try Indian food showed how narrow-minded and bigoted they were.

                            About your wife -- you can tell her that Korean BBQ is like terriyaki (if she's OK with the stuff) and that dim sum is just a lot of dumplings and egg rolls (don't have her try the tripe or chicken feet!). Perhaps if you relate the foods to the foods she recognizes, you'd have an easier time getting her to try it.

                            1. re: Miss Needle
                              r
                              Rick Jul 22, 2008 10:29 AM

                              I think you may be on to something with the processed food thing. Our friends recently told us they made chicken parmigiana and I was impressed. I asked how they made it and she said "It was easy, just take those tyson chicken tenders, a jar of sauce, and a bag of cheese." She was quite serious and proud of herself for making a homemade dinner.

                              My wife accompanied me in Chinatown but didn't want to eat at any of the places I planned on trying. Thankfully she was starving and ended up trying the sesame pancake and fried dumplings at Prosperity Dumpling, and the steamed dumplings atSuper Taste. She was very surprised that she like it all. I told her that for the most part if she's had something she didn't like in the past it was only because she didn't have a good version of it. She's had dumplings before but never much cared for them, but really liked the ones from Chinatown.

                              1. re: Rick
                                s
                                soupkitten Jul 22, 2008 10:41 AM

                                oh good, there's hope for her! you can go to chinatown to get the dumplings she likes, & you can order something else, and give her a taste, and the two of you will be sitting down to dim sum before you know it. . .

                                there are, of course, people whose tastes in food is terrible and who aren't interested in changing. i'm lucky to be married to a dedicated food explorer and great all-around awesome dining companion. our families are a little more boring, but they know enough not to suggest the chains around us (though i know if we're not coming, they'll hit a perkins).

                                the tyson chicken tenders "chicken parmigiana" gave me a good laugh, btw. :)

                                1. re: Rick
                                  Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 10:47 AM

                                  I think a lot of people are like the chicken parmesan woman. Those are probably the people who like to watch Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade.

                                  That's great that your wife was into your C-town excursion. I haven't had the dumplings from Super Taste, but the sesame pancake and fried dumplings at Prosperity are pretty good.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                    r
                                    Rick Jul 22, 2008 12:53 PM

                                    I liked the dumpling from Supertaste better, though Prosperity's were better than anything I've had at home.

                          2. re: Rick
                            lawyerlady Jul 22, 2008 01:47 PM

                            rick: you hit the nail on the head for me. i am tired of sucking it up. someone else had posted on here that he/she found out later that it really was that they didn't have enough in common with some of their friends. i think that is the deeper issue for me. because i do suggest we do other things--hikes, movies--but if we don't have any other hobbies in common, people suggest lunch or dinner...and here i am...tired of wasting money on lunches at panera etc. and yes i do suggest other types of restaurants...it actually worked with a work lunch group where i got them to try greek...but that's one in a million with a hooters and a bojangle's nearby. i like the idea someone suggested of the meetup group or meeting people from chowhound. i befriended a food writer from chowhound who became a dear friend of mine (he passed last year) and we had many wonderful culinary adventures together. it would be fun to have a group like that.

                            1. re: lawyerlady
                              s
                              Steve Jul 22, 2008 08:03 PM

                              ok, so let's flip over all the cards and tell us where you are located...

                        2. JungMann Jul 21, 2008 07:50 AM

                          Any myths about the culinary daring of New Yorkers have been put to rest since I moved to NYC. Most of the native New Yorkers I encounter, while great people, are just as parochial, if not more so, than the Midwesterners I left behind. Cuisines other than American and Italian(-American) are met with skepticism. Asian restaurants are especially suspect as they may or may not be serving salmonella along with their sweet-and-sour cat. I am often told what I cook is “exotic,” a word fraught with derision. On the whole this makes eating out difficult-to-offensive as it sometimes feels like an unending series of capitulations on my part, especially given my strong dislike for Italian-American food and attempts to eat healthily. House visits have been equally difficult as I am served they same fatty, bland cuisine they find comforting and do not want to cause offense by refusing what they labored over.

                          Given the expense of living in NYC I have very little wiggle room in my budget to waste on extravagances like restaurant meals I don't want. Rather than waste the money, I will often just meet friends after dinner is over or not eat at the restaurant. The beauty of a shared meal is its ability to bring people together. I would rather not imbue food also with the power to divide.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: JungMann
                            lawyerlady Jul 21, 2008 09:40 AM

                            JungMann, i totally agree. i used to live in nyc and the natives would get their pizza at sbarro's. ludicrous! i was taking trips to grimaldi's and lombardi's. and when we went out in groups, people wanted to go to the TGIFriday's in midtown. ugh. i guess i posted this just because i am tired of sucking it up and going to places i don't like. and someone did mention that what they found was that they just didn't have much in common with the friends they had. too true! i am starting to feel that way. it recently was my birthday and i chose a moderately priced restaurant but it was a mix of mediterranean and north african cuisine. nothing too "weird" for folks. but i knew people wouldn't come because it wasn't the cheesecake factory or maggiano's (most popular where i live). and sure enough, only a few close friends showed up. of course, i'm grateful for my real friends, who do know that friendship is about compromise. but i think my sister has the same problem. she's a vegetarian and her friends never suggest a restaurant where she can eat at when they get together. Also JungMann, i found even when they wanted Italian food, they wouldn't go somewhere where the food was good. I found some great Italian gems in the village, but they wanted things like carmine's which is some of the worst italian food i've ever had. i'm really not a snob, but i do think i have good taste and i keep myself informed about food issues. however i just found a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon out in the boonies where i can get a bbq sandwich and fried corn for like $5 and i love it. but i will wholeheartedly admit i am snob as i do tend to be judgmental of people who eat regularly at chains or fast food. sometimes i just want to scream "panera is NOT a bakery, people!!" and cooking at home--forget about it--i suggested this and they wanted hamburger helper...well at least i have this forum to vent. thanks for the great replies!!!

