Not About Food 7

How do you know it's good?

plasticman | Apr 21, 200809:29 AM

How can anyone know if an unfamiliar foreign dish is "good"? I was reminded of this when Thomas Keller (French Laundry) said of molecular gastronomy that you taste it without any reference to some previous dining experience. That is, if you eat fried chicken, you compare it to all the other fried chicken dishes you've ever had. But if you try something weird at El Bulli, you can't compare it to anything else. Although it does have to conform to your cultural expectations of taste, smell and mouthfeel.

I think the same is true for most people when they go to an ethnic restaurant. If you've never had Korean food, can you really say that some version of Soon Tofu is any good? Compared to what? I overheard some boys from Idaho complaining about the Mexican food in LA. They were looking forward to getting burritos from Taco Bell. I feel like many of the posts on CH in the past few years have been written by people like these guys. They are so used to the swill at their local sushi, chinese or indian joint that they measure all new places by that poor standard. Consequently, I've had lots of bad meals based on recommendations from people who don't know any better.

There are a few regular posters who've developed an obvious expertise on a cuisine in an area (i.e. Chinese in LA, pizza in NYC). I propose that Chowhound anoint these people as "Star contributors" so I can quickly locate their posts in a thread. This would really help when I'm traveling to new places.

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