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Survey: What is Your Biggest Obstacle in Becoming a Better Chowhound (or Food Expert)?

Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 06:52 PM

Sometime ago I asked you about the most important factor in shaping you into a food expert/chowhound. Most of you stated that both cooking and eating out have important influence with a slightly strong leaning toward cooking.


Now, I like to follow up with a different question:
What is the biggest obstacle which has slowed you down in becoming a better food expert?

A) Money
You want to cook more or eat out more, but you just don't have enough money to buy rare ingredients for the recipes you want to try or to go out to expensive restaurants.
B) Time
You have sufficient money, but you don' have the time to make these time consuming recipes. You have sufficient money to travel to Japan to try Jiro's sushi, but you just don't have the time to do this.
C) Energy
You have sufficient money and time, but you don't have enough motivation/energy/willpower. When you get home, you often just want to rest, take a shower or watch some TVs. You really don't have the focus to start cooking fancy foods, and the idea of dressing up to go out to a nice restaurant sounds like torture to you.
D) None of the Above.

So, which your biggest limitation at this very moment? Money, time or energy?

You can use the recommendation button to cast your vote. You can always change your mind and remove your recommendation and cast a different vote.

Thanks for your time

  1. t
    tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 19, 2014 09:48 PM

    I would add another item to the list

    D) Location

    It's a lot easier to be a Chowhound if you live in a major urban centre with tons of amazing restaurants at all price ranges and access to a world of ingredients than if you life in a small town where people talk, in hushed tones, of one day getting an Olive Garden, and your nearest Asian market is a all day drive away.

    Alternatively, it's a lot harder to make good food a priority when you're a university student living in residence or on military deployment, when you don't have cooking facilities and eat at a cafetaria.

    6 Replies
    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
      lagatta Jan 20, 2014 05:02 AM

      Yes, absolutely. My income is modest, but I live in a large city with a very good offering of ingredients from many cultures, and a lot of those shops cater to "ordinary" working-class people from those communities, so they aren't expensive.

      Also, if I lived in the countryside or a small town, I'd pretty much have to own and run a car, unless I lived somewhere warm enough to cycle all year, and not too steep-hilled for my no longer young legs.

      The student or military person tastesgood speaks of will just have to rely on occasional treats or dream of later life - when they may miss the excitement of student or military life...

      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
        c oliver Jan 20, 2014 07:33 AM

        But I became a COOKING CH because of a dearth of good restaurants. When we lived in SF I cooked little and it was quite plain generally.

        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
          Kontxesi Jan 20, 2014 09:18 AM

          I didn't even think about this, but it definitely applies. It's a 30 minute drive to get to any decent food, and even then it's not exactly a huge city. Sometimes 30 minutes doesn't seem like anything, and other days it's an eternity and I just make pasta instead.

          1. re: Kontxesi
            Puffin3 Jan 20, 2014 10:10 AM

            I can relate first hand with each of the obstacles over the years. Health/money/working my butt off etc.

            I'm embarrassed to say now I have no such obstacles.
            Making food from every part of the world is now a very enjoyable hobby. Not a scrap ever goes to waste.
            Last night was a'BB'. Tonight is Ha Gow.
            I sincerely hope that all you CHers will get to a place when you can enjoy all things food ASAP.
            With best regards.

            1. re: Puffin3
              lagatta Jan 21, 2014 01:25 PM

              Don't be embarrassed, just thank the food gods (Bacchus, Ceres and all) for your good luck!

              1. re: lagatta
                Puffin3 Jan 22, 2014 04:31 AM

                I do every day.
                I used to think my life was a hard struggle. And it was.
                But when I see young families now with the parents in their twenties with a lifetime ahead trying to make it in today's economy, trying to keep pace with the effects of globalization to mention just one mountain to climb I shudder to think.
                In comparison my generation pretty much only had to be willing to get up and get to work to get ahead.

        2. John E. Jan 19, 2014 07:53 PM

          If the options are money, time, and energy, I would say all three come into play, not necessarily all at the same time.

