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Judging People on their Taste


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When my son married, he had everything for the kitchen. His wife, who did not cook, loved the idea of entertaining and had everything for the dining room. She is now very interested in cooking and calls me for ideas. When I give her a recipe she usually makes it right away. It's fun to be a mentor. (My daughter, on the other hand, would rather starve than take my advice.)

When someone took me to Olive Garden, I had the salad, bread and mussels. No problem. I am a fan of neither pasta nor red sauce, so there's usually only one or maybe two options for me on anybody's low to mid range Italian menu. I like plenty of Italian dishes, but they're usually only available in high end Italian restaurants.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Older Asian women are wily wily wily - if you don't play Mah-Johg, then its off to a major shoe sale (ie Nordstrom's).  Everything in that greed-spendiness-sneakiness continum will be be revealed. 

"HA!  You will never make a good wife for my son!  Too many open toe shoes means you are immodest.  Bad Girl!"

Sorry - this is so off topic.  Just go to the Olive Garden and end it quickly.

:laugh::laugh:

I've actually heard that open toe shoe one! You are sooo irght about everything being up for microanalytic dissection.

There is a reason I never brought any boyfriends to family 'dos' until after both sets of grandparents were no longer with us - it would've been excruciating and counterproductive.

And my grandmother only gave me a couple of mah-jong lessons before stopping. Perhaps I was learning too fast for her liking... :huh: She had a rep in the neighbourhood as a mah-jog shark of sorts. :rolleyes:

" ..Is simplicity the best

Or simply the easiest

The narrowest path

Is always the holiest.. "

--Depeche Mode - Judas

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OLIVE GARDEN!!???? And she warrants a third date with my darling little brother??

Oh, the humanity.

So, I know I'm a total snob, and that she might be a lovely woman, but I can't help but judge her now. And when/if I meet her, I won't be able to stop thinking about the fact that she loves Olive Garden!

Am I nuts?

Ummm, I guess most of us are guilty of somewhat judging people on their tastes (consciously or subconsciously). I guess judging people on their food preferences is equivalent to judging people on their other lifestyle choices. We usually extrapolate from this fact to making a judgement on other aspects of themselves.

The problem jusding on food taste is that food taste is often dependant on socioeconomic status, particularly in the US. I'm not even talking about high-end things like foie-gras, caviar, etc. In most of the US, the Olive Garden is the most decent "Italian" food to be readily found (hey, in Pittsburgh, my home-town, it was voted Best Italian Restaurant as recently as last year!). In order to have tasted really well-cooked Italian food in the US, one has to either a) live in a certain place, b) have the money to go to a good Italian restaurant or visit Italy, c) come from a family which understands what good Italian food is. If this girl likes the Olive Garden because it is the best "Italian" food she has tasted, well that's fine. If she has been exposed to what Italian food is supposed to be like, well that's a bit different. If she refuses to try any Italian which is not Olive Garden, that is a bigger issue.

I had a lovely ex BF who was great, but despite growing up in an educated household which was open-minded and traveled extensively, his food taste was abysmal (thought food could be "too good"). The problem for me was not his taste in food, but his unenthusiastic response to food. I guess it represented to me a lack of adventure, unwillingness to change, and a smug contentedness with life as he knw it. Translation in my head...small-minded, potential for a really boring life, not very ambitious (not necessarity career wise, but in terms of what he wanted out of life). Loved him, but I knew that he wasn't my life partner, and his food taste solidified this opinion.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wouldn't condem her for the OG thing until I got to know her a bit better.

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Does she go on a lot of cruises? :raz:

As recently as a few short years ago I would have made a comment like this myself. . . .

Phaelon, I just meant that they seem to auction off a whole lot of Thomas Kinkead on cruises. No snobbery against cruises or cruise food intended. :unsure:

Ahhhhhh.... so that's what they were selling at those dreaded "art auctions" that were heavily touted every day. My daily travels on board by chance regularly took me past the lounge where the "auctions" were taking place. The stuff they had looked execrable at a distance - but up close I imagine it looked like really good motel room art :laugh: (disclaimer: yes one of my forms of snobbery is being revealed but some of the women I've loved have also had horrendous taste in art in addition to loving OG - but I loved them anyway).

And I'll start or revive a thread on cruise ship food.

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Do I just accept that these are the people that will run three floors down, probably knocking over five people on the way, just to get free Pizza Hut at work and they just don't get it or is there a way to educate them without putting their tastes down?

I think the key word here is free. To cause a stampede in any workplace food doesn't have to be spectacular, good, or in many cases even completely edible, as long as it is free.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I would rather eat at Olive Garden than Spaghetti Warehouse! And the last time I ate at the Evil Garden was, oh, 3 years ago, inspite of the fact that there is one in the shopping area right across from the building I live in.

