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Is it possible to have anti-food friendships?

Is it possible to have anti-food friendships?
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  • Is it possible to have anti-food friendships?

    Post #1 - May 4th, 2007, 10:00 am
    Post #1 - May 4th, 2007, 10:00 am Post #1 - May 4th, 2007, 10:00 am
    The query about the vegan and the kosher couple coming to brunch prompts a discussion that I think would be worth having away from that specific query.

    Which is: what do you do about anti-foodies? Can you be friends with them for very long? Is a clash inevitable? Is a relationship doomed when something so central to it as food has no common ground?

    By anti-foodie I mean people who have some conviction or condition that closes off a large part of the world of food to them-- religious, dietary, medical ethical, or simply not caring about food enough to take an interest in it as more than basic sustenance.

    I ask this in part because I've never had to face it head on. I have a sister who is intermittently a vegetarian. There's a picture of her eating barbecue with me at Black's right here. No one Jewish in my circle of acquaintances keeps kosher strictly (let's face it, another name for LTHForum could just about be "Jews For Pork"). There are vegetarians and vegans among the parents from my kids' school, but all that means is that if I make something with meat in it for a potluck, half the people don't eat it and half are extremely grateful to see it. (And it's occasionally been a fun challenge to make something genuinely interesting while meeting these restrictions. It's like writing lipograms.)

    What I haven't had to deal with is the house full of guests who won't eat X Y and Z, the friends you can't go anywhere with except the most generic American restaurant (even my brother-in-law the green vegetable-hating steak eater has a list of Chicago things he loves which will keep everybody happy for as long as we're ever responsible for feeding him). Okay, there is the nephew who only eats McDonald's and Pizza Hut, which was quickly exhausting, I made him fried chicken once and he looked at it like I'd fried the family cat, but I think by now he understands that that's his problem to deal with, not everyone else's. Others may not share my food obsession, but nearly all my friends and relatives seem to enjoy reaping the benefits of my exhaustive knowledge of the scene during a visit or a night on the town. So like James T. Kirk and death, I haven't faced the Kobayashi Maru of trying to please anti-foodies and myself at the same time. Have you? Can you?
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  • Post #2 - May 4th, 2007, 10:08 am
    Post #2 - May 4th, 2007, 10:08 am Post #2 - May 4th, 2007, 10:08 am
    I think the answer to this question revolves around how well rounded of a person you are. If food is your only interest, then you might be in trouble. In my case (and in the case of any number of LTHers that I have met in person), I've got a number of other interests and friends that I relate to on the basis of them. In some cases, food never even enters the conversation.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - May 4th, 2007, 10:19 am
    Post #3 - May 4th, 2007, 10:19 am Post #3 - May 4th, 2007, 10:19 am
    In some cases, if you're cooking for, say, a vegetarian, it can be an interesting challenge - a reason to re-think the way you put meals together. But after preparing a number of meals, it can get tedious.

    Can you be friends? Maybe, but I agree with SteveZ that you'd need other interests in common.

    And, I love your term "anti-foodie."
  • Post #4 - May 4th, 2007, 10:31 am
    Post #4 - May 4th, 2007, 10:31 am Post #4 - May 4th, 2007, 10:31 am
    Yeah, Steve, but sooner or later you have to eat. Won't the tension present itself then (as it doesn't if your friend fails to share your fascination with the underlying ecclesiastical issues in the novels of Trollope, a conflict much less likely to come to the fore)?

    When I go to my film festival in Massillon, Ohio, I can take about four days of not caring about food and just eating 50s American like everyone else before I'm ready to kill for Thai or Indian. That's less of a conflict with fellow film buffs than with my midwestern heritage, but it shows where I'm coming from here.
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  • Post #5 - May 4th, 2007, 10:51 am
    Post #5 - May 4th, 2007, 10:51 am Post #5 - May 4th, 2007, 10:51 am
    I deal with this a couple times a year throwing parties. I have Kosher-keeping friends (including my son's long-term steady), a couple who don't eat red meat, a few who are vegetarian (but thankfully not vegan -- I can't cook for a dinner party without cheese and butter), and two who have trouble eating rich, fried and/or spicy foods.

