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What food always catches your eye but that you (almost) never buy?

  • f

For me, this is broken down into two categories of foods that make me look and stare but that I ultimately walk away from:

Foods that bring back memories of childhood: circus peanuts, oreos, planter's cheeze balls (or Utz now in that big big container), ritz crackers, hot dogs, yahoo chocolate drink, kraft mac n cheese, stouffer's french bread pizza, frozen broccoli/corn in cheese/butter sauce (fwiw, my mom never allowed any of these so i thought of them as forbidden fruit).

Foods that I can't afford but want to eat: lobes of foie gras, veal cutlets, filet mignon, duck breasts, great wines.

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  1. Conch. I like conch, but I think I would screw it up if I tried to prepare it at home. Also yuca, for the same reason. Oh, and razor clams.

    12 Replies
    1. re: small h

      yucca is really easy to make. just peel it and cook it. they're like potatoes.

      1. re: fara

        There's something about that alligator-like skin that makes me nervous. But I'll give it a go.

        1. re: small h

          I'm so glad this thread was revived. I have, over the past year or so, bought and cooked conch, razor clams and yuca. I make yuca home fries pretty frequently, now. And I might make conch and razor clams again, although the conch was a bitch to clean, and the razor clams terrified me by waving their siphons around when I put them in salt water to soak.

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              There's something about putting your fears out there on the interwebs that inspires you to overcome them. And by you, I mean me.

              1. re: small h

                And me, too. I can't begin to enumerate the many things I've tried since following CH. But never conch. Of course, I've never seen it here.

            2. re: small h

              I'm curious as to where you bought conch, and in what form? Was it a 5 lb. frozen box from Turks & Caicos?

              1. re: Veggo

                I bought it fresh and out of the shell from these guys:


                at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. I think it was $5/lb.

                1. re: small h

                  I'm a bit confused; there must be types of snails or whelks that are also called conch. The queen conch I am familiar with does not live in that region.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    What I know about conch could fit in a thimble, but this recent article in the New York Times discusses lobster fishermen in Long Island Sound who have branched out into conch fishing. It does seem likely that "conch" is a catchall term for several species of sea snail.


                    1. re: small h

                      Thanks. That's unfortunate about the lobsters in LIS. I hope you are getting plenty of bluefish in season, and some swordfish. I have been away from the area for a long time.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        I see lots of bluefish on offer, swordfish not so much (and it's prohibitively expensive when it is available). I wish I had the opportunity to chat at length with the vendors about all things fish, but they're always very busy. Which is good, of course.

      2. Frozen crab legs, Nutella, really good steak, pre-made lobster bisque, any kind of cheese, deli salads, most of the bread in the bakery. I don't buy most of these for various reasons the biggest being calorie/fat conscious (with good reason).

        8 Replies
        1. re: melpy

          I am always looking at the Nutella too. Never ever bought it. But I always imagine buying it.

          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            Same for Nutella, I will buy it next time!!

            Frozen sardines, shrimps, smoked salmon, Crab. Duck.

            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              Haha! I am glad they revived this thread!

              I finally tried it. My imagination had lingered on it too long though. Once I tasted it I was sorta meh on it. I ended up tossing it because SOMEONE kept putting their saliva covered paws in it and when I got back around to wanting to use it to make nutella rice crispy treats it was growing something webby, green and scary.

            2. re: melpy

              I've never had Nutella, but it is one thing I keep passing up at the store, I'd love to try it.

              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                You should get some then!! I heard the italian one is better, anyone know where to get it in the GTA, I'd rather invest in it if it's available.

                1. re: BamiaWruz

                  Just bought some of the Italian product at Seafood Depot (up north of Steeles, off Weston Rd.). I haven't opened it yet for a comparison tasting but since I'd heard it was better than the domestic version and that it was hard to find, I picked it up.

                  Oh, right, and also because when we were recently in Paris, we had a phenomenal dessert with a killer sauce that the restaurant owner whispered was made of nothing but Nutella and vodka. I haven't tried it yet but I definitely will.

