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Anyone convert a non-foodie?

I am happy to have helped convert my DH into almost as big a foodie as me. While he still loves fast food more than I, he will spend as much time menu planning and restaurant hunting as I will for trips and special occasions. Before we met, he had never really eaten anything but burgers and Taco Bell, now he LOVES duck, creme brulee, Bok Choy (unless I cook it!), even curries! I am so glad because I don't think I could have lived without those things.

So my question is, have any of you converted a non foodie friend or family member into someone who really embraces good eating? Better yet, do you have a dish you cooked or took them out to eat that did the trick and changed their life? I would love to know.

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  1. One of my in-laws wasn't much of a Chinese or Asian food fan. We went to a Hong Kong-style restaurant, and he ordered BBQ pork fried rice because that's what he always ordered. I put down my menu and told him straight out that while I wasn't going to let him order BBQ pork fried rice. I ordered Singapore-style stir fried noodles for him, and he has since become quite adventurous with his choices in restaurants, including Asian ones.

    1. One of my friends was a huge fan of AYCE Asian Buffets (Todai if you have been to one) with bad sushi. We had several vendors who would offer to take us out to lunch and he always picked one of these places because the sushi was AYCE. I always wanted to go to my neighborhood sushi bar, which was very good and where I was known. I finally pointed out to him that when the vendor takes us out to lunch, whether it is $20 at Todai or $40 at the sushi bar for lunch, it is still all you can eat. He saw the light and has steered clear of the buffet ever since.

      He has also come back to me for various recommendations for places like the office Xmas party (we no longer work together) or for a nice but not too pricey place for date night with his wife. I am glad to report I have opened his eyes to some of the better value high end places in out area.

      1. Around two years ago I converted my cousin, who is in his 40's to ethnic foods. He grew up in Iowa, lived in Alabama, and now Denver. He never really ate anything except typical Mid America foods, fast food, and a little Americanized ethnic, and drank beer. In a long week in NYC I took him to a dozen different types of Asian and Latin foods, and he loved them. Also took him to several cocktail bars and he loves them now as well. Now he seeks out whatever ethnic food is available in and around Denver.

        Sadly, for years I have been trying to get my nieces and nephew to try any type of ethnic or fine food, but they won't try anything new. They eat a combination of Americanized Italian, and simple foods. Preferably processed crap like kraft mac n cheese, tater tots, etc.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JMF

          Really, most Latin American foods fall into the same cooking style and food groups --this is broadly speaking of course--as "mid-american" foods: corn-based products, meats, potatoes, mayonnaise, cooked vegetables--overall rather similar. So, it isn't much of a jump.

        2. My husband… when I met him he wouldn’t eat lots of different things, and thought that Olive Garden was where you went for “Italian” food, and he’d cook a pot of “spaghetti” and throw a jar of Ragu on top and call it dinner (bleh)

          I “introduced” him to foods from different ethnicities, raw fish, oysters, foie gras.

          He will now go out with people from work for Indian or Vietnamese for lunch and actually ENJOY it…

          Bamagirl30, I’m with you, because I just love so many different kinds of food, that it would have been really difficult for me to have settled into a relationship if he had kept his narrow mind when it came to eating

          1. I would say I converted my husband... in that, he loves my cooking, which includes just about every ethnicity out there. He loves lots of 'weird fruits and vegetables'. He knows cooking terms that most good ole country boys do not. He just wowed a brazilian coworker with his knowledge of ceviche. ;)

            However, he doesn't read about cooking or seek out ingredients himself. He does garden some. If I was no longer around I really do not know what he would do. I doubt he could go back to the crap food we grew up with.... and I know my kids couldn't.

            1. Yeppers. Mrs W hates when I remind her that I "broadened her horizons," but she knows it's true. Her parents didn't even go out for Chinese food.

              1. I had an Ex once who, when asked if she liked garlic, replied as follows. "Um.. I'm not sure I've ever had garlic." I can't take credit for a single-handed conversion, but that was a pretty bleak start. The first "scary" thing she tried and liked was tekka maki.

                Her family was very much of the Food=Fuel mindset. It wasn't that she didn't like good food. She'd just never had anyone encourage her to try it.

                1. My gf for sure. She just was never really exposed to all the good chowhound type stuff and now I'm pretty sure she's more obsessed with it than me! I can say it definitely makes for a fun vacation when BOTH people really enjoy trying new food experiences rather than one person feeling like they have to drag the other or be dragged by the other to go eat somewhere.

