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What's your latest food quest? Tell us about it

Am I strange?

pastry634 Mar 2, 2009 02:44 PM

Hello all. For a long while, I have taken a break from my work or whatnot and just relax by perusing menus from various restaurants that I have no opportunity to visit. I live in Middleofnowhere Midwest, but have been to some big cities (NYC, Chicago, LA) and some nice restaurants. In my own free time, I just like to look at various menus, and, out of curiosity, pick out the meal I would order. Does anyone else do this, or am I the only one?

  1. l
    Lucia Mar 4, 2009 05:47 PM

    I think on this board it's a safe bet that you're in the majority. I always go prepared.

    1. b
      Bobfrmia Mar 4, 2009 05:22 PM

      I guess it's really not much different than reading reviews about restaurants where you'll probably never eat. I love to do that. For some reason, I'll read reviews pretty much by anyone, about anywhere to eat. Other than food and beer, I've never muched cared about anyone elses opinion.

      1. NellyNel Mar 4, 2009 11:35 AM

        I especially love to read menus when I am out of town or out of the country!
        My DH has gotten used to it now, but he def thought it was strange when we first met and we traveled allot, and the first thing I'd do in a hotel room was start reading any menus they had about!

        When I moved to the UK for a few years, it became an obsession with me - especially "Chinese" food menus!
        There were so many odd items that I' had never heard of....

        Now that I think about it - collecting old menus would be a great thing to do! I would LOVE it!

        1. l
          Louise Mar 4, 2009 08:57 AM

          Menus a little bit, but cookbooks are my real weakness. They get put away on the shelf and are inevitably pulled out again within a day or two.

          1. Miss Needle Mar 3, 2009 01:44 PM

            Strange? Definitely not on this site. But you may get a few raised brows outside of Chowhound. I don't do that now but remember doing that as a kid and into my early 20s. I did that with menus and Williams Sonoma catalogs. But that also extended to things beyond food, picking out pretend outfits from J. Crew and Victoria's Secret in my college days.

            Have you checked out menupages.com? I'm sure you could spend quite a few hours on that website!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle
              pastry634 Mar 3, 2009 06:24 PM

              Oh boy, I try to stay away from those - I may be there for hours! I suppose I look at all the menus with a comparative eye. For example, I like to concentrate a lot on NYC restaurant (I love the restaurant scene there). I get a feel for a Jean-George restaurant or a Batali one. I don't know, I like to get a sense of the personality of a restaurant through its menu.

              1. re: Miss Needle
                ms. clicquot Mar 3, 2009 06:33 PM

                I agree that outside of this site people might not 'get it'. My husband, for example, thinks it's weird and can't understand how I can read cookbooks for pleasure. Of course, he's planning to spend the day tomorrow streaming the sports channel on his work computer so he can keep up with hockey trades so I guess we all have our unique interests!

                menupages.com is great - I can see myself wasting a lot of time there....

              2. Phoo_d Mar 3, 2009 01:04 PM

                Nothing strange here. I do this frequently and then try to figure out if there's any way to replicate something that sounds amazing at home. It's what happens when you live in the land of no independent restaurants and meals the size of your head!

                1. vvvindaloo Mar 3, 2009 12:58 PM

                  I do this a lot.

                  1. s
                    Steve Mar 3, 2009 12:57 PM

                    It's actually a great way to keep up with culinary 'innovations.' Or should I say trends.....

                    1. a
                      AHan Mar 3, 2009 12:54 PM

                      You may be strange, but this behavior is pretty normal.

                      1. c
                        cimui Mar 3, 2009 11:52 AM

                        If only my hobbies were as wholesome and inexpensive as this! I think reading menus is a pretty cool way to relax -- and if it's 'strange', who cares?! It's not unlike watching Top Chef or Iron Chef and drooling over all the yummy-looking things you don't actually get to eat... or reading cookbooks... or window shopping, for that matter.

