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Foods that are Unfairly Maligned

In the spirit of the "foods that don't live up to their reputation" , what foods do you think have an unfairly BAD reputation?

for me:

american chinese food. casseroles. "american cuisine" as a category. anchovies.

i think most of these get a pretty bad rap, but i actually think in a lot of cases they're all pretty great! what food for you, personally, exceeds its reputation?

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  1. I think it's sad that some people seem to be embarrassed by liking foods that the trendy ones deem unfit.

    Also sad that people won't try the new things that the trendy ones are espousing.

    1. Love this thread. I was just having a conversation with my SO that "American Chinese" food is unfairly attacked to the extent that it is. I think that most would consider my diet fairly "clean" - mostly organic, unprocessed, grass fed, etc- with nearly all meals prepared at home, but from time to time I enjoy a big plate of General Tso's chicken and fried rice. I used to have a lot of guilt whenever I indulged, but then realized that all of this was related to the widespread media driven opinion which has equated Chinese food to instant death. I no longer feel guilt. While it's not the healthiest food on the planet, most batter-fried Chinese food dishes are protein based dishes (chicken, shrimp, beef, etc.), and the additional smattering of more fat and sugar than you should usually eat on top does not make them things that should be labeled completely devoid of nutrition and "do not eat ever" foods. The occasional increased intake of saturated fat and sugar will not send one to an instant grave. +1 for Chinese food as an occasional treat. Life in moderation and balance.

      23 Replies
      1. re: fldhkybnva

        agreed! moreover, i feel it's kind of garbage that people say "oh, that's just an AMERICANIZED chinese dish", as if that somehow automatically makes it 1) horrible for your health, and 2) horrible tasting.

        as far as "health concern", i know, right? people look askance at a plate of general tso's, then skedaddle off to chow down on a cobb salad with commercial dressing, or something. for that matter i know of a couple americanized chinese places that use no MSG, emphasize their low- or reduced-fat options, fry and cook only with trans-fat-free oil, offer brown rice as an option, etc, etc. but as you say, this isn't even all that necessary. tasty food is tasty food. some of it is healthier than others. a plate of general tso's is no more a cardinal health sin than is a serving of eggs benedict for sunday brunch, or a ribeye with a loaded baked potato for sunday dinner...

        as far as taste, is it "authentic" chinese food? does it have a centuries-long tradition among peasants or nobility in china? no. is it a completely valid, often delicious, fusion cuisine that evolved among chinese emigrants and has taken on an identity of its own? i say vehemently YES!

        a cuisine that has "roots" somewhere, or draws influence from somewhere, is no less valid as a delicious option than is something with a longer "history". every food idea was new once. people who wave the "authenticity" flag typically annoy me. so do the ones who blindly stereotype cuisines one way or another ("japanese is healthy", "british food is gross", "french food is rich", "american food is trashy"). just me though!

        yay americanized chinese! +1 you!

        1. re: chartreauxx

          I love real Chinese. And I love Americanized Chinese--it's a comforting treat with lots of associated childhood memories--a treat to go out for something other than surf & turf. (Most embarrassing, my father asking for flied lice and my mother being smug about ordering moo goo gai pan.)

          Similarly, I love real Italian and I love Americanized Italian, sometimes gross in its excess, over-salted and over-sweet and ABBONDANZA.

        2. re: fldhkybnva

          "...the widespread media driven opinion which has equated Chinese food to instant death."
          Hmm, I haven't read of or heard of this. Could you give some examples? Curious.

          (Are you thinking of the "melamine flap" some time back? Or did the media really say that eating a plate of Mapo tofu with rice, or steamed grouper w/ ginger & scallions &etc led to death?)

          1. re: huiray

            Well, that was a bit of hyperbolic flare, but yes most of the mainstream opinions on Chinese have been overwhelmingly on the side of statements similar to "avoid if at all possible," "the worst takeout out food that you could possibly eat" and then unhelpfully suggest dishes to order which in no way resemble what most people gravitate to these restaurants in search of. And, in every day conversation it seems that it's a pretty widely held opinion. If there is ever any mention of Chinese takeout or delivery for lunch or dinner at work or among friends, many people grumble and lament that "it's so hard to find anything to eat that is not complete junk and ruin my diet." This has just been my personal observation though.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Interesting. I can't say I've especially noticed these opinions myself, hence my query.

              1. re: huiray

                I, too, must say that this is the first I've heard of this sentiment.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Just google "Chinese restaurant food, health" and you can view a ton of articles with this same sentiment that fldhk is referring to.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    These are the results:


                    I see nothing about the hysteria that fldhybnva refers to.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      It was noted to be "hyperbolic flare" . I thought it sounded like you had never heard of restaurant American Chinese food as being the unhealthiest or worst diet food choice...which is common. Other than the one dramatic statement, everything said was accurate.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        I thought it sounded like you had never heard of restaurant American Chinese food as being the unhealthiest or worst diet food choice...which is common.

                        I've never heard that American Chinese food as being the "unhealthiest". Unhealthy? Yes. Unhealthiest? Especially as a cultural meme? Nope, never.