                  1. My niece. She's always hated the kitchen - everything about it. Since I am her favourite auntie, she hangs around with me when I see her. Two visits ago I was in the kitchen, of course. When I visit family I do all the cooking. Anyway, I had her help with risotto whilst I was preparing other dishes. Well, she began asking questions about the type of rice to use and when to ladle in more broth. It turned out to be an instructional lesson and she hung onto every single word. She thought risotto was only made in what she called fancy schmancy restaurants and was thrilled to find out she could make it herself at home. So, I told her family when serving dinner that she made the risotto and there were oohs and aahhs and much encouragement. She was tickled. On my last visit there, guess what she made? Risotto Milanese! She asked me to show her how to make a pan sauce which was a revelation to her. That evening she had her choice of what to watch on TV and she chose Iron Chef which we enjoyed together. Her mind was far more open than the previous visit, just weeks before, and she absorbed everything I said like a sponge. We pored over my "Salt", "NOMA" and "Alinea" books as I had taken them along (when I visit I need reading material!). Next visit will be at my house where I can show her my cookbook collection as she is now interested.

                    My niece has never been to a good restaurant (she lives in the middle of nowhere on a farm and the nearest city is a few hours away which she will visit with me once she has her driver's license). She only knows McDonalds despite her mother's and my endless prodding. Now things will change. She informs me by email what she has cooked that day! It has been an amazing transformation in such a short time. She actually requested truffle salt from Croatia for her birthday!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chefathome

                      Risotto is a big coverter. It sounds "fancy" and unapproachable to many of my in-law family, but I converted my brother in law and he requests it everytime he is in town! I think it is a great starter food because you can slip it in unnoticed, but it is so tasty someone will ask what it is and then be surprised they ate something so "cosmopolitan". I mean, my Bro-n-law is a straight biscuits & gravy, burger with ketchup only, fried chicken fingers kind of guy. Atleast he will try things at my house now!

                    2. Oh what a fun Post!!
                      When I met my soon-to-be-ex husband, he always took me out for dinner because, as he so gallantly put it, "The last thing I want is for you to be cooking when you do it for a job." He really didn't understand that it was totally okay with me to go home and pull something together because it's my happy place and I Love To Cook, end of story. However, I totally appreciated the sentiment. He always had a place in mind and I hadn't been "out and about" in awhile, so it wasn't an issue, and the places he chose always served very decent plain American food. Well, I happen to really like American food, so again no issue. BUT. I am a card-carrying Chowhound. A Foodie from Hell. A woman who loves Char Siu as much as Chopped Salad; Dim Sum as much as Mickey Dee's. And I was getting tired of steakandroastchickenandplainfishandsteakandroastchickenandplainfish. At least several nights a week. So I decided to educate him, first by finding out about and then suggesting a local Korean BBQ, figuring that I could deconstruct anything that scairt him. And to my wonder, it worked!! They brought out the banchan, and I walked him through the different kimchis and pickles and everything else, which he loved. When he looked sideways at one kimchi, I explained that it was "just cabbage" and that the red stuff was "just chiles." And he could deal with that. His entree was Galbi, which I explained was just short ribs, marinated and sliced a special way and then grilled. Again, Big Instant Love. The next time he went out, he casually asked me if I knew any other places "like that," and I explained that I did have something in mind, but it was a differen culture's food, and we went on a nice long drive to go to a fake taverna that serves absolutely outstanding Greek food. OMG, you should've seen that guy eat. And this time he was deconstructing himself. Spanakopeta? He took a good long look and smell and knew instanter that there was spinach and onion and "some sort of cheese or something" in there. He ate everything joyfully and happily, and since then not only has become a bonafide foodie but until not long ago was quite accomplished in the kitchen himself. Why? He asked me to teach him to cook "anything."

                      1. I had dinner with a friend at a Thai restaurant. His standard order? You guessed it, Phad Thai. Might as well be the cheese burger of Asian food. So I persuaded him to try 2 appetizers, ones he had never tasted before. And for the entree, I ordered a green curry to split. No, not the most adventurous dishes, but it sure shook up his routine.

                        1. One of my sisters! She came with my husband and I to Croatia in November and she went from an Olive Garden junkie to eating shark, uni, steak tartare, and so on. We made a point of introducing her to at least one new food or ingredient per day. By the end of the trip she tried over 30 things she had not before. There was not one single thing she did not try - she was very open (that comes with travel). Now she tries to replicate dishes at her home. She has told me over and over that these revelations completely changed her life. When I used to talk to her about these foods my husband and I adore her eyes glazed over. Now they sparkle with excitement! And that makes me excited. It has opened up an entirely new world of conversation.