          I would say priorities also are part of it. We could probably afford to drop $300 on a meal at a restaurant, but there are other things we would rather spend our money on.

          I'm the Chowhound in my family, so it depends on my time and energy when I wish to cook new foods/dishes. I have gotten to be a good enough cook that there are requests made by family and friends so I have a little less time for experimenting.

          I'm the main cook at our family's deer camp, it's been that way for years. In the past I have been annoyed because it is mostly a thankless task. Last deer season my brothers and a friend asked me for the recipe to my pork chile verde. I am pretty sure my SILs won't go to the effort however.

          1. t
            tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 19, 2014 07:25 PM

            Money, on several fronts.

            My budget simply doesn't stretch to high end restaurants, so I have zero experience with that sort of dining in general.

            Some ingredients, particularly imported stuff, is beyond my budget - good cheese, for example, is a special treat, not a regular part of my diet.

            And on a larger scale, my kitchen facilities are determined by what I can afford in rent, so I have to do without some things, like having more than two burners, owning an oven, or having the refrigerator in the same room as the stove. A western style kitchen of the sort that's normal in the US would triple my rent, at least.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
              lagatta Jan 20, 2014 05:00 AM

              Fascinating. What part of the world do you live in?

              Good cheese is also relatively far more expensive in some parts of the world than others.

            2. s
              sal_acid Jan 19, 2014 07:16 PM

              I am without limitations.

              The question is how can Chowhound become better to serve me.

              1. westsidegal Jan 19, 2014 06:07 PM

                if i had more money, not only could i go to better restaurants, but i could "buy" the time required to travel to them. (i.e. get a driver so that the travel time could be used productively)

                6 Replies
                1. re: westsidegal
                  lagatta Jan 19, 2014 06:11 PM

                  Well, for me that would be an ethical issue, but that is my problem. ;-)

                  1. re: lagatta
                    westsidegal Jan 19, 2014 07:13 PM

                    curious as to why hiring a a driver so that you could text, talk on the phone, read, etc would be an ethical issue for you?

                    as long as you paid the driver fairly and he/she used your car with proper insurance, why would this be unethical?

                    do you not take cabs?

                    1. re: westsidegal
                      Veggo Jan 19, 2014 07:17 PM

                      I assumed you meant a limousine with your friends and a running start on the champagne. Nothing unethical there.

                      1. re: westsidegal
                        lagatta Jan 20, 2014 04:58 AM

                        Yes, I occasionally take cabs, but I try to cycle, walk or take public transport as much as I can. Just ethical in an environmental sense.

                        Of course I'd drive a car (less polluting possible, and used as little as possible) if I lived in the countryside. I'm only talking about urban life, and of course, this is getting off topic from food.

                        1. re: lagatta
                          c oliver Jan 20, 2014 07:31 AM

                          Well, there's urban and then there's urban. You'd have a hard time going out to eat in LA with a car.

                          1. re: c oliver
                            lagatta Jan 20, 2014 09:17 AM

                            I live in Montréal.

                            Jealous of LA's climate, but a fail in terms of urbanism.

                  2. eclecticsynergy Jan 19, 2014 06:00 PM

                    For me it's D) none of the above.

                    I'd say my biggest limitation is that when I find something I really like, I crave it again and am less likely to try something different from the same chef. I've been known to spend ten minutes perusing an entire menu, then order the same thing I had last time because it was so good.

                    Though I admit I don't have the wherewithal to frequent the really expensive places, and certainly neither the money nor the time to travel the world for the sake of cuisine. I might be a bit too tired for that even if I had the resources. So A, B, C, and D.

                    I guess that would make it E) all of the above...

                    1. l
                      lagatta Jan 19, 2014 03:11 PM

                      a) Money, not in terms of home cooking, as I'm a very good cook and live in a neighbourhood in Montréal with access to a stellar public market, lots of "ethnic" food shops (of many different ethnicities) and artisanal suppliers, but in terms of really being able to afford the restaurant scene and report on it.

