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Mar 13, 2011 01:53 PM

Regional foodways you dislike?

Are there any particular food ways (not trends, just regional ways of doing things) that you don't like about your area? Here in Massachusetts, it seems that everyone who serves coffee MUST serve it with half and half, which has a flavor and mouthfeel I detest, rather than milk. And if someone is offering both coffee and tea, they still trot out the half-and-half, which totally overpowers the tea.

I'm also picky about pizza. I can't stand Chicago pizza, which seems to have all the toppings under the cheese. And in St Louis, where a friend of mine lived for several years, pizzas were made with a processed cheese called provel, instead of mozzarella. If you wanted the real thing, you had to request it.

Obviously, there's no right or wrong here, just preference. Anything you dislike about the way restaurants or people in your area make certain dishes?

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  1. Just a mild caution here about Provel. It is the real thing to a lot of St. Louisans! (Not so much to me, but to many others)

    Home barbeque in StL is likely to be pork steaks, which I understand is a foreign concept anywhere else. And the sauce is likely to be red and sweet.

    14 Replies
    1. re: sueatmo

      Good thing I'm a native because I LOVE provel and I LOVE pork steaks (slathered in Maull's, of course.) Good stuff.

      1. re: sueatmo

        That's why I said there was no right or wrong WRT food. It's perfectly okay to hate something someone else likes, and vice versa.

        1. re: Isolda

          people always hating on the provel...

          but Maull's? I'd rather make my own, ok how about a Not About Food thread on regional food brands that advertise and if you never hear that damn jingle ever again you'll die happy?

          1. re: hill food

            I make my own for pulled pork, but pork steaks require Maull's. It's one of the few products with HFCS that I knowingly, willingly and happily consume.

            1. re: hill food

              Wait, I'm part of a club? I thought I was the only one! ;)

              1. re: Isolda


                actually I sorta like the stuff just hated the ad.

          2. re: sueatmo

            And your pal must have lived here a good while ago or just gone to certain pizza spots. More places use mozz, or even other cheeses. But you can still like provel as well as other cheeses. I never understand why it's become an either/or thing. Where was she on gooey butter cake?

            1. re: lemons

              I don't know why the provel thing has gotten to be such a touchstone for local pizza. Didn't it start with just one chain using it? Beats me.

              However, I have given the original post some more thought, and I've decided I don't like most Hill style Italian food. We've taken out of towners to the Hill from time to time and I've personally been a bit embarrassed about what we were given to eat. I also ate a few years ago at a popular Hill pasta place, and I was actually offended at the sloppy presentation of the dish. Where I live a Hill restaurant has opened an outpost, and after 2 tries, we will never go back. Food mediocre, and service bad.

              I understand the idea of the sweet tomato sauce and the butter in the dish and all, but I realize I don't like it.

              1. re: sueatmo

                There are two places on the Hill I like (I'm leaving Modesto out; it may be on the hill, but it surely isn't "of the Hill"). Gian-Tony's for trad, and Lorenzo's for modern Italian. Beyond that, you're on yr own.

                1. re: lemons

                  GT's is the one with the bocce court right? good pizza (and yes not provel)

                  1. re: hill food

                    Gosh, no, it's catty-cornered from Berra Park. You're thinking of Milo's I believe. Let me see if I can set up a link for Gian-Tony's.

                    1. re: lemons

                      And I did over in Great Plains; you can't do it in these categories.

                      1. re: lemons

                        really? it's been a while, but I could swear a place on a corner near Amigh$^%'s with a bocce court out back had either 2 guys names are a single hyphenated one.

                        I need to get out more.

                  2. re: lemons

                    I've had Lorenzo's recommended to me. If I need a place to take special visitors, we can try that. In the meantime, I've gone low carb.

            2. Northeastern/New York, also called Red Sauce Italian. For a cuisine whose admirers profess near-cultic devotion, I find it remarkably bland, unrefined and stalled by its undeserved self-regard. While regional Italian cuisine elevates flavors with herbs, produce and temperate drizzles of oils and sauces, Red Sauce seems to club it with grease, the suggestion of some dried herbs and a ladle of bland "gravy."

              Sicily is a pan-Mediterranean array of interesting flavors and nuance. Meanwhile New York's Little Italy has become a pantheon of excess: oil-soaked sponge bakes masquerading as eggplant parmesan, mountains of spaghetti and meatballs beneath a snowcap of parmesan blizzards and veal cutlets whose only seasoning is a thick coat of partially-cooked flour and tinny gravy.

              4 Replies
              1. re: JungMann

                I think Red Sauce is all across America.

                1. re: bbqboy

                  I've encountered less red sauce in Italian-American families outside the Northeast, but I see your point. There are definitely plenty of restaurants attempting to capture a red sauce ideal, but part of their mythology seems to be centered around New York Italian cooking.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    Well sure, that is the model for most checked tablecloth type places where there is no or little Italian-American presence.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      You're correct. Red sauce Italian is one of the frequent sources of heartsick nostalgia by Northern transplants on the South board, who generally feel, no doubt correctly, that the region is lacking in good examples of the style. And speaking as a native Southerner, while red sauce exists down here, it is not something that really arouses the passions of natives.