                        And who in the right (or wrong) mind would choose American Chinese food as a "diet food" choice? WTF? Even Jared had enough culinary, and common, sense to choose Subway as opposed to Krispy Kreme ...

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          @ ipse: What you said.

                          @ sedimental: Well, even setting aside the "instant death" thing, other cited phrases like "the worst takeout out food that you could possibly eat" (even searching for "worst takeout food" alone returns only this CH thread); "avoid if at all possible"; "complete junk" seemed weird and extreme to me. As ipse says, certainly it has been reported that "Chinese" food (let alone just "American-Chinese" food) is high in salt, calories, can be oily, have MSG (another VERY unfairly maligned ingredient - see other posts) etc - i.e. not food to be eaten with wild abandon by diet-crazed and fat/calorie-phobic caucasian USAmericans and any others of similar sentiment – but the extreme nature of the reported sentiments seemed, well, extreme.

                          1. re: huiray

                            Those other sentiments are not extreme from what I observe either. Most people I know have not eaten in American Chinese resto's in many years. It has nothing to do with eating it with "wild abandon"...or by" diet crazed.....etc,etc" (those are extreme statements to). It has to do with the perception that food served there is much "unhealthier" than making other choices. Even though the other choices might be a huge carb/fat laden sandwhich or buger or a chefs or Cobb salad with lunch meat and bottled dressing.

                            I understand if you don't hear those sentiments where you live and work, but clearly many of us do.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              Panda Express is surprisingly healthy (all things considered).

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Looking at the nutrition data for their chicken dishes, it's possible to achieve decent numbers (though much of it is a sugar and calorie bomb due to heavy breading and sweetening of otherwise healthy ingredients). But when you look at the total serving sizes for the dishes, they made them miniscule to improve the numbers. If you limit yourself to 180 calories at Panda Express, you can get a reasonably healthful snack sized meal.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  180 calories sounds to me like exactly that - a snack :-)

                        2. re: sedimental

                          Indeed "hyperbolic flare," nor do I think that there is any hysteria regarding the whole topic but just that the general opinion and slant of most of the articles exaggerates the "unhealthy" nature of Chinese food to what I feel are unfair, unnecessary and somewhat epic proportions.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            +1 as if hot dogs and hamburgers with mystery meat, french fries, fried taco shells, refried beans and sour cream, pizza are somehow healthier options.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Glad for that sentiment from you. :-)

                    2. re: huiray

                      CSPI... led a huge charge against it years ago. They think all you should eat is carbs, no fat, not much protein. And ridiculously low sodium.

                      1. re: mcf

                        D'you mean articles like these two?
                        I don't see "extreme" statements in them, even with all the verbiage about large amounts of salt, fat etc etc. Certainly no more than expressed in their articles about American-Italian food, for example in: http://www.cspinet.org/nah/ital.html or http://www.cspinet.org/nah/11_07/rest... . Their blurb about their restaurant guide (http://www.cspinet.org/restaurant/ind...) also mentions that the single worst food they have ever had analyzed was cheese fries in a steak house. ;-)

                        [Or Mexican: http://www.cspinet.org/nah/mexican.html ; http://www.cspinet.org/nah/03_09/rati... :-) ]

                        I would also remark that they commented on the difference between Italian food in Italy versus American-Italian food, but made no such comparison between what seems largely like Americanized (to greater or lesser extents) Chinese dishes they analyzed and food one might find in China or Hong Kong or SE Asia. A defect in their reports on "Chinese" food, it seems to me.

                        As for your comment: " They think all you should eat is carbs, no fat, not much protein. And ridiculously low sodium" – yes, it does seem that way with them!

                    3. re: fldhkybnva

                      I've seen similar articles about Chinese food, usually not differentiating "American/Chinese take-out" from more authentic dishes, and bashing them for unhealthiness, MSG, etc.

                      But then again at least American/Chinese take-out has higher nutritional content between the protein and vegetables than pizza which is so beloved and has a poor fat and calorie to nutrition ratio.

                      1. re: Pookipichu


                        And what about all the stuff about "fast food" - e.g. comparisons of fast food hamburgers and even so-called "healthy" salads at fast food places ?

                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                    Agreed ... I had some truly fabulous General Tso's just last week (first in a long time). I'm ordering from that place again ... Ironically the more authentic dish I ordered wasn't good and literally went to the dogs.

                  3. So many! Brussels sprouts (and lamb), haggis (great on pizza) turnips ...

                    1. Sardines! Whenever I open a tin of King Oscar's at work I get these weird looks from my coworkers. One of them is a pescatarian and she refuses to try one. Really, any food with a face or food in a can gets unfairly maligned in our culture. Sardines have two strikes against them in that regard. Heck, in Spain or Portugal you would be paying top dollar for a tin of quality seafood.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MINosher

                        "stinky" foods and canned/pickled/jarred/otherwise preserved foods (except fruit in some forms?) seem in general like they get unfairly slammed as a rule in the states..

                      2. Liver, kidney, sweetbread,brain

                        Not lungs though, they deserve their bad rap!