And I have had some good meals in Wichita, KS. They were not Thomas Keller, but I do not expect that there. I might even try Toby Keith's new place in Oklahoma City sometime soon just for fun.

It does not seem to matter where I go, the abundance of chain restaurants is everywhere. They cater to people whose palates are not as judgemental as others of us. And that is fine. I would never think of going to Joe's Crabshack in Tulsa, but they are packed everynight. And so is On The Border when we have an emerging hispanic restaurant market that is so much better.

So I try to not judge others by my food tastes. My dad loved his steaks cooked well-done. And when I cooked for him before he passed, I tried to make him the tastiest well done rib-eye that I could.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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The Olive Garden...I remember once telling my hairdresser that I enjoyed cooking and dining out very much, and she said that she went to an amazing Italian place for her anniversary the week before.

"Have you been there? The Olive Garden?" she said breathlessly.

"Uhh...no."

I think she took my reply to mean I'd never heard of the restaurant, so she told me all about the great food there, and how romantic the whole experience was.

:unsure:

I really try not to judge people based on their food preferences, but I still get labelled as a 'food snob' by some of my friends. I try to explain that I still enjoy a good bowl of pho or steamed dumplings, but I would rather get those dishes at certain restaurants that do them well, as opposed to any ol' Asian restaurant in the city.

I was hitting up the liquor store with some friends a few days ago and one of them asked what I liked to drink. The guy I'm dating goes: "Don't you know Lorna usually only drinks wine--WITH DINNER??!!!" as if it was the most unnatural thing he's ever heard. :laugh:

The same guy also refers to sashimi as "fish jello" and thinks it's disgusting that I enjoy it. :rolleyes: We were talking about foie gras dish I had the other day, and he said, "Why would you want to eat diseased duck liver?" I didn't really know what to say, so I replied: "Err..I prefer describing it as engorged."

Edited by Ling (log)
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Lee, what if she can't play mah-jongg?

:shock:

Older Asian women are wily wily wily - if you don't play Mah-Johg, then its off to a major shoe sale (ie Nordstrom's). Everything in that greed-spendiness-sneakiness continum will be be revealed.

"HA! You will never make a good wife for my son! Too many open toe shoes means you are immodest. Bad Girl!"

Sorry - this is so off topic. Just go to the Olive Garden and end it quickly.

Omigod, call me ridiculously old-fashioned, but I never wear open-toed shoes when meeting parents for the first time, for precisely this reason. :laugh:

No wonder someone called me a "conservative prude" yesterday. :sad:

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My husband's best friend (who views himself as a gourmet) likes to make fun of my husband and his food tastes. He jokes about him saying that the most adventurous he will go is a Chinese restaurant and that he only orders Almond Boneless Chicken. And, yet, for our first date my husband took me out to a fun Spanish tapas restaurant. He also will good naturedly try to eat anything at least once. He just needed to find someone who was interested in trying new foods.

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Further confessions:

I have never had foie gras.  I doubt it's served within 200 miles of here.  I had caviar once in 1979, and it was stolen from a buffet in a fancy hotel.  But I loved it.

I have never had fresh seafood.  (I take that back.  I went to Italy after graduating from high school; probably the mussels we had with pasta were fresh.  That was 1973.)

I have never eaten fennel.  Or a lot of other things you guys take for granted.

I've never had wine from a bottle that cost more than $15.

You get the idea.

I know where you are coming from, intimately. I grew up on a farm about 100 miles straight west of Wichita. Seafood was one of the reasons I moved to the west coast! Come on out to Seattle, and I'll make sure you have all those things you can't get there. :raz: Come during the summer, so you can go to all the farmer's markets ....which small western KS town are you from??

Born Free, Now Expensive

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I totally agree with FabulousFoodBabe's statement that one's culinary preferences are an accurate indicator of something. The question, however, is just what it is indicating. I think you might need to know the girl to answer that question.

Growing up, in my family, the Olive Garden was our "special occasion" place. We thought it was a really big deal to go to the Olive Garden. We just loved the place. As kids, it was all we knew.

It wasn't until I was in college, and was truly blessed with the experience of a semester abroad, did I come to understand, or at least catch a glimpse of, what real Italian food is. Very few of the friends that I grew up with had such an opportunity, so I count this high among my blessings. Many of these dear friends also, to this day, think Olive Garden is great. God Bless 'em.

Food has become an adventure for me, but largely because I have chosen to make it one. Our culinary preferences are also, however, a very intimate record of life experiences. Maybe she just doesn't know. Maybe you can introduce her to something better. Maybe you could have them over for dinner sometime? :wink:

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what real Italian food is. 

