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Is anything ever as good as you remember it?

Two food disappointments recently. One kind of major. One very minor. But both really hit home. Okay, back story is I'm trying to lose weight so I'm running, lifting weights and trying to watch what I eat. Two weeks ago I was back in my home town/state and had an opportunity to eat pizza at a small hole in the wall joint that everyone knows I LOVE. Obsessively. No one was free to go with me so I went myself. And it was. ...... okay. That made me sad. I realized I've had better pizza than that. :(

Fast forward 2 weeks to today. It may be hormonal or whatever but I suddenly was gripped by the intense need for an ultra crisp, shatter in the mouth onion ring. So I went to Sonic. Which once sold such things. As I'm driving home I pull one out... pop it in my mouth and the first thing through my mind is.... did I just go to Burger King? The breading was completely different. Sweet and not crisp.

Sigh. Do food memories every really stand up to repeat visits? Because if they don't I'm never going back to suck those juicy crab legs in Alabama. I don't want that ruined, too.

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  1. Almost never, an exception being the feta cheese omelet with Greek fries at the Continental on "The Ave" in Seattle. I had it often in the 1970s and it was exactly the same when I went back 25 years later.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      Why do you think that is? Does quality just deteriorate, or do our minds make them into something more than they were?

      1. re: Firegoat

        Usually, the owners change. Consistency depends on a hands-on owner who has a concept that works and sticks with it. Sometimes good places go under almost overnight when the owners die or otherwise move on. Sometimes it's a slow, painful death. Other times places are spoiled by success, an example being the Red Robin in Seattle.

    2. I just revisited Pizza Joint in Portland, ME, for the first time in 20 years, and it was as good as I remember it. Not your standard NY style pizza, it's thicker with more cheese which I usually wouldn't like as much, but something about it is just awesome and totally takes me back to the Pizza Joint pizzas my parents would order when I was a kid. So, for once, memory was spot-on.

      1. Crab and lobster as I remember it as a child. Also, my first In-n-Out burger after a year long diet.

        1. Oh yeah, Sonic's onion rings are terrible now. I got some last week and they had slightly sweet vanilla taste to them. I hated the breading too. Blech!!!!

          1. The other thing is that if you've been eating healthily, your tastebuds change (figuratively) and fatty/fried foods stop tasting as good. It's really disappointing when you decide to "treat" yourself with something you remember loving, and it doesn't taste good.

            If you have healthy foods you remember liking, you'll probably still like those.

            1. We have a name for this in my family. Things that don't live up to the memory are called a Michie Tavern after the historical restaurant in Charlottesville VA.

              1. Who was it that said "Things aren't as good as they used to be and probably never were"?
                Maybe Will Rogers.

                1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the shrimp cocktail at Heirloom. The best ever and I've gone back for it! Delicious. Id eat it everyday.

                  1. Is anything ever as good as you remember it?

                    Yes. My mom's cooking.

                    1. Recent deli pickle from my youth hit all the right notes and I was gobsmacked that the place was still around. Still fantastic crisp, garlicky delights.

                      1. Somethings are as good as I remember:
                        Junior's strawberry cheese pie
                        Katz's pastrami on rye sammich
                        Ascher's dark chocolate covered jelly grahams
                        L&B Spumoni Gardens square pizza
                        Tripoli stuffed grapeleaves and babaganough
                        Damascus Syrian (pita) bread and spinach pies
                        Nathan's (Coney Island) hot dog, fries and root beer after a ride on the Cyclone

                        1. Yes...Mountain Bars if I can find them.
                          Olympia Beer in the can.
                          Great memories and they taste the same.

                          1. Firegoat, what a poignant post, my dear. As usual, food tastes are so subjective that of course for every person there will be a different answer, but IMO a great many foods in my childhood will never be the same. To be honest, the foods that taste the closest to my aesthetic and emotional memories are those I make and continue to make myself. The people who cooked the foods of my childhood are gawwwwwn, bless their hearts, and even if their recipes live on the things are being cooked or baked by different hands in different pans in a different kitchen.
                            Now, if you want to talk about food quality going down in certain brands, that's almost a different story, but I'll end by saying that I just had part of this conversation with another Chowfriend on another thread, and her statement was:
                            "Nothing tastes as good as a memory."
                            Which I found to be true, welll-said, and very nostalgic.
                            'Nuff said. :)