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Sep 23, 2008 07:38 AM

Does chow not taste as good with unchowish friends?

Had dinner at a favorite Teochew Chinese place with some moderately unchowish friends. For starters they could not get over the fact that I ordered squab (pidgeon) as an app. But I could tell the whole time they were not into the chow and consequently, I swear the food did not taste as good to me....

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  1. I would say yes, and I would add "unchowish family" to your hypothesis. My mother and stepfather just cannot appreciate good food and it takes all the joy out of visiting and eating with them. I find it really difficult to be close to people who are resolutely unchowish, it just seems to reveal some sort of character flaw to me.

    5 Replies
    1. re: butterfat

      Lmao..."character flaw"...I love it! I totally agree!

      1. re: butterfat

        How is not having the same appreciation for food as you a "character flaw"? Food appreciation is a sensory experience. We all have different degrees of sensitivity to various flavors and smells. We can accept that some people see better, hear better, or are more sensitive to tactile sensations (like ticklishness), but we can't accept that taste and smell (which are linked) are different?

        Essentially, you're blaming people for not having the same sensory response (and subsequent emotional reaction to the sensation) as you and those who are like you. You are then discriminating against them and forming a prejudice based on this difference. Doesn't that say more about your character than theirs?

        1. re: Orchid64

          I don't think the issue is one of the senses, but rather of the mind.

          Really folks are describing people who are so closed-minded that they won't ever try anything new, and in my book whether is it a new book, museum, friend, or food, adding new elements to ones life is wonderful.

          Those who dismiss things out of hand because they are "new" or "different" without even trying them I don't think it is too judgmental to call that a character flaw.

          1. re: Orchid64

            I suppose that because this is Chowhound, it is reasonable for you to assume that's what I meant. BUT, I didn't mean that I judge these family members for not having the "same" tastes and responses as me. It's not a question of being highbrow or adventurous or sophisticated eaters, or anything like that.

            I simply meant that it's hard for me to visit and relate to people who can't *enjoy food.* At. All. They don't find it interesting or meaningful. I truly don't think it's because they have something wrong with their sensory functions (taste or smell), though of course I can't prove that.

            It is just very difficult to have a family visit with people who don't find joy in preparing, planning, plotting, or eating meals. It's one of the things that should bring a family closer together, and when that fails to happen the distance between people becomes painfully obvious.

            Lastly, I think they have a Puritanical streak that prevents them from enjoying life (not *simply* food). And I suppose that's what I meant by the underlying character flaw.

            1. re: butterfat

              Ahhh, I see, thanks for the clarification. As a bit of a hedonist I never did understand that whole puritan thing very much.

        2. If they make you feel insecure about what you order or influence your ordering decision then yes. It's bad enough that they "couldn't get over" your ordering squab, could you imagine if changed your mind because of it?

          I think that a big part of enjoying a big meal is being able to share and discuss it with your dinner mates. If you can't I think the food loses something.

          4 Replies
          1. re: viperlush

            Didn't make me insecure or influence my ordering, just the fact that they did not share my joy was enough to make me enjoy it less.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              I'm with you there. When I am having a meal with people who are as much into the food as the experience, engage in discussion about both and try new dishes with enthusiasm, I have a lot more fun and yes, the food tastes better.

              If someone "can't get over" the fact that you order something on the menu, the implication is they feel their opinion should influence your choice and that is such a blow to a creative dining experience. On the flip side, if you are with people who try new things, enjoy discussing the meal and love to share, the time together becomes more than just an evening out.

              There are certain friends I really have a hard time going out with for this very reason. And they are inevitably the ones who quibble with the bill, go short on the tip and give me major indigestion.

              1. re: mvi

                I agree, I posted early this year while I was in Alsace, I had just tasted one of the best sandwiches I had ever had but it was so much less exciting because I was there without one of my dining buddies. On the flip side I find that my meal can be greatly affected by the, "I'm soooo into food that I am nearly never impressed group" just as annoying as the, "eww how can you eat that" set....I try and reserve special nights out, trying something new for my tight group of fellow eaters!

              2. re: StriperGuy

                Sorry, meant "you" to be a general "you". It is a shame that they influenced your enjoyment of the food.

            2. My family and most of my friends like their meat extremely well done and practically charred on the outside while I like to cook mine a medium rare.
              I hate it when every time I grill good cuts of meat on the bbq grill they like their's destroyed.

              1. I have one friend in particular, possibly well documented on this site, who is practically afraid of food. No pork other than breakfast sausages or hotdogs, no red meat other than frozen burgers, no seafood, no fish, plastic-y cheeses only - you get the idea, the list goes on and on. Out at a tapas restaurant one night, she ended up drinking 10 cocktails since there was very little she would eat from what the 5 of us ordered. That turned into a fun night, including a bleeding foot after she dropped a glass on the floor of a bar and then took her shoes off a minute later. Good times.

                What I've found in dining and cooking with her is this: we really cannot eat family style. I refuse to be forced into ordering off of only a slim part of the menu in order to accommodate her strange food-phobias. Since I've taken the "my plate, your plate" approach, our dinners out have gotten MUCH better. When we have dinner parties, I always ask her to make a dish, so I know she'll have something to eat.

                1. Oh, how right you are. I have 2 girlfriends who are not foodies at all. One eats merely to get the proper nutrition, the other, only when she's hungry. Going out to dinner is really not much fun as they don't enjoy the same things I do, or like the way the food is prepared. The one who eats strictly for nutrition is very kind and often invites me over for dinner. Last week it was beautiful salmon with just a tiny bit of olive oil on it. No other seasoning whatsoever. A salad with just a bit of oil and white balsamic. Steamed broccoli with absolutely nothing else on it, not even a squeeze of lemon. Again, no salt or pepper as salt is bad for you. Or fresh sliced tomatoes with a few tablespoons of oil, and a tiny bit of vinegar. No basil, no other herbs, no salt, pepper, no seasonings at all. How do people eat without seasoning? My closet is bursting with seasonings. Every city I go to I make a point of stopping at a local grocery store to pick up some dry seasoning mix, BBQ sauce, or other seasoning that I don't normally see locally in my own grocery stores.
                  My closest single friend recently moved to Seattle, and I am lamenting the loss of my favorite dining partner. The two of us would try just about everything at least once, and actually kept a running list of places we wanted to try. Sigh :-((

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mschow

                    Oh I hate that "salt is bad for you" deal. My sister used to NEVER have salt, or used the absolute minimum in cooking. She could never understand why her sauces or roasted chickens or whatever she cooked didn't taste as good as mine. I told her it's because she didn't use salt. Or didn't use enough salt. She's finally realized salt is OK - in moderation. She still won't buy a whole box of kosher salt ("it's WAY too much - I'll never use it all!" LOL I buy it and give her a ziplock baggie), but she's getting better. :-)

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      I have a sister who used to remark every time I added salt to a dish. Fortunately, she and I are really close and I just told her to keep it to herself. For the record, I always try something first to see if it would benefit from a small amount of salt, with the exception of eggs and grits - restaurants never put salt in those.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        The 'salt is bad for you" attitude really aggravates me. If you combine it with the "fat is bad for you," and the "sugar is bad for you," and the "carbs (other than sugar) are bad for you," you end up with somebody for whom it is impossible to cook a tasty meal. I agree with Julia Child, "Food is not medicine!" Yes! Food does not taste as good when you eat it with a non-chowish person, especially a health nut.

                        1. re: gfr1111

                          Well, luckily my sister's mostly gotten over it. And the majority of my friends are food lovers. So all is good. For now. :-)