It depends on what the definition of "is" is.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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So far, they've done coffee (date 1) and dive bar (date 2).

This date is dinner out.

I gotta be honest here. I'm sure your brother is a lovely guy, and call me a snob (food or otherwise), but I would've dumped his ass after he took me to a dive bar for date #2.

On the other hand, if you like someone, you like someone, and if her worst trait is that she likes the Olive Garden, so be it. Get over it.

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Rich,

You make a very good point. First of all, I should have been more clear that I really do not consider myself anywhere near an expert on the definition of "real Italian food." I just caught a glimpse of the extent of my Italian-food ignorance while on that trip. Maybe that is a more accurate description! :wink:

I do think, though, that your mention of perspective (or allusion to it, per my interpretation) is very germane to this discussion. Even if I did consider myself an "expert" of real Italian food (which I do not), it is likely that my definition may vary with that of other "experts", depending on my personal tastes, life experiences, and regional preferences. If even the "experts" can have differing opinions worth hearing, it is actually possible that there may be something of value in the culinary opinions of those with less-refined tastes.

Amy

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OLIVE GARDEN!!???? And she warrants a third date with my darling little brother??

Oh, the humanity.

So, I know I'm a total snob, and that she might be a lovely woman, but I can't help but judge her now. And when/if I meet her, I won't be able to stop thinking about the fact that she loves Olive Garden!

Am I nuts?

Sounds like a project to me!! You can CHANGE her!! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Growing up, most of the restaurants that my family ate at that were not Asian or Mexican were chain restaurants, partly because most of the non-Asian or Mexican restaurants in my community were chains, and partially because my parents couldn't afford to take 4 kids to really nice places.

It took me a while to get used to going to restaurants that were not part of a chain when I first married my husband, other than the aforementioned Mexican and Asian ones.

Now when it's just my husband and I, we like hitting little mom and pop type restaurants, or smaller nice establishments.

Chain restaurants do have a benefit if you have food allergies... there is a bit more uniformity of ingredients, so what is safe at one restaurant in the chain is safe at another.

As far as nice-ish, not to high faluting restaurants in LA goes, my favorite is the Zen Grill in Beverly Hills.

Cheryl

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What sort of spooks me about this discussion is that while one most certainly can make some good superficial judgements about people based on their tastes in many areas (including that of a restaurant choice for dinner) there is so much more to every human being than what they show in their displays of taste within one area or another.

I am sure that each one of us, if we look closely enough, is not picture perfect in all ways 24 hours a day each day of every year that we live. Tastes change. . .hopefully they grow in ways. . .we are not static as beings, unless we are frozen in time.

One can judge a person on so many things. Restaurant choice. How they dress. Their pattern of speech. Their education or lack of it. How good their hair looks today. On and on and on.

Not to get too serious about it, but seriously. . .some of these old sayings like, "Let those who are without sin throw the first stone". . .and "Judge not lest ye be judged" and "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones". . .all those wonderfully frightening old saws have some pretty great truths in them.

What do you want to be judged on? When and by whom? Would you make the cut?

Have you ever been judged on something that you considered superficial. . . much to your own sadness and possibly to the detriment of others or of the situation?

The glass truly is half full, if you want it to be.

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The glass truly is half full, if you want it to be.

Ah, my dear, the glass is always completely full. Some of it is filled with air, and some of it is filled with liquid, but it is always full. It just depends on which part you wish to see.

"It is a fact that he once made a tray of spanakopita using Pam rather than melted butter. Still, though, at least he tries." -- David Sedaris
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The glass truly is half full, if you want it to be.

Ah, my dear, the glass is always completely full. Some of it is filled with air, and some of it is filled with liquid, but it is always full. It just depends on which part you wish to see.

Mmm, hmmm. Absolutely. And I am happy as long as the air part is not all "hot air"! :wink::biggrin:

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I've had a challenge with both my husband and my best friend. I'm not a food snob by any stretch of the imagination; I just think food should be fresh and taste good or why bother? They are both the type that think if they are full when they're done, it was a good meal.

I convinced my friend to go with me to an Indian restaurant. She proclaimed that she didn't like Indian food. I had grown up with her, so I knew she'd never even tried it. She enjoyed the meal and was very vocal about it. I think everyone in the place knew how much she was enjoying it. :laugh: Always a hazard when I go out with her. But she was openminded enough to admit that it was good.

My husband said much the same about Thai food (that he'd never tried). He doesn't like things that strike him as scary--i.e., anything new. He was surprised at how much he enjoyed the dinner.

It's frustrating at times to deal with people who just want to eat the same food all the time when there is so much out there to try. I was telling my friend about some of the great restaurants I'd like to dine at, and she said, oh, let me eat at Olive Garden and I'll be happy. And she would.

