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Would you consider me a chowhound if...

So my friends and I were talking the other day and it got me thinking about what the general consensus is on the definition of a "foodie" or a "hound".

I would consider myself an foodie however I have a long list of things in the "protein" area that I absolutely will NOT eat. I cannot and will not eat any type of organ, tripe, brains, veins, gristle, fat, skin, marrow... you get the picture. However I love eating mussels, clams and raw oysters...hmmm... But when it comes to the meat department I am a dissecting fiend. You should see me eat a buffalo chicken wing!

So, am I mislabeling myself? I love going to "foodie" restaurants (cannot stand chains) and certainly don't order the tamest thing on the menu... but I will never change my tune on eating those things mentioned above.

just curious for comments and similar stories!!

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  1. Yes, of course!

    Although I hate labels. I think food is to be enjoyed (if you can) and shouldn't be taken too seriously. I consider myself a "foodie" but don't limit myself to only fine dining. I've dined in the finest restaurants of Italy, Portugal, London, Spain, Greece, Australia, and of course, USA and Canada and have had the pleasure and surprise of enjoying food in broken down BBQ shacks as well as 5 star dining. My personal belief is you should never limit yourself. I also said I wouldn't eat some of the things on your list, however, when they were presented to me, from the right chef, in the right setting, I relented and tried it. And I'm still here to tell the story!

    1. It's not about what you choose to eat or not eat, but that you choose based on independent critical thinking (rather than accept something blindly).

      1. A chowhound isn't defined by what s/he will or won't eat, but by an attitude toward food in general. Almost all of us have at least some limits on what we'll eat, so drawing such a line (whether it's drawn at a bit of gristle or a live baby octopus) can't disqualify you from hounddom.

        The real question is what you do on the "edible" side of that line. If you see food as an evil that's necessary to keep from starving, you're not a chowhound. If you refuse to eat anything your mom didn't serve you as a kid, you're not a chowhound (regardless of whether mom was dishing up pot roast and mashed potatoes or banchan and kimchee jigae). And if you love going to "foodie" restaurants solely because you've been told you should eat there and because you can then brag to your friends about your meal, you may be a foodie, but you're probably not a chowhound.

        On the other hand, if you go to such a restaurant to find new taste experiences, you're probably a chowhound. And if you activley seek those experiences out, you're a chowhound for sure.

        That said - the only way to expand your food horizons is to try things you've never had before, and pushing the line you've drawn - just a little bit at a time - is a good way to do that. I'm not suggesting that you rush out tonight for a dinner of beating heart of cobra in its own bile, but you might enjoy, say, a bite of pate de campagne. It's just a pork meatloaf, but it does have a little bit of liver in it. From there, you might consider trying other pates, many of which use more liver. And if you like those, try the fois gras a "foodie" restaurant. Maybe just a bite off somebody else's plate (but not mine - that's one thing I won't share). Your attitude toward organ meats may never be the same again.

        7 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            Great post alan!

            I agree that we all need to expand our horizons (in everything, not just food!) and happily do so...although...em... I just hate uni. Had to say it. Still, if my dining companion loves uni, I will not sit and pontificate on how much I dislike the dish. Here's the onus on Chowhounds who have dislikes: eat what you love, try to stretch when it looks good, and do not, repeat do not persist in saying eeeeeeewwwwww if someone orders something not on your approved list! (To the OP - I'm not talking about you, but in my personal experience and in general!)


            1. re: cayjohan

              Re: uni.

              I used to tolerate the stuff. If somebody ordered some I'd try it, but never particularly enjoyed it. Not any more.

              It isn't that I've given up on uni, it's just that I've discovered good uni. The itamae at a place I was eating was very enthusiastic about the quality of the stuff he was serving and encouraged me to have some. I was reluctant, but eventually gave in. He walked me through the process - moving it around with my tongue instead of chewing, and tasting the development of different layers of flavor (fresh brine, then buttery sweetness, followed by a fading nuttiness). It was a revelation.

              Shortly thereafter, I ordered uni in the mistaken belief that I'd acquired a taste and appreciation for it. Wrong. It tasted like, well, like something you don't want to put in your mouth. That was several years ago, and I've only had uni a few times since. It's always been at the chef's suggestion, and it's always been great.