                            1. re: lawyerlady
                              thew Jul 21, 2008 06:18 PM

                              well, as a native and lifetime NYer, i can't say i agree with or share your experiences. I am, and have known, many adventurous and chowish eaters. I also know none that eat at sbarros, or any fo the chain "pizza" that has started sprouting in our city.

                              you guys obviously hung out with the wrong new yorkers

                              1. re: lawyerlady
                                vvvindaloo Jul 21, 2008 10:22 PM

                                I sympathize with you re: your desire to eat in chowworthy places. But I am shocked to hear that you know NYers who only eat at TGIF (I didn't even know there was one here) and Carmine's. Where in the City do you meet these people? Are they from here?

                                1. re: vvvindaloo
                                  Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 07:32 AM

                                  Oh, it's so true. People like that exist. I used to work in an office in Washington Heights were most of the support staff were born and raised in the area. For our holiday office party, they all were screaming for Carmine's, saying it's the best Italian out there. As they were the majority of the office, they won. However, they did have good taste in carrot cakes, hipping me to Carrot Top Bakery. And I used to date a guy born and raised in Harlem -- his favorite place was Ollie's. You don't have to be a transplant.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                    l
                                    LJS Jul 22, 2008 08:40 AM

                                    This Fear-Of-Non-Chain (or FONC) syndrome doesn't just happen in NYC or even in the US....FONC Syndrome is everywhere! I think it can be blamed on the trend to start our kids restaurant experiences with MacDonalds...moving on to Red Lobster and then TGIF...

                                    For me, FONC syndrome was particulary a problem when I was teaching in a small town (with great restaurants!) in Italy. Most of our North American students, aged 15-20, were really nervous about being in genuine trattoria, ristorante or even eating at a local tavola calda...they were so relieved when we went to Rome or Venice and they could find a Mac or Burger King.

                                    Most grow out of their addiction to chains but some, clearly do not. We do have friends (now in their 50's) who still prefer Swiss Chalet, The Keg or Red Lobster. When pressed, they describe it as a 'cleanliness" issue????

                                    1. re: LJS
                                      s
                                      soupkitten Jul 22, 2008 11:23 AM

                                      FONC syndrome. interesting. i once dated a guy who wanted to eat at a wendy's *every day.* i don't care if i ever see a wendy's baked potato again in my lifetime. dated him for about 2 weeks. i think the FONC people are bizzarre, and they think correspondingly of me. . . :)

                                      wrt the unadventurous nyers, or unadventurous diners from other large cities-- it's really weird sometimes hosting people from these cosmopolitan centers. with people who have a wide variety of ethnic options available to them in their hometown, i've noticed a variation of FONC, i believe, which manifests in a compartmentalized view of ethnic dining, where the subject tends to reduce an entire cuisine to one representative dish, then that's ALL they will order--bring them to a vietnamese bistro with one of the most exciting and innovative menus, and they order pho & egg rolls, won't even look at the rest of the menu. indian: tandoori chicken & naan (if it's a vegetarian thali place they are seriously confused, and guaranteed to hate the place). mexican: fish tacos. does not matter what the specialty of the house is, they want to compare the taste of the *one* thing they order at home at the ethnic restaurant. then they compare, monolithically, "thai food in hometown x", to "thai food in hometown z" based on the sampling of the *one dish,* it's amazing! and they are not interested in trying cuisines that are unfamiliar to them/not available in their hometown. does anyone know what i mean?

                                      1. re: soupkitten
                                        Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 11:27 AM

                                        About the compartmentalized view of ethnic dining, there was an entire thread on the subject. I'll try to find it for you.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle
                                          Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 11:32 AM

                                          Found it!

                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/533046

                                          1. re: Miss Needle
                                            s
                                            soupkitten Jul 22, 2008 12:00 PM

                                            i remember that thread! and i think that it got some great responses ranging from the monolithic: "it can't be a great -ethnicity- restaurant unless it does -dish- well," to much more open ended responses, like the poster who said s/he put a lot of weight on soup. so: some people were thinking in terms of dishes, and some were thinking in terms of types of food/methods of preparation and general quality. i thought that it was an interesting thread, & wouldn't have thought to connect it here. thanks!

                                            1. re: soupkitten
                                              rockandroller1 Jul 22, 2008 12:56 PM

                                              I think this must be like the NUMEROUS guys I've dated who want to go out to steak and insist they are big steak conoisseuers and that how a restaurant does their steak is crucial to them being a good restaurant. Then they a) order a FILET and b) order it WELL-DONE. Buh-bye.

                                        2. re: soupkitten
                                          a
                                          anzu Jul 23, 2008 07:46 AM

                                          Actually, I haven't read the thread that Miss Needle posted below (will read it later), but I'm guilty of this, to an extent. E.g. if I go to a Thai restaurant, I'll almost always want to order the papaya salad (and if it doesn't exist, as was the case in some random restaurant in Florida, I start questioning its authenticity, though for all I know, maybe the papaya salad is an Americanized dish.) Partly, because then I can compare one dish across different restaurants.

                                          Of course, I order different stuff, too, but if there is a particular dish I like, it makes it easier to compare the bar.

                                          I also did this when I was in Vietnam. I ordered the banana-leaf wrapped fish in 3 different restaurants, and I immediately figured out which restaurant I liked the best (which turned out to be a random find not touted on any of the guide books!). Though in this particular case, I had been to restaurant A (the one that ended up being my favorite) before and was wowed by the food, so the banana-leaf fish merely served as confirmation.

