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Foods Together: My Way or the Highway

Some people evidently feel that certain foods MUST be eaten together ALL OF THE TIME. My parents are a great example of this. Chili HAS to be eaten with saltines (called soda crackers by them), ham and beans MUST be consumed with cornbread, and eggs CANNOT be consumed unless toast is present. "Mom, are you going to have eggs for breakfast tomorrow?" "I CAN'T!" "Why not?" "I'm out of bread!"

For just a few examples.

I once served chili with cornbread to my parents. I think they came close to having me arrested! It was so funny; they were incredulous that I would do such a thing.

I happen to like variety; I don't think I've served two exactly the same meals in my entire life!

Anyone else out there have this type of quirk?

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  1. Since I use crackers as my spoon to eat chili, I would have had you run out and get me crackers. I do love me some cornbread on the side though.

    1. Growing up, my mother always, and I mean always, served applesauce with pork chops. I thought there was a law mandating this combination. This is the only obligatory pairing that I remember.

      When I was beginning to have some kitchen curiosity, I asked about putting bacon strips over the breast of a roasting chicken, explaining that it would 'self-baste' and add flavor. Her answer was that "they don't go together".

      5 Replies
      1. re: Sherri

        Did we have the same mother, Sherri? Did yours spice the applesauce? Mine put ground cinnamon and clove, and heated it up.

        Baked chicken,( glass baking dish filled halfway up the chicken with a combo of cheap dry sherry, a chicken cube and a cup of water). Always served with frozen broccoli and brown rice, boiled in lots of water, then drained. The clear chicken juice was really good on the rice.

        The first time I made chili for my parents (my mother never made it), my dad asked where the saltines were!

        Clam chowder had to have buttered Pilot crackers, heated in the oven.

        B&M canned baked beans and B&M canned brown bread always with coleslaw.

        Ham always had cornbread (Jiffy).

        1. re: Sherri

          Oh, always cooked apples or applesauce with pork chops.

          And, oh yeah, the phrase "they don't go together"......

          My mom says that all the time about perfectly normal dishes that she has never tried.

          1. re: Sherri

            My mom too re the applesauce/pork chops.

          2. I love this topic! I think I do this sometimes but nothing as extreme. For example, whenever I have chili I seek out cornbread. I don't have to have it and can eat them separately and would if I were served them separately. I have definitely had cornbread with BBQ which didn't include chili but I always seem to only think about it at home when I have chili. Other than that, nothing in particular but am interested in other responses to this question.

            My mother is not as extreme but we will discuss cooking and I'll mention something like oh I like asparagus with parmesan and she'll respond "oh no I don't have parmesan" and think it's ludicrous when I mention that she can toss any cheese she likes on there with the assurance "if you like it, it's fine." She will stand with mouth wide open in aghast that you could do that...

            1. Canned oysters must be eaten as part of an omelet.

              1. Despite the fact that I care about foods quiet a bit (I like to think so), I am very relax in term of food pairing compared to others too. Kind of odd if you think about it.

                Anyway, I do know certain ingredients are viewed to be important or essential, so I think these will fit your bill. For example, many people believe butter and lobster must go together, while many Chinese believe garlic and lobster go together. For me, I really like oyster sauce with Chinese broccoli. Not always, but more than 90% of the time.


                I also think barbecue pork should be consumed with sweet tea (although sweet tea does not have to be consumed with barbecue).

                I think I can go on and on, but I am not sure if I am actually answering your question.

                1. If I'm having sardines, they must be on crackers.

                  Fried catfish mush be accompanied by hush puppies.
                  BBQ must be accompanied by one of the following: tater salad, pinto beans, cole slaw.

                  White wine with Indian food.

                  Zinfandel with steak.

                  A brawling, rough-hewn red with pizza or pasta/red sauce.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Yes to crackers and sardines but for indian, BEER!!

                    1. re: tcamp

                      I could dig that. But for me a cool glass of slightly acidic white is salubrious and palate cleansing. It also puts out the fire like nothing else. ;)

                  2. My grandparents said: white asparagus MUST be served with ham chopped into small cubes. Other than that, they were a bit more flexible.

                    1. I don't really have any mandatory food pairing but have lots of condiment pairings where if the condiment was not available I would prefer to not eat the “main”.

                      Steamed lobster with drawn butter
                      Boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce
                      Popcorn with salt and butter
                      Ore Ida steak fries with catsup

                      Then there are things I prefer to eat with another food but not having it wouldn’t be a deal breaker or would stop me eating it

                      Chili with cornbread
                      Roast lamb with mint jelly
                      Pork loin/chops with apple sauce
                      Tortilla chips with guacamole
                      Roast turkey with cranberry sauce
                      Hamburger with french fries
                      Gin with tonic
                      Vodka with seltzer and roses

                      I am sure there are others I am not thinking of but like I said it wouldn’t stop me from eating

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: foodieX2

                        Can you expand on the vodka w/ seltzer and roses, please?

                        1. re: EM23

                          I prefer my vodka on the rocks with seltzer and a tiny splash of roses lime juice. The seltzer adds some bubbles and the roses a hint of tart with sweet. Heaven!

                          1. re: foodieX2

                            Have you tried it with fresh lime?

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              Never heard of Rose's. Vodka and seltzer with lime is my regular sup, and I was just thinking of adding a touch of simple syrup to it the other day. I may give it a try tonight.

                              1. re: EM23

                                Yes, fresh lime and simple syrup works too but Roses has a distinct flavor. I only use the *tiniest" splash but love the pale green color and the bit of sweet and lime. Too much though and too sweet for me. Wonderful summer drink!

                                If you try it report back what you think!

                        2. Sure; in-flight meals in China and a rubbish bin. That's really it for me. Otherwise, I regularly combine cuisines and foods on a plate.

                          1. When I was a kid, sauerkraut and sausage HAD to be consumed with saltines and ketchup. Weird, and off the charts sodium-wise, but that's how I rolled.

                            Hmmmm, nowadays? Maybe wine with cheese, lol!

                            1. My mom always served her chili on white bread or white rice....that was before the advent of corn & tortilla chips.....
                              And corned beef was always boiled with potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Other than that, my Mom was a pretty hip cook for a woman with three kids and worked full time.

                              For my kids, they'll be saying they had to have Kraft mac & cheese with their fish sticks, and bacon kimchi fried rice with their bul gogi. Cuz that's how I roll....

                              1. My mother had just one food pairing rule: everything MUST be eaten with potatoes! And I do mean everything - she served baked potatoes with lasagna.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: littlemissmuffin

                                  At least she didn't serve potatoes with Chinese stir fry or chicken tandoori.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    She would have, if she had ever heard of them. My dad did not like "foreign" food, but once in a while she would make tacos for my brother and she served fried potatoes with them.

                                2. DH has bread with every dinner, including Chinese noodle soup. Sigh.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                    That is because you gave him too little noodle, and he was hungry.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      That's right. We men have needs, too. And lots of noodle is one of them.

                                  2. My "culinary complusions" are only food/bev related...

                                    Pizza and Pepsi. Not Coke. For gawd's sake.
                                    In N Out burgers with Coke. Not Pepsi.
                                    Any food I'm served whilst in in Kentucky and bourbon. Clearly.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: awest1982

                                      I can agree with the bourbon part wholeheartedly. Although I have never been to Kentucky.

                                    2. I realized I do this with condiments. I have a host of hot sauces and they each have a food they go with and don't cross over - Crystal for eggs, Texas Pete for fried chicken, Frank's ground meat, etc.