                        1. Meats in aspic.
                          Offal in general.

                          1. Fast food

                            American - [insert ethnic cuisine of your choice]


                            Sugary cereals



                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              GMO produces tumors in rats... we need studies of the effects in humans. The rat study was two years long.

                            2. and a few things the HEALTH SCARE INDUSTRY has sunk it's teeth in,with little or NO science

                              EGGS, RED WINE, CAFFEINE ..........

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lcool

                                You must be reading different articles/watching different reports than the ones I have been hearing. Red wine is all the darling of the "health scare industry." In moderation, yes. But I've heard nothing but good things about red wine for a number of years now. As for caffeine, I haven't heard anything negative about this particular compound. I've heard and read good things about coffee though not specifically caffeine - especially in the past few weeks with regard to Alzheimer's but more generally that drinking moderate amounts of coffee doesn't seem to hurt anyone in any way. Eggs - yes. For many years, and specifically due to the amount of cholesterol in the yolk.

                                It isn't that there is NO science. It is that there is conflicting information and it is hard for people to accept that this is how science works. You set up an experiment to test competing hypotheses - so for instance: Eating egg yolks raises serum cholesterol. Eating egg yolks does not increase serum cholesterol. I won't go into all the specifics of experimental design except to say that they try to get two populations that are as similar as possible and sample sizes that are large enough that the differences among test subjects will "wash out." And then they run the experiment and see if there is a statistically significant difference in the outcomes (in this case serum cholesterol) of the two groups.

                                However, someone else will run a different experiment and just because the the way the experiment is done or the test subjects, they will get different results.

                                And there are no perfect experimental designs, especially not on human test subjects. All sorts of problems are known and you try to control for them the best you can, but there are problems inherent to most study designs.

                                And so the public becomes confused. What is the answer?

                                It takes time. Over a period of time and a number of experiments, a clearer picture will emerge. Usually. So if by no science you meant no clear, certain answers, then yes. If you meant no research has been conducted, that's not at all true.

                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                  I guess I should have added a 20 - 30 year span.To a point I agree with you.For many things the research you refer to occurs AFTER the first PRONOUNCEMENT,not before.
                                  Those tactics aren't always bad,but do lead to much ( ? ).
                                  Eggs when first made "evil" had not been subjected to the comparative research you refer to.It came along afterward.
                                  Considering the percentage of people that loose interest after the sound bite or first paragraph I think it's fair to say ,"maligned".

                              2. Southern cooking .,.. just because everything is fried doesn't mean it's unhealthy.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: redfish62

                                  NOT everything is fried. In fact, my Southern (Virginia) mother rarely fried anything, besides eggs/bacon/etc. a few times a month on a weekend morning back in the 50's-70's. Maybe chicken once a year or eggplant/squash--and the eggplant was for parmigiana. Her food was mostly all boiled and baked and more like traditional English food than like the KFC garbage that everyone thinks defines "Southern food" these days.

                                  And, btw, nonsense like Paula Deen's artery-clogging crock-pot/casserole dishes that are masquerading as "Southern food" are really more Mid-western in origin, and late 20th Century than they are "traditional Southern". My grandmother (b.1894, also Virginia), who lived to be 96 years old and was never ill one day when I knew her for the last 25 years of her life, ate nothing but "Southern food"--rarely any fried food or fast food or casseroles or garbage made with processed barely-qualifying-as-food ingredients. She ate tons of canned greens and beans and plenty of lard, though.

                                2. Not even 2 hours into the workweek and I overhear "yea, he's amazingly healthy...he never ever eats red meat" as if all meat products a shade of red are inherently good for you and those that aren't are in comparison OK.

                                  1. Worms, grubs/insects. If more people gave them a chance, they wouldn't seem strange.

                                    1. Marbled meats, eggs, saturated fats (cheese, dairy, etc.), fats in general.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: mcf

                                        ... fats in general.

                                        Even trans fats?

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          No, not trans fats or other polluted and unnatural sources. By "fats in general" i meant the blanket recommendation to limit dietary fats.

                                      2. I'm with you on Chinese American food. Though I try to avoid the fried sauced stuff to cut down on the calories, there's still plenty of good stuff.

                                        Liver. Most people seem to hate the thought of liver. Even without ever having tried it. I agree that over cooked dried out liver is terrible. But when its cooked properly, its great. Chicken, calves, beef, goose, duck - its all good.

                                        Veggies in general. Remember when Bush the First said now that he was president, he didn't have to eat broccoli? I think a lot of people view veg as something they should eat, not want to eat.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bkeats

                                          not what he said.
                                          he said "always hated broccoli"
                                          after causing an international incident barfing on PM of Japan's shoes.

                                          1. Refined/polished grains. The health-conscious in the USA would have you believe that every grain of polished rice, every sack of white flour, every box of non-whole wheat pasta is poison. So, why is it that every Asian-born person I've ever met, from Iran to Japan, eats white rice--some EVERY DAY, but they're not all unhealthy? Europeans, especially the French and Italians, eat white bread by the kilo-tonne; their arteries aren't shutting down. I've talked to Japanese and Koreans who say they only time they eat brown rice is when they're ill. Otherwise, they've eaten white rice every day of their lives.