                                        3. re: LJS
                                          j
                                          jlafler Jul 22, 2008 08:38 PM

                                          I have a theory that the "cleanliness issue" may have more to do with bathrooms than with anything else. Bathrooms in chain restaurants are usually clean, well-lit, well-stocked with tp and paper towels, and in reasonably good repair. Independent restaurants, even very good ones, often have bathrooms that are tiny, dim, shabby, and/or grungy. This occurred to me one day when I was in an unfamiliar area and needed to use a bathroom, and was delighted to find a Starbucks -- not something that I usually care about. People either imagine that the state of the bathroom reflects cleanliness in the kitchen, or they're more afraid of an unpleasant bathroom experience than an unpleasant food experience.

                                          1. re: jlafler
                                            janetofreno Jul 26, 2008 03:35 PM

                                            lol...I can relate!! One of my favorite ethnic restaurants just remodeled their bathrooms...and it was such a relief when I went there the other night! I knew at some point I would have to go to the bathroom, and I was dreading it...then got such a pleasant surprise.

                                            1. re: janetofreno
                                              f
                                              fredid Aug 3, 2008 05:13 AM

                                              Aha! One of my favorite DCs and I scouted out an interesting hole-in-the-wall - food quality was only so-so but cuisine was very unusual - and then - oh, no! The bathrooms! (and I've gone the very budget route in Guatemala, for instance, without blinking!) I just couldn't post the resto and do that to my fellow and sister CHers! (Well, of courseI would have if the food was good...)

                                      2. re: vvvindaloo
                                        lawyerlady Jul 22, 2008 10:08 AM

                                        the TGIFers were from long island. not nyc proper, i know but still they should know better with having access to nyc!

                                        1. re: lawyerlady
                                          s
                                          sugartoof Jul 27, 2008 01:11 PM

                                          That sounds right. I was about to post that this sounds more common to those who live in Long Island, Jersey, Westchester, etc. but work in Manhattan. Sbarro's was a classic lunchtime stop. There you could get your overpriced pizza that was sorta okay and filling and it was at least better then Ray's. There are far fewer locations for that particular pizza chain then there ever used to be. TGIF's used to be dead until happy hour for the after work crowd. I just don't think the idea of exploring really appeals to people who have a regimented life, where being in Manhattan is mostly a 9-5, and a quick bite kind of lifestyle.

                                          The strange thing is I knew a young girl who had just moved to NYC from a strange part of Florida that only had chains, and her preference was still to go to an Olive Garden when her family came to town to splurge on her. She actually went out to Long Island for a birthday dinner because she had heard the Ruby Tuesdays there was bigger.

                                      3. re: lawyerlady
                                        hill food Jul 22, 2008 01:28 AM

                                        google Calvin Trillin for great rundowns of food in Brooklyn and Queens.

                                    2. e
                                      emerilcantcook Jul 21, 2008 08:41 AM

                                      I had the same problem with my coworkers and friends. Having just moved to a new city really didn't help either. I have a significant other who is pretty adventurous, so I tried to save my special meals for the times when I am with him; but two people don't make the best dim sum. Rest of my social outings (for about a year) was a chain of disappointments laden with guilt. Ever took a chain loving, Subway gorging white person to a Korean restaurant? The lady starved!

                                      So why do I use past tense? I found a solution. I stalked a few chowhounds, arranged or joined a few chowdowns, joined a wine tasting group or two, and met some really cool people. The people I met through these events turned out to be not just dining companions, but also wonderfully complex people with an array of interests. We go to the movies too, OK we chow before. I still see my non-foodist friends, but now I don't have to devote my valuable eating time to them. And even if I do, even if I have a bad lunch with them, I don't complain, because I know that another chowhound dinner or lunch might be waiting for me as a consolation. My non foodist friends also are happier, because with them I can play safe and enjoy a plain sandwich, instead of pressuring them to try the new Ghanaian restaurant.

                                      I realized that once you are out of school, it is really hard to meet people, so one needs to be proactive to find interest/hobby companions. So don't be shy, be a STALKER! Ok, seriously, arrange a chowdown, a meal, a potluck, a chow-shopping extravaganza, a farmers market tour; something to meet new people so that you can find eating companions.

                                      Or start finding ways to enjoy meals alone. But again, how can a sole diner enjoy the range of a restaurant by themselves unless they are ordering for 8 and eating (or dumping) all?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: emerilcantcook
                                        e
                                        ElissaInPlaya Jul 22, 2008 03:13 PM

                                        Great advice! In L.A. check out some of the meetups; SCARF and Pleasure Palate Yahoo groups, and go wine tasting at the different shops, especially the Wine House.

                                      2. r
                                        Rick Jul 21, 2008 05:17 PM

                                        Our best friends (a married couple) are die hard chain lovers. We recently went to NYC and while my wife and I were off exploring food in Chinatown, they were eating at the McDonald's in Chinatown! On the drive back home they both got very excited that we were finally eating at a chain again! The place was awful, even more so after a weekend of Prosperity Dumplings, Super Taste, Yonah Schimmel, etc. They are so closed minded about food that I've given up. There's a local chain that has really good wings and a decent beer list and we end up eating there with them about 75% of time we go out. I'm happy that it's not Eat n Park, they're happy that it's not the local ethnic joint. I suggest you try to find some sort of middle ground place where you'll all be happy. DO NOT COOK at home for your chain loving friends. They will not appreciate it it and they'll probably find most of your cooking too "weird" to eat. You'll also likely find that when they cook at home it's more Sanda Lee than Mario Batali in their kitchens.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: Rick
                                          lawyerlady Jul 21, 2008 05:43 PM

                                          rick, i am cracking up about the mcdonald's. that happened to my sister in italy. she went with a group and they wanted mcdonald's while she wanted to eat local. oh you reminded me of yonah schimmel's. a neighbor of mine in ny who is well into her 70s now used to go there as a kid with her uncle. and yes the cooking is not a good idea. tried that and literally one girl made hamburger helper...another made boxed brownies.