              2. re: melpy

                I just ate the remnants of my jar of Nutella with a spoon on Friday night while having a chocolate craving :-) So decadent & I must re-up on my next grocery shopping trip. I confess I've had the jar for a couple months hiding in the pantry so I could make it last longer...

                For me, I pass up lobster, prime rib, expensive cheese and ice cream & expensive chocolate (even though I'm a chocoholic, my purse has it's limits!) unless on sale...then I'll load up.

                I also pass up Wise Onion & Garlic chips, zero candy bars, frozen white castles, frozen Jamaican beef patties, frozen french fries; mostly because they don't taste the same as they did when I was a kid and frozen white castles & beef patties are just plain wrong!

                1. re: Cherylptw

                  If Jamaican beef patties are wrong... I don't wanna be right.

              3. +1 on the wine. i can't really drink it anymore, so i just torture myself by wandering up & down the wine aisles at TJ's, Costco & Whole Foods, ogling all the bottles i wish i could try.

                1. ice cream.

                  baked goods.


                  1. fish - I like it, but then I have to think how to cook it without the smell in the house. I really do want to and sometimes I do, but then I imagine myself in the kitchen either breading for frying strips, getting out the foil and baking, or pan frying then I fast forward to 'that after smell' and usually stop myself.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: smartie

                      I used to think the same thing, but cooking en papilotte does a lot to prevent the smell from escaping. Or you can use plenty of citrus to not only flavor your fish but send a much more pleasant aroma to escape your kitchen.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        another trick is to fill a pot with water and cinnamon sticks or powdered cinnamon, and simmer away. it fills the house with a lovely holiday baking smell. no fish :)

                        1. re: JungMann

                          I always cook en papilotte. Especialy when Im just cooking for one. Its a perfect "singles" meal and it really doesn't smell up the house like cooking on the stove top does.

                        2. re: smartie

                          We cook fish 3-4 times a week and never get a bad fish smell. If you're using good quality fresh fish, you really shouldn't have a problem with any smell from my experience.

                          1. re: Rick

                            you must live in a "magic house" similar to that of our dear departed Sam Fujisaka. it doesn't matter if the fish is so fresh it jumped out of the ocean and into the pan, it still throws off an aroma when you cook it. typically, the oilier the fish, the stronger the odor...a quick sear on lean shellfish like shrimp & scallops usually doesn't generate too much of a smell, but things like salmon & sardines will stink up the house. my mother has an incredibly severe seafood allergy, and i was never able to cook fish in the house - the second it hit the pan & generated fumes she'd have a reaction.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I live in a magic house. The only fish that stinks in my house is canned tuna.

                              Now liver permeates everything and the instant I smell it (no matter how many onions and bacon slabs get tossed in the mix) I actually gag. Not figuratively. I have to leave the house and my husband gets really mad at me for my high drama.

                          2. re: smartie

                            I third en papilotte. I live in a small condo, however I like en papilotte because it's amazingly moist and flavorful. I do a monkfish with squeezed blood orange, fresh ginger, garlic...yum. With that being said, I like blackened tuna and only cook when I can open the windows ans let fresh air in!!!

                          3. Avocados. I don't know why. They're right next to the tomatoes, piled high, going "make us into guacamole" but I never buy them.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MandalayVA

                              I'm with you on this one. I love avocados, but rarely buy them for home. It's funny, because a local place does a grilled chicken baguette with tomato and avocado and it's my fave, but every time I'm home and have cutlets, I have tomato, but always pass by them.

                            2. I bought a big, big container of those Utz cheese balls a couple of years ago for a beach trip. My sister and I (both in our forties) had contest - who could stuff the most balls in our mouth. I won at 14. :-P

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lynnlato

                                Cheese balls are the quintessential beach food in our family. When we were little my dad would throw them at the seagulls to terrorize my mother. My sister swears one bird ate so many you could see the outlines of the balls in his stomach.