                        By the way, when I was really little (barely sentient), I had a book about a group of kids who went to Disney World. I remember seeing the cartoon illustrations of people eating gigantic multicolored lollipops and candied apples and fantasizing about how I'd get one of each when I went to Disney World. Strange kid? Probably.

                        But probably all of us are a little strange for being on Chowhound. =)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cimui
                          pastry634 Mar 3, 2009 12:48 PM

                          Haha, like one strange, happy family :). As I read so many menus, its just interesting to see certain trends and combination's. For example, well before anyone told me that beets and goat cheese go together, I just ventured that they would because I saw them on so many menus. I often find that I use menus for many inspirations of my own (when I can, that is. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find sea urchin in Wisconsin this time of year! :P).

                          1. re: pastry634
                            cimui Mar 3, 2009 03:18 PM

                            Follow your passion, pastry. It might even be possible to turn this into a marketable skill (i.e. as a restaurant consultant).

                            I raise my large, multicolored lollipop in salute to our large, happily strange Chowhound family. Cheers!

                            P.S. Speaking of things that are hard to find... you would not believe how hard it is to find clean snow for snowcream here in NYC. At least you have some of that in WI, I hear. ;)

                        2. Caroline1 Mar 2, 2009 08:33 PM

                          I not only read menus on line (have folders for local and out-of-town), I also collect menus. Some going back to great fabled restaurants no longer in business. Some of the dishes and their prices make me wish for time travel! '-)

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Caroline1
                            danhole Mar 3, 2009 06:06 AM

                            I am also a menu collector. I have a binder with those clear protector sheets (can't remember what they are called) that I slide them in, sorted by type of cuisine. When my DH worked in the restaurant industry I would get him to bring me menus when he would visit a new place, so I have many from places I will never eat at, or are out of business. And like you, Caroline, I keep out-of-town ones as well.

                            1. re: danhole
                              Caroline1 Mar 3, 2009 09:46 AM

                              Ooooh... Some of my menus are about the size of a barn door! The one from the Bacchanal Room in Caesar's Palace, circa 1967(?) for example. With a huge "silk" cord and tassel! I also have two complete sets of the menus from Swiss Air in the (1980s) that have gorgeous lithographs of single pieces of fruits on the covers. I have one set of those framed, and they hang in my kitchen. Six to a set, and they really look like original art work. But when you count the round trip ticket from Boston to Athens, they probably aren't any cheaper than original works of art. No one ever guesses that they're airline menus! I've thought about decoupaging some of the best on a large bifold floor screen, maybe to use in the breakfast room or dining room, but have mixed emotions about that...

                              1. re: Caroline1
                                cassoulady Mar 3, 2009 10:01 AM

                                I have very similar Swiss air menus too!!!!! how funny, they are beautiful and the menu sounds good..

                                1. re: Caroline1
                                  danhole Mar 3, 2009 10:34 AM

                                  Well, you win, again! Most of mine fit in the binder. A few don't but not frame worthy!

                                  1. re: danhole
                                    Caroline1 Mar 3, 2009 11:42 AM

                                    Well, I don't know that I'm the "winner." Do you know what a pain it is to find space to store the monsters? The critical thing is enjoying them! They're great for browsing, and sometimes, when I have a dinner party coming up, I might get them out a couple of weeks in advance and browse the "golden oldies" for ideas for dishes people haven't had in a while. Great reference material! I feel pretty confident you use yours in a similar way. '-)

                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                      danhole Mar 3, 2009 11:57 AM

                                      "I might get them out a couple of weeks in advance and browse the "golden oldies" for ideas for dishes people haven't had in a while. Great reference material! I feel pretty confident you use yours in a similar way. '-)"

                                      Unfortunately I get them out and dream of the food. As you may have caught on from some of my posts, my DH is very picky, so most of the menus are from places that he would never eat at. He asked me once why was I looking through the menus, and I told him I was dreaming of dinners I could go to without him! Luckily I found some fellow CH's that I can do that with.