    So I accomodate -- For my big holiday party, there's usually 10-12 dishes, and only a couple will be red meat. I'll get kosher chicken for a dish or two (thank you, Trader Joe's) and keep the dairy out of that. The only real trouble is the rich food avoiders, and they don't tend to eat much of anything. It has meant dropping a recipe I want to try, but that's just part of the puzzle of the party planning.

    But I'd say a bigger problem is trying to socialize with people who just don't care about food. The ones that give you a blank stare when you ask about the cool restaurants in the area, their favorite places to eat are TGI O'Applebees, etc. That can make an entire evening fall flat, if you've got to come up with, oh, culture or something to talk about.
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  • Post #6 - May 4th, 2007, 10:59 am
    Post #6 - May 4th, 2007, 10:59 am Post #6 - May 4th, 2007, 10:59 am
    I'm kind of creeped out by the suggestion that perhaps food geeks and those with dietary restrictions somehow can't be friends. I'm as obsessed with food -- the full spectrum thereof -- as anybody here, but there are enough issues that divide people... does this really have to be one of them?

    I know folks who are vegan/vegetarian/kosher, and I'm not saying I'm anxious to invite them over for dinner, but if that's the only form of social interaction that can sustain my friendship, then I think the problem lies with me. It's also another matter if you're talking about somebody who harps on you for your eating habits, but the same could be said in reverse. As long as I don't harp on a vegan for not eating enough meat and he doesn't harp on me for needlessly killing animals, we get along just fine.

    There are a lot of issues that can get in the way of friendships, but this strikes me as a supremely silly one.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #7 - May 4th, 2007, 11:08 am
    Post #7 - May 4th, 2007, 11:08 am Post #7 - May 4th, 2007, 11:08 am
    Funny - this isn't an issue with vegan friends, or Jewish friends for me - I've found them to be just as big foodies as I am; just a little sideways about it.

    This is an issue I have with my parents. Keep in mind, these are the same people who, in the culture desert I grew up in, made me eat tongue, avocado, squid, escabeche, black bean soup, and all kinds of other things that, delicious though they were, horrified my friends. They won't eat at my house. This is beyond the medical food restrictions - my mother won't eat if there isn't bread (cuts out Asian food) My father asked me point-blank not to take him somewhere "exotic." I spent the evening rethinking all the meals I'd planned, because they contained an unacceptable ingredient like rice, or shrimp. They didn't enjoy the Korean BBQ because the meat was "chewy" (yet somehow flanken is OK on a parrillada) They visit Mexico and the Dominican Republic and complain about the food...

    I don't get it. They NEVER would have put up with this kind of stuff from me - and I'm grateful, because it gave me such a large food vocabulary.

    OK - venting over...
  • Post #8 - May 4th, 2007, 11:17 am
    Post #8 - May 4th, 2007, 11:17 am Post #8 - May 4th, 2007, 11:17 am
    Mhays wrote:Funny - this isn't an issue with vegan friends, or Jewish friends for me - I've found them to be just as big foodies as I am; just a little sideways about it.


    Another excellent point. I know quite a few people with religious or ethical restrictions who would bristle at the suggestion that they weren't food geeks. And they're absolutely right! They may never know the joys of pork fat but that doesn't mean the same enthusiasm isn't there for the rest of the spectrum.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #9 - May 4th, 2007, 11:19 am
    Post #9 - May 4th, 2007, 11:19 am Post #9 - May 4th, 2007, 11:19 am
    I'm kind of creeped out by the suggestion that perhaps food geeks and those with dietary restrictions somehow can't be friends. I'm as obsessed with food -- the full spectrum thereof -- as anybody here, but there are enough issues that divide people... does this really have to be one of them?