                                1. re: melpy

                                  That's awesome! Ha! Sea gulls do love some processed cheese snacks. lol

                              2. Port ... Just wouldn't drink enough of it to justify the cost

                                Geoduck ... too much hassle to clean

                                Edible arrangements of fruit ... looks so nice, tastes so bad

                                Chocolate dipped strawberries ... (see above)

                                Danish pastries ... visually beautiful, but at most I can only take a bite or two, just too too too much butter for me.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Plus it's tradition to drink the entire bottle of Port when you open it. And who am I to buck tradition. I love Port.

                                2. Definitely certain cheeses - the cost prohibits me from getting it cuz' what if I don't like it? I hesitate about buying certain seafood - not sure if I'd mess it up. I also ponder over the deli items like olives.

                                  Rarely have an urge due to childhood memories - growing up everything was made at home. Store bought food was a very rare treat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                    if you have any sort of local cheese store near you, go in for a sampling to find out what you like and then you know what to buy when you feel like footing the bill :)

                                  2. Star fruit (aka Carambola). It's a cool looking fruit that smells fantastic, but I find it ultimately tasteless. I'll usually stare at it, pick it up, smell it and set it back down. Same goes for durian.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                                      Cheese Boy,

                                      Try letting the star fruit ripen a bit. You'll know they have ripened when their ribs turn a dark tan color (instead of the pale yellow when it's still unripe).

                                      A ripe starfruit, to me anyway, tastes like a "pina colada" on steroids -- the perfect mix of fruity pineapple, lemony tartness with the sweet aroma of pears.


                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Ipsedixit, I will TRY ripening the fruit a bit more. I still can't understand how a fruit that is so fragrant, be so tasteless. The flavor you described above reminds me a little of Gold Kiwis --> http://www.zesprikiwi.com/goldkiwi.htm . Wow are they good eatin'.

                                        I have three plantains ready to fry. I usually let those ripen about a week or more. I will experiment with the star fruit and *hopefully* finally get to enjoy some as it should be eaten. Thanks for the tip. I always select the more "darker gold" ones too, but I guess even those need more time to sweeten and develop some flavor. We shall see. Cheers.

                                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                                          My theory is that they're grown so far away from me that we don't get the good ones, like most out-of-season or grown-far-away produce.

                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                            I purchased two Carambola today, and the label on the fruit said "USA" as the country of origin. I had no idea they could be grown here in the states, but apparently they can. I've decided I'm going to allow them to ripen for a while, perhaps several days, so I can acquire a true appreciation for this fruit. Again, as always, they smell fantastic, so I am eagerly awaiting to sample them. We shall see.

                                            1. re: Cheese Boy

                                              Interesting! I'm guessing they may be grown in the southeast, like Texas and Florida.

                                              So I looked it up- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carambola

                                              Also grown in Hawaii.

                                    2. Shellfish. A bit beyond my budget, but I might splurge if I were a bit more confident. I'm happier letting others cook it for me, I think. Most of what I abstain from getting is due to budget constraints, though, not a lack of confidence.

                                      And marshmallow fluff. It calls to me every summer. If I let myself buy a jar of fluff, I will eat fluffer nutters for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until the whole jar is gone . . . which would save money, and then I could buy duck. Hmm.

                                      1. Those beautiful little bananas, not sure if they are plantains, but I want to cook with them but wouldn't know how or what.

                                        Malt balls those ones in the carton. A childhood love, I only buy them now when I make vanilla ice cream.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                          LOL- twice now I read your post and thought you said "meat balls" instead of "malt balls" and wondered why you only had them with vanilla ice cream.

                                        2. Count me in on the Nutella oglers. I'm on a small grocery budget, so I don't generally buy things I'm not absolutely sure about. Though if it ever ends up in a clearance bin I'll be all over it (it must be pretty popular though because I never see it in the markdowns.