                                            No, it's the going years without eating green vegetables or fresh fruits and shoveling processed foods that makes people unhealthy. You can get your fiber from other sources besides your grain. I'm not saying refined grains are good for you (or that the "enriching" process is without its problems). I just don't buy into this idea that they're all poison.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: staughton

                                              They eat much, much smaller portions of it than we do, with fat, and red wine helps a lot with preventing metabolic syndrome. But actually, quite a few rice and pasta eating populations have the highest prevalence of the resultant diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

                                              The fiber content of my diet went way up when I stopped eating starches. Veggies, nuts, olives, avocados are much better sources.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                i disagree about "smaller portions". for example japanese people (and koreans, and thais...) eat WAY more grain in a day than a lot of americans - mostly white rice. metabolic disorders are uncommon in all three of those countries. also wine is somewhere between "rare"/"unheard of" and "only moderately common" in those places.

                                                different people, different diets, in the end it's all about balance and i don't think there's a silver bullet or a single villain to blame - which i think is what staughton was saying? refined grains aren't bad for you or good for you, per se (though i'm pretty firmly in the HFCS-hater camp but that's me...). they just, like any food or for that matter any activity, need to be a part of an overall balanced lifestyle. IMHO. as a good friend of mine says, "it's not a problem, unless it's a problem". refined grains aren't categorically a problem in and of themselves, but consuming them in certain ways (like anything) can be associated with/contribute to problems.

                                                1. re: chartreauxx

                                                  "japanese people (and koreans, and thais...) eat WAY more grain in a day than a lot of americans - mostly white rice. metabolic disorders are uncommon in all three of those countries."

                                                  Except that neither of those assertions are borne out by careful research. Japanese eat much smaller meal size than Americans but are still in the top 10 of countries in terms of diabetes prevalence. http://apps.who.int/diabetes/facts/en...

                                                  Korea has seen a dramatic increase:


                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    dunno what part of japan they were studying - i lived there for 3 years and could never get over how much more my colleagues and students ate than i could...

                                                    that's anecdotal, of course. that said, i'd also point out that if we're going on "careful research", there's a real lack of evidence suggesting that refined grains are "baddies". in fact, corn, a whole grain, is associated with pellagra when eaten to excess, and while i won't argue the benefits of fiber, giving up starch isn't necessary to have a high-fiber diet. that's all.

                                                    your cited studies support the simple points that diabetes occurs at X rate and is increasing at X rate. they do NOT separate, in my opinion, "refined grain consumption" from "processed food consumption", "overall diet composition", and other environmental factor changes, etc. in any way that could be deemed scientifically meaningful. i think it also overlooks that studies such as this can ONLY occur in industrialized nations that choose to participate and have the capacity, scientifically medically socially and financially, to do so. there are a limited number of nations on earth capable and willing to participate in such studies, which in my opinion leaves huge portions of the health geography map uncharted. so while i won't claim your studies aren't interesting (they are and i plan to read more), i also don't think they "prove" much of anything.

                                                    1. re: chartreauxx

                                                      Someone who used to post a lot onlne lived in Japan, married someone Japanese and repeatedly drove home the difference in portions. But in urban areas, much of Asia is eating more like folks in the U.S. leading to increased metabolic disease/disorder. And poor, rural folks in China who eat mostly rice have deficiency diseases in addition.

                                                2. re: mcf

                                                  I don't know how much red wine Koreans and Japanese are drinking these days, and if you think the majority of Asians eat smaller portions of white rice (or other refined grains) than "we" do, you've clearly not lived/dined with many Asians. And of course developed countries who've been eating pasta/white rice for centuries are now experiencing higher rates of diabetes in the past few decades--because they're eating less fresh produce and more processed food along with it! That doesn't mean that the traditional Japanese, Korean, or Italian diet, loaded with fresh vegetables and fruit and smaller portions of meat and little-to-no dairy is a diabetes-inducing diet because of the refined grains.

                                                  Olives and avocados are NOT better sources of fiber than oatmeal or quinoa or brown rice or sweet potatoes or turnips (all starches). Where's your "careful research" to bear out that assertion, btw?

                                                  1. re: staughton

                                                    It's not because they're eating less veggies, it's because they're eating such a high % of their total from grains and reducing proteins and fats at the same time. We'll have to disagree about the merits of quinoa, oatmeal and other starches, which are nutrient impoverished unless you eat enough of them to feed an army. Turnips, OTOH, are low carb, high fiber, and I eat them regularly in winter. A cup of mashed turnip still has a very low carbohydrate content compared to the others you've mentioned.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      protein and fat consumption as a percentage of diet is rising sharply in the countries under discussion. NOT decreasing. percentage of diet made up of starch is actually on the decline.

