Missing the lack of foodies in my life

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Master Chef
Sep 4, 2004
Galena, IL
I'm not sure if I'm loving this web site or hating it. In my current life, believe it or not, there is not one single friend who truly loves food. Thank heaven that was a requisite when I married, so at least there is to two of us. But when I have a yen for a curry, a craving for chap chae, hankering for harissa, etc., for the most part it is just me and my husband, with no one to entertain and enjoy it (have tried inviting local friends here and they just push food around to be nice). How I long for the days when I'd get on the phone with friends and choose menues with an ethnic theme, or from our latest magazine and cookbooks. So I read these postings and sigh with envy. The last time I tried to get someone involved in a themed dinner, I said Eastern European and got Middle Eastern (no problem, it was delicious, but still, it shows the level of food savvy where I live!!). The flip side is that a Pakastani friend recently scoured all of Chicago to bring me some fresh harissa. Unfortunately, his family doesn't actually EAT middle eastern food! Oh, well!!!
There can be an element of loneliness, especially when all the food shows empasize how the meal they are preparing would be great for a 'dinner party," its always about a dinner party, and there is no one to share this food with. So make it a hobby, enjoy reading and writing about food and making online friends here. Don't ever hesitate to go to a restaurant by yourself either if you really want to try the food at restaurant and don't have anyone to go with.
Claire, I feel your pain, really I do. You struck a chord with your post. I'm in the same boat. I'm surrounded with "I'll-only-like-it-if-it's-familiar" folk. And what's familiar is stuff like Swiss steak and scalloped potatoes. What good is it to jubilate over finding a source for Dutch cocoa, if there's nobody to tell? You're right, it's very lonely.

In fact, this leads to something else I've been thinking about recently. I don't know if my situation is typical, but so far, my life experience has led me to believe that there are tons more people who don't like to cook than who do. I'm not sure what is at work here, whether people think cooking is some arcane art that is beyond their capacity, or whether their caretakers didn't cook when they were growing up, or whether they find it boring, or what. But I should have a dollar for every time a guest has tasted something at my table and said, "Wow, this is great! Where did you get this?!?" and I point toward my stove and they stare at me as though I'd brought fire to mankind. "You made this???"

I've always thought this is one of life's perfect symbioses: The pairing of people who don't cook, but like to eat, with people who like to cook. Everybody goes away happy. I love it that people like to eat what I cook, and judging from their happy faces when they leave the table, they love that I was there to cook for them. But I'll confess, I don't understand why the ratio is what it is, why there are so many more non-cooking eaters than there are cooks.

That's why I love forums like this one.

I do have a very happy marriage -- my husband loves my cooking, loves to work in the kitchen, does not mind being stuck with the cleanup if I've done all the cooking. So I'm not lonely in that respect. But once upon a time, I used to be able to name a country, and people would gather around for bulgogi and chop chae, or tandoori chicken, or snitzel and dumplings. I truly believe that people in the midwest are the most caring and accepting people I've known.... except when it comes to food. AND it is also 'a sign of the times' (thank you Petula Clark) ... I love food, all (well, most) food. Most of my female friends here do NOT eat. They just push food around on their plates. They want to be invited to my dinners, and want people to think that they like exotic food, but do not actually eat. It's a bit strange, and totally different from my (military) upbringing. So I'm starting to loose my culinary edge. I don't even own a hibachi any more (it is hard to make bulgogi and kal bi on a regular barbecue pit), and my rice china set, and collection of chopsticks is going unused. I have freinds from military life who visit us occaisionally, and love it all. Thank Heaven.
Oh, about people who don't like to cook. It is funny. There are some who truly do not like to cook, period.

But any woman (I'm showing my age here, but there are men who this applies to) who has tried to cook for a husband and three kids for 20+ years, hates to cook. They try to cook, but no one likes or appreciates it. They all have at least one very fussy eater in their lives, and if it is spouse, then the kids have a reason to denigrate their parent with the other parent's support (in other words, I've eaten at tables where dad trashed mom's cooking because she tried something besides overcooked beef and potatoes, so the kids did so as well). The table becomes a battlefield that isn't worth fighting over when you can order in pizza or go to McD's. Many of these women "find" cooking again when they are empty-nesters.