    I know folks who are vegan/vegetarian/kosher, and I'm not saying I'm anxious to invite them over for dinner


    Ah, but there, I think, is a big part of the issue for me. Before kids, one went out in the world and did things. You could relegate food to a secondary role and meet on many other grounds-- culture, career, politics, sports, whatever. After kids, one hosts (or visits) people at home more, feeding them what you make (and sweat over and think about and take pride in), or eating what they think will make a good meal. Even if you do go out, kids have a way of making the subject of food much more immediate and urgent and strategic. Life much more revolves around meeting a dining schedule with food that is acceptable to all, because an unfed, unhappy child quickly changes the tone of any event. So if food's a source of disagreement, it's much more likely to make itself known than it would have in another phase of life-- every few hours, in fact.

    Another excellent point. I know quite a few people with religious or ethical restrictions who would bristle at the suggestion that they weren't food geeks. And they're absolutely right! They may never know the joys of pork fat but that doesn't mean the same enthusiasm isn't there for the rest of the spectrum.


    That's probably a fair point then-- people who care about food but have restrictions are easier to deal with than people who don't really like food and resist anything new. One's just a different food culture, the other is more "anti-foodie."
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  • Post #10 - May 4th, 2007, 11:45 am
    Post #10 - May 4th, 2007, 11:45 am Post #10 - May 4th, 2007, 11:45 am
    Mike G wrote:
    I'm kind of creeped out by the suggestion that perhaps food geeks and those with dietary restrictions somehow can't be friends. I'm as obsessed with food -- the full spectrum thereof -- as anybody here, but there are enough issues that divide people... does this really have to be one of them?

    I know folks who are vegan/vegetarian/kosher, and I'm not saying I'm anxious to invite them over for dinner


    Ah, but there, I think, is a big part of the issue for me. Before kids, one went out in the world and did things. You could relegate food to a secondary role and meet on many other grounds-- culture, career, politics, sports, whatever. After kids, one hosts (or visits) people at home more, feeding them what you make (and sweat over and think about and take pride in), or eating what they think will make a good meal. Even if you do go out, kids have a way of making the subject of food much more immediate and urgent and strategic. Life much more revolves around meeting a dining schedule with food that is acceptable to all, because an unfed, unhappy child quickly changes the tone of any event. So if food's a source of disagreement, it's much more likely to make itself known than it would have in another phase of life-- every few hours, in fact.


    Maybe so. My little guy's four months now, so perhaps I'll find this to be the case. But even if so, if my food obsession runs so deep that I can't take a bullet in the form of a vegan or vegetarian meal out or at home every now and then, I think that's a problem. I have hosted elaborate dinners for people with restrictions before, and yeah, I find it frustrating, but so frustrating that it makes me want to overlook whatever great qualities drew me to these people in the first place? I truly hope I never feel that way.
    Last edited by Dmnkly on May 4th, 2007, 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #11 - May 4th, 2007, 11:53 am
    Post #11 - May 4th, 2007, 11:53 am Post #11 - May 4th, 2007, 11:53 am
    I have 2 male friends who care nothing about food. One has been a batchelor forever and I doubt he has more in his house than dry cereal, some milk and wine. Both of these guys are scientists and always seem deep in thought. My in law family is another world of it's own. My partner came to Chicago 35 years ago and embraced all the etnic wonders the City has to offer, she loves all kinds of food and loves to try different things. But go visit her family downstate and they live in a very bland and unimaginative world. They won't try anything, my partner once made gravy from scratch and her sister yelled, actually yelled at her kids "don't try that, Aunt Therese made it so it's going to be weird!" Of course SIL's gravy comes out of a can. When my partner became vegetarian for health reasons, they had no understanding of the concept and served sloppy joes for dinner and told her she will get sick if she doesn't eat meat. They know nothing of spices while our house looks like a division of Penzey's. They spent the night once and brought there own food, hot dogs, chips and pop because they knew they wouldn't like our food, it's too weird. So now, when we go to visit, we usually stop and eat something before we get there so we don't have to deal with something dry, bland and over cooked. Happily Ron's Cajun Connection in Utica is right on the way!
  • Post #12 - May 4th, 2007, 12:43 pm
    Post #12 - May 4th, 2007, 12:43 pm Post #12 - May 4th, 2007, 12:43 pm
    It's true - I can't stand the "don't like that" type of non-foodie, and won't accomodate them. I do talk about food, shopping for food, restaurants, growing food, food literature, and eating food ad nauseum, and I do find myself stumped for conversation with the plain-white-toast set, who often find themselves picking things out of my dinners.