                                          1. re: lawyerlady
                                            meatn3 Jul 21, 2008 10:11 PM

                                            One of my sisters, a picky eater from day one, was going to Europe during a college break. I gave her a menu translation book for W. Europe - very user friendly with points regarding each countries specialties/traditions.

                                            She never cracked the book open! McDonald's for every meal....I gave up trying to expose her to new things after that. I guess she feels fortunate to travel in an age where there is a recognizable fast food place in almost every city across the globe. The same fact just makes me feel very sad.

                                            1. re: lawyerlady
                                              hill food Jul 22, 2008 01:33 AM

                                              oh ll: the McD's in Rome under the Spanish Steps is noteworthy and will turn one off the US outlets forever. it is the standard.

                                              it's actually good and the food is what it used to be here (and better) 30+ years ago.

                                              1. re: hill food
                                                vvvindaloo Jul 22, 2008 06:00 AM

                                                I find this to be true at many European McDonald's. The food quality and preparation standards are simply higher.

                                                1. re: hill food
                                                  Caroline1 Jul 22, 2008 07:11 AM

                                                  Dream on! I ate in McDonald's USA thirty years ago, and it never came anywhere close to the menu for Italian McDonald's. Like, when's the last time anyone here saw a cream filled croissant at a McD's? Not to mention donuts! Anyone who want to have fun perusing it can find it here:

                                                  http://www.mcdonalds.it/#/all-product...

                                                  And if you want to check out McDonald's menus all around the globe, just go to mcdonalds.com and choose a country from the drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of the page. We arguably have the worst McDonald's menu in the world. Certainly the least imaginative. Oh, and don't miss the photo of the great looking take off on a Salad Nicoise on the McDonald's France menu. McCafe and McBakery in Japan make you wanna throw a Big Mac through the window at your local McD's! Have fun, look around, and if you're stuck with McD USA, take a crying towel along on your cyber-trip.

                                                  1. re: hill food
                                                    c
                                                    chazzer Jul 22, 2008 08:42 AM

                                                    There is a McD's under the Spanish Steps, how sad

                                                    1. re: chazzer
                                                      cassis Jul 27, 2008 06:29 AM

                                                      The very Spanish Steps where Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, first took a stand:

                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Pe...

                                                2. re: Rick
                                                  viperlush Jul 24, 2008 04:05 PM

                                                  Over 20 yrs ago that my aunt,uncle, and cousin visited my family while we lived in England. My mother had just discovered dim sum with one of her expat groups and I was very excited to try it. We got to the restaurant and my cousin decided that he didn't want dim sum, he wanted McDonalds. I never did get to go to that restaurant and I occasionally remind them of it.

                                                  1. re: viperlush
                                                    r
                                                    Rick Jul 24, 2008 04:51 PM

                                                    How nice of them to choose McDonalds over dim sum. McDonalds can be had just about anywhere, anytime, why not let you indulge?

                                                    1. re: Rick
                                                      viperlush Jul 24, 2008 05:44 PM

                                                      I ask my mom that all the time. Even she regrets not putting her foot down, but they were the guests and I wasn't a bratty little kid.

                                                      And what really bothered me was that as much as I like McDonald's else where in the world, the English ones sucked (until you got use to them) because the beef tasted soo different.

                                                3. c
                                                  cimui Jul 21, 2008 05:24 PM

                                                  very irritating, I completely agree. i've found that most of my friends who insist on chains are more open to other restaurants if they are at similar price points as the chains, though. you might want to try suggesting good, inexpensive restaurants with some 'safe' foods on the menu, if you're lucky enough to have these around you. i don't know where you're located, but in some parts of the country, one really is hard pressed to find a good restaurant that isn't much pricier.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: cimui
                                                    j
                                                    jacquelyncoffey Jul 21, 2008 05:45 PM

                                                    I was born and raised in CT, and could always find great, independently owned restaurants to try, as well as people willing to try them. I now live in the Midwest aka "chain restaurant hell" , although if you travel a little, there are lots of interesting places to try. Unfortunately, the people I know aren't willing to try them. I'm almost at the point of going alone. How sad

                                                    1. re: jacquelyncoffey
                                                      r
                                                      Rick Jul 22, 2008 09:55 AM

                                                      Jacque, do go alone! I've gone to Dim Sum places before alone just because no one else would try it with me. No point in missing out just because no one will go with you.

                                                      1. re: jacquelyncoffey
                                                        c
                                                        cimui Jul 22, 2008 04:23 PM

                                                        you describe my hometown of lexington, KY to a T. :) i agree with rick: don't let anyone hold you back. go yourself if you have to!

                                                      2. re: cimui
                                                        JungMann Jul 22, 2008 05:38 AM

                                                        But what is "safe?" There are a host of Indian options at a decent price point, but then I get complaints of how they'll pay a worse price in the morning. Chinatown has plenty of acceptable restaurants, but if it isn't as sterile as the Happy Wok in some stripmall in Manhasset out in Manhasset, they'll gag (literally). Rice and beans at a Dominican luncheonette? Have you seen how they live down in DR?? I struggle weekly to try and find an option that's acceptable to them whilst they pat themselves on the back for being in-the-know enough to eat "spaghett co mootzadell" at some former Batali restaurant recommended by NYMag back in 1997.