                      I'm over 50, of course have to watch my weight and be careful about health issues, but there is no serious issue at this point. One must eat smaller portions!

                      I agree with what some others have said about not always being motivated to spend hours cooking just for myself, but I was brought up eating "real food" and not ready meals.

                      1. vil Jan 19, 2014 09:15 AM


                        All other factors definitely bear some weight, but the biggest one right now is having a compromised sense of smell (along with other conditions that typically come with aging).

                        1. c
                          cornedhash Jan 18, 2014 08:37 PM

                          I was about to say "E... a combination of A/B/C" but others have stated that already.

                          I've spent the last 7 years on a roller coaster and it sapped me of my energy while taking away time and money. I'm finally starting to get back in a formidable place. And, yes, it's also finding dining companions too.

                          1. juliejulez Jan 18, 2014 01:14 PM

                            A for sure... and sort of a D... health. I cannot eat out very often both because of money, and because I would get fat. I got fat in a previous life because I ate out all the time.

                            1. meatn3 Jan 18, 2014 11:57 AM

                              Money, or lack of, keeps me from dining out as often as I would like. Fortunately I can get a wide variety of ingredients in my town so I can explore quite a bit in my home cooking.

                              Energy is a problem some days. I just try to plan and balance things out.

                              1. EWSflash Jan 18, 2014 08:33 AM


                                and D, the fact that I no longer have a bloodhound-like sense of smell. Dulls the enjoyment.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: EWSflash
                                  Veggo Jan 18, 2014 08:41 AM

                                  That's curious and unfortunate. Word on the street is that you still very much resemble a bloodhound....:)

                                  1. re: Veggo
                                    EWSflash Jan 18, 2014 01:31 PM

                                    That's just the droopy eyelids and gobs of extra skin.

                                    Thanks, veggo- I should change my avatar, I guess. 8^(

                                    1. re: EWSflash
                                      Veggo Jan 18, 2014 03:29 PM

                                      Thanks for being good natured. We have crossed paths enough that I though I could poke a little fun atcha!

                                      1. re: Veggo
                                        EWSflash Jan 19, 2014 06:07 PM

                                        I am nothing if not a good sport *bites veggo on the leg*

                                2. c
                                  charmedgirl Jan 18, 2014 07:29 AM

                                  Hands down it is E) calories. I have sufficient time, money, and energy, but insufficient metabolism. If I had three wishes from a genie, #1 would be "eat what I want without gaining weight." Part of the reason I read chowhound is to eat and cook vicariously through you all. Oh, to be able to eat at all the restaurants, or make all the amazing recipes, that I read about!!! Would be heaven.

                                  1. KaimukiMan Jan 18, 2014 06:44 AM

                                    A) money
                                    F) calories

                                    of course if i had enough time and money i could afford to spend less time working and more time exercising so i could eat more and weigh less.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                      Veggo Jan 18, 2014 06:52 AM

                                      Similarly, I would need a job to afford a boat, but if I had a job I would have no time to use the boat.

                                    2. YAYME Jan 18, 2014 06:36 AM

                                      A) Money And D) for Diabetes

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: YAYME
                                        cornedhash Jan 18, 2014 08:42 PM

                                        D for Diabetes for me too. I usually cobble together meals at restaurants to avoid the starch bombs of mashed potatoes or any other sides. Some days I wish I could just eat regularly.

                                      2. Monica Jan 18, 2014 04:46 AM

                                        Time for sure

                                        1. e
                                          ErnieD Jan 18, 2014 12:07 AM

                                          I put money, mostly in regards to eating out, but to a certain extent also with buying organic veg or more humanely raised meat. In terms of eating out, I would also add less adventurous spouse (although I do get interesting stuff with other people) and also health. Right now, eating out once a month or so, I just get what I want but if I were going out frequently I feel like I'd have to give that a lot more thought.

