Thursday, February 01, 2007


I was accused of being a bit of a food snob the other day (thanks Aaron), and my first thought was "How can I be a food snob? I like Taco Bell."

My second reaction was to look up the word "snob" to see if that was an accurate label. I hadn't really thought much about that word since high school.

As defined by a snob is "a person who imitates, cultivates, or slavishly admires social superiors and is condescending or overbearing to others." That's the type of snob encountered in high school. The second definition is what we're talking about now: "a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field: a musical snob." A musical snob is a great example. I've certainly known people who shun certain musicians just because said musician is played on the radio and/or gained a certain level of popularity.

I'll admit that in some weird way I am a food snob. I say in a weird way because it's not an exact and scientific snobbery, meaning I embrace Krystals but turn up my nose at Red Lobster or Olive Garden. In all fairness, I haven't eaten at Oliver Garden in at least five years. The last time I ate there was under protest, and my meal was so poor that I had to order dessert because I was still hungry. And then the dessert was still frozen in the center. My last meal at Red Lobster was at my father's request for Father's Day. Despite my usual ironclad stomach, I was sick within 30 minutes. And worse than that was the clientele at Red Lobster. In my direct line of vision was a woman who was eating like it was her job. Seriously, she was acting like she was at a trough rather than a restaurant. She was sweating. Totally unappetizing. On top of all of that, Red Lobster is expensive for what it is. A meal there easily costs $20, assuming you only have a soft drink and an entree. For that same price or a few dollars more, you can eat at a really nice restaurant in my neck of the woods (assuming your order just a soda and entree). Why settle for some shrimp that you can buy yourself in the local frozen foods section when you could have a nice meal somewhere else?

So Aaron then informed me that I fit into the high maintenance category solely based on my opinions about food. I'm not regularly labeled high maintenance, which is probably how I managed to be in so many (wrong) relationships for so long.

But again, Aaron is kind of right. If a guy suggested Applebees for a first date, I'd be tempted to back out. I'd be more impressed with a suggestion that we get shakes and fries at McDonalds with dessert at Krispy Kreme; those restaurants do what they do well. In general (with several notable exceptions), I'm not a huge fan of chain restaurants, especially chains that capitalize on mediocrity, and would much rather try something new and support a local establishment.

But as much as I love trying new places, once I find something I really love, I'm hooked. Hence my enormous excitement about having a bagel at Goldbergs each time I go to Atlanta. I guess in sum, food can be too good, in my mind, for us to settle for the mediocre. But who am I to declare what is and isn't mediocrity? To each their own; I'll try not to judge:)


Anonymous said...

Bat & I are not big fans of chain restaurants either. He got giftcards from Logan's for Christmas. Thankfully the food was FREE. Otherwise I'd never step foot in there again. Call me a snob too I suppose.

Ally said...

FC&F: Fortunately food tastes better when it's free! And usually there's some small redeeming item--like Logan's yeast rolls and peanuts. Isn't there something kind of weird about how the floors there are carpeted with peanut shells?

Jeff Price said...

mmmmmm...double decker taco supreme and chicken burrito the taco bell! So there must be something high class with Carrabba's, huh??

PS The fact that you are so easy to talk to has nothing to do with you being in wrong relationships, it just makes life more enjoyable for those that get to engage you conversation.

PeeJ said...

Whoah wait a second, is food snobbery supposed to be bad? In which case I will probably be going to hell in a paper handbasket then because I am a massive, massive food snob. That's not to say that Taco Bell is not without its merits (actually what the heck am I going on about, I've never even SEEN a Taco Bell outside of the "Demolition Man" movie, we don't have 'em here).

Food snobbery shows that you are willing to break out from the normal everyday chow and experience the weird, wild and wonderful and embrace it.

Mind you, a true food snob can talk about food in the same way an art snob can call a splodge of blue paint on a white canvas "the trials and tribulations of the entire universe from day one"


Aaron said...

For the record, I don't suggest Applebee's as a first date (or even as a regular date).

I believe the conversation went a little like this:
me: I regret to inform you that you fit into the "high maintenance" category soley based on your opinions about food.
Ally: Hmm. Because I have strong opinions?
me: Maybe I'm just admitting my insecurity at actually being able to consistantly arrange dates to your liking based on eating establishments? Or you just play it up for your blog. :D
Ally: I just LOVE eating/food. My most fav. place I've blogged about is in Brookline, and I can eat there for $6.
me: High maintenance doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend alot... but a LOT of thought would have to go into "Where to take Ally that I could impress her with my social-culinary prowess?"

And for the context of this conversation, Ally and I aren't dating. :)

e.b. said...

I am a snob and for the reasons you outlined - I want to enjoy every meal. It is money spent and calories burned and I really want to savor it. So call me a snob but I won't be going to Bennigans or Ruby Tuesdays.

e.b. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brookem said...

Haha! You have a right to be a snob about things you're passionate about. Food being one of them. What's the place in Brookline? MA? Tell me!

Accidentally Me said...

