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Living with a non-chowhound.

t
The Cats Other Mother Sep 9, 2009 01:38 PM

My husband is one of those people who mainly eats for fuel, rather than enjoyment. He claims not to have much of a sense of taste, unless things are very spicy, which is not to say he particularly wants spicy food. He doesn't care that much what he eats. He has said that if they made Human Chow, he'd live on that. As someone who is totally enamored of food, I find this baffling, and sometimes discouraging, especially when it comes to cooking. I just sometimes wish I had someone to feed who would appreciate it.

Anybody else cooking mostly for themselves?

  1. Paulustrious Sep 16, 2009 05:44 AM

    Living with a a non-chowhound? That must be so easy. I am surrounded by them. And they are all Italian. Scads of them. As immigrants to Canada in the 1960s and 70s they were frozen in culinary time. Mainly Sicilians, but throw in a few Abruzzis, Calabrians and Basilisks (my name for those from Basilicata). Like many escapees from the grinding poverty of post war Italy they sought new lives in America, Canada, South America. They formed colonies in many large cities, most of which went by the name Little Italy. For many of these emigrants their language, culture and cuisine were frozen in historic time. They grew up embedded in their own peoples - with Italian shops, communities and cafes. As these pioneers have passed through parent and grandparenthood, the culture has dissipated, leaving them as refugee anachronisms, frozen in time and space, still basing their lives on a country that no longer exists.

    I have acquired an extended famile that speaks little English after 40 years. Worse than that, their idea of food is frozen. You might think "Ah, Italian! At least that gives us something to work with". You would be wrong. One advantage - they like food, but I have the same freedom of choice as a train. I must cook between the tracks and watch the scenic foodscape flash by.

    To the victualler goes the toils.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Paulustrious
      Cheflambo Sep 16, 2009 11:40 AM

      Just because you live with a non-foodie doesn't mean you have to deny yourself culinary pleasures. Its up to you what YOU want to eat. I also live with someone who, although willing to eat almost anything, isnt as enthusiastic about seeking out the new and different the way I am. We're both mature adults, content with the notion that sometimes I will go out alone to experience a new restaurant or culinary event, and he will be happy with leftovers and the Discovery Channel. Neither of us would allow the other to keep them from enjoying these things. Reading upthread, I am amused by the notion of asking him to "rate" what's on his plate. I don't think that would would work at our house. But if he wants something a certain way (more of this or less of that) he's not shy about tell me.

      And you shouldn't be shocked that just because someone is a certain nationality, they don't care for the finer foods their heritage is famous for. Not all Texans like barbecue; not all Asians like sushi; and a disproportionate number of Americans (of all nationalities) just want burgers and fries. Its sad but true.

      1. re: Cheflambo
        t
        tonina_mdc Sep 16, 2009 12:15 PM

        It's not as though I'm trying to totally regiment any food experience my husband has. I set up the rating system because we're busy and quite poor, so neither of us usually has the luxury of buying something completely different if what I've made for dinner is unappealing to one of us. For a long time, it was really hard to get my husband to give me any specific feedback on what he liked or didn't like - for a couple of years, I couldn't even get him to admit he disliked something! I would instead find out when the leftovers sat untouched in the fridge and I was forced to use more food and time to try something else. Our food budget was (and is!) very tight, so that was not a workable situation. The rating system not only works for us, it has led my husband to become more aware of and interested in the effects of different spices and other ingredients on a given recipe as a whole. Perhaps it sounds a little odd to others, but to us it has always seemed a fairly mature way to handle our time and monetary constraints when it comes to food.

        1. re: tonina_mdc
          n
          Normandie Sep 17, 2009 09:11 PM

          I think you figured out a very smart way to deal with your particular situation. It was critical to you when you came up with it, because of budgetary issues, but even if we have all the money in the world to spend on food, it seems wrong to throw away food when so many people in the world don't have enough, whether they have money to buy it or not. In some places, a healthful, varied, nutritious supply just doesn't exist, for money or love.

          You and hubby found a way to discuss it without arguing or hurt feelings, and as you say, it opened his mind up to other food experiences. So I say, "Good for you, tonina". A creative way to resolve and, even better yet, avoid conflict over something that should be nourishing and pleasurable.

