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Eating Good Food Alone vs Eating Blah Food With Others

Reading "Eat my Globe" left me with a very uneasy feeling (I wrote a short review in the food media section of this site). Though not in every situation where this conundrum came up, the author generally preferred to go off on his own to find great culinary finds rather than eat mediocre food in social situations.

To be fair, I know the feeling of dread when you're about to enter a restaurant where you know the meal at best will be "eh". Also, the author obviously was on a mission to "eat his globe" and it would not serve his purpose to always eat where others want to eat. However, it really left me with an uneasy feeling because to me, it sends a very bad message that giving into your desire for good food should trump almost everything else.

All of us on chowhound obviously love good food. However, my question is: at what expense when it comes to socializing? Personally, as I always can find a time at least once a week to go off on my own, I would almost always pick spending time with my friends/loved ones over a culinary adventure. (My friends are willing to try new and interesting places- but my family- it's always diners and bad italian food. And I'm ok with that because while I love good food, I do not believe that it is the bane of my existence:}.)

What is your take on this?

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  1. I'd draw the line at Bad food...but if it's "eh" food with good company vs. good food alone, I'll take "eh".

    Being with people I care about trumps anything else. As I will drop whatever movie I happen to be watching at home when a good friend or family member calls, so will I choose to be with good friends or loved ones over dining alone.

    No day holds a guarantee of the next one...every moment is precious.
    Of course, If I can get my friends and family to share what foods I love (whether at a restaurant or what I prepare for them) so much the better!

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcsheridan

      I agree with mc. The-company-you-keep will not make bad food good, but it can certainly make "ok" food enjoyable. At least the entire length of the meal won't be spent contemplating and magnifying the food's every shortcoming - hopefully anyway.

      Good food, good company = best of it all! Especially when the "company" is the sharing type.

      1. re: mcsheridan

        Yesssss! Nicely said, mcsheridan.

        Last night we ate "OK" Mexican food with good friends. The company trumped the food and that was fine with us. Further, some of my closest friends are not nearly as food-obsessed as I am and the times we've spent together are some of the best of our lives--and have nothing special to do with food at all.

      2. I think it depends on the situation. I think there are two factors at play- whether it's worth the time with your friends and whether it's worth the money.

        With friends I rarely see, I will usually suck it up and go to the restaurant I hate, as long as it is not out of my price range. I think other issues come into play when you end up at a bad expensive restaurant not able to eat much of anything because you can't really afford it. I think that also says something about those friends, who should not be picking places their other friends cannot comfortably afford.

        With friends I see fairly regularly, I have no problem saying no to eating at a place I don't like. I figure there will be another time in the near future and there's no reason to say yes to every outing when I know some places I'll like and some places I won't like. Typically in that kind of group, people tend to pick and choose whether to attend based on whether they are interested in the place.

        1. Hi,

          Although I generally view dining out to be as much of a social occasion as a reason to eat good food, it really depends on the particular situation, how much bad food I'd put up with.

          I used to be the type that would just "go along" with the group. However, during a trip to NYC a few years ago, I was standing with my friends in Times Square around lunchtime. We were trying to decide where to go eat, when they all saw the Olive Garden sign and decided they wanted to go there for lunch.

          I just couldn't bring myself to eat at an Olive Garden in the middle of one of the best food cities in the world. So I told them I'd meet them back in an hour. Ever since then, I'm very careful who I travel with. If I am on vacation with someone else, and they want to go to some cruddy chain place, I'll go eat on my own.

          If I'm at home, I am more willing to put up with the bad food, because I know I can always get the good food on my own at another time.

          1. Welllll........
            I want it all! If possible- just hunt down a killer burger or something later. But then, I can usually persuade things into going my way. I'm a Leo. We've got it like that...
            :o)
            (also I'm not a 5 Star foodie- I like diners, street food and eating off wax paper on a bench as much (or more) as a scmancy sit down meal)

            1. Interesting question! Me? I LOVE eating with a bunch of friends. Great restaurant, big table, great (silent) service. But….

              If one of them is going to go all squeamish and make remarks while I eat my snails, s/he has to spend the first course alone in the restroom.

              If someone is the kind who reaches over without so much as a by-your-leave to taste MY food, that person is going to go home with fork piercings on their hand.

              If one of them spends every restaurant meal telling us how much better the food was the last place they ate, that person is not allowed to talk during dinner.

              If a couple can’t afford a baby sitter, they can’t come!

              If someone gets drunk and rowdy as the meal progresses, they can only come if they’re on the wagon.

              If someone takes phone calls during dinner, they have to leave their cell with the hostess and pick it up on the way out.

              If someone cuts up all of their food before they begin eating, they’d better have one arm in a sling.

              Annnnnddd… If someone talks with a mouth full of food or chews with their mouth open, they have to stay home!!!

              Other than that, I love eating with a bunch of friends. But there’s nothing wrong with dining alone either. In a truly great restaurant, of course ‘-)

              1. Recently jfood sat through a wonderful meal in which he received the wrong appetizer, sent back; received the correct appetizer, inedible; was told when the others received their entrees that the kitchen ran out of his choice, urrrgh; received a subsitute entree that was inedible and he pushed the food around while the others finished. Dinner was PBJ when he and mrs jfood arrived at home.

                Why was it wonderful? The others at the table were good friends and they brought a friend from overseas and the conversation was delightful.

                Jfood has very few rules when dining with friends. If you have a comment on the food, please make it, if others diagree, please discuss; would like to try something from jfood's plate, just ask, not a problem; need to take a quick call, hey we're all adults and fairly loose on imposing stupid rules on friends, cut your meal before starting, major shrug, compare the food to other restaurants, love to learn about good food.

                Major rule is no babies, watch to make sure the kitchen does not include any of the foods for the allergy-folks, and when someone has a bit too much to drink the others merely help that person modulate the volume.

                After rasising two wonderful daughters, jfood's MO is to live and enjoy, not impose.

                1 Reply
                1. I've eaten the globe more than the author, so offer the following: eating with people from the country visited and the social situation trump all else. This is not a bad thing because in good food countries, everyone seems to eat good food. I then spend any free time meals trying street and market and roadside foods, even if I end up eating small amounts throughout the day. Now and then I'll end up somewhere with some other ousider(s), either at a conference or working as a technical team. In such cases, some of the time its eat with colleagues or the team; and other times its off to hunt down the food. But friends and colleagues have learned to trust me and to let me take them where they might not otherwise have ventured. In other words, its not "either or" although people do come first.

                  1. Eating with loved ones, blah food OK. Who cares if I'm sitting next to my grandson. Eating with acquaintances, no real connection, blah food--eat fast, get out;
                    Eathing with acqiuaintances,good food--eat each bite, concentrate on it, neglect converstaion

                    Eating alone with blah food--ick
                    Eating alone with great food--why don't I have anyone to share this with?