I think we are missing part of the real definition of snob...I feel like, to be a snob, you have to like things not on their merits, but for what it says about you. If you don't like Applebees because it sucks, then you are not being a snob. If you don't like it because it is a chain, then you are being a snob.

I think your love for McDonalds, Taco Bell and Krispy Kreme absolves your of being a food snob. Liking good food does not make you a snob...thinking that there are some types of food that are "beneath you" would make you a snob.

Ally said...

AM: I see what you're saying. That makes good sense.

Brookem: I'm definitely passionate about food! Oh, the place is Anna's. Please go there and have a steak quesadilla, chips, and guac. Yummy!

e.b.: I'm with you! I want to totally enjoy whatever I eat too.

Aaron: That's pretty much exactly what I wrote in this post! You called me a food snob in the comments section of my last post:) On and btw, thanks for reminding me that I should be very careful when gmail chatting with you.

Peej: Breaking out of the norm and trying new things often has such good results. It seems silly not to broaden your culinary exposure.

Jeff: Aw, thanks. I'll take a chalupa and nachos from Taco Bell and a loaf of bread from Carrabas with extra herbs and olive oil please. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

Aaron said...

Ally: What? I removed the part where you confessed your undying love for me. :D

Allen Madding said...

I grew up in a town of 3,000 where dining choices were Dairy Queen, Krispy Chik, and Pizza Hut. In the last 20 years they added Subway, McDonalds, Popeyes, and Huddle House. So, needless to seay, moving to the metro area was a delightful change. As much as I love Carrabas and the Village Tavern, I still will choose Varsity or Krystals from time to time :)

Ally said...

Aaron: I'm glad you dream big.

Allen: When I was growing up our nicest restaurant was Shoney's, but at least the breakfast bar was pretty good. And I LOVE the Varsity. How can the onion rings be so greasy yet still be perfectly crispy?

Ally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberly said...

I don't know if I'm a snob, I'm just a picky eater. I'm guilty of getting the same thing every time once I know I like something. I do love lots of different kinds of food - Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, French (and a good hamburger every now and then)...but I get the same things every time. It's hard to break out of a rut.

bethyanne212 said...

I wouldn't worry to much about Aaron calling you a food snob nor high maintenance. You must consider the source when these things are said.

Aaron is someone that hates eating any type of fast food whatsoever aside from the occaissional stop at Chick-Fil-A. This is also the same person that posted about his cooking and what he made - while pictures were taking of him in the act.

I don't think that knowing what you like to eat and where you like to eat makes you a food snob. There are many factors that should be taken into account about restuarants....Is the service good, is the food good, is the food worth your money, is the company while you are there good, all these things can contribute to why you might like some place or dislike it for that matter. Someone that decides to go to Applebee's for a first date could tell you a lot about the person that you are about to go out with. First impressions are very important.

BTW - I am glad that I am not the only one that Aaron copies text from chats and posts for everyone to read.

ella w. said...

Taco Hell is a guilty pleasure! I am also a big fan of the nachos (supreme). And I can definitely eat more than one taco there.

I once had a guy take me on a first date to Islands. I don't know if you have any of those out there, but it's a burger chain. My friends thought it was hysterical.

allbilly said...

I hope none of you Taco Bell eaters have ever read Fast Food Nation. Um....that's not...umm meat you're eating at Taco Bell.

Also, your description of the Fat woman at Red Lobster was awesome. She had to be fat...that's the way I mentally pictured her.

I don't think you are actually a food snob. I think your justifications were very good. Let's face it, chain restaurants aren't known for quality, they are known for quantity and consistency. Now that may be consistently sucky food, but small town folks seem to embrace it. AND...its affordable.

You aren't in their they don't need you. (no offense)

I can remember when Chili's came to Longview, you'd have thunk it was a FOUR STAR restaurant. You had to be there.

Just shows you how most folks tend to follow the herd. Even if it is to a trough.

Still just me said...

I have to laugh because my small town just got Taco Bell. The line to the drive through went all the way out to the interstate for the first month they were open. It was the talk of the town, and even on the front page of the newspaper.

Ally said...

Still Just Me: Wow! That's quite the reception for a Taco Bell....everything's relative, huh?

Billy: It's funny how things change, but I used to LOVE Chillis when I was in college. It was such a treat! I guess some of it's all about exposure.

Ella: I'm hoping he made this restaurant selection cute somehow with a game of putt-putt or something....otherwise....hmm. Was there a second date?

Bethyanne: Ah, I remember Aaron doing that to you! It's been a while, so I let my guard down:)

Kimberly: Once I find something I like, I'm hooked too. The only way I can try something else if I order my usual and split the new item with someone else--or if go to the restaurant multiple times a week, I'll usually branch out eventually.

Clearlykels said...

I don't like the big chains either-- luckily, I live in a place with lots of really great restaurants. However, one time I did refuse to eat at a place that put a fried bologna sandwhich in the specialties list on the first page.

Ally said...

Clearlykels: That sounds disgusting. Of course, regular bologna sounds gross to me.