                                                        1. re: JungMann
                                                          MMRuth Jul 22, 2008 08:02 AM

                                                          I think that, as with everywhere else, New York has its adventuresome eaters/diners and its not so adventuresome ones. Same goes for Dominicans, regardless of how some of them may have lived in the DR.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                            JungMann Jul 22, 2008 08:45 AM

                                                            I never questioned Dominican sanitation, that was my companion (as was the cat comment from earlier in the thread). NYers are perceived as trendy, adventurous eaters, and in the way that they sometimes look down at diners from "flyover territory," it's a reputation they heartily endorse. In my experience, however, native New Yorkers have been some of the most difficult-to-dine-with, easily preferring stereotype and fear. It wasn't until I moved here from the Midwest that I had to explain that I don't eat dogs. Sure we have our fair share of adventurous and non-adventurous, but the former does not seem to be a native breed in these here parts.

                                                            1. re: JungMann
                                                              thew Jul 22, 2008 08:58 AM

                                                              again i disagree. native NYer here, with many native NYer friends - and most are very adventurous open-minded eaters. and certainly most disdain chains, even amongst those who are not CH types.

                                                              and what's wrong with eating dog?

                                                              1. re: JungMann
                                                                MMRuth Jul 22, 2008 09:16 AM

                                                                Ah - so sorry - completely misread what you wrote! (Was a little surprised by my interpretation, I will say.)

                                                                1. re: JungMann
                                                                  r
                                                                  Rick Jul 22, 2008 09:58 AM

                                                                  The cat comment was exactly what I got when my friends chose the Chinatown McDonalds! Passing on those delicious dumplings for a big mac, craziness!

                                                              2. re: JungMann
                                                                lawyerlady Jul 22, 2008 10:12 AM

                                                                i wasn't impressed with batali's babbo. i wanted to be but just wasn't. but you are right--where's the sense of adventure? sometimes those dives are bad, it's true, but sometimes they are good and i'd rather take the chance than eat at the chains i know are consistently mediocre.

                                                                1. re: JungMann
                                                                  c
                                                                  cimui Jul 22, 2008 10:21 PM

                                                                  yeah, you're right of course, JM. i guess i was thinking "safe" as in something you could find in the freezer section of most grocery stores. go get dim sum, but make sure the picky eater has eggrolls to fall back on, on the menu. go get mexican, but make sure the picky eater can get her hard shell taco with ground beef and shredded cheddar, lettuce, sour cream, if she wants it.

                                                                  you're right that "safe" means something different to different folks, tho. i was just thinking of my chain-loving friends who are both wedded to eating habits developed in, say, wisconsin (nothing against ppl from this fine state, but certain types of ethnic dining do not abound there), and cost conscious.

                                                              3. q
                                                                queencru Jul 21, 2008 06:08 PM

                                                                I have this problem with one group of friends. The odd thing is that people in this group tend to go to various independent Asian restaurants with their spouses, yet whenever we meet up, it's PF Chang or Cheesecake Factory, both of which are farther out of the way for three out of the four of us than the better non-chains.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: queencru
                                                                  lawyerlady Jul 21, 2008 06:12 PM

                                                                  i agree. i think these chains are out of the way. yet with gas prices, people still gravitate toward them. i think most of the independently owned places are near downtown where i live, which is a central location for groups but still they want to drive to get to these places. and by the way, i think cheesecake factory and pf chang's are expensive. especially for what you are getting.

                                                                  1. re: lawyerlady
                                                                    q
                                                                    queencru Jul 21, 2008 06:36 PM

                                                                    I agree. At the places I usually go for lunch (when I typically meet these people), I can get a whole meal for about the same price as 4 dumplings at PF Chang or CF. Even if you do have to drive a few more miles to get the food, you'll still end up saving money in the long run by going to the independent restaurants.

                                                                2. ktmoomau Jul 21, 2008 07:46 PM

                                                                  I think all of you people just pick bad friends ;)

                                                                  My friends normally expect me to pick where we are eating based on my vast chow knowledge, but those who don't also have really good taste. I think it is because we all love to eat, we love to cook, we love to talk about eating. Most of my girlfriends were also raised good Southern girls, and that requires knowing how to cook. And I think when you cook well yourself you don't want to go out anywhere that isn't better than what you can make at home, or why bother? And even the non-cookers my bachelor friends have really good taste in food. And if they don't we all ignore them and they learn or don't come along.

                                                                  My family is full of gourmets, and now even Fiance's parents are listening more and more and getting more into food and talking with me about it.

                                                                  I would say I am lucky, but I think it is more of a skill to find great people and keep them, it's hard work.

                                                                  I have found some chow friends from here on facebook though, in the chowhound group, or DC foodies and that is fun.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: ktmoomau
                                                                    amyzan Jul 21, 2008 08:38 PM

                                                                    Yeah, I get what you're saying, as I didn't have this problem in my hometown the first 22 years of my life. But, when I moved from Kentucky to Texas and then to North Carolina, I didn't encounter as many good Southern cooks as you did, apparently. But, yeah, in my hometown in Kentucky my friends happily acknowledged my love of food, and were generally willing to try all number of places. I can only think of one friend who freaked when we ate Ethiopian, and that is admittedly a little more unusual what with the injera as utensil and all. I do think that chowish traits are increasing in frequency in America, but we're still the exception rather than the norm almost anywhere here, and it's a big country. It seems to me this problem, as the OP stated it and many have reiterated, is one of making friends with like minded folks as an adult. Once we all grow up and get lives and families and obligations, it's harder to make time for friends. The food issue follows suit.