    However, while I disagree with vegans and vegetarians and am not religious myself, these sorts of 'cooking outside the box' dinners spark my imagination in the same way that preparing spaghetti over a campfire, or making clam chowder for "c" food night at school, or discovering Korean squid does. I usually don't devote the entire meal to someone's needs (that goes against my personal food philosophy,) but make sure there is something for everyone as nearly as possible.
  • Post #13 - May 4th, 2007, 1:16 pm
    Post #13 - May 4th, 2007, 1:16 pm Post #13 - May 4th, 2007, 1:16 pm
    Mike G wrote:Yeah, Steve, but sooner or later you have to eat. Won't the tension present itself then (as it doesn't if your friend fails to share your fascination with the underlying ecclesiastical issues in the novels of Trollope, a conflict much less likely to come to the fore)?


    It never has, but I'm a bit flexible in that I'll go to a (sit down) chain once in a while so as to not rock the boat. Just last night I supped at Claim Jumper because it was my Mom's birthday and that's where she chose to go. Sometimes I don't order very much and then I'll eat later. I'd also add that being married to The Chow Poodle puts me in this situation day in and day out. I just choose not to let it become an issue.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - May 4th, 2007, 1:38 pm
    Post #14 - May 4th, 2007, 1:38 pm Post #14 - May 4th, 2007, 1:38 pm
    One meal is nothing, but long term... I can't help feeling that the fact that all of my friends are at least tolerably foodie reflects the notion that they wouldn't BE my friends if they were so narrow-minded or uninterested in food, because they'd be uninterested in too many other things to be interesting to me, or to find me interesting either.

    If it's all Soylent Gray to you on a plate, are you really likely to be jazzed by art, literature, the human comedy in the perverse way that it twangs my funny bone or any other ground on which we can relate? If you have a dour, Calvinistic view of each bite, isn't my Brueghelian bonhomie going to grate on you, earn your disapproval?

    I don't believe I'm doctrinaire about this-- I was telling a vegetarian mom at the school about slicing ham off the pork leg in Spain the other day, and we didn't come to blows; but she's not doctrinaire about her choice, either, and willing to be interested in the abstract in things she won't actually try (like making her own bacon). But I just doubt that anyone who has a visceral dislike of the idea, or worse yet can't understand why I'd bother when they sell Sizzlean right at the Jewel on Ashland, is going to click with me on any other level, or I them.

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  • Post #15 - May 4th, 2007, 2:39 pm
    Post #15 - May 4th, 2007, 2:39 pm Post #15 - May 4th, 2007, 2:39 pm
    stevez wrote:I think the answer to this question revolves around how well rounded of a person you are. If food is your only interest, then you might be in trouble. In my case (and in the case of any number of LTHers that I have met in person), I've got a number of other interests and friends that I relate to on the basis of them. In some cases, food never even enters the conversation.


    dmnkly wrote:There are a lot of issues that can get in the way of friendships, but this strikes me as a supremely silly one.


    Yeah, I see what you're getting at, and I think you're both being a little unfair and judgmental. I understand what MikeG's is saying and I'm a well-rounded person. Steve had used the example of going to Claim Jumper with his mother to, I think, demonstrate the benefits of being flexible. But that was with his mother, not friends (and a generally isolated incident). Unlike family( :wink: ), your friendships are actually supposed to revolve around things you have in common. Or the things that are most exciting to you should also be as appreciated by them, or at least interest your friends more than mildly.