    2. j
      junnefah Sep 10, 2009 12:04 PM

      Longtime lurker. Your post compelled me to create a user account and post. =)

      I was in a similar situation. I love to cook and it pained me to run around the kitchen like a mad woman trying to plate fried food while it was hot and crispy only to have ex leave it sitting around for hours until he was hungry. It took a long time before I stopped caring what he thought about my cooking. He once asked me to stop watching him eat...he didn't realize that all I wanted was a 'yum!' from him. He also refused to eat anything with bones. That included fried chicken. Love your comment about Human Chow. Ex used to say that someone should invent a pill that replaces food.

      I sympathize with you.

      21 Replies
      1. re: junnefah
        t
        The Cats Other Mother Sep 10, 2009 12:58 PM

        Hi Junnefah. Boy, that sounds familiar. I always try to ask whether or not he's hungry and if what I'm making sounds good to him. Usually he shrugs and says 'I guess' or 'Whatever you want to do'. And he doesn't like desserts! I was in the library this morning, looking at a book of really cute and creative cupcakes. I'd love to try some of these, but I'd wind up eating all of them myself, or throwing them away. Sigh.

        1. re: The Cats Other Mother
          c
          charmedgirl Sep 11, 2009 06:42 AM

          Feel free to box those cupcakes up and mail them to me. :-)

          1. re: charmedgirl
            n
            Normandie Sep 11, 2009 10:39 AM

            No, me! :-D

          2. re: The Cats Other Mother
            n
            Normandie Sep 11, 2009 10:39 AM

            Hi, Cats. I'm not exactly in your boat. DH seems to be happy with my cooking, but he's not a foodie. He doesn't know much about food other than the limited cuisine with which he grew up. I think he misses his mother's cooking (excellent but limited in range), but OTOH appreciates that he now gets much more variety. I get positive feedback in the sense that he scarfs it down, but he doesn't always remember to give his verbal compliments to the "chef". ;-) To be fair, sometimes he does, but in my opinion, not often enough! (LOL) When I ask him if he liked something, he says, "Didya see me eat it? I like everything you make!"

            You know, I'm not really sure whether *that* is reassuring. Everybody who cooks often enough has either an outright disaster or even something merely lackluster now and then. He doesn't really notice them. Makes me wonder how he can notice when something happens to turn out especially well. ;-)

            I just wanted to tell you that *you're* important enough to appreciate your own food. It certainly is a motivator when we get positive responses from someone we cook for, but if that's not who he is, and you love to cook and it makes you happy, then you'll just have to keep giving yourself positive feedback. And the good thing about a site like this is that you can share your successes with so many people who do appreciate food in the way you do. I love to scan the homecooking board for posts from people who just had something turn out really well and therefore post their recipes.

            As for those cupcakes you'd like to try, I don't know whether you're in a small town, but if you are, you may have a volunteer fire department, like we do. I'd bet they'd love to have a citizen drop in with a big plate of special treats to thank them. I used to live in a really tiny village where townspeople would drop off cookies, etc., for the three ladies at our little post office and they in turn would share the left-overs with patrons who came in. Or maybe your local food bank would put them out on a table so clients can share them when they come in to pick up food. I'd bet it's very rarely than their clients get something really nice like that. Or think about it and you may have some other organization that does good works for your town. I understand your hubby may not be in to them, but if you have that creative urge, no reason to hide your light under a bushel.

            1. re: Normandie
              t
              The Cats Other Mother Sep 11, 2009 06:54 PM

              Thanks for the suggestion! I whipped up a batch of 30 lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting. My attempt to frost prettily wasn't as successful as I would have liked, so I decorated with gummi slices, and I am going to run them down to my animal hospital for the staff. I have six cats, and they've been fantastic about helping me keep them healthy without breaking my budget. The next attempt will go to the people who spay and neuter rescues.

              1. re: The Cats Other Mother
                e
                egging Sep 11, 2009 07:24 PM

                That is awesome! I bet it means a lot to the staff/volunteers, and it's nice that you get to share your passion with others.

                1. re: The Cats Other Mother
                  n
                  Normandie Sep 11, 2009 08:20 PM

                  Oh, that's an outstanding idea! I should be ashamed for not thinking of it, because the entire staff at my vet's, from docs down to receptionists, have been my angels, for years, in part for the reason you mention (two dogs and a cat here). Another GREAT idea re the rescue tenders, too, Cats. They and the rescuers themselves see a lot of heartbreak. I *know* they will appreciate that you appreciate them enough to make some goodies just for them.

                  And I'm enjoying it all, vicariously, LOL. Lemon buttercream?! Yum. I want to roll around in a big batch of it.