                                          1. KarenDW Jan 16, 2014 06:37 PM

                                            what about (F) unwilling spouse/SO/family?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: KarenDW
                                              sueatmo Jan 17, 2014 09:20 PM

                                              I can relate to that too. Mr. Sueatmo is very conservative in his tastes. However I have in our 43 years together managed to get him to eat a spicier palate than he grew up with. But I have to really push to get him to go with me to a Thai place. And I have secret thoughts of doing lamb, but I know he is going to have a fit if I buy and fix it.

                                              1. re: sueatmo
                                                KarenDW Jan 17, 2014 11:36 PM

                                                DH is less interested in trying out new places to eat, than I. He's also more likely to repeatedly cook the same menu items in short rotation. Once I can get him OUT, he usually enjoys the new experience.

                                                1. re: KarenDW
                                                  sueatmo Jan 18, 2014 12:55 PM

                                                  This is sometimes our experience as well. But not always.

                                            2. p
                                              pedalfaster Jan 16, 2014 04:23 PM

                                              D) I have physical limitation that sometime interfere with my ability to eat (and thus to cook--I consider the two linked).

                                              1. k
                                                kcshigekawa Jan 16, 2014 04:20 PM

                                                A) Money

                                                Even with the Spousal Unit working (at last!), pennies get pinched pretty hard in our house.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: kcshigekawa
                                                  drongo Jan 18, 2014 05:16 AM

                                                  I like the Beldar Conehead reference. Or maybe you ARE Beldar??

                                                  1. re: drongo
                                                    Tripeler Jan 19, 2014 05:43 AM

                                                    Drongo, you must remember the Coneheads came from FRANCE. They did not have Japanese surnames!

                                                2. s
                                                  sisterfunkhaus Jan 16, 2014 04:15 PM

                                                  Energy for sure. Some nights it's easier to throw in a casserole with cream of whatever soup that my husband and I grew up on. My daughter is learning to cook though, so maybe she can throw in some good meals. She is making breaded chicken cutlets with a white wine gravy and homemade mashed potatoes and peas tonight.

                                                  1. t
                                                    truman Jan 16, 2014 09:44 AM

                                                    All of the above, plus my audience/dining companions (DH and 3yo) are not as open-minded as I wish they were.

                                                    1. melpy Jan 16, 2014 08:24 AM

                                                      A combination.

                                                      While we make decent money, I am fairly cheap, I will splurge but as much as we eat out we can't make ti a habit.

                                                      For us availability of restaurants and ingredients impedes some of my learning.

                                                      Because of the travel distance, time becomes an issue. Also I work full time and this eats into my day quite a bit. It also means I am exhausted when I come home so big project cooking is usually on a Sunday afternoon.

                                                      None of these are all that big and are fairly equal.

                                                      1. s
                                                        sueatmo Jan 15, 2014 09:14 PM

                                                        Energy for me. I am too contented doing similar things, and too many times we opt to eat out, and I don't mean at gourmet restaurants either.

                                                        I am actually trying to get out of my rut now. I like to make things from scratch, but we don't usually need a big dinner. I need to find reasons to cook nice dinners, and try new things.

                                                        1. a
                                                          autumm Jan 15, 2014 08:22 PM

                                                          E.. All of the above.

                                                          I have a 2 year old who uses up a wonderful amount of my time money and energy. To really cook how I wish I could all the time, she needs some major wrangling (thank you Mr Autumn) And when she's hungry, she doesn't care that the sauce would be a bit better if it could reduce a bit further. Granted she loves shrimp, scallops, and avocado (but not guacamole) so I can't complain too much. And black beans.

                                                          I've accepted that I'm in the period of my cooking life where it's about what I can get done in 30 minutes, which itself is a bit of a challenge. Someday she'll be grown up and gone, and I can "play" all day. And I'm sad thinking about that day already.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: autumm
                                                            vil Jan 19, 2014 09:12 AM

                                                            Pretty much the same situation here! The priority all about nutrition and relatively convenient meals that the little one LIKES, so that the food does not go wasted.

