When I’m bored, I mill around Chowhound. I’ve gotten pretty good at not reading posts with titles that I know will annoy me. I now ignore them. Sometimes I get tricked and read a post only to discover that it’s a stupid question (yes, there are stupid questions AND stupid answers in this world) or completely unrelated to the title. These days, Chowhound is most useful to me for providing insight on new restaurants in the area. Of course, I don’t trust chowhound praise outright. No, typically I’ll see a few restaurants named and I’ll read about them and try and get an idea if the reviews are balanced enough to believe. I don’t trust gushing at all. Especially if it’s accompanied by PRAISE in CAPITAL LETTERS. So, I make a mental note of these places and then if I see it pop up on a couple local blogs it triggers a “hmm..” moment. At that point, I probably write it down somewhere and tell T that I want to try it. Or Cami. And then a few months go by before we ever get to where it is we’re craving. So, I’m totally not a trendsetter when it comes to new restaurants. Except for places in Poway, I guess.
My actual point, however, was to say that I don’t actively try to annoy myself with Chowhound. I feel like I’ve been on that site long enough for the vast number of topics to actually start repeating themselves. What to make for V-Day. What to cook to impress a first date. What to do with leftover ham. What’s your favorite cheese. OMG – Greek yogurt rocks. How long do I roast a chicken. Where to eat during Comicon. No car in SD – what food is bearable. And on and on.
What I don’t understand is what people think the site is for. I see questions pop up that make me wonder if they think they’re having live conversations*. Like, there’s a chicken burning in the oven and the dinner party starts in half an hour – what should they do? If I had a dinner party in half an hour and my food was burning, my first instinct would not be to consult a message board for an answer (and then wait for said answer to eventually appear). I would turn on the vent hood, stick the food outside, and either run to Costo for a roast chicken or make a frantic call to Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ. But, I also plan my dinner parties very carefully, so the chances of this happening to me are small. Also, for small get togethers, I don’t tell people what I’m cooking. For all they know, I was planning on having take-out all along!
Or someone will pull out chicken, a pepper, cheese, and couscous and ask what they can make for dinner that night. In half an hour. Do you really think people are sitting at their computer, constantly hitting “refresh” to see what last-minute disasters they can solve?
My latest favorites, however, involve broken appliances. My oven sometimes bursts into flames – should I worry? My refrigerator is leaking water – what should I do? Weird noises, odd smells, random flames, and puddled liquids are not questions for a message board. That’s when you start calling repair people. Some problems don’t get better the longer you wait to fix them (actually, I don’t know of any problems that do that). The concept boggles my mind.
But, just so I don’t end this post on a grumpy note, I will tell you about a cookie from Trader Joe’s (I know, surprise, surprise!) that I bought and didn’t like that later grew on me to the point where I took the bin to work so I didn’t eat them all. In one sitting. They are like Nilla Wafers, if Nilla Wafers were made with butter and vanilla beans. They’re called Ultimate Vanilla Wafers. They come in the plastic tubs, like the chocolate chip cookies that are also addictive. The cookies are crisp-soft. Not as hard as Nilla Wafers, but not as soft as a chewy cookie. You can definitely taste the butter, but sometimes you can also feel the vanilla bean seeds (some people don’t like that). It’s kind of nice to know that you could use a more natural cookie in place of Nilla Wafers (remember making mini cheesecakes with the wafer as the bottom crust?), but I also take comfort know Nilla Wafer are always on grocery store shelves. For all I know, the vanilla thins are “seasonal” and will disappear once summer is over. All in all, it’s a good butter cookie, with just a hint of vanilla.
* Some message boards really are like real-time chatting. I know friends who frequent boards like this and they form their own little odd community. This comes in handy if, say, your car is stolen and you need hundreds of eyes keeping a lookout until it’s spotted, at which point they band together, block said stolen car in until police arrive, and help you get your car back. I’m just saying.
I agree chowhound is very odd, although if I’m on a trip it can be very helpful indeed for finding a good restaurant that isnt awful. This has worked wonderfully in Portland, San Francisco and all along the california coast. Instead of ending up in a terrible tourist dump, I’ve found a lot of really good restaurants.
Its a bit scary getting involved in some of those discussions though!!
I know! Sometimes I’ll start a reply and then just give up after a sentence or two because I don’t want to get involved or have someone attack my opinions.
I bought the Ultimate Vanilla wafers cuz you recommended them and boy, are they addictive! I guess anything made with butter is addictive to me. Have you tried their Chicken Mango sausage? It is now my favorite!
I have to say, I’m not a fan of most chicken sausage, but the Chicken Mango one at Trader Joe’s is really good.