                                                    2. re: staughton

                                                      Hopping onto the thread...it depends on how you define "better". For our household, starches are out because my DH is living with DM Any fiber in that oatmeal or rice would have the added effect of spiking his blood glucose.. So for him, breakfast today was an avocado filled with a scoop of tuna salad with celery and a hard boiled egg. Also for our household, the fiber in broccoli packs more of a nutritional punch than the fiber in oatmeal...more antioxidants, etc.

                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                        My experience exactly. This means we have lower risk of metabolic disorder complications including cardiovascular disease.

                                                    3. re: mcf

                                                      I grew up as a kid in the 1960's hearing all the hippies who were health food fanatics make the saying"You Are What You Eat"a very popular slogan! AND it is true....eat right and your body will do right by you.

                                                  2. Cracklins........
                                                    Head Cheese........

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. I'm going to jump on this one with my favorite much-maligned-by-Chowhounders dessert - Red Velvet Cake. Regardless of the red stuff in it, I absolutely love the flavor of buttermilk with the kiss of cocoa in that cake. There's only one way to make it right, though, and that doesn't happen often. It usually has the wrong frosting, and the ingredients are either vanilla with red or chocolate with red.. It's really all about the buttermilk.
                                                      I don't really care if it's red or green or not colored at all - just close your eyes and dig in.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                        I thought it was about vinegar? I still don't get it, not a fave at all.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          I never noticed that the vinegar added a flavor to it...there's not much, just a teaspoon. I just thought it was for the reaction with the baking soda.

                                                          Unless you've had a traditional RV cake, with the old recipe like Mom Mom's,
                                                          you haven't had the real thing. If you've had that, and still don't like it, can I have the rest of your piece?

                                                        2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                          I didn't know it was maligned here, how odd.

                                                          1. re: rasputina

                                                            Yes, sadly, there are some who don't see the charm of RV! There are some threads here on CH about it.
                                                            Either you love it or you hate it, I guess!

                                                          2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                            I'm SO glad I started reading this thread! I've made RV cakes for years (DD's favorite) and while I've made some pretty good RV cakes, I've got to try this one after reading the reviews here. I'm going to make a trial run to make sure I get it right, then it will be on our T-day menu and/or Christmas menu.

                                                            As for unfair food reputations - I eat what I like, I don't care what others think. I happen to love canned sardines packed in soybean oil, my grown kids tell me I'm crazy, don't care - sardines on a cracker topped with either hot sauce or yellow mustard???? YUM :)

                                                            I respect what others have a taste for and I say "Go for it!"

                                                          3. "red sauce Italian" Give me my eggplant parm, lasagna and spaggeti.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. Prunes! I love dried fruit, prunes included. They are sweet, fruity, and chewy. A little digestive benefit never hurt anybody.

                                                              Fruit cake -- dried fruit + nuts = delicious.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: Tara57

                                                                I wholeheartedly second the prunes!! I LOVE prunes.... one of my friends and I call them natures chewy candy :) I have to be careful when I buy a canister of them that I don't eat the whole thing in a sitting!!

                                                                1. re: kubasd

                                                                  tasty they may be, but the whole tin might put a ... wrinkle? in your day ... ;-)

                                                                  1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                    Oh I know!! the 32 oz. one especially!! I've made that mistake before.... embarrassed!!

                                                                    1. re: kubasd

                                                                      i made the same mistake - once. i "shriveled" up in shame....

                                                                      bad puns. so sorry.

                                                                      1. re: chartreauxx


                                                                        I always appreciate a punny sense of humour :)

                                                                          1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                            it definitely keeps life moving along at a good pace ;)

                                                                2. re: Tara57

                                                                  prunes, don't you mean dried plums (as the marketing folks now want to call them)? I love prunes out of the bag. Stewed prunes, not so much.

                                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                    I think they gave up on the whole "dried plums" thing.... I don't think they were fooling anyone.

                                                                3. In truth, they are probably fairly maligned, but I'll add Vienna sausage. Don't get me wrong, i wouldn't eat them every day or every week even, but every once in a while i get a hankering for them,

                                                                  1. I think these seem to get a bad rap--worse than they deserve:

                                                                    boiled food, especially boiled meat

                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                      Long live ketchup! I just enjoyed a plate of steamy, piping hot fries and cool kethcup...hit the spot!

                                                                      1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                        sign me up for the ketchup train. LOVE ketchup.

                                                                        1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                          How is ketchup maligned, much less unfairly so?

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            HFCS. Commercial ketchup is loaded with it. Even organic ketchup. There are specialty ketchups available that do not include HFCS.

                                                                            Unfairly? I dunno. Everything in moderation seems to work in this household. I think that maybe the anti-HCFS community spotlights ketchup. But please don't use me as an expert source. I'm not a fan of HFCS. But ketchup in moderation, oh yes.

                                                                            1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                              Well, then why not just say HFCS instead of ketchup. Lots of things have HFCS.

