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What foods do NOT live up to their reputation or hype, in your opinion?

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After reading and commenting on jmcarthur8's discussion: "What foods live up to their reputation? What do you rave about?" I was prompted to start another discussion by TroyTempest, asking what foods do NOT live up to their reputation. TT lists fried green tomatoes first. HEY! but I LOVE fried green tomatoes! My disappointment is the Cuban sandwich. What's yours*?

* Please, no dare-you-to-eat it stuff like lutefisk, or brand-name products whose quality has slipped in recent years.

  1. Andouillette de Cambrai.

    Allegedly a regional gourmet treat - in reality perhaps the vilest thing I've ever put in my mouth.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      I would have to say that a food product that can barely be found described in English on the Internet cannot really have what could be considered a reputation.

        1. re: FrankJBN

          Frank - uh, if your French, it certainly does have a 'reputation', but IMO, lot's of Frenchmen would say it is a vile reputation....

        2. re: Harters

          Andouillette de Cambrai: a sausage made entirely of bovine caul (the membrane encasing a fetus).

          Gee, who would've thought THAT generally well-loved and oh-so-popular culinary creation would disappoint?

          1. re: staughton

            Indeed, staughton. And then, from pretty much the same part of the world, there's the getting to grips with "pot jevleesh" which also has all sort of "interesting" bits in it (but I like that one). You also find across the border into Dutch speaking Belgium, where they call "potje vleesh". Same dish, just the space in a different place.

            And, no, I've no idea how that translates into English from either the Dutch or French version.

            1. re: Harters

              Potje vleesch is Dutch for 'little pot of meat.'

              1. re: antihi

                Thanks for that. Makes sense now - must mean over on the French side of the border, they've just Frenchified the same name, rather than trying to translate it into a new name. Lovely stuff - apparently always served with a leaf salad and chips.

        3. Philly cheesesteak.

          ETA: While we're at it -- the roast pork sandwich at DiNic's.

          Sorry, Phila, I love your food, but those two aren't worth the hype.

          15 Replies
          1. re: linguafood

            I'll second this. They're good, but not life-changing.

            1. re: biondanonima

              It's a sandwich - it is not intended to be life-changing.

              1. re: FrankJBN

                It doesn't live up to its reputation / hype for being a "must-have" regional specialty sandwich.

                Which is the point of this thread. What's yours?

                1. re: FrankJBN

                  I would argue that Banh Mi is life-changing, relative to its humble sandwich status of course. It broadened my expectations of how good a sandwich could be. I haven't found Cuban sandwiches or mufalatta to have the same affect, but I haven't had them at the regional source.

                  1. re: FrankJBN

                    True, it is just a sandwich. That's the whole point. But I'd bet if you ask some they'd say, "If you're going to Philly, you HAVE to go to insert name of place here for their Philly cheesesteak.

                    1. re: TroyTempest

                      I've not had a decent cheesesteak sandwich anywhere in Philly. Ever.

                      1. re: The Professor

                        Ha! You remind me of a coworker who moved to Tucson form Lansing, Michigan about 5-6 years ago and actually told me that he'd never had good tacos in Tucson.
                        being kind, I will say that one tends to like and gravitate toward what one grew up with. There's a difference between saiying you're not used to the tacos in Tucson and you haven't ever had a good one here. Rick Bayless' first cookbook pretty much sums it up in the very beginning.

                2. re: linguafood

                  I agree, I've had several Philly Cheesesteaks in Philly, and none of them were nearly as good as the ones I've had in Boston.

                  1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                    where do you like to get cheesesteaks in boston?

                    1. re: fara

                      It was many years ago, at Pizza Pad in Kenmore Square. But I'd be willing to bet that you can find one at a lot of pizza/sub shops. Papa Gino's had a good one. Don't know if they are still in business, as I said, it's been a long time.

                  2. re: linguafood

                    +2; I don't get the philly cheesesteak - overcooked meat, greasy onions, cheeze whiz or bad american cheese + heartburn inducing sauteed green peppers.

                    Not a fan, and I have tried this a couple of times at places that were supposed to make 'definitive' versions...

                    1. re: gingershelley

                      I've overwhelmingly found that "cult" foods are frequently much better at places *other* than the place that supposedly invented them/made them famous.

                      The cheesesteak I had in a divey bar somewhere in South Philly beat the snot out of the one I had at one of the "big" cheesesteak joints (don't ask - it was a long time ago, and I don't remember)

                      Falafel in Paris? NOT at L'As du Falafel.

                      find some divey little hole in the wall - they know how to do it.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Yeah, often those places are riding on reputation and tourist business and what they're serving has declined in quality over the years. That's the beauty of chowhound - local, current tips rather than the party line.