                                                                  2. Veggo Jul 21, 2008 09:13 PM

                                                                    Save for 2 weddings I helped with and attended in Mexico, through Chowhound, I don't know a single hound. I regard Sam as a diligent friend, but I have never shaken his hand or looked him in the eye,yet. I would love to watch Sam's 5 year old daughter catch a fish; I would be happy to clean it and then watch Sam cook it in style.
                                                                    My best friend and his brood lean on me heavily for gourmet meals when they vacation in Florida, often. He's richer than Croesus but wears socks with sandals and doesn't have a passport. Relative pauper as I am, I renew my passport usually in 6 or 7 years when it is stamped out. New immigration technology has it appear that you never departed, and never returned (but they know....)
                                                                    I'm in Bradenton, and would love to connect with Sarasota/ Tampa hounds.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                                      meatn3 Jul 21, 2008 10:28 PM

                                                                      The area I am in now (Raleigh, NC) seems to have many newcomers. A fair number of the people I've met have made most of their new friends through "Meet-up" groups. I've looked briefly at the site, it seems that you can sign up and start a new group or see if there is interest in a new group in your area. Perhaps regional Chowhound groups could be formed, starting with some of the activities emerilcantcook mentioned. If the group becomes cohesive and feels comfortable they might move to home events. Could be fun and help people like lawyerlady find some good chow buddies. That sort of group would be perfect for exploring so many types of food. In less metropolitan areas the groups might even decide to split orders/costs of hard to locate specialties.

                                                                      Although there would be the whole comfort zone thing of anonymous postings that needs to be overcome... ;-)

                                                                      1. re: meatn3
                                                                        m
                                                                        moh Jul 22, 2008 06:02 PM

                                                                        "Although there would be the whole comfort zone thing of anonymous postings that needs to be overcome... ;-)"

                                                                        Meatn3, this is certainly an issue, especially for female Hounds. I do worry about safety, and I tend to try to be cautious about meeting people from the net.

                                                                        That being said, I have had the opportunity to meet a bunch of hounds in my city, and it has been a very rewarding experience. It is tough to get over the shyness of meeting people for the first time, I feel like it is the equivalent of blind dating! The nice thing about meeting fellow Chowhounders is that I feel like I already know them from their posts. It has been really fun, and my eating experiences have improved immensely! I also feel like I've met some really amazing new friends, which for me is the best part about it.

                                                                    2. Caroline1 Jul 21, 2008 10:08 PM

                                                                      At risk of coming off as some sort of "Goody Two-Shoes" flabby brained idiot, it has never occurred to me that this could be a problem. I do like "great" things. I like and prefer great food, great art, great science, great books, great music, and I especially enjoy great friends. Some of these things may be mutually inclusive, some may be mutually exclusive. Of them all, great friends are the most difficult to come by, so I do cherish them. And if a great friend is put off by what I consider "great food," and considers Denny's or Taco Bell "great food," then I'll gladly go there if that's the only way I can have time with a particular great friend. But if I can work it out, I prefer to invite them to eat at my house and do my best to make something everyone will enjoy.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                        Veggo Jul 21, 2008 10:19 PM

                                                                        What a beautiful sentiment from a pure soul. Pause. Thanks.

                                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                                          Caroline1 Jul 21, 2008 11:26 PM

                                                                          <blush> Don't know about the "pure soul" part. Unfortunately, it took me too many years to figure out that "elitism" is just another word for "cut yourself off." But thank you! '-)

                                                                        2. re: Caroline1
                                                                          hill food Jul 22, 2008 01:37 AM

                                                                          I'll darken the door of a Taco Bell if on the road and in a hurry, but it just always looks so much better on TV.

                                                                          darn food stylists.

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                                            k
                                                                            kmcarr Jul 23, 2008 09:30 AM

                                                                            Hear, hear Caroline. The way I look at it is, how many meals will I have in a lifetime? How many good friends will I have in a lifetime? I can better afford to sacrifice a meal than a friend.

                                                                          2. s
                                                                            Steve Jul 22, 2008 08:15 AM

                                                                            To the OP, Chowhounds do get together from time to time. Sme cities seem to be very active in this regard. Once you get the ball rolling, who knows, you might be very surprised how many people you will come across. In my community, I've gathered a list of about 40 e-mail addresses. I'm thrilled to have met all of these folks and to have shared some amazing meals with them. Not sure where you are from.....

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                                              ktmoomau Jul 22, 2008 02:12 PM

                                                                              Steve- how do I get on such list with the limitations on chow? Profile?

                                                                              1. re: ktmoomau
                                                                                MMRuth Jul 22, 2008 02:13 PM

                                                                                I've just looked at the profile of certain hounds and gotten in touch with them via email if they've posted their email in their profile.

                                                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  Steve Jul 22, 2008 08:21 PM

                                                                                  Exactly, MMRuth, my e-mail is in my profile.

                                                                                  Another Chowhound mentioned the fear of being female and meeting people over the internet. First of all, I'm sure it's a tad scary for anyone at first. It was for me. Just keep in mind that you will be in a public place, almost surely with a group of people. In many cases, the members of the group will already know and trust each other. You can be as forthcoming or as reticent as you like about revealing details of your life: most people are there to talk about the food. And most Chowhounds give out an e-mail address that does not reveal anything about themselves.

                                                                                  So there you have it. For those who feel a great need to try it and never have, you will be amazed to find out that people like yourself are out there, wanting to eat a whole bunch of stuff that they've never had before. Imagine that, ordering the unique stuff ON PURPOSE.

