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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. :-)

                    2. Of course it's a drag. There you are raving about the menu or what you got, and all you get is a blank stare in return, maybe a snide comment, or your friend ordering the same old Pad Thai in a Thai restaurant (as one friend does all the time). This even happens with chowish friends. Sometimes, the disappointment from them is even more acute than that from nonchowish friends. The latter, you expect. The former, not so much.

                      1. No chance of enticing them to taste the little birdy I guess?
                        I wouldn't be happy if my friends were flipping out over my dinner choice and if they did something horrible such as make 'eww' sounds or noises as I ate-I'd probably slap someone. I make some people nervous with my food choices and sometimes it's a bummer when I'm the only one who knows what hummus is, I'd feel like an idiot raving over the food that they can't/won't relate to, so, sure it can dull the whole experience down to a nub.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Boccone Dolce

                          I had a next-door neighbor like that. I was explaining how much I liked falafel and she responded in a proud voice, "I don't eat outlandish food." If I ever get like that when I am old just kill me.

                          1. re: Boccone Dolce

                            Sad thing was they tried the birdy but just could not get over it... I said think of it as a funny looking chicken wing... but no use. All the squab they ate had one bite taken out of it and the rest uneaten, so sad.

                          2. It may taste as good but it is not as much fun to eat! I went with two friends to a famous restaurant that was closing after more than 25 years. (in the LA area, that is a long time for a restaurant) I asked my completely non-Chowish friend to join us rather than my Chow-challenged friend who had eaten there already. When the waiter came to tell us the evening's specials, one of them was a halibut a la plancha topped with truffle shavings, my friend actually asked why they put candy on the fish! I was mortified. The only saving grace is that since it was closing, I would never have to go back.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Kate is always hungry

                              oh i lol'd at that one. but I also probably would have just laughed it off after the friend said it too. I've been out to dinner with a few people too who have blatantly mis-prounounced dishes that I'd thought were fairly commom. then again, I actually had a waitress tell us at a pub this week, that their sandwich special was a "crock".......lol.

                              1. re: im_nomad

                                I laughed--how could I not?! I should have seen it coming. Mea culpa.

                            2. it's kind of like this though not only with food, but in general with experiences we think are fantastic. I recently was flipping my lid over a documentary about a band that was showing in my area that it's a wonder I didn't cartwheel into the theatre when it finally showed. I went with a friend who went along even though she didn't even know the band (bless her !), and to my knowledge couldn't follow much of what was going on. ...I however, felt like I had to contain myself or explain things....it would have been different with a fellow fan(atic)...not necessarily better though I guess.

                              Again, in general, the same with all things we're passionate about in life. When the experiences (or in this case the food) are shared with someone we can yammer on about it with, roll our eyes in pleasure or dissect it all we just feel more like ourselves.

                              1. I find the overall dining experience is better with friends/family who also appreciate good food. Dining with non-chowish friends/family is difficult for several reasons:

                                1) They won't appreciate or are unwilling to try new restaurants
                                2) They are too scared to try new foods - I have unchowish relatives that will order fish & chips or steak everytime we go out to dinner with them. Doesn't matter the type of restaurant, if either of those two dishes are on the menu, I can guarantee one or both will order those dishes.
                                3) They think quality = quantity - All you can eat buffets and so forth...

                                Compare the following 2 meals:

                                Recent meal with unchowish family: They wanted to go to a particular chain restaurant - it serves huge portions of food and has a wide variety of a specific dessert (is also the name of the restaurant) . They both ordered the fish and chips. One family member sees her fish & chips and starts complaining that she can't finish it all. After some whining she starts eating and actually manages to eat most of the dish . While others are still eating, she decides to start talking about "all the poor starving children in Africa, such a shame.. and here we sit, with all this food in front of us. Such a shame and to think all this food will go to waste and the poor kids in China too with nothing to eat" I was not enjoying my sickly sweet glazed entree to begin with and now I a completely put off from having even another bite.