              So definitely don't order the stuff. And when your companions do, take a pass. But if a sushi chef you trust gets all excited about the uni he's serving, it might be worth another shot.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Thanks alan for both your challenge and validation! I'll keep both in mind! Cay

              2. re: cayjohan

                Jfood wishes CH placed the poster atthe top of the post so when he sees AB's posts he immediately starts reading versus the scroll down and then scroll back to read. Nice post again AB.

                Re - Uni

                Jfood is in your camp, just cannot getthere. And even in Tokyo when he explained to his "host" they insisted (onlyonce) and jfood nodded and tried at almost every stop. Sorry, but it did not click.

                So here is what jfood does now. When he is confronted with Uni on his plate, he normally knows many at his table love it. So he figures what he likes on their plate and trades. Now jfood is a huge fan of Unagi and Anago and many are not. So trading almost 2:1 for those is a normal ratio. Jfood gets a couple of extras of what he likes and his company does likewise. Works great.

              3. re: alanbarnes

                As posted below, there are several threads here regarding what the definition of a chowhound or foodie is.

                alanbarnes, yours is the best definition yet.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Agree with alan completely, and just emphasizing the point that it's ok not to like certain foods--by the way, vegetarians can be chowhounds too! It's all in the attitude and the openness to new things.

                2. Great post and great responses so far. I am loathe to admit to any "foodie" friends the things I just don't like eating (and yes, I've tried them, and yes, prepared in great places by great chefs), primarily because the #1 class of what I don't like to eat is seafood. ANY seafood. Fish, shellfish, shrimp, lobster, sushi, scallops, mussels, clams, etc. I just don't like any of it. I will eat certain fish if there is nothing else to eat, but given a choice, I will always pick something else.

                  I also think somehow I must not be a real foodie because I can't get behind organ meats, like the OP. I have tried but I just find most of it really distasteful. Foie is about all I can do. I've tried marrow twice and frankly find it really disgusting, I can't see what the allure is. I sometimes feel like these are dirty little secrets and if any "real" foodies found out, they would revoke my membership and kick me out of the club. :)

                  Honestly though, pretty much anything other than the things listed above is a go.

                    1. It depends on WHY you "cannot and will not eat" all those things. Is it because you've tried them and don't care for them? Yeah, you may still be a 'hound. OTOH, is it because you've never had them and can't imagine eating them? If that's it, I'm sorry...no 'hound for you!

                      18 Replies
                      1. re: ricepad

                        So you think that somebody has to be willing to try anything to be a chowhound? Sorry, I gotta call BS.

                        I'm a pretty adventurous eater, but there are some things I just won't try. And it's inconceivable that there's anybody who doesn't draw the line somewhere. Are you really interested in sampling uncleaned warthog rectum? (Thanks, Bourdain.) Me, I'll pass. Just because I can't imagine eating it.

                        We can find more extreme examples if need be, but you get the picture.
                        As a result of cultural and environmental factors, different people set limits in different places. But we all have them, and they don't disqualify any of us from being chowhounds. If they did, there wouldn't be any chowhounds.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          While I agree that you have to draw the line somewhere, in my opinion, anybody who draws the line before "...any type of organ, tripe, brains, veins, gristle, fat, skin, marrow..." is not one.

                          I never said you had to be willing to try anything. Don't put words in my mouth...put new and different foods in my mouth, instead.

                          1. re: ricepad

                            But which foods get placed on the far side of "the line" is strictly a function of what you've eaten and been exposed to in the past. Some folks won't hesitate to suck the eyes out of a fish head but are skeeved out by blue cheese. Others enjoy natto (or so they claim - I'm not sure I believe them) but find gravy appalling. And if you grew up in the Kalahari, you might see that warthog rectum as a special treat.

                            So long as I refuse to try some foods - any foods - because I don't believe I'll like them, I'm not going to disparage somebody else who feels the same way about some of the foods I am willing to eat. Just because we have different tastes and tolerances doesn't mean we're not both chowhounds.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              There are vegetarians who are chowhounds and who excel at uncovering new and delicious vegetarian finds. It's about not settling for ok, about the willingness to go an extra block or cross town, for a better bite. What one chooses to eat is not relevant, how one chooses is.

                              1. re: limster

                                thank you, from a vegetarian. I'm all about food and about finding any new food I can find, and trying anything. I love food for food, whether it's at some hole in the wall place, a street cart, or a 5 star dining experience. If it's good, I'll eat it. If it's different, I'll try it, at least once. I'll admit, I've tried alligator, tripe, liver, but not just foie gras (I loved foie gras when i had it), ostrich, emu, sweetbreads (loved them).... but personally, I can't bring myself to eat them regularly. Although..... I do think if I had the option to try something I've never had before, and it was meat related, I probably would try it, just to see if it will change my mind. To me, that is a foodie.