    I have anti-foodie friends and eating out with them infuriates me immensely. One set in particular, a couple, drove me mad. I don't see them that much anymore because, in part, because eating with them uncovered a lot of larger issues I began to have with their personalities. For example, my friend's wife is Korean-American, and while she doesn't say it, she never wants to eat non-Asian food unless its a hot dog. She pouts if she eats something else and occasionally claims the next day that the non-Asian food made her sick which is, of course, bunk. Consequently, I hated going out to eat with them although they always suggested it. Frankly, I think she's kind of a brat, and this "anti-foodie" issue really brought out the acrid side of her personality. Her husband, on the other hand, is kind of cheap. He wants to go out to every trendy restaurant Phil Vettel just gave 3 stars, but when he does, he's shocked by the price, the food never lives up to his expectation, and he gets belligerent with the servers. The bottom line is, they're just not open-minded enough for me to see them regularly, and while I occasionally share a good laugh with them, we're just not on the same page.

    On the other hand, I have friends who love food, and by extension, love to travel. We always have stuff to talk about. When cooking for them, I take into account their food preferences, but I know they will generally get excited about trying new things and talking about the wines. The conversation always drifts to other non-food topics, but I think their general curiosity about food, culture and history extends to other non-food topics, as it does with me, and consequently we're generally on the same page.
  • Post #16 - May 4th, 2007, 2:44 pm
    Post #16 - May 4th, 2007, 2:44 pm Post #16 - May 4th, 2007, 2:44 pm
    I didn't add that over the years, I have much less respect for my in-laws because of the lack of interest in food, especially food that is healthy or even tasty. I dread holidays because that means they will cook, one year with a turkey that was cold in the middle and it was amazing no one got sick. Each holiday one cousin or another will brag about how many sticks of butter or sugar they added to something to make it taste better. These are die-hard downstaters where everyting "up in Chicago" is too weird or expensive.
  • Post #17 - May 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm
    Post #17 - May 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm Post #17 - May 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Yeah, I see what you're getting at, and I think you're both being a little unfair and judgmental.


    I think that I am actually being the exact opposite of that by not letting it become an issue for me. It already isn't an issue for them.

    aschie30 wrote:I have anti-foodie friends and eating out with them infuriates me immensely.


    I have friends like that. Normally, our "get together" activity involves going to a concert or a movie. Food is not involved, unless we dicide to go get a bite to eat afterwards. In that case, I'll make my best suggestion and 9 times out of 10, they'll say sure that sounds fine, because food doesn't matter to them one way or the other. Every once in a while, they'll suggest getting a quick bite at the local McBennigan's. Although it doesn't make me happy, I'll go along with the program because my friendship with them is about them and not about my next meal.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #18 - May 4th, 2007, 3:10 pm
    Post #18 - May 4th, 2007, 3:10 pm Post #18 - May 4th, 2007, 3:10 pm
    stevez wrote:I have friends like that. Normally, our "get together" activity involves going to a concert or a movie. Food is not involved, unless we dicide to go get a bite to eat afterwards. In that case, I'll make my best suggestion and 9 times out of 10, they'll say sure that sounds fine, because food doesn't matter to them one way or the other. Every once in a while, they'll suggest getting a quick bite at the local McBennigan's. Although it doesn't make me happy, I'll go along with the program because my friendship with them is about them and not about my next meal.


    In my case, it's not that food didn't matter to them because they are very opinionated about it, but they were very much at odds with what I like. Because they always wanted to go out to dinner so that we could talk (two things that can't really be done during a concert or movie), somebody or another was always unhappy. At some point, I think it's more indicative of larger personality/combatibility issues. Yeah, I suppose a big group of us could have gone to a movie, but then we'd disagree on which movie to see. In fact, that was always the case with movies, which is why we never went. They wanted to see romantic comedies and/or blockbusters, I wanted to see indies. So, again, I guess the anti-foodie issues uncovered was was really an difference in personalities.
  • Post #19 - May 4th, 2007, 3:33 pm
    Post #19 - May 4th, 2007, 3:33 pm Post #19 - May 4th, 2007, 3:33 pm
    aschie30 wrote:I have anti-foodie friends and eating out with them infuriates me immensely. One set in particular, a couple, drove me mad. I don't see them that much anymore because, in part, because eating with them uncovered a lot of larger issues I began to have with their personalities. For example, my friend's wife is Korean-American, and while she doesn't say it, she never wants to eat non-Asian food unless its a hot dog. She pouts if she eats something else and occasionally claims the next day that the non-Asian food made her sick which is, of course, bunk. Consequently, I hated going out to eat with them although they always suggested it. Frankly, I think she's kind of a brat, and this "anti-foodie" issue really brought out the acrid side of her personality. Her husband, on the other hand, is kind of cheap. He wants to go out to every trendy restaurant Phil Vettel just gave 3 stars, but when he does, he's shocked by the price, the food never lives up to his expectation, and he gets belligerent with the servers.

