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Northampton/Amherst Area Dining . . . a Retrospective


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Northampton/Amherst Area Dining . . . a Retrospective

bewley | Jan 7, 2010 03:20 PM

Ten years ago, John Thorne (a food writer of considerable fame) wrote a Chowhound post entitled: "Northampton/Amherst Area Dining...Another View"

The first two paragraphs of his post are as follows:

"When my wife, Matt, and I first moved to Northampton (Noho to collegiate types, Hamp to townies), we had high hopes for the place and ate out a lot. Now, maybe, once a month. To be honest, for a place its size, there's a lot going on: two Thai restaurants, two Indian restaurants, two decent sushi places. Still, the Chinese restaurant that wins "Best of the Valley" every year for about ten years in a row is Hunan Gourmet, a place where the food is so bad that I don't understand how the waitstaff can serve it with a straight face. This isn't a comment on the restaurant but on the taste of the local inhabitants, which is, to say the least, low.

"How low? There was a really GREAT Malaysian restaurant in Amherst (two towns away) that we visited everytime we could when we first got here. However, we noticed that we were about the only customers in there everytime we went -- and, sure enough, they were out of business in a year. The Northampton/Amherst axis is college land, and while college students like to think they have adventurous palates, they go adventuring all together to places which pose little threat to their cool, and where the emblematic is all: if a pizza slice is big and comes with fresh basil and raw garlic scattered over it, that's high end eating for them. Because many college students are vegetarians or at least pro-vegetarian, this word also regularly short-circuits palate attentiveness in favor of political correctness."

The whole thread may be viewed here:

My question is has the area changed much from the above description? I've had an avid interest in this area for over a year to live and work. I love the idea of the food coop. I really like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and the fact that there are a lot of schools, but I have been hesitant. I think John really hit the nail on the head with his post (of over a decade ago) and if so, why is the area slow to change? Is there a resentment between the "townies" and "college types." Has the food scene remained static overall?

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