                                1. re: kubasd

                                  I'm another veggie chowhound here.
                                  I love food, and will go out of my way to eat at amazing places, and find incredibly ingrediants. I love expanding my food horizons and those of my friends and family. I will say though, I do like the taste of meat, and
                                  I have had pretty much every kind of meat (save for many organ meats, just never got a chance). I've broken my veggieness to try a few things I hadn't had a chance to, like Fois Gras and Caviar. If there is something else unique I would like to try, I'm sure I'll try it, but even if I wouldn't try it now, I'd still count myself as a foodie and a chowhound.

                                  1. re: wonderflosity

                                    yep, you sound like me. I think I can be a chowhound even though i don't eat meat, because of my approach to food.

                          1. re: ricepad

                            I disagree with this. There are things I have tried and hated (cottage cheese, I am talking to you) and most everything I will try but my nemisis is the dreaded deviled egg. I cannot imagine even trying it and even seeing them (or god forbid smelling them) brings on a gag reflex like very few things in life can. And I proudly consider myself a Hound....deviled eggs be damned.

                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                              I think your statements actually support my contention, because you've TRIED deviled eggs and cottage cheese!

                              1. re: ricepad

                                I have never tried a deviled egg and will not.

                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                  I don't know if I've ever encountered someone who did not like deviled eggs. JanetfromRichmond, what is your aversion?

                                  1. re: LJBTampa

                                    jfood will also take a pass at the develied egg tray. does not suit his palate.

                                    1. re: LJBTampa

                                      The texture, the smell, dear lord, the smell. I believe god intended for the white and yolk to come together and go into the world as one, not runny and with lots of cheese and other goodies such as black beans.

                                      But few things gross me out like a deviled egg.

                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                        Amen, Sister. It's not like I didn't grow up around Deviled Eggs , here in SC. I can't remember tasting them, but I'm sure I did at one point. I cannot abide the smell of a hard boiled egg. Sometimes they show up on a chef's salad and it's all I can do to get to the trash can before I'm totally grossed out.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          For jfood it is not the smeel so much since he loves egg salad. But the dried mustard in the yolk with that cutesy paprika on top reminds jfood of a bad 1960's B rated movie.

                                          Go rent Ice Storm and watch the adult party scenes. Blech.

                                          BTW - Ice Storm has a TREMENDOUS teen cast and if you want to see them as 12-13 actors this is a great rental.

                                2. re: ricepad

                                  Jfood thinks giving everything a good hard think and not tossing out of hand separates the CH from the masses.

                                  There was once a movie or book that had a scene (or maybe some documentary or one of jfood's college nightmares) where the table ate the brain of a live monkey. That is so far over the line of never gonna tries that jfood could not see the line with a telescope. That good hard think would take less than a nano-second.

                                  So it is not that you have to try everything to wear the CH stripes, but at least have the attitude that you take a good hard educated look at the situation and maybe give it a try. A lot of what Bourdin eats on TV will NEVER cross jfood's lips.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Ohdeargod, you and I have got to be about the same vintage because I remember that movie ("Faces of Death") from my early college years. What a horrible movie!

                                    And I agree with you about Bourdain--I love watching him, but I WON'T be eating iguana (remember that episode with the iguana's owner holding it saying it was ready to die--ARRRGHHH!), beating cobra heart...or even the chapulines that everyone at our table in Oaxaca ate but me. I love steak tartare but there are plenty who are repulsed by "mooing meat"...or even rare steak. Being a chowhound isn't some double-dog-dare (excuse the pun, jfood). I agree with you, alan barnes and limster--you have all beautifully defined the Chowhound experience.

                                    Great line from limster:
                                    <<What one chooses to eat is not relevant, how one chooses is.>> That ought to be part of the manifesto--that nails it right there!

                                3. I've no opinion re: if someone else is a chowhound, but I have my own standard that applies to me: I try everything in its cultural setting, including warthog anus. I don't see AB on TV and then go out to buy and cook up a plate of anus. I wait until I'm with the Bushmen and then, if invited, try the anus. I almost always find the combo of food, setting, and cultural ways to work to the point that I end up liking what I ate. Other than brown rice sushi, there is still nothing that I won't eat.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    There are several sentences in that posting that I don't think have ever been uttered in the English language before.