    I would suggest that the problem with the couple you describe is not that they're anti-foodie. The problem with them is that they're assholes. Which is not the same thing.

    I think it's possible to be not a foodie and to be an agreeable person at the same time. And anyone who falls into that category is OK in my book. I get why the couple you describe infuriated you, but I don't see why being "not a foodie" would, necessarily.

    But I guess the key is that there's a difference between being "anti-foodie" and "not a foodie." The former implies an aggressive stance towards people who care about food, the latter doesn't. As long as someone's willing to tolerate me (with all that entails!), I'm more than willing to tolerate him or her. So, since Mike, having started this thread, gets to choose the terms on it, and since he chose the term "anti-foodie," I'll go along with the premise that it's hard to get along with them. But I can't go along with the premise that it's hard to get along with someone who's merely committed the sin of being not a foodie. Some of my best friends aren't.
  • Post #20 - May 4th, 2007, 3:51 pm
    Post #20 - May 4th, 2007, 3:51 pm Post #20 - May 4th, 2007, 3:51 pm
    As someone who eats regularly with two vegetarians and almost always one - i think there is quite a large difference between those with religious/dietary restrictions and those who don't really care about the quality/taste of their food. I think its fairly easy to have friends with various restrictions, though it may take more creativity on your part. In some ways it tests your own abilities to find foods that satisfy the food nerd in yourself while meeting their restrictions.

    I've been in India for extended periods where I have been vegetarian and haven't had an issue being satisfied and have met many persons there that i would say are as interested in searching out good food as I am who were vegetarian.
  • Post #21 - May 4th, 2007, 5:18 pm
    Post #21 - May 4th, 2007, 5:18 pm Post #21 - May 4th, 2007, 5:18 pm
    I have long term friendships with a number of women where we only have one or two things in common (other than all the stuff women have in common just by being working women), and we still have a great time focusing on those things. In some cases -- food, politics, religion, alternative medicine -- we are polar opposites and don't mention the stuff, and simply enjoy the things we do share in common. Granted, these are not my most intimate friends. But not even all my foodie friends are on the same footing as I am -- lots of them love eating out and hate cooking.

    At least the ones who don't like food still need to eat, and we can pick someplace innocuous, like Panera Bread, to have a muffin or salad and lots of coffee. But I have foodie friends where the things we don't have in common can't even be brought up. So we dine out and even travel together, have a great time, and I just avoid hot-button topics.

    So yes -- your closest friends will probably have food in common with you, but friends in general don't have to.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

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  • Post #22 - May 4th, 2007, 5:23 pm
    Post #22 - May 4th, 2007, 5:23 pm Post #22 - May 4th, 2007, 5:23 pm
    I would suggest that the problem with the couple you describe is not that they're anti-foodie. The problem with them is that they're assholes. Which is not the same thing.