                                          I always notice when crab legs go on sale, but they're still too expensive. I usually stop and ogle though.

                                          Heavy whipping cream is an indulgence I occasionally allow myself. Not for health reasons of course, but with a small budget I have to be picky about what I splurge on. Luckily it is not unusual to see some marked down in the quick sale area. I usually make whipped cream for the sake of sharing it, but every soooo often I will get a small container just for my coffee (instead of the usual whole milk). The difference between coffee with milk and coffee with cream is a difference between "good" and "oh my... forgive me this sin of absolute senseless gluttony and pleasure"

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Popkin

                                            I've never bought Nutella because unlike Giada, I really dislike hazelnuts in general.

                                            Always wanted to buy a can of Spotted Dick, mostly so I'd have the can. ;-) That's a kind of English pudding or cake, isn't it?

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              I did buy a can of spotted dick for a royal wedding viewing party back when Will and Kate got married. I wish I'd bought/made a custard sauce to go with it, but it was not terrible on it's own.

                                          2. I have a sweet tooth, so all the sweet stuff -- bakery, ice cream, chocolate, etc. I pass it up either because I know I shouldn't be eating it and have no willpower, so I'd end up eating the whole thing (Nutella, ice cream) or because I know it won't be nearly as good as it looks (supermarket bakery display).

                                            1. hummus. the whole thing will be gone in 2 minutes, the only remaining evidence a lingering feeling of guilt and remorse.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: janethepain

                                                could be worse...could be a half-gallon of ice cream!

                                                if you have a Costco membership, i've seen packages of single-serving containers of Tribe Hummus there...built-in portion control :)

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  That would be true if you have the will to stop yourself at one of those little containers. I seem to like to play this little game where I get to the end of the little hummus - but there I have 4 carrot sticks left that require hummus. So I clomp to the fridge, open little portion #2 of hummus, down it with my carrots, but I need more carrots to finish... and so it goes for the better part of the day until I make it all gone.

                                                  Then I have to find a place to stash the empties. Evidence tampering 101.

                                                  1. re: janethepain

                                                    Hummus is VERY easy to make at home:)

                                                    1. re: rHairing

                                                      Recipe? I hate store bought hummus. I only like the stuff you buy in restaurants. What do they do to make so mild and creamy. Yum!

                                                  2. Bakery stuff, especially chocolate dipped almond horns and bread. I just inhale when I pass them, take a single bite sample in the store if they're out, but never bring home.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      Pringles. I cannot stop at just a few.

                                                      And Hawaiian papayas because they are just so darn expensive! Love them, but rarely treat myself.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        Those huge, soft, white loaves of French bread! Mmmmmm. I always pass them by because I know I'll eat the entire loaf in one sitting.

                                                      2. It's always childhood (junk) food for me. Cocoa Krispies, Poptarts, Cheetos, pretzels, Drumsticks, chocolate pudding, Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: gator28

                                                          normally for me its the larger pieces of meat. whole poultry, larger roasts, briskets, pork shoulders... lately the one i keep picking up, making it halfway to my cart, and then putting it back is actually beef tongue.

                                                          i am normally deterred by scale. i live alone and dont know what i would do with the rest of a 2lb beef tongue after ive eaten about 6oz of it. leftovers are great but i would have to eat it pretty fast for at least some of the 2lbs not to go to waste!

                                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                                            LOL! My mom used to make tongue every so often, I really liked the taste, as long as it was thinly sliced so as not to feel like- well, tongue. I can't bring myself to buy them, although I stare at them and try to talk myself into buying and cooking them.

                                                        2. Lobster
                                                          Crab legs
                                                          A USDA prime standing rib roast
                                                          Dove Bars (dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream)- much easier not to buy than not to eat
                                                          Those huge, soft, white loaves of French bread (thanks, UTgal)
                                                          All those wild flavored vodkas ( well, some of them anyway)
                                                          Expensive tequila

                                                          1. Sage sausage. Looks awesome all the time, plump and juicy, but then I recall what it tastes like and leave it there. A bit too fatty for my taste. Sorry.