                        1. re: julesrules

                          I think that version is what's passed off as "authentic," and what gets sold in national cheesesteak chains, even though most Philadelphians have no use for "Wiz wit."

                          I'd make the case that the Maryland "steak & cheese," which is basically a cheesesteak hoagie (L/T/M with some places substituting finely shredded cabbage for flavorless iceberg) is a superior product. One place is known for thicker-sliced ribeye, which gives it a nice bite and really turns it into a cheesesteak "grinder."

                    2. re: linguafood

                      3rd or whatever number we are up to

                    3. In-n-Out Burger. They're fine, but nothing special, yet their cult following is nothing short of spectacular.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: biondanonima

                        I'm with you. What's all the hub-bub about!?!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          True. For all the 'freshness' hype, it still has that indescribable something you get from drive-thru food that you know darn well you should not be eating.

                          For me, caviar qualifies very well for this thread.

                        2. In-n-Out Bruger--just a hamburger--but, I'm not that taken with hamburgers as it is. Generally, I'm not big on massive overstuffed sandwich type things that you couldn't get into your mouth without breaking your jaw. They seem to be hyped on a lot of food-oriented TV shows. Just a matter of taste, I guess. Not big on garlic, or horseradish, mashed potatoes, either---then again, I can take or leave mashed potatoes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Wawsanham

                            Err.... garlic mash potatoes beside a beef brisket, haricot vert, and beet salad is nice in the winter for me. No gravy needed.

                          2. Cuban sandwich? Another (actually the first in this thread) that makes me wonder 'What reputation?' It's a ham and cheese sandwich for god's sake. It's not like lobster thermidor.

                            What is the reputation this sandwich has and where have you heard of said reputation?

                            That someone says 'Oh yeah, they're great.' does not constitute a "reputation" to me.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: FrankJBN

                              "Hype" was also part of the question, as in "lots of buzz" or "much-praised".
                              As many people in NYC (where I was living at the time the Cuban sandwich had become very popular) were talking about it and discussing where to get a "good version", I would count that as part of the item's "reputation". Perhaps "reputation" for you can only refer to something that costs as much as "lobster thermidore"... "for god's sake"? I guess that's going to disqualify all the cheesesteak and fried green tomato and burger comments as well. Perhaps you'd find the pedantry on the thermidore board more to your taste.

                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                So true, just a ham and cheese sandwich. But, that's what hype is all about. Just calling it a ham and cheese sandwich would be too hypeless. I wonder if a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be called something hypeful...

                                1. re: FrankJBN

                                  My take on this is that you have not had a properly prepared Cuban sandwich-it is one of my favorite sandwiches, and the places that do it wrong far outnumber the places that do it right.

                                  1. re: JenJeninCT

                                    I absolutely agree with you, JenJeninCT. I love properly prepared Cuban sandwiches, and they are amongst my favorites of the sandwich family that I love so well. That said, I have yet to find a properly prepared Cuban sandwich in my hometown of Pittsburgh. In fact, I'm not sure I've had a good Cuban sandwich north of Florida and have, for all intents and purposes, stopped ordering them up here.

                                    I've had expertly prepared Cuban sandwiches in Tampa, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and even (unbelievably) Jacksonville. I may have had a good one or two elsewhere, but I struggle to remember them. If I am not in one of these areas and want to have a good Cuban sandwich, I have to make it myself, which typically means that I need to bake the Cuban bread, roast the pork, and grill it myself. The ham, swiss, pickles, and mustard, can be store-bought, though, IMHO.

                                    A good Cuban sandwich is absolutely divine.

                                    1. re: MonMauler

                                      Then it's a really good ham and cheese sandwich--not earth shattering, I think.

                                      1. re: Wawsanham

                                        but it's not JUST a ham and cheese sandwich...it's the ham and the roast pork and the cheese and the mustard and the pickles, and most importantly, the bread, and whether it's cold or hot and pressed to within a half an inch of its life (because a really good, really well-pressed one is not much more than a half-inch high)

                                  2. re: FrankJBN

                                    What's so great about lobster thermidor? Or lobster mac and cheese? Bleh.

                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                      +1 on lobster mac and cheese. Bland AND expensive. Yuk.

                                      1. re: Christina D

                                        I've never had it, but seems like a waste of good lobster.

                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                          Not to mention good cheese and pasta . . . .

                                      2. re: monkeyrotica

                                        + whatever. Lobster M&C is a waste of some perfectly good ingredients. I think of it as an "emperor's new clothes" sort of dish.

                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                          I've had excellent lobster mac & cheese that was all that. So good that I drove an hour each way and paid for the steak or whatever entree with the true purpose of ordering a side of lobster mac & cheese. When done right, truly divine.