    That is exactly what I was going to say! When people huff and puff and pout their way thru a meal because it's not McDonald's, they're being rude and immature. I can tell you: I'm a vegetarian, and that has never prevented anyone I know from going to any restaurant with me. I can always find something on the menu. People who demand total control over where to go for dinner, who refuse to make the best of a situation, and who continuously comment on other people's food choices (and that goes just as much for "You're a vegetarian? Well that's incredibly stupid" as it does for "EWWW, you're eating meat!") have bad manners. People with bad manners aren't enjoyable company. In those cases, the behavior is more of a symptom of a greater problem.
  • Post #23 - May 5th, 2007, 8:28 am
    Post #23 - May 5th, 2007, 8:28 am Post #23 - May 5th, 2007, 8:28 am
    I find the bigger clash is with people who only like americanized stuff such as McDonald's, Chipotle, Red Lobster, etc... I deal with this much more often and won't eat the stuff b/c I think for the most part it is garbage. A vegetarian or vegan however, generally has a higher appreciation of food... generally speaking. I have no problem accomadating them as the dishes can be fabulous of course, but the former is often a problem, especially if you live with them :P makes trying to go out a bitch, but it makes having food around the house easier as what we eat is never the same so no worrying about taking others food :) They also never mess with my spice rack as they can't pronounce the majority of stuff on there sadly. Personally I quit drinking awhile ago, so I get a bit of this vibe too by not drinking, which is somewhat of a sin in Chicago... not really worried though as I know my spirits (and had a few side bartending jobs) more than most of the population, I just don't choose to partake in it anymore.
  • Post #24 - May 5th, 2007, 11:34 am
    Post #24 - May 5th, 2007, 11:34 am Post #24 - May 5th, 2007, 11:34 am
    sweetsalty wrote:
    I would suggest that the problem with the couple you describe is not that they're anti-foodie. The problem with them is that they're assholes. Which is not the same thing.


    That is exactly what I was going to say! When people huff and puff and pout their way thru a meal because it's not McDonald's, they're being rude and immature. I can tell you: I'm a vegetarian, and that has never prevented anyone I know from going to any restaurant with me. I can always find something on the menu. People who demand total control over where to go for dinner, who refuse to make the best of a situation, and who continuously comment on other people's food choices (and that goes just as much for "You're a vegetarian? Well that's incredibly stupid" as it does for "EWWW, you're eating meat!") have bad manners. People with bad manners aren't enjoyable company. In those cases, the behavior is more of a symptom of a greater problem.


    Yes -- if you use "anti" to mean "against" rather than "opposite of," then it would be hard, and maybe impossible, to have an anti-foodie friend. I have friends who don't like food, but are still happy to sit and drink coffee while I enjoy something they'd hate. I'm sorry not to share the experience, but it's not that much different from my having a delightful dining companion who likes pickled herring, which I don't. We just have different preferences. But if the person in question turned against me because I enjoy food, that would of course make friendship unlikely.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #25 - May 5th, 2007, 12:54 pm
    Post #25 - May 5th, 2007, 12:54 pm Post #25 - May 5th, 2007, 12:54 pm
    Friend A is a talented, fascinating person, but couldn't cook an egg if his life depended on it. He knows a bit about wine, and enjoys good food, but it amazes me when I see a smart, competent adult unable to feed him or herself. I find myself bugging them about it, like I'm picking out a character flaw.

    Lifelong friend B is infuriatingly picky, he's not an a-hole about ordering or choosing food, but he bugs the bejesus out of me when he quizzes a waitress in a diner like his life depends on the descision. I find myself pressuring him to try different things (he only eats beef). I find it incredibly sad that my friend will live his entire life without the pleasure of eating an oyster or a lobster.

    Are these their problems, or mine?
  • Post #26 - May 5th, 2007, 1:03 pm
    Post #26 - May 5th, 2007, 1:03 pm Post #26 - May 5th, 2007, 1:03 pm
    If it's all Soylent Gray to you on a plate, are you really likely to be jazzed by art, literature, the human comedy in the perverse way that it twangs my funny bone or any other ground on which we can relate? If you have a dour, Calvinistic view of each bite, isn't my Brueghelian bonhomie going to grate on you, earn your disapproval?


    Mike G, nice evocation of Bruegel! Unfortunately, I know first hand that there are more than a few Brugel scholars who could animatedly discuss something like the Wedding Feast or Land of Cockaigne ad infinitum and never seem to get hungry. So sad.
  • Post #27 - May 5th, 2007, 2:48 pm
    Post #27 - May 5th, 2007, 2:48 pm Post #27 - May 5th, 2007, 2:48 pm
    Fortunately, I don't have any "anti-food" a-hole types in my life, so that's no so much an issue. I do have friends who are seemingly indifferent about what they eat though, and I don't let this bother me, since there's far too much else that defines our friendship.