                  Let us know how the deliveries go. I think it's wonderful that you're doing this.

                  1. re: Normandie
                    t
                    The Cats Other Mother Sep 12, 2009 11:07 AM

                    Well, I went by this morning at opening time, and as usual, they were already slammed. I managed to catch my vet at the reception desk, and her face lit up when she saw my tray of goodies. She told me "I think you're my new favorite person". Happiness spread. I am thinking muffins or cookies for the rescue people, though. Busy, busy people, scads of flying pet fur and gooey frosting might not be the most compatible match!

                    1. re: The Cats Other Mother
                      n
                      Normandie Sep 12, 2009 06:59 PM

                      LOL re the fur. I'd wager everybody there is willing to put up with the mess in exchange for the treats (can you tell I love frosting?)...but cookies and muffins brighten people's days, too. :-)

                      "Happiness spread." That's so nice. I know the fundamental point of food is nourishment, but once that's addressed, isn't spreading happiness (to our "consumers" and to us, the cooks) one of the reasons we put love into preparing food? (That and creative satisfaction.) You did a good deed today AND you found out that what you love to do so much IS appreciated. Sounds like a win-win to me, don't you think, Cats?

                      I hope you'll post some updates when you do this again.

                      1. re: The Cats Other Mother
                        t
                        tonina_mdc Sep 14, 2009 11:01 AM

                        Taking the cupcakes to your vet's office was a really sweet thought (if you'll excuse the obvious pun!) I can recommend another group of people who will happily eat any treats you'd like to send their way: the staff of your local newspaper! I live in a small town, and between us, my husband and I have worked at five papers of varying sizes within an hour's drive of here. Journalists work long hours, often for absolutely awful pay, and they spend most of their time being yelled at for various reasons. Trust me, if you take goodies in to the editorial staff of your local paper, you'll have friends for life! I send a batch of some type of dessert up with my husband every Friday night, since those are long, tough nights during the football and basketball seasons, and whatever I send usually disappears within an hour.

                    2. re: The Cats Other Mother
                      c
                      charmedgirl Sep 12, 2009 06:30 AM

                      What a teriffic idea! I'm so glad you thought of it and got to make your cupcakes. It's a perfect resolution.

                      Almost as perfect as mailing them to me. ;-)

                      1. re: charmedgirl
                        n
                        Normandie Sep 12, 2009 07:00 PM

                        Ahaha, charmedgirl! Stop trying to steal those lemony, frosted cupcakes that are clearly destined to be sent to *my* house! ;-)

                    3. re: Normandie
                      t
                      tonina_mdc Sep 14, 2009 11:21 AM

                      I was in a similar situation, Normandie: it used to be that my husband would eat happily but didn't really notice a difference between good and bad food. When he was a kid his parents never cooked, so he basically grew up eating the worst prepackaged junk imaginable. Getting real feedback out of him was impossible for quite a while; all he would say were things like, "That was good, honey!" and "Yummy as always!" A couple of years ago, I had him start rating the food I made on a 1 to 10 scale. After he got used to that idea, I started walking him through questions about what he thought of the spices, food texture, etc. Now I get responses that are a lot more useful out of him AND I know more about his tastes, because he asks for changes (for instance, he usually asks for an increase in cinnamon because he's a total cinnamon freak). It's actually a pretty good system.

                      1. re: tonina_mdc
                        c
                        Claudette Sep 14, 2009 11:38 AM

                        What a great idea, tonina! But my hubby wouldn't cooperate when I tried it - he said it's too much work just for food. (He was raised on canned almonds and cheese slices by a mom who hated to cook.) He chooses restaurants based on atmosphere and service, not food, and when I cook at home, he won't eat meat or fish that look like meat or fish (heads, tails, pink, etc.: they have to be white, square and not look, smell, nor taste like animals). Similar to Styrofoam. Sigh...

                        1. re: Claudette
                          t
                          tonina_mdc Sep 14, 2009 02:14 PM

                          Yarrrggghh! I feel your pain, Claudette. In a weird way, I was helped by a near-deadly car accident my husband had six years ago. Before then, he absolutely would not try any new foods. We still aren't sure how he managed to survive his accident, but afterward he realized he was missing out by not trying new things, including different foods and cooking styles. Once he reached that realization, it became a lot easier to get him involved in trying and evaluating new recipes.

