Not About Food

Is overstimulation hampering our ability to enjoy simple food?

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Is overstimulation hampering our ability to enjoy simple food?

medium_rare | Aug 18, 2011 02:49 PM

This post stems from reading a few negative reviews of restaurants that I've come really enjoy. I'm not questioning the validity of the reviewers' negative opinions as everyone has their preferences, but I'm starting to notice a trend. Maybe it's been around forever, I truthfully don't know, but I'm looking for others' ideas on this.

I am seeing complaints, if you will, that certain restaurants' food has "no taste." Again, not off the wall in and of itself, but looking at the context of these ideas makes me wonder a bit. In a review of Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh, one reviewer claimed "no taste" while expressing shock and surprise that "the fries weren't even seasoned!!!!" (I added a few of the exclamation points). My initial reaction was, between cole slaw, cured meats and fries, how much more flavor does one need in a sandwich? Similar complaints popped up in reviews of an Italian restaurant in Lancaster, citing "flavorless" sauce when in my very humble opinion it was quite robust with a clear spice presence of red pepper (I eat exceptionally hot food, so it isn't an oversensitivity to spice).

My question is this. Are we so overstimulated that we can't enjoy a simple sandwich? Does every sauce have to knock us out with "extreme" flavors? In "sit down" chain restaurants, I've ordered steaks, chicken, or other grilled meats that were so overloaded with seasoning that I couldn't detect the flavor of the meat itself. Moreover, in those same chains, Italian sauces are generally closer to marinara than traditional red sauce, which by definition contains more vegetables and spices. Perhaps it is a result of using cheaper, lower quality meats that can't carry any of the flavor load on their own. Maybe it is a lack of real skill in the kitchen. Either way, has anyone else noticed this seasoning "obsession," or am I just out to lunch, so to speak?

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