    I do have one vegetarian friend though, that I used to constantly bug, since his vegetarian diet consists of pizza, chips, and baked ziti. It used to be a running joke between us, which he tolerated for some time, and then put his foot down once. He was fed up, and rightfully so, because I was relentless. He's never been difficult to organize meals with, so clearly this was more my problem than his. But hey, I just wanted him to eat well. In his mind, he was.

    Another one of "my problems" is that many folks seem to experience significant anxiety when cooking for food fanatics like us. They think that we're never going to like what they make, or even if we're out a restaurant, I'm going to be the one who is tough to please. I don't complain when I'm at an Applebees if I'm in good company, but sometimes friends feel like it may be tough to accomodate the food fanatic in the group, because they'll always be hyper-critical.

    We're sometimes equally as picky, and I've learned to identify when it's my problem, and not theirs. I've also learned to bite my lip more too (recently had to this when a friend ordered oven-baked meat jello ribs and called it barbecue -- I pretty much had to bite my lip off).
  • Post #28 - May 5th, 2007, 3:09 pm
    Post #28 - May 5th, 2007, 3:09 pm Post #28 - May 5th, 2007, 3:09 pm
    kiplog wrote:Friend A is a talented, fascinating person, but couldn't cook an egg if his life depended on it. He knows a bit about wine, and enjoys good food, but it amazes me when I see a smart, competent adult unable to feed him or herself. I find myself bugging them about it, like I'm picking out a character flaw.

    Lifelong friend B is infuriatingly picky, he's not an a-hole about ordering or choosing food, but he bugs the bejesus out of me when he quizzes a waitress in a diner like his life depends on the descision. I find myself pressuring him to try different things (he only eats beef). I find it incredibly sad that my friend will live his entire life without the pleasure of eating an oyster or a lobster.

    Are these their problems, or mine?


    Probably yours, but it doesn't mean you're not completely annoyed by them. I had a friend who wasn't picky, but always had specific cravings. She never ordered off the menu and had to concoct a dish from the menu ingredients. She, too, would quiz the waiters, even at a place like Ranalli's. Even though she wasn't anti-foodie, she bugged me big time and eating with her was a drag.
  • Post #29 - May 5th, 2007, 4:50 pm
    Post #29 - May 5th, 2007, 4:50 pm Post #29 - May 5th, 2007, 4:50 pm
    tatterdemalion wrote:Another one of "my problems" is that many folks seem to experience significant anxiety when cooking for food fanatics like us. They think that we're never going to like what they make, or even if we're out a restaurant, I'm going to be the one who is tough to please. I don't complain when I'm at an Applebees if I'm in good company, but sometimes friends feel like it may be tough to accomodate the food fanatic in the group, because they'll always be hyper-critical.


    Oh, this is the worst, and it happens to me all the time. It's like people are afraid to pick a restaurant, or afraid to cook for me, or they feel like they have to apologize over and over again, and it just makes me sad. Doubly so, since most of the time they have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I can try to impress upon people that there's nothing like a good, simple home-cooked meal, or that I can go out to just about any restaurant (exception: Olive Garden), turn off the critical eye and just enjoy my meal for what it is, but it always ends up sounding like I'm protesting too much, no matter how sincere I might be.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #30 - May 5th, 2007, 5:09 pm
    Post #30 - May 5th, 2007, 5:09 pm Post #30 - May 5th, 2007, 5:09 pm
    I have far less problem heading to a chain restaurant with a non-adventurous eater than I do with someone who is going to act like a complete idiot toward the restaurant staff.

    Every year, my brother invites me to join them for dinner with one of his sister-in-laws. Dinner with her is a complete disaster NO MATTER where you go (even if she picks the place). You can count on her to send back a minimum of two dishes and to treat the exployees like total trash.

    It is a free meal that I am more than willing to pass up.

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