                                Recent meal with chowish friends: We try a new independent wine bar/restaurant we've heard good things about. We order multiple appetizers and entrees so we can share and taste as much of the menu as possible. We order wine and cocktails and spend the evening talking about our childhood favorite foods and which of the dishes we tried that night that we liked best. I thought that most of the food, except 1 entree, was fantastic.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: SeoulQueen

                                  I agree entirely. Food is all about enjoyment, and it's much harder to enjoy yourself when those around you either can't or won't. I love one of my best friends to death, but going out to eat with her is ALWAYS a pain in the butt - she always wants to go to crappy chain restaurants and feels the need to vocalize her dislike of the food I'm eating (lettuce, apparently is super gross, and shrimp are the "cockroaches of the sea").

                                  Most of my dad's family is the same way. Nothing different, EVER. My grandmother has been making the same, boring meal for the past 25 years, and if it's not over-cooked steak, new potatoes, and corn on the cob, they're going to the same Chinese restaurant or Bob's Big Boy. My mom is from a very culinarily experimental Polish family, and they all love good food and good drinks.

                                  We have my dad's family over for every Thanksgiving (partly because our food is WAY better), and every year, we make one "new" dish. They're never interested in trying it. And they don't understand good wine either. My mom, my sister, and I always do the wine shopping. We buy magnums of crappy white zinfandel and pinot noir, leave them in the kitchen for the people who don't know the difference, and keep the bottles of the good stuff in the back fridge for those of us who can actually appreciate it.

                                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                                    I actually like the Cheesecake Factory! (Though ironically I don't like their cheesecake) From what you described it was more the conversation/atmosphere that spoiled the night than the food.

                                    1. re: SeoulQueen

                                      SQ, I so agree with you. Nothing better than an equally adventurous friend (or friends) who is interested in trying new things. I so enjoy trying new foods and especially sharing a taste of what everyone else has, so much fun!

                                    2. I do think that somehow psychologically the food just doesn't taste as good when your dining companions aren't chowish enough. I also thought that we sure do know a lot of rude people, don't we? I was taught growing up that it's extremely bad manners to comment on what people are eating and how it is cooked. I feel very fortunate that my husband and my sister (my most frequent dinner companions) are very chowish and we all make a point to share our yummy choices with each other.

                                      1. What's really bad is when you go out with someone you don't know very well and in your haste to impress your dinner mate with all your knowledge of food and wine, you reveal your self to be a total poseur. Now that is embarrassing.
                                        I for one do not make any allusions to my lack of knowledge or sophistication on all that is food. When I go out, it is my dinner mates or friends that makes or breaks the evening, not the food.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chipman

                                          Do you frequently find yourself in the situation of trying too hard to impress, and coming off as a poseur? I've never had that experience myself.

                                          My love of good chow is heartfelt. I enjoy sharing that passion with my friends. Some of them share that passion others do not. For those who do not share my love of food I tend to arrange my socializing around things other than food. For the food lovers ahhh that is another story...

                                        2. I'm not sure about not tasting as good, but certainly not as fun, mildly annoying, etc..

                                          Went out with a really good friend of mine just recently to a nice italian place.. she heckled the fact that I ordered such "good" wine, that it cost it much as it did and that I took a whole 3 minutes surveying the wine menu.. She thought grilled chicken and goat cheese was a total miss and couldnt believe I turned my nose up at her midori sours and shrimp alfredo..

                                          Aye.. good thing we have lots of other things in common =P

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mess

                                            They still serve Midori sours? I'll be damned......

                                          2. it goes both ways. I imagine I am somewhat "chowish" but when any body comes off a superior (which we can attribute to either chowish/non-chowishness) it makes the experience less tasty.

                                            So whether you relish Fois Gras or a coney-two-ways it is more enjoyable with people who are ready to let you enjoy it.

                                            1. I suggested to my unchowish bf, that we go to a local restaurant that I recently found had chicken fried rabbit. (it is kind of an upscale pricier place.)
                                              He suggested that he go into my back pasture and bring me back about 5 rabbits and I can chicken fry them all I want.
                                              He does have a point. (as long as he promised to clean the rabbit.... I'll do pheasant, deer and chickens, but I hate doing rabbit)

                                              1. Being an adult, I don't particularly care what others around me think of my food choices. There is absolutely no reason why it should taste any different.

                                                1. This may seem like splitting hairs but when I'm with chowish friends, the "appreciation" of the food is enhanced. And I think when a meal is truly appreciated and savored, then it does taste better to me. It doesn't taste "worse" to me with unchowish people.