                                                                                  1. re: Steve
                                                                                    Aromatherapy Jul 23, 2008 05:01 AM

                                                                                    Everything Steve said. My first meetup was scary for about 2 minutes. Then I realized I was among kindred souls, chow-wise. As DaveMP said, wow a whole tableful of people and *everybody* wants to try the goat!

                                                                            2. c
                                                                              cackalackie Jul 22, 2008 08:44 AM

                                                                              One idea is to stop the futile approach of trying to make all your so-called friends exactly like you.

                                                                              You invite whoever you want to the restaurant you want to go to - and whoever comes, comes.

                                                                              For those friends that don't share your same taste in food, either chuck them - or do something else with them. (Maybe they don't undertand how you aren't able to appreciate baseball - or something!)

                                                                              If you like your friends, but not enough to eat at a chain, then that is your choice.

                                                                              1. Gio Jul 22, 2008 11:40 AM

                                                                                I must live in Paradise because most of my friends and all my family are not only adventurous diners, but I don't think any one of them eats at chains with any frequency. What a blessing. Pretty much all are super home cooks and because of their travels have experienced many European and Asian cusines. There is one friend however, whom I love dearly, who was not happy until she was able to have a McDonalds in Paris!

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                  Miss Needle Jul 22, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                                                  Ha! I know somebody (who definitely enjoys all sorts of food), but has this thing with going to McDonalds every time she travels. She did say that the McDonalds in Iceland was vastly superior to the ones in the States. I believe I did read somewhere that they use organic beef for the hamburgers.

                                                                                  When I travel, I do make a habit of going into other McDonalds just to see how they differ from the US. Eg. Hong Kong McD's has red bean pies. Halifax and Maine McD's have lobster rolls. Oh, did your friend who went to the Paris McD's have the macarons there? I saw them, but was saving my stomach for other food. But I have to admit I was really curious.

                                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                    Gio Jul 22, 2008 05:25 PM

                                                                                    Yes... and truth be told, as someone else said above.... the foreign McDs are vastly different than the US originals. Still and all - I never would.....there's so much else to savor.

                                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                                      q
                                                                                      queencru Jul 22, 2008 06:01 PM

                                                                                      Sadly, I have to admit I developed a McD's addiction while I was living in Japan. Many of my other friends also had this addiction, even though we were all the type of people who would not really want to be seen in a US McD's. Once a friend and I tried to have a July 4 cookout and couldn't even find buns in our local grocery store, so really what choice did we have when we wanted a burger?

                                                                                      1. re: queencru
                                                                                        Gio Jul 22, 2008 06:11 PM

                                                                                        Oh I do feel your pain. However, I don't eat beefburgers so I would rather eat a ... I don't know.... anything else. But that's just me. And everyone certainly has to have their heart's desire every so often. More often than not, I hope!.

                                                                                      2. re: Gio
                                                                                        a
                                                                                        anzu Jul 23, 2008 07:53 AM

                                                                                        I would never step foot inside a McDonald's here, but ironically, when I'm in Japan (particularly when I spent a year studying there), I frequent McDonald's (I just get their iced tea), b/c they had an upstairs nonsmoking section. Now with the influx of Starbucks, (which is also non-smoking), I have more options, but back in the late 90s, McD's was one of the very few places where a non-smoking section was completely separated. Yes, there were other vastly superior cafe-like places with a "non-smoking" section which essentially means a divider between one section and the other, which for someone like me who detests the smell of smoke, just doesn't cut it. So McD's it was (and still is).

                                                                                      3. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                        t
                                                                                        tmso Jul 23, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                                                        Yeah, it can be a trip to see what's on the menu, though the McDo variant of anything is going to be ... well, McDonald's. To-go cups of beer on tap in France is nice, though. Especially at the beachside McDo in Nice...

                                                                                    2. GodfatherofLunch Jul 22, 2008 07:54 PM

                                                                                      Lady - I feel your pain. It's not about food its about closed minds. Find some friends with open minds and it will make for a much more fun filled life for you. Not only will the food be better but better conversation, more laughs, more learning and tons more fun.
                                                                                      It has been proven bright folks have many other things to thank their creator for than it being Friday. They also do not believe that the crew at Olive garden was sent to a special university in Tuscany to learn the secrets of cooking great Italian food.

                                                                                      1. meatn3 Jul 22, 2008 10:01 PM

                                                                                        I had this situation at a place I once worked. Lunch was a group thing there, the restaurant options we had were not to my liking. So in January (the now-I-have-to-pay-for-the-holidays-month) I suggested a round-robin type lunch group. The idea went over initially in part to save money. We had a set number of people (8) and once every two weeks each person made a group lunch. We left Fridays as an open date. This gave me a chance to introduce some of them slowly to "different" foods. Everyone had fun, palates expanded in new directions, and the group moved together in exploration. It was also great only having to think about lunch once every other week!

                                                                                        1. pilinut Jul 23, 2008 10:46 PM

                                                                                          Perhaps you are just very young. I'm not sure what I've done (right or wrong) but I realize that I now have very few friends who do not really love good food. I seem to recall that I once had more friends who didn't care much about food, but there has probably been a filtering process going in in the past few decades. The people who didn't feel it was worthwhile to travel across town for a much better meal than could be had across the street have mostly left me to my devices. They must have found my obsession with edibles pretty tiresome. But on the other hand, many of my oldest and dearest friends (who also happen to be as food-centered as I am) are very much around, accompanied by new, like-minded friends.

                                                                                          I guess what I'm trying to say is best said by the old cliche, "birds of a feather. . ." You might not have found your flock yet, but it's out there waiting for you.