                                    I won't get into the if, when and where I would try anus, but I will say that I am largely with you on how I define a chowhound. I take an open-minded approach to food and other folks who consider themselves hounds. For my own part, I would not fathom turning down food if offered to me, but I don't think that has any bearing on whether or not one is a Chowhound as much as one's openness to new and tasty experiences.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      "I try everything in its cultural setting, including warthog anus. I don't see AB on TV and then go out to buy and cook up a plate of anus. I wait until I'm with the Bushmen and then, if invited, try the anus."

                                      LMAO - Sam - I love it!

                                    2. Chain, chain, chain. Heard no comments on national chain restaurants. Chowhounding and chain restaurants are mutually exclusive. I don't understand why people go to them.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        I disagree completely. There are several chain items I love and while you don't get it, it doesn't make me less of a hound.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          I'm with Janet. Expressly ruling out chains is, to me, a lot like saying (without having tried) "I'll never eat [oysters, uni, pickled pigs' feet, whatever]" There have been plenty of threads on guilty (or not so guilty) pleasures. Sometimes you're ready to drive 100 miles to find the state's most obscure 'Q shack. Sometimes you just really feel like a Big Mac. Houndness is understanding the difference and knowing each can be appreciated in the right context. If given a choice, I probably won't eat at the chain, but sometimes, for whatever reason, you don't get the choice or can't find the "right" place because you're new in town, or whatever. At that point you have a choice to eat and enjoy what's available on its own terms, or to sit at that same place and grumble about how miserable it is to have to eat there.

                                          1. re: Gin n Tonic

                                            There's a huge difference between ruling out chains and ruling out unique foods prepared well. The threads on guilty pleasures are most definitely not chowish.

                                            People shouldn't feel guilty about eating at chains - it happens for any number of reasons. People just shouldn't feel proud of it. They shouldn't feel that it's on a par, in terms of a culinary experience, as eating at unique places. Most importantly, posting about it here, as if to relieve your guilt by sharing it, is nonsense. It is not in any way sharing valuable food information about a unique recipe or a unique dining experience.

                                            I allow for the possibility of a chain having food that is good enough to share here. But given that the same food is available right down the street, it really doesn't qualify as a unique discovery. Given that it was probably test marketed and focus-grouped to death before placing on the menu (thus assuring the widest acceptance - by definition, the lowest common denominator), it can't be thought of as a unique creative masterpiece from a great chef. And by creative masterpiece, I could be referring to street food as easily as haute cuisine.

                                            Being a chowhound is all about passion. I just don't see how you get passionate about chains or Kraft Mac'N Cheese.

                                          2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            Every now and then jfood love to have a cheese whopper, no onion, or a six-pack of slyders or some McD's FF's.

                                            And jfood drove 60 miles last saturday for a cheeseburger with fries at stop number 1 and a hot dog at stop number 2. Stop number 3 would have been some great mexica, but the line was enormous (went on monday instead).

                                          3. re: Passadumkeg

                                            I've read similar threads over on the Chains Forum. But to me it's not that cut and dried. IMO, most chains are for the food-challenged and I try to find a locally owned alternative to a chain, but sometimes ya just gotta have a double decker taco supreme or KFC's popcorn chicken. And Texas Roadhouse does do a nice steak.

                                          4. OP here... Yep, this got as varied of responses as I thought it might! I appreciate everyones view... I don't like labels either, basically I was seeking a view consensus here. I think I am on the same page as alanbarnes on this. His reply was most elequoent and spot on. I definitely don't consider a food an necessary evil - I plan my vacations around the restaurants I want to visit. I don't only go to "foodie" restaurants because it's hip to eat there.. and I have a long list of hole in the walls that I frequent just as much as any hi-end restaurant. I use Chowhound as a resource for finding out about the new places everyone is enjoying and look forward to trying them for that purpose. Some I like - Some not so much. A few restaurants in my city are "hated" by local hounds but I love it and still go all the time. So I am certainly not just going where the "Foodie crowd" says it's cool to go.

                                            Regarding the stuff that I won't eat... obviously I have eaten veins, gristle, fat and skin and they just gross me out. Sorry, the gag reflex is just on auto-pilot. Organs, perhaps if I tried them i would like them... I would agree with that statement.... maybe someday! - however it's never been offered to me at a dinner party etc and I'm never going to pay money to try something that I am probably not going to like - so as I said... maybe someday I'll get there.

                                            Thanks everyone for the imput!