But by then a woman's metabolism is such that she cannot enjoy food at all unless she's willing to put up with a few extra pounds.

So they don't cook. Their hubbies would just as soon have a hamburger from the local fast food joint as good food, so why bother?

I sympathise, but it sure makes my favorite hobby a lot less fun!!!
Hi Claire, I wish you were closer and then we could meet up and cook together. Galena is still a hike for me as Chicago is for you.

It's funny when you talk about ethnic food because there are a lot of ethnic cultures (such as mine) where people only appreciate their food and nothing else. So you see the problem exists everywhere.

I have two little boys and one of them appreciates all kinds of food but the other only likes Indian food and he is only 4. I personally don't have a large family but my husband does and majority of the folks only like Indian food because they have grown up eating what their mothers cooked.

Nothing wrong with it but I like variety and different things. Now me and one of my very close friend (Non-Indian) meet up and do a little cooking get together. We BBQ, make desserts or pasta or quiche or Chinese or whatever we think would be something good and different to try. It's so much fun and she is truly open to new experiences.

Also as you indicated people here have cooking at the bottom of tasks they want to engage in. I find it very frustrating that most folks want to avoid get togethers because no one wants to be stuck cooking or eating badly prepared potluck meals (half the folks I know can't cook to save their lives). I can pick up the slack at times but I don't want to make it a habit because I have two little ones a full time job and a rather large house to keep up with.
One thing about Galena is that people do not avoid getting together; we're a very social group, and all are willing to pitch in in the cooking arena. But you can't get too far afield without finding yourself cooking just to scrape it off the plate and into the trash!!
I feel for you Claire. For me I have a problem with my family no being so adventurous with food. My hubby is from England and was raised mostly on beef, fish and chips, and curries. I like all of those things too (except curry dishes), but I am always open to trying new foods and even attempting to make them. Pakistani, thai, german, italian, french, asian, mexican, I'll eat anything or at least try it. Wish I lived near some of you so we could cook a meal together!
I guess I have it good, at least my husband eats anything I prepare, and when we go out of town, we have the same goal in mind: A restaurant that features a cuisine unavailable here or in Dubuque! And, I supposed we're lucky in that we have always weighed within a few pounds of each other, so that unlike some couples, there isn't one of us always on the other one's case about weight!! Of course the weight was considerably less 20 years ago!!!
oh, claire, it's okay. i haven't any true foodies in my non-computer life. i find my refuge here. you guys get my love for cooking/food and not just for eating or anything. :D
I enjoy your meals, Claire, even if I don't get to eat them...and expect I'm not alone!

Once we are into the third (or fourth!) quarter of life things like this get a bit "different"...but you can take it to the Bank that your children will always venerate "Mom" in the kitchen, and sharing around successful techniques, knowledge (noting both successes and failures!) that we can sort of "perpetuate" how far our generation(s) have taken cooking in NA is a reward unto itself...

I find it much harder to cook for my own diminished appetite (used to be able to "down" at least 16 oz of steak, with veggies to match, and then tackle dessert!)(thats not happening now!), likewise to the lower metabolic rate, the "reflux" issues and health things...

I was getting a tooth extracted last week, and the dentist gave me a speech on the "body wearing out" and how we will undoubtably "outlive our teeth" nowadays, I replied "I had hoped to put it off until I truly 'liked' 'soft foods'"....

Fortunately, this came out at a non-critical point, that he could stand back and get his "hoot" without injury to me...

I am fairly lucky, my parents and sister appreciate when and what I cook for them, and they are not afraid to be harsh, which is good (occasionally). But they do not share the love of cooking and food that I do.

My girlfriend appreciates my cooking (even if the deal is I cooks, she cleans) but wishes I wouldn't dirty so many things as normally by the time I have finished the kitchen looks like a warzone where cleanliness has been vanquished in battle. While she doesn't have the passion I have for it, she will listen while I rave about some obscure ingredient, fabulous new deli/market or recipe that I find. I guess it is easier when she knows I'm going to cook up some treat for her because of it :). However she has never said a bad word about my cooking (apart from "too salty, "too spicy") which annoys me since I think she is being kind all the time, even though I tell her I would prefer honesty (so I won't make the same mistake), but she says she is being honest (so maybe I'm just a culinary genius...HAH!).