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                Regardless of whether ketchup has HFCS in it or natural sugar, I've certainly read plenty of comments from folks here on CH that diss the use of ketchup on anything and in any sort of cooking, with declarations of utter repugnance and distaste for use of same. Plenty. Even with "foreign cuisines" - such as Thai - I've read my share of screams of horror at ketchup being used in Thai dishes (including at least one thread on ketchup in pad thai) and it doesn't even seem to matter when other folks mention that the Thais and others in SE and even E Asia *do* use ketchup in various dishes - the horror-stricken folks seem to simply ignore those comments.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  I try to avoid HFCS and it happens to be in most ketchups. But I rarely see or hear anyone maligning ketchup itself. I think what makes ketchup seem less "adult" is how sweet it is. Ketchup is just a really sweet curry. The other instance when ketchup is maligned is when someone puts it on EVERYTHING, for instance I had an ex request ketchup at a 4 star French restaurant to add some "flavor" to the dishes.

                                                                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                    I had a neighbor growing up who's mother packed his lunch with a film canister of ketchup every day. I don't remember anything else at all about what he had for lunch, I just remember the ketchup.

                                                                                2. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                  heinz makes a pretty normal version called "simply heinz" that's HFCS-free. that's what i use.

                                                                                    1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                      Yes. Good stuff.

                                                                                      Have you tried stir-fried dishes (e.g. chicken & something like celery or carrots) with ketchup as the principal saucing? :-) It's delicious.

                                                                                      Or a meat sauce for pasta with ketchup as a major component? Yum!!

                                                                                        1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                          Oh, that was smile-inducing. The sketti-throwing was hilarious, including boo-boo eating it off the cupboard. :-D

                                                                                          Here's one version I've posted here on CH before:

                                                                                      1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                        also known as Original Recipe ;-)
                                                                                        can you tell where I live? ;-)

                                                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      lots of people knock it as a "trashy" condiment, for those with "unrefined palates", "kids' sauce", etc. i happen to like the stuff.

                                                                                    3. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                      See, all these replies show just how polemical ketchup has become. I'm not a huge fan of it, and only put it on some things. But, I don't think it deserves the disdain it seems to get in a lot of circles. What's so childish about it? The sweetness? Then, I guess honey, sugar, chocolate mouse, etc... deserve the same contempt as they are sweet. If there are chemicals in it--well, that's a whole nother issue: the issue of chemicals in ANY food.

                                                                                      1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                        Actually there's been nothing polemical in this discussion. Nobody said they hate ketchup and my personal musing about ketchup seeming "less adult" was poorly worded, because I haven't heard anyone disparaging ketchup as a kid's condiment. That being said, I was hypothesizing that if ketchup was viewed in a disdainful way, perhaps, one of the reasons might be because it is so sweet. Kids like sweet things. Also, kids love to put ketchup on things.

                                                                                        1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                          I love ketchup, Heinz only. Extra HFCS for me, please. Like it on fries and burgers, fried fish etc. Use it in fancier preparations when I want a little extra tomato + a sweetener.

                                                                                    4. Spam. Love the stuff, but I got teased as a kid for having it in my lunch.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                        probably by all the kids eating the so-much-less-mysterious sandwiches with commercial lunch meat and processed cheese product in it, amirite? :-)

                                                                                        i like to call spam "rillettes a l'americaine"

                                                                                        1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                          Spam and "Luncheon Meat" in the Far East/SE Asia was a *treat*, relatively expensive, and was savored when it was served - usually fried in some way - at least in my experience. A sort-of scramble with eggs was a wonderful dish.

                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                            i like it in fried rice. or scrambled up with eggs as you say, and served as filling in a rice ball/onigiri.

                                                                                        2. Jarred Tomato based Pasta sauces. I think different sauces have different characteristics such as sweeter, spicier, tangier etc. These seem to be amazingly good products that can be bought on sale for a dollar for a 26oz. glass jar. I can not possibly buy the ingredients to make a sauce for cheaper, much less buy canned tomatoes, crushed or whole.

                                                                                          Of course I doctor the sauces to my taste, but the base product is really much maligned unfairly.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: DWB

                                                                                              amen. i use jarred sauces often, doctored and sometimes not, and have no complaints.

                                                                                            2. Any thoughts on Ranch dressing? I think that it has it's place but seems to have been relegated to the childish category in a way similar to ketchup among many circles.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                I like it homemade, and I don't mean with the little seasoning packet.

                                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                  Oh! unfairly maligned. The little seasoning packets! : )

                                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                  Agreed, rasputina. I posted my afinity for raw milk on the "how do you drink your milk" board and was bashed.

                                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                                    Roasted beets are maligned?? Perhaps it has been overused as an accompaniment to blue cheese/goat cheese in the salad combo, but in combination with other roasted root vegetables (or even on its own, sans cheese, it is wonderful.

                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                      I rarely eat Ramen anymore but it was a definite childhood favorite. It still hits the spot though. Although, oddly I prefer it dry. My mom and I used to open a package, break off dry noodles and dip them in the seasoning packet...surprisingly good, although admittedly probably very weird. I think I have a thing with dry pasta, as I used to often walk by the cupboard and pop a handful of dry macaroni into my mouth and chew away with delight.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                        I add baby bok choy, thinly sliced green onions and parsley to Ramen noodles, soy sauce, too.

