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What Was Your Earliest Independent Chowhounding Experience?

I don't know why this popped into my head, but I was just thinking about what I realized were my earliest independent Chowhounding experiences. It was in the late 80s, before Chowhound even existed, but the same motivations that I have now for expanding my culinary horizons started bubbling up on the annual trips my junior high school's band took to Boston, to perform a few songs, to catch a Red Sox game at Fenway, to experience the awesomeness that was John Williams and the Boston Pops, and to explore, for a few glorious hours, the variety of food stalls and restaurants at Quincy Market.

Of course as an adult I know Quincy Market is a big tourist trap and much more Chow-worthy places may be found all over the greater Boston area, but for a seventh grader like myself, with my first real taste of freedom, it was incredible. I remember going from stall to stall, trying the hot dolma with the ground meat from the Greek place (Mykonos Fair, I presume, now Steve's Greek Cuisine?!), skewers of bacon-wrapped scallops, raw oysters and littlenecks on the half shell, clear cola (I think by Clearly Canadian) way before Crystal Pepsi was introduced. At one point, my one sushi-loving friend and I even ventured up to the second level of one of the outer buildings that had a sushi restaurant, and we ate sushi at the bar (I'm remembering having saba and ikura, probably because of their bold flavors). I blew pretty much all the money I brought on food at Quincy Market, and I couldn't wait to do it again!

If that wasn't a sign true proto-Chowhounder, I'm sure this would qualify: I knew our school band would be coming back the following year, when I was in eighth grade, and during the time in between I would occasionally start daydreaming about trying the foods I saw at Quincy Market that I didn't get a chance to try the first time, and planning how best to optimize my exploration of the various food options now that I had more familiarity with the place... :-)

So, now it's your turn... What, my fellow Chowhounders, were your earliest independent Chowhounding experiences (i.e., not a place or food that your family or friends introduced you to, but an experience that you made or discovered yourself)?

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  1. Peter....bizarrely, mine was at Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall too.

    Back in the 80's there was a food stall there where a dude who looked like Eddy Grant (at least that's who was manning it the times I went) would deftly select a ripe pineapple from a stack of fresh ones he had, machete you a big, thick juicy and pristine spear of it (I swear it was a big and long as my forearm), put it on a wooden skewer and off you went.

    First time I had ever tasted non-canned pineapple was back then, in 8th grade, on a field trip. What an epiphany.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst

      That's pretty funny, that it was at the same place. I think I remember that food stall with the pineapple!

    2. I can think of two things: one was begging to be sent to cooking classes from age 6 on; the other was when on my 7th birthday I asked to go to a Middle-Eastern restaurant and my folks had zero idea why I was interested in that, since they were unadventurous, but they took me and it was great; the start of a lifelong love affair with different ethnic foods.

      1. My memories are a bit more pedestrian. The hot donuts from the automatic donut maker at Marshall Fields. A Coney Island dog from the local guy across the street. I do remember being so proud of having my own money!

        1. This is ho-hum now, but going to a Benihana's in Los Angeles in the early 1970s helped to set me up for a culinary journey. It was so different from anything I'd experienced before, on several levels.

          1. Making a triple-decker Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich.

            I thought it was genius. Still kind of do. But now I realize I'm not original.