It just makes it that much more of an incentive to get both of them to try new things. It's rewarding to get someone like that to try something new. That's why I keep trying.

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Yes, it is rewarding to offer the opportunity for greater and possibly expanded pleasures to one's friends or lovers or family.

Yet if they finally, do not take the bait and rise to it. . . (?)

I do not think I have ever seen a gravestone that said:

Elizabeth Julia Spinkower (or whatever)

In a life well lived, she finally overcame the worst of burdens. . .a liking for Olive Garden.

RIP

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What do you want to be judged on? When and by whom? Would you make the cut?

I find it somewhat interesting that everyone in this thread presumes that the more food oriented people are likely to snob the ones who only eat to live. I've found that "eat to live"ers are perfectly good at snobbing you right back, and it's certainly happened to me.

My second husband and my in-laws are people who will gladly eat just about anything. Black-eyed peas come out of a can and go into the microwave without a hint of seasoning, to be placed on the dinner table. Food is bought in the cheapest vat-sized tubs, always generic. Vanilla "ice cream" is actually generic, fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt, absent of even the slightest hint of vanilla flavor. "Going out to eat" involves a trip to the local cafeteria for a plate of watery steamed cabbage, watery steamed crowder peas and some watery collards. Dinners at home include 1 can of Milwaukee's Best Light, split between mom and dad-in-law.

So when I started dating their son, I took him out to a sushi restaurant, where I introduced him to a variety of offerings, taught him about how to get the most enjoyment out of raw fish and properly prepared rice and shared my enjoyment of this particular type of food with him. He really liked it, and sushi was one of those rare things we treated ourselves to, when we did eat out.

But what did my in-laws think of this? They thought I was downright despicable for turning him on to an expensive habit like that. On and on, they would talk about how they'd never had sushi, but they were sure they wouldn't like it if they did. Every time I visited them, literally, they'd bring up the subject again. Until finally, one day my mother-in-law said to me, "I finally tried sushi, and I didn't like it." Where had she had this sushi? At one of the world's crappiest Chinese buffets. Incidentally, they also liked to use this as an example proving some crap theory they read in Reader's Digest, that says you can never try anything new past the age of 30 and like it. Don't get me started on that one.

And you know, these weren't idiots, my in-laws. These are highly intelligent people. Both of them professors who retired early with enough money to travel in their time of leisure. Not poor people or stupid people. Simply people who think that food isn't worth spending money on. If I'd really thought about that one point, I might have saved myself a lot of grief.

Edited by TheFoodTutor (log)
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So far, they've done coffee (date 1) and dive bar (date 2).

This date is dinner out.

I gotta be honest here. I'm sure your brother is a lovely guy, and call me a snob (food or otherwise), but I would've dumped his ass after he took me to a dive bar for date #2.

On the other hand, if you like someone, you like someone, and if her worst trait is that she likes the Olive Garden, so be it. Get over it.

Sweet post. Thanks. :hmmm:

Anyway, SHE chose the dive bar - it's her neighborhood hangout.

I talked to my brother again about the Olive Garden thing, and he said that she was brought up with that as a great restaurant, and that she doens't really know better. She also is not an adventurous eater. She actually sounds like a great girl -I just had that immediate gut reaction to the Olive Garden thing and thought my fellow eGulleters would have had similar reactions in their lives.

I was also kind of shocked b/c they live in Los Angeles. Living in Toledo, I'm super jealous of the food they have access to, so the fact that she'd frequent Olive Garden is all the more counter to my sensibilities.

But, the guy is really happy, so I am too.

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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Food Tutor: Sounds like my idea of hell! That kind of closed mindedness would drive me up a wall! My dad isn't particularly adventurous, but I still love him! And he does have an appreciation for Morton's so if he won't try sushi, eh, I'll live with it :biggrin:

Sweet Danielle, you only want what is best for your brother. That is endearing and I'm sure he appreciates your sisterly devotion and concern. I lived in LA and there are far more superficial qualities that people judge each other by than their lack of adventure nature. I think what your original post really was addressing was the fear that this person is potentially closed-minded and lacks an adventuring spirit which it appears is the opposite of your brother. I wish you and him the best of luck!

By the way FWIW, I thought the interpretations everyone brought to this discussion enlightening. We all have our 'filters' and look at a given statement through them. They may not always be as the original message sender intended but this sure makes for lively discussion!

Oh, and I've eaten at the OG and would choose it over Applebees any day of the week!

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The glass truly is half full, if you want it to be.

Ah, my dear, the glass is always completely full. Some of it is filled with air, and some of it is filled with liquid, but it is always full. It just depends on which part you wish to see.

That's a beautiful thought!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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