                2. Lots of people equate rich, oily mouth-feel with comfort. Warm, soft, gooey, savory and just a little bland are all good. Sharp, chewy, crunchy, or anything new and/or unexpected = bad. When I was a child in the Midwest, "spaghetti" was well-cooked pasta (nobody EVER called it that!) smothered in canned cheese and canned meat sauce; I joke that to a Midwesterner "al dente" is an Italian phrase meaning "noodles ain't done yet", but it was certainly true in our family. I even preferred my spaghetti leftover and re-heated, a savory paste on my tongue. I'd sneak some onto my bread and butter to make a rich, gooey sandwich … It's a wonder any of us had any teeth, we used them so seldom!

                  I've outgrown most of that, but I still retain my prejudices in favor of cream over milk, and wonder why anyone would NOT prefer a pizza's toppings to be under the cheese, given any choice in the matter. And as for the original question, I don't have an answer. I'm trying as many different ones as I can, and haven't found a bad one yet. And at 70 I could be running out of time ;-)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    This must be a matter of upbringing. I can't stand the taste of cream or half and half in coffee because I grew up with whole milk. (I don't love low fat milk, either). And I grew up with pizza that had toppings on top (so they'd cook and get all crispy.)

                    1. re: Isolda

                      "I can't stand the taste of cream or half and half in coffee because I grew up with whole milk." Okay, that sounds like a contradiction to me. I grew up with whole milk, which is why I DO love cream and half-and-half. Until around the time I got to my teens, we could buy pasteurized, non-homogenized milk, which we preferred partly because you could taste the cream better (and Mom liked it because when it soured you could still use it). In fact, we used to fight over who'd get the first glass, because no matter how well you shook it up that first glassful would have more cream than any of the others.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        As a kid I gagged on the cream that rose to the top of non-homogenized (home pasteurized) milk. I had the same problem with the skin that forms on hot chocolate, and the stringiness of some varieties of squash. Most of my dislikes were based on textures.

                    2. re: Will Owen

                      "Al dente" is not just the midwest. My grandmother (raised in WA & Japan) follows the same technique. We refer to the concoction as pasta soup ... may as well cook the noodles in the sauce.

                      Of course, she also makes potato salad by tossing the raw potatoes, onions and eggs all in one pot, to boil for what seems like hours before tossing with miracle whip, relish and yellow mustard if she's feeling adventurous. And then she has the audacity to get offended because my grandfather (and the rest of us) reach for the salt.

                    3. I live in Chicago, but really dislike Chicago pizza (it's really some sort of awkward pizza casserole). Of course, when my friends from back home come to visit me, they have to try to pizza, so I eat it more often than I care to.

                      I really can't complain about food in Chicago (there's amazing stuff to be had here), but I will say that it's generally less flavorful than the stuff I grew up on in California. I'm sure part of that is due to the amazing local produce we have in Southern California, but part of it does seem to be a regional difference in palate. I won't go so far as to say "bland," but I will say that, in many places, the seasoning isn't inspired.

                      On the flip side, the L.A. suburbs are filled with thousands of identical shopping centers with the same chain restaurants. It didn't matter that there were amazing local places to go to, many of my friends were perfectly happy spending night after night at the Olive Garden.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: caseyjo

                        oh Casey, isn't there some kind of law? I think there is up North in Alameda county.

                        1. re: caseyjo

                          I'm originally from Chicago and I couldn't agree more about deep dish pizza. It's so heavy and dense I feel gross after only one piece. And that buttery crust is way too rich. But, like you said, whenever anyone would visit they had to have deep dish.

                          I also like ketchup on my hot dog. Sorry about it.

                          1. re: theuninvitedguest

                            Oh yes, the butter crust. I've learned to just not take people to restaurants that offer it, because when they see it they have to have it. I always just order a salad and eat part of one "slice" (if you can call it that).

                            I do like the Chicago style hot dog though; definitely don't miss the ketchup!

                            1. re: theuninvitedguest

                              "And that buttery crust is way too rich." And some of us do not recognize "too rich" as a valid category!

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Perhaps, but buttery anything doesn't belong in pizza crusts. Should be olive oyl.

                                1. re: lagatta

                                  Okay, that's another one of those "authenticity" arguments of the kind that always starts when someone mentions barbecue. I'd never use butter in a pizza crust myself, but if someone fed me one I would not complain. If one finds that something tastes good, then one should just go ahead and eat it. If not, don't.

                            1. re: James Cristinian

                              You don't like bbq sauce, or you don't like it applied during smoking?

                              1. re: bbqboy

                                I love sauce in small amounts after the cooking, but I prefer to let the flavor of the meat stand on it's own, with just a little salt, pepper, and paprika applied as a rub. Long low and slow smoking is the way to go.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  true story. Sauce is best put in a pool on the plate and used for dipping the meat and fries.

                                2. re: bbqboy

                                  Dry rubbed only for me, don't try to cover it up. Not meant to start a flame, only just saying what I like.

                                  1. re: Quine

                                    bbq means too many things to get in a knot over, every region has its own merits. just don't ask me to make somebody else's but I'll eat yours with gratitude and offer you some of mine.

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Which I would enjoy with gratitude. TY.

                                    2. re: Quine

                                      agree with dry rub, disagree with James's mix. Needs more spices +sugar.
                                      And hickory. :)

                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                        I gotta say low and slow and lotsa real smoke is about as universal as it gets. I prefer hickory. but appreciate the other types.