                                                            And yes, the reminder that one day they will no longer need our nurturing makes this time to be cherished.

                                                            1. re: vil
                                                              Kat Jan 20, 2014 11:10 AM


                                                            2. re: autumm
                                                              Kontxesi Jan 20, 2014 09:08 AM

                                                              I have to say all of the above, as well.

                                                              We aren't exactly living paycheck-to-paycheck, as I'm able to put away savings each month, but I always feel like we're on the verge of drowning. Eating out always makes me feel guilty. (Plus, my fiance still prefers generic buffet joints to interesting restaurants.... :| )

                                                              We are gone from 5AM to 5PM Monday-Thursday (10PM on Tuesday, because he has a class) and once we get home, I have a very difficult time not crashing in front of the TV and vegging until bedtime.

                                                              If I really had to pick just one, I guess it would be energy. My job is stressful, my depression is currently unmedicated (so severe lack of motivation), and I'm dealing with a currently undiagnosed issue that has me falling asleep at stoplights and feeling dreadfully drowsy at random points in the day.

                                                              EDIT: Reading down, I definitely have to add calories/health too. I can't really bake unless I'm expecting company, because I'll eat a whole batch of rolls/cookies/brownies/ANYTHING all by myself within a day or two.

                                                            3. w
                                                              WishyFish Jan 15, 2014 08:04 PM

                                                              My biggest obstacle is the type and quality of ingredients I'm limited to because of where I live. There's not even a proper butcher here, which was very disappointing when I wanted to buy some pork fat to try rendering my own lard. *sigh*

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: WishyFish
                                                                AdinaA Jan 19, 2014 09:50 AM

                                                                I sympathize.

                                                                1. re: WishyFish
                                                                  Cherylptw Jan 21, 2014 07:49 PM

                                                                  +2 here also. I have the same issue...VERY limited upscale restaurants in my area and very limited sources of a lot of ingredients so when I go out of my area, I'm on the hunt for things I can't procure here. Though, I sometimes improvise on ingredients if I really want to try a dish and can't find what I need.

                                                                2. l
                                                                  lisaonthecape Jan 15, 2014 07:17 PM

                                                                  B) Time.

                                                                  And if I could add another choice: dining companions. My husband and teen-aged sons are not particularly adventurous eaters. I have met some new folks through Chowhound, though, and we are starting to get together for some fun dining experiences.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: lisaonthecape
                                                                    AdinaA Jan 19, 2014 09:49 AM

                                                                    Also, it's not much fun cooking without an appreciative audience.

                                                                  2. emglow101 Jan 15, 2014 07:11 PM

                                                                    Could you add a D. For none of the above. The only question I have for myself is there are no expensive restaurants to go out to where I live. It's pretty mediocre.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: emglow101
                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 07:20 PM

                                                                      I put (D) underneath (C).

                                                                      In my head, I more or less have considered your situation, and I rationalized it under (B). Distance is time. If I have more time, then I will able to travel further -- like the next town or even to Japan. However, that is my line of thinking, not yours.

                                                                      I have added option (D).

                                                                      1. re: emglow101
                                                                        AdinaA Jan 19, 2014 09:48 AM

                                                                        I used to live there and its true. If you have no access to fabulous, exciting food, you really can't imagine what foodies are excited about.

                                                                      2. w
                                                                        wattacetti Jan 15, 2014 06:55 PM

                                                                        At the moment, it's a toss-up between A and B.

                                                                        C is never an issue.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: wattacetti
                                                                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 06:57 PM

                                                                          Can you help cast your vote A and B into the two posts above by using the recommendation button? Just recommend both of them. Thanks.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                            wattacetti Jan 15, 2014 07:04 PM


                                                                        2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 06:53 PM

                                                                          C) Energy

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                            Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 07:18 PM

                                                                            D) None of the Above

                                                                          2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 06:53 PM

                                                                            B) Time

                                                                            1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 15, 2014 06:52 PM

                                                                              A) Money

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