                                                                                          1. PDeveaux Jul 26, 2008 08:55 PM

                                                                                            I find myself being a little "snobbish" about restaurants. I grew up in a family who thought nothing of driving an hour to go to a certain place especially for birthdays and other special occasions. Now I admit that I get cravings for certain fast food places and have no problem indulging myself. But I expect to go someplace unique and where people actually "dine" when going out for my birthday or anniversary or a "date" night. Fortunately, my husband shares my appreciation. I used to have a co-worker who thought it was a big treat to go to Stacy's Buffet for her birthday. It almost was more than I could manage to smile and say "I'm glad you enjoyed it."

                                                                                            1. flourgirl Aug 3, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                                                              We actually do have friends who love great food as much as we do. But most of our time spent with friends is usually at someone's house for a get together. Which is fine with us. As for dining out, I'm fortunately married to a man who shares my interest in food - we've sort of grown into it together - and we enjoy going out as a family unit with our son (who's 7 and loves to go out to eat.) I've also recently begun taking my mom out every other week or so for lunch and we have a ball checking out a lot of places that I read about here on CH. That's all I need.

                                                                                              But the title of this thread actually got me thinking about a different angle on this subject. I am one of the CHers who has a cookbook fetish and my collection is very prominently displayed in our family room. I have worked really hard over the years to pull together a very personal collection of titles with concentrations in lots of sub categories (i.e, baking, bread, pizza, thai, chinese, mexican, pasta & noodles, pickles, chocolate and confections, small plates, cheese, barbecue, southwestern, southern, etc. etc. etc.) , and many of my books are hard to find out of print titles. What makes me kind of sad is that I almost never see anyone who comes over express the slightest interest in them. I realize not every one is a crazy book lover like I am but I know they're out there. I've met many of them here on CH. And I know that in the big scheme of things this is not much of a complaint. It just bums me out a little that in the "real" world I don't seem to have found one single friend who is a true kindred spirit in this way who "gets" the fabulousness that is my cookbook collection. *sigh*

                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                GodfatherofLunch Aug 3, 2008 11:05 AM

                                                                                                Rejoice, If everyone enjoyed cookbooks as much as I do the prices would sky rocket and you and I could no longer afford them.

                                                                                                1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                                                  flourgirl Aug 3, 2008 05:52 PM

                                                                                                  That's a way of looking at it. :)

                                                                                                  But you're right about the affordability issue. I managed to build the bulk of my collection from buying books on Amazon from second hand sellers over a period of a few years starting about 6 or 7 years ago. I don't think nearly as many people were aware of the used book sellers on Amazon at that time because I bought many of my books for absolutely dirt cheap prices - many of which are out of print now and selling for much, MUCH higher prices. It's a different ball game now - the audience has grown and the prices for the most part have leveled off at a place much closer to Amazon's asking price. (There are exceptions of course - these are just the trends that I have noticed over time.) Anyway it puts a smile on my face every time I think about the fact that it was the internet that made it possible for me to actually build the personal library that, prior to the existence of sites like Amazon, ecookbooks and eBay, I could have only dreamed of owning.

                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                    GodfatherofLunch Aug 3, 2008 06:35 PM

                                                                                                    I have found some very interesting cookbooks at garage sales. Cosco has some good deals too.

                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                      HillJ Aug 4, 2008 05:49 PM

                                                                                                      when libraries have used book sales I gobble up gems. even college libraries have some great cookbooks, culinary resources and magazines worth checking out. whenever I go on vacation, I check out libraries.

                                                                                                  2. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                    soupkitten Aug 4, 2008 01:24 PM

                                                                                                    LOL! i have. . . lots of cookbooks and when they are organized, the collection is a thing of great and awesome beauty. i actually don't show it to many people because they start looking at me as if they're worried i may start speaking in tongues. i invited a couple of other chefs over for dinner and while one of them hung out with me in the kitchen, the other walked into the room. . . we could barely get him out for dinner an hour and a half later, he was still browsing away.

                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                      flourgirl Aug 4, 2008 01:49 PM

                                                                                                      "the collection is a thing of great and awesome beauty"

                                                                                                      Yes! That's it! That's exactly how I feel about my collection! And it just floors me that I don't seem to know one single person, (who has entered my home anyway) who gets that!!! But then I don't really have any real close friends who really love to cook and bake. I have lots of friends who are very competent at it, but mostly it's just something that they have to do and aren't the slightest bit passionate about it. Obviously what I am missing are CHEF friends! :)

                                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                        soupkitten Aug 4, 2008 06:57 PM

                                                                                                        aw. just think about how special it will be when an appreciative soul can finally stand in awe of your collection. me, i'm thinking about how much it's gonna suck pigeon eggs to *move* all these heavy volumes, yet again. . . (*sigh* dh and my kid brother love me, but we all dread the schlepping of the cookbook library-- *doh!*) i do know some fantastic cooks who have very few cookbooks, but i have the pathology of a passionate cook coupled with compulsive packrat tendencies and the training and education of a bibliophile. i was in the used bookstore yesterday, adding 5 volumes to the collection, and a lady walked by with her friend, exclaiming how much she loved cookbooks, but she never cooked, so, "how many cookbooks do you need, to not cook?" needless to say i have the opposite problem, the more i learn, the more i need to collect & to further learn. er, i mean, i can stop any time i want to! :)

                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                          flourgirl Aug 5, 2008 12:05 PM

                                                                                                          I was laughing as I read your post...The last time we moved was over 12 yrs ago and I can still remember the sound of my husband cursing as he moved the boxes containing all my books...and if this means that you are moving again soon, I hope it all goes smoothly.:)

                                                                                                          And I swear to god it's true - I was also in a bookstore yesterday adding yet more books to my already overflowing collection. I got lured by the siren song of a 40% off coupon at Borders. But I thought I showed remarkable restraint - I only bought two.

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