                        2. re: tonina_mdc
                          BamiaWruz Sep 14, 2009 02:42 PM

                          Tonina, I do that too!! In fact I've written out mini surveys and send them off to work so he has something to do.
                          I never get straight answers when he's infront of me and he's usually very bored at work so he finds them entertaining. Then he's gotta bring them back of course.

                          The entire situation can be stressful, glad to hear about the little positive things from everyone's posts.

                          1. re: BamiaWruz
                            t
                            tonina_mdc Sep 14, 2009 02:51 PM

                            HAHAHAHAHA! That's great - now I can tell my husband I'm not the only person who grills her spouse for opinions, suggestions, and a rating! It can be a challenge to live with someone who doesn't have a deep appreciation of food, but sometimes it gives you cool opportunities too. For instance, I think my husband could have had a real love for food if he'd been raised under better conditions. It's cool to watch some of the interest finally unfold.

                            1. re: tonina_mdc
                              BamiaWruz Sep 14, 2009 03:28 PM

                              Very true, I believe that too. Although it's odd how my siblings are very unadventurous eaters yet we all grew up in the same household - myself willing to try almost anything so for my SO's upbringing it could have gone either way anyway.

                              There are times when I'm grilling my SO too and sometimes listening to myself just drives me nuts because he either thinks I'm seriously nuts or making a big deal out of food which just shouldn't be. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not crazy - which is one reason I'm on chowhound of course ;)

                            2. re: BamiaWruz
                              n
                              Normandie Sep 17, 2009 09:05 PM

                              That's so interesting, to hear that you and tonina have the same problem. I thought it was just DH, for some reason.

                              I know some guys don't like to discuss and analyze things ad nauseum, but what's so intimidating to a few of them, or challenging in whatever way it is, to discuss food? And really, I don't think we want them to write dissertations on our meat loaf, right? We just want to know what they especially like.

                              (Note: Apologizing in advance to our male CHers. I know it's not all men. and I don't mean to imply that it is. Just trying to figure out if my hubby's not telling me when he doesn't like something, so I can make something he'd enjoy more.)

                            3. re: tonina_mdc
                              n
                              Normandie Sep 17, 2009 09:00 PM

                              Now, that's a pretty good idea there, tonina! I don't know whether it will work with my husband or not, but it's worth a try. I do have slightly better luck getting info out of him when I ask specific questions (e.g., "Did you like *that* spice on the chicken?"), but I say "slightly" because that doesn't always work, either. Maybe a pilot program using your system is the next step.

                              Or I could just withhold food. Ahaha, then he'll probably comply, like, yesterday. :-)

                              So I'm curious. After you instituted the numerical ratings, did you discover that something(s) you'd been making and thought he liked really wasn't (weren't) to his liking, after all?

                          2. re: The Cats Other Mother
                            l
                            lil magill Dec 6, 2009 02:10 PM

                            i'm with charmedgirl! you can cook for me. i could cook for you too!! i ain't got no man not eatin my food right now...the onliest thing bad as cookin' for a man who don't taste food is cookin for yo'self! makes me not taste my food neither. got a little howlin' wolf going on in the earbuds right now! and i'll take some of your chicken livers to go too. bill my amex.

                        3. goodhealthgourmet Sep 9, 2009 02:01 PM

                          you're definitely not alone. in fact, this topic has come up before vis-à-vis cooking for, and dining with non-CH SO's, friends and family...
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/289529
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451842
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/287814
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/317488
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/287699
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/356632
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/418496
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540697
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/406609

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            t
                            The Cats Other Mother Sep 9, 2009 07:52 PM

                            Heh. It looks like I haven't quite got that search dealie figured out... But thanks for all the links. Nice to know I'm not the only one!

                            1. re: The Cats Other Mother
                              goodhealthgourmet Sep 9, 2009 08:12 PM

                              happy to help...i've been dubbed "search queen" by some of our fellow Chowhounds ;)

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                Paulustrious Sep 10, 2009 08:02 AM

                                'research queen' actually.

                                1. re: Paulustrious
                                  LindaWhit Sep 10, 2009 01:23 PM

                                  Either way, ghg is particularly adept at finding past threads on CH. :-)

                              2. re: The Cats Other Mother
                                danhole Sep 16, 2009 02:07 AM

                                Here is another one:

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/381064

                                I am married to a VERY picky eater who also would be happy eating Human Chow. But over the years we have made some progress. Still. if I want something extra special, I go eat with a friend!

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