                                                                                                        1. I grew up only getting to eat casseroles as my dad didn't like casseroles. OMG, if he had had some of the ones I have had he'd have changed his tune.

                                                                                                          I also like American Chinese Food too and love anchovies.

                                                                                                          1. American cheese - true, it's bland and not even real cheese but melts beautifully and works well when paired with another flavorful cheese.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                              ... and works well when paired with another flavorful cheese.

                                                                                                              It works beautifully when paired with a battered, fried filet of fish.

                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                  On a nice, soft potato roll, with tartar sauce. Amen.

                                                                                                                2. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                                  Although it's nice to make variations of grilled cheese, when I crave my childhood favorite dumped in ketchup it's American cheese all the way!

                                                                                                                  1. Yes, casseroles. I had a midwestern upbringing in the southwest with a mom that was changed forever when she had her first Caesar salad in LA in the 1940s. She wasn't really well-equipped to fix family food as a career, but she did get into it some of the time, and I really remember some of those casseroles as being really, really great eats, no matter what people say about them. It was a phase that America was going through, and some of those things are still wonderful, despite the bias against them these days, I'm thinking that people who diss those things were too young to have grown up on them. Lots of them are really good eats. And you can always use your own sauce for the cream-of-fill-in-the-blank soup, cantcha?

                                                                                                                    1. Donuts! I have a donut every Friday for my mid-morning snack (which is usually a small portion of cheese or nuts on other days). The donut bad/muffin good dichotomy is totally illogical. If the nutrition charts from Dunkin Donuts or Tim Horton are any indication, donuts range between 280-350 calories (a manageable weekly snack), while muffins are upwards of 400 calories. Donuts are more satisfying, anyway. Bit into a donut, and enjoy the mildly crisp exterior and the soft, flavorful interior. Bite into a muffin, and taste only a generic sweetness. Donuts (except maybe jelly donuts) are neater than the crumb-shedding muffins.

                                                                                                                      26 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: MrsBridges

                                                                                                                        I would imagine it's the frying that contributes to the bad rap ;)

                                                                                                                        I like a good cake donut, but you definitely have to seek them out ...

                                                                                                                        1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                          Yes it's probably a frying-phobic holdover from "low fat" days (never mind the actual fat content of muffins).
                                                                                                                          I agree with MrsBridges... when it comes to TH's offerings, donuts are probably the better choice, calorie and taste-wise. Their donuts are bad, but their muffins are terrible.
                                                                                                                          Donuts have gotten smaller over the years, while commerical muffins are gigantic compared to the yield from any home recipe... and if they have streusal topping? Calorie bombs.

                                                                                                                        2. re: MrsBridges

                                                                                                                          I'm certainly going to jump your stuff for eating a donut once in a while, but when comparing a donut to a muffin, most muffins have something more to offer nutritionally than carbs, sugar and fat. It's like one time i heard the CEO of Krispy Kream comparing calories of a doughnut to a bagel with cream cheese.

                                                                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                            In terms of the health damage they do, they're equal.

                                                                                                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                              Do you think a white bagel and cream cheese have much more to offer? At perhaps twice the calories? I don't. Same with most commercial muffins. The "healthy" content is minimal.

                                                                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                yeah, i do. At least in the bagel you get some protein from the cream cheese.

                                                                                                                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                  But I think I get more joy out of eating a donut than a bagel. That should count for something.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                    Definitely it does. Personally, while i like good donuts from time to time, i generally go for more savory in the a.m., except pancakes and waffles.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                      Ipse, if my bagel is an 'everything' bagel, or onion, and I have a shot at smoked salmon cream cheese, or simple smoked salmon on plain cream cheese with my bagel, and perhaps some capers and red onion to boot - well, that bagel will win any day over a donut.

                                                                                                                                      I think it is the savory over sweet camp, thing. I tend into the savory:)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, but if my donut was a bacon peanut butter maple bar, I'd still probably enjoy my donut more even though, like you, I tend towards the savory.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                          Well, when you put it like that Ispe - I could enjoy a bacon-peanut butter maple bar... as well as that ordinary bagel. Check out Top Pot, who is our go-to for great 'hand-forged" donuts in town. A far cry from a limpid glazed from Crazy Creme.....

                                                                                                                                          On the street below my recent ex BF's place... hard not to take a dozen or 2 of those to the office to satisfy the troops....

                                                                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                            I love that term ... "hand-forged".

                                                                                                                                            I wonder if Robert Mondavi would call his products "foot-forged" ...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                              Why do I immediately think of Lucille Ball...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                I doubt it, Ipse, since Mr. Mondavi has been in an ongoing non-life situation since May of 2008.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                        American bagel and muffin breakfasts have less protein than your typical porridge and preserved fish breakfasts with cold tofu, pickled soybeans or soy milk, dried meat shreds and seaweed. I always find it so curious how people can eat only bagels, muffins or cereal for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                          Or pastries, Danish or cakes or other types; bread bread bread; sweet sweet sweet stuff...I'll pass.

