In a recent post, someone professed to be troubled by the term "chowish." The term seemed to mean different things in different contexts which was puzzling to the original poster. I think part of the problem is that not everyone is aware that there are three types of Chowhounds, all of whom enjoy this site and share certain basic values.
Some people are what I would call Orthodox Chowhounds. These people are most interested in tradition and authenticity. These are the sorts of folks that would travel across town to sample the kebabs prepared in a small family restaurant by Azerbaijani Fatimids because they've heard that the spicing differs from traditional Azerbaijani meatballs. These are the people who if you suggest just going out and grabbing some Chinese food will say to you, "Sure, do you want Shanghai, Hunan, Szechuan, Cantonese, Islamic Chinese, Hakka cuisine, . . . " At home, Orthodox Chowhounds follow strict dietary restrictions. They will only use organic, heirloom, free range, or farmers market products whenever available. In Las Vegas, orthodox hounds will be found dining at Lotus of Siam and driving down Spring Mountain Road searching for the ultimate banh mi.
Another group of Chowhounds, I would term Conservative Chowhounds. Like most conservatives, they are well aware of the value of money. They have also learned that going into a bad neighborhood to search out a bowl of some exotic Vietnamese soup can result in a bad meal, a dented BMW, or worse. On the other hand, every meal at the French Laundry is guaranteed to be outstanding. And of course, their annual trip to Paris is truly a gourmet undertaking. At home, Conservative Chowhounds love to use ingredients like truffles, foie gras, and fresh lobster. In Las Vegas, they will be found dining at Joel Rubichon's or Alex at the Wynn.
The last group should be called Reform Chowhounds. These are people who believe if it tastes good you should eat it. Truly omnivores, these folks will know what's best at every chain restaurant as well as every ethnic spot in town. They have no problem throwing together a dinner with canned pasta sauce or some frozen food, it tastes okay. In Las Vegas, they can be found at the casino buffets and driving over to the In-N-Out Burger.
Of course, this is an overgeneralization; some people may appear to be orthodox to their family and friends, but then sneak out to Popeye's Fried Chicken or grab a breakfast at McDonald's. Many Conservative hounds sometimes end up eating at the neighborhood Taqueria. And Reform Chowhounds will eat almost anywhere if it tastes good to them, even at a fine restaurant or a taco truck. Even though all hounds share some common values and traditions, it is easy to see why there is more than one kind of chowish behavior, and how otherwise reasonable people can disagree about what is truly chowish.
I should add that it is not my purpose in this post to offend anybody. This is meant to be humorous. If you feel somewhat offended, I didn't mean it.