Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Where Do You Eat?

People have definite…and strong…opinions about food. And often, they don’t realize that these opinions are simply opinions…they way they feel about something…and not objective fact.

I have friends who turn up their noses at the idea of going out for dinner at Applebee’s or Friday’s because it’s “chain food,” which, by definition, is of a lesser quality than what you can make at home. These people have obviously never eaten a horrible homemade meal. I have friends who argue with me about my choice for favorite Italian restaurant in Syracuse (Spaghetti Warehouse, if you must ask), because Dominick’s or Angotti’s are soooo much better.

These people don’t understand that you like what you like, and that there is no objective standard of what’s better food. Places like Applebee’s and Friday’s…and even Spaghetti Warehouse…give me the meals that I can’t make well at home. And if you like the lasagna better at Dominick’s, that’s fine for you, but as for me and my palate, we’ll be going to Spaghetti Warehouse.

And as far as homemade food goes, I grew up on my mother’s macaroni and cheese with the breadcrumbs on top. I didn’t even know that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese existed until I was at least a teenager, and maybe not even until I was in college. My mother’s macaroni and cheese was the standard that I measured all other mac and cheese by, and Kraft doesn’t even place a distant second.

My two daughters, however, learned to love the stuff in the blue box at an early age…most likely from daycare…and absolutely hate the stuff I make from my mother’s recipe. It is what it is. You like what you like because it’s what you grew up with; and you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about not liking something “more sophisticated” or homemade. Food snobs drive me crazy.

I love the Glove and Boots series of videos, and there’s one about visiting New York in which Johnny T says that if you’re gonna visit New York, don’t eat at the same restaurants you’d go to at home. This is accompanied by a graphic showing the logos of many national chains.

I have friends who feel this exact same way…if they’re visiting a new city, they make a point to avoid chains, and only eat at local restaurants. But I figure that after you’ve been on the road for hours and hours, there’s something comforting about food you recognize, and eating in a place where you know exactly what you’re getting…or can get a particular favorite that you can’t make at home.

Besides, despite what Johnny T says, some chains are local…or at least don’t exist where we live…so going to them is eating something different than what we’d get up here. Even though I grew up with them in Jersey, there are no White Castles anywhere near Central New York; so going to one when we’re in the NYC area would be something different. Eat’n Park and Steak ’n Shake are local to Pennsylvania and parts of the Midwest. And while we used to have them here, Bob Evans and Big Boy left the area before we ever had a chance to visit one.

Now this doesn’t mean that we only eat at chains when we’re on the road. We’ll eat in almost any Chinese or Italian restaurant, but we don’t feel a need to avoid chains when we’re traveling, just to make our experience more “legitimate”...and neither should you.

Just eat what you like.

Now, we have to make a special pilgrimage to one of the three remaining Howard Johnson’s.

1 comment:

  1. When I travel, I specifically look for places that have foods I have never tried before. That's how I came to like alligator, octopus, and eel!!