                                                                                                                                          Steak & eggs; Chook w/ pork ribs or fish or salted eggs or century eggs; stir-fries w/ veggies and meats, rice; Noodle soups w/ veggies and meats etc; hearty soups and stews; SAVORY hearty stuff - YES!!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                            My favorite breakfast is leftover Thai food. Or Chinese in a pinch.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                            That may well be; but I think I will still pass on the fish, tofu, and seaweed for breakfast. I like to ease into ethnic food as the day goes on ...

                                                                                                                                            I never eat bagels for breakfast unless someone brings them to work, but in the winter I often bake my own banana/nut/bran muffins.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                              I agree. Not really a lunch-for-breakfast person.It needn't be sweet breakfast, but I like bacon, eggs, sausage, english muffins, toast....

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                You ought to try Bak Kut Teh someday. For breakfast, of course.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                  Sounds good, in spite of the photo that looks like sardines in dishwater.
                                                                                                                                                  May I have it for lunch, though, please?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                      Now, that's better! I will have to make it myself, as there are no restaurants in 50 miles that would offer it.
                                                                                                                                                      It will be dinner, though. Thanks for the inspiration, huiray!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                      I agree with you jm. Huiray taught me this dish and I make it once in a while. We enjoy it, but we never eat it for breakfast either :-) What can say, Western upbringing....

                                                                                                                                            2. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                              Well, that's pushing it a tad, since cream cheese gets almost all of its calories from fat... 2 gms of protein per 100 calories plus hundreds for the bagel is not such a bargain.

                                                                                                                                          3. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                            Not really. These are the first few ingredients of a muffin and a donut taken from D&D

                                                                                                                                            Blueberry Muffin: 460 15g fat, 76g carb, 6g pro
                                                                                                                                            Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour, Sugar, Water, Eggs, Soybean Oil, Blueberries, Sweetened Wild Blueberries

                                                                                                                                            Glazed Donut: 260 cal, 14g fat, 31g carb, 3g pro
                                                                                                                                            Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, Water, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Whey, Skim Milk, Yeast, Blueberries

                                                                                                                                            Now granted there is a difference in size, but. I don't see anything great from the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                        2. Beef, foie gras, great mac & cheese, black-eyed peas and catfish.


                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                            Absolutely agree on the catfish. I grew up in a tiny, tiny town, and we would always get fried catfish takeout from the town restaurant on Friday. Once or twice a year, dad would go fishing with friends, and then we'd have a huge fish fry get together.

                                                                                                                                            I wish it wasn't so hard to find catfish in the big city that I live in now.

                                                                                                                                          2. I think the Japanese food "natto" is quite often unfairly maligned. It is fermented soybeans, held together with a mucous-like slime, but has a wonderful nutty taste and a mild aroma. It does not stink or taste foul at all, though like blue cheeses, it takes a few times to get used to it.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                              I didn't think much of it, it wasn't offensive - I just didn't really care for it. Then I got sick...so the taste aversion will take some time to wear off.

                                                                                                                                              Others -
                                                                                                                                              American Chinese - I've had some very well prepared General Tsos.
                                                                                                                                              Century Eggs
                                                                                                                                              Tongue - may be one of my favorite beef cuts
                                                                                                                                              most canned/tinned fish
                                                                                                                                              american cheese
                                                                                                                                              breakfast cereals

                                                                                                                                            2. Right now, rice is being unfairly maligned in another Chowhound forum in a thread with the title, "High arsenic levels found in rice & rice products - moderation recommended." It's unfair to call the level of arsenic in rice "high" when there are no standards for arsenic levels in foods and when rice is a staple food of billions of people none of whom are known to have suffered any adverse health effects. "High" relative to what?


                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: John Francis

                                                                                                                                                  Yep, I'm cooking a big ol' pot of rice right now. All the aarmist talk, posts, and threads are rather annoying to me... If it's not one thing, it's another. Something will always be the new evil, I'll just ride this one out.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John Francis

                                                                                                                                                    Just regarding rice as a staple, apparently it's American rice that has high levels of arsenic. It is because arsenic is not well regulated in the US and corporate mega-farms. For instance, arsenic based products are fed to chickens and their waste runoff sends arsenic into nearby fields and water which results in the rice having higher levels of arsenic than the rice from other countries such as China or Japan.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                      My darling late beloved Filipino father in law patiently taught me how to clean wash and properly cook rice in a pan not a rice cooker.. IF I ever lost a grain down in the sink he would get so irritated with me and practically kick me out of my own house:) Does anyone else find it a bit suspicious that the "rice alarms" are just now going off after we have been eating white rice for years?

                                                                                                                                                  2. Healthy food.
                                                                                                                                                    Unhealthy food.
                                                                                                                                                    Cheap food.
                                                                                                                                                    Expensive food.
                                                                                                                                                    Exotic food.
                                                                                                                                                    Staple foods.
                                                                                                                                                    Fancy food.
                                                                                                                                                    Plain food.
                                                                                                                                                    That about covers it!

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                        Also fish, shellfish, fungi, fruit. I suppose all could fall under one of the "food" categories, though. :-D