                                      1. re: danhole
                                        Caroline1 Mar 3, 2009 12:55 PM

                                        Brava for you! Having someone to share great food with is a critical part of life for me. My first husband was terrific in that area. Unfortunately, the "good grades" were not across the board. My second husband was not at that level. It's not that he wouldn't eat anything and everything I cooked. It's that he was happier with a grilled cheese sandwich than he was with chateubriand. <sigh>

                                        1. re: danhole
                                          Passadumkeg Mar 3, 2009 01:00 PM

                                          I collect menus from where we have eaten. I peruse them and often make something from the menu that we have liked and forgotten about. Lots of memories of great times in that folder.

                                      2. re: danhole
                                        Caroline1 Mar 3, 2009 11:48 AM

                                        Yes! The flight attendants went through the galley to gather complete sets for me. Apparently they keep them on board until the plane gets back to Switzerland to unload all the stuff. Some of mine are from Khartoum to... I don't recall at the moment, but some were from our flight, others from flights to or from exotic places I can only dream of! And then Swiss Air went bankrupt. <sigh> And then there is air travel today. No lithographed menus required for a bag of peanuts! :-(

                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                          alkapal Mar 4, 2009 01:55 AM

                                          not even peanuts, caroline! ;-). maybe a little "biscoff" wafer......

                                    2. re: danhole
                                      jumpingmonk Mar 3, 2009 01:25 PM

                                      I actually keep two copies of the menu of each (mostly chinese) resturaunt I go to (two so I can get one out for ordering if I know I'm going to be back in that region again) they currently FILL three of those handled plastic archive cases thar Staples sells (the kind you use for files) One for Chinatown, one for the rest of Mahnhattan, and one for the rest of the Tristate area. And thats not inculding the HUGE bag (about the size of a laundry hamper) full of menus from places that have closed since I started)

                                  2. alkapal Mar 2, 2009 04:35 PM

                                    pastry, i was *meant* to show you this menu (i bookmarked it ages ago, and was able to find it.....): http://www.usmenuguide.com/zengodenve...

                                    happy vicarious eating! i do the same with cookbooks all the time.

                                    (comidalover, we are in the same cookbook mode....do you put the little sticky tabs on recipes to come back and try? so many that the book looks like a chartreuse (or hot pink) porcupine? ;-).

                                    1. ms. clicquot Mar 2, 2009 04:15 PM

                                      You're not strange at all. I love to read menus from restaurants around the world. It's very inspiring and oddly relaxing. And think of how much money we save by 'dining' virtually!

                                      1. c
                                        comidalover Mar 2, 2009 04:10 PM

                                        I love reading menus and have done it for years! It is also fun to read menus from other countries. You aren't strange...your a foodie. I read cookbooks at night laying in bed before I go to sleep...am I strange?

                                        1. monku Mar 2, 2009 04:07 PM

                                          You might try Porn...............Food Porn http://www.foodporn.com/

                                          1. billieboy Mar 2, 2009 04:07 PM

                                            It's called daydreaming and we all do it about something or other. Enjoy your fantasy.
                                            Have some Foie Gras and put it on my bill..:-)

                                            1. Sam Fujisaka Mar 2, 2009 04:03 PM

                                              Not at all strange. Good on you!

                                              1. tatamagouche Mar 2, 2009 03:31 PM

                                                Totally do that.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: tatamagouche
                                                  James Cristinian Mar 2, 2009 04:16 PM

                                                  I do it all the time, also if I'm watching a food show and they mention a restaurant I'll check out the menu. My wife loves Ace of Cakes and while we were watcing I pulled up their website and ordered here a t-shirt for one of her valentine gifts, she loved it. I also like to read other cities newspapers, especially if their is something especially newsworthy happening. I'll also read the sports for the shock and awe factor if my Houston Texans happen to beat the local team. We're 8 and 8 the last two years, getting better.

                                                2. n
                                                  NaturallyRecommended Mar 2, 2009 03:03 PM

                                                  Certainly nothing wrong with doing that if you enjoy it! I wouldn't say it's strange. Sometimes I'll do this in my free time for local places.


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