                                                            1. Those big-ass ostrich eggs in the produce department at Whole Frauds. They're just so beautiful to look at and I have no idea what I'd do with one. A one-egg omelette for twelve?

                                                              1. Cheese sauce in a jar.

                                                                Those grind-your-own Coffee displays with all the various roasted and flavored beans.

                                                                The energy drink aisle.

                                                                The baked goods "clearance" section.

                                                                1. It usually boils down to economics for me.

                                                                  I've looked longingly at $45 packages of smoked salmon; succulent, well-marbled steaks at $21 a pound; delectable cheeses that're priced like caviar; etc. -- pass 'em by unless I feel like going crazy!

                                                                  I also am lazy; that's why, no matter how delectable and plump the artichokes look, I usually don't buy.

                                                                  1. This thread makes me feel like I need to exercise more restraint with my purchases :)

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                      Totally feel ya'. I'm like why hold back? Then I see health, cost, ability.

                                                                      I keep thinking is there anything I wanted and haven't bought at least once? Sure I see things I want to make all the time but can't afford it or it's a little too much of a treat for a Tuesday night. But usually I eventually cave and get it just to try it out.

                                                                    2. Anything with grains (wheat, rice, etc.) or a significant amount of sugar.

                                                                      1. Fresh lump crabmeat at Costco's. I pass by it longingly, but never put a container in my cart. It's not that I can't afford it. It just seems like it's too expensive for how much you get. Of course, I think nothing of eating an expensive meal out.
                                                                        Go figure.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                          Noodlepoodle it's actually not a bad price - freshly picked blue crab (which is what this is) is about $5-6 dollars more in season when it's available. (I live in NC). Makes good crab cakes - I make smaller appetizer sized jalapeno crab cakes - delish - and a good shrimp and crab seafood casserole dish.

                                                                          Give it a try! You'd be surprised.

                                                                        2. Artichokes, the green globe type. I have a friend in the PNW who eats them every week, and is always after me to try them, but I never have, not leaf by leaf anyway. Not sure why. It seems like a lot of effort and a lot like eating a cross between a pine cone and something I'd grow in a terrarium. I know they're supposed to be delicious but I've always looked at them, picked them up, put them down. I love artichoke hearts though, go figure, I don't associate them with the leafy globes, for whatever reason.

                                                                          1. Foods that catch my eye...there are quite a few! I don't spend money on sweets...well...I lied. :) I buy ingredients to bake a cake, cookies, brownies, or pie once per month. We aren't big sweet eaters around here...at least my husband isn't. Since he isn't I realize that leaving a whole cake around my house will likely result in me eating most of it by myself, lol! So to reduce that risk I basically don't buy it.

                                                                            I always want oreos though. They are delicious and you can make so many things with them. I never buy them though and I think the last time I did was about 4 months ago.

                                                                            Something else that always catches my eye would be the really expensive cuts of steak. I am a very good cook (my husband gained 30lbs in about 5 months after I started cooking for him, lol) but I don't believe that I can cook steak like my Dad or husband does. It is tempting though! I just don't want to spend $30 on two really good steaks and then mess them up and make them taste like $3 steaks, lol!

                                                                            1. Fennel is what springs to mind for me. I love it, but the hubster hates it. It looks so lovely sitting there, but I pass it by.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                Funny you mention this, I have been looking to try fennel as it seems to get a lot of attention but have no idea what it's like. I wonder if I'll fall in your arena or hubster's.

                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                  It's the anise flavor that he dislikes. If you roast it, it mellows out. I like it in salads, and might make this tonight since he's away.

                                                                                2. re: alliegator

                                                                                  I make fennel, sausage and brioche stuffing for Thanksgiving. The fennel mellows because it roasts in the oven and the brioche and sausage also help to balance out the anise flavor.