Unfourtunately my girlfriend is not a fan (one may even say petrified) of cooking, and she is especially scared of cooking for me because I always critique and pick something wrong with my own cooking, she thinks I would pick her apart. Of course I would do nothing of the sort and would love it if she cooked for me, even if it was just once.

However I am lucky to have friends that enjoy cooking and eating good food as much as me. Which is especially lucky when I live on college as I have an ally when people constantly question "Why do you go to such bother with food?" when I don't eat the constant staple of pasta with tinned/bottled sauce, packaged/instant meals and sauces, fast food etc.

My answer always is "Because I enjoy good food". And that is why me (and you I'm sure), take the time each day, hours before dinner time, even before noon, to prepare a marinade or rub and coat our meat or whatever, or prepare a curry or stew and just let it sit out letting the flavours develop.

Sorry for the essay :).
Clare..........I don't have any foodie friends either and DH could care less about what is put down in front of him [with a few exceptions] So I really understand where you are coming from.

As far as your friends and neighbors.........perhaps [and I mean this in a NICE way] the middle eastern theme was a bit over the top for your first go at cooking as a group, I would suggest that you try your next invite to a more reigonal theme instead and kinda ease them into more exotic [for them not you] foods. Work your way up from italian into chinese, thai and so on. But go reigional to start with and see how that works first. Best of luck!
As quckly as I fell in love with my husband if he was a picky eater I truly believe I couldn't have married him. Is that terrible???? When I started cooking that first week we knew each other he would jump around the kitchen saying "I'm so lucky, I'm so lucky, I can't believe I found someone that cooks like this" - I knew it would work and 9 weeks later I snagged him! LOL

I "had" a friend that wouldn't eat anything that was too colorful!!!!!!!!!! Go figure!!!!

A lot of times when someone has a dinner at their house (we have a group of REAL foodies!!!) the hostess/host will e-mail the recipes they want the others to bring. If someone is uncomfortable making it they just go early and either the host/hostess helps them or several of us go early and we all cook together.
I'm lucky as my dh does the same thing, thanks me sincerely after every meal and says it's like living with a chef. He kissed me today and thanked me for all the work I am doing for Christmas just for the two of us, I am very fortunate.

Amber I so get what you're saying about the England thing. It's changing but all my new friends are fish, chips and sausage roll eaters. A curry after many beers is about as adventurous as they get.
Catseye said:
kitchenelf said:
I "had" a friend that wouldn't eat anything that was too colorful!!!!!!!!!! Go figure!!!!

Don't tell me; she went on to become a hospital dietician.


ROFL, cats!!!!!

Elf, I wouldn't have married mine either if he was picky! Heaven knows, I wouldn't know how to cope with that one! Around here, with deepest thanks to the Fates, everyone seems willing to eat anything that won't eat them first! And I am very, very blessed!

Kyles, give that husband of yours a hug and kiss from ALL of us here!!!!! What kindness!
kyles said:
Amber I so get what you're saying about the England thing. It's changing but all my new friends are fish, chips and sausage roll eaters. A curry after many beers is about as adventurous as they get.

Kyles - I find it amazing that your experience of English eating habits is so different to mine! I lived in London for a number of years, and found that most Londoners were very adventurous in what they would eat - I don't htink there is a cuisine in the world that is not available in London - and I tried a LOT of them there! Maybe it's living 'oop north'.... but surely more than curry houses have penetrated Lancashire?!

We're lucky in Edinburgh - we have restaurants from many, many ethnic backgrouds... the funny this is, that it is Scottish foods which seem to be difficult to find!
What I have found Ishbel, is that people are prepared to try new cuisine out (having said that my village has three curry houses and four Chinese and that's it for eating out!), but there is still a resistance to trying new foods in the home environment, cerainly amongst the people I mix with. Even Colin, the dh, was pretty surprised at what I would cook on a daily basis, and I don't consider myself to be a very good cook, resourceful perhaps, but I don't do anything outside the norm in terms of technique etc.

Our two supermarkets in town bear that out by the foods that they stock, very traditional run of the mill English fare and very dull cuts of meat and vegetables. There are alternatives but you have to look for them, and most people don't, they settle for the norm.

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