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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Foodie Groups

On a recent visit to Northern California, I had a brief chat with a friend about food. He lives in a mid-sized town with a total lack of culinary diversity (the local idea of Mexican food is Chipotle). Anyway, we got talking about how difficult it is to experience diverse cuisine when you live in isolated or small towns (I grew up in Barstow, so trust me, I know), and I asked him what he was doing about it.

My question was loaded. On the trip up there, I was reading an article in a skateboarding magazine and it was talking about kids that live in cities with no skate scene. The advice? Start one.

Well, my friend told me how he had started a foodie group with about 8 people. The goal? To experience a different type of cuisine each week. And, lest they end up at Taco Bell, Panda Express, and Yoshinoya, he said the rules let him take everyone to restaurants they would never otherwise try. True ethnic food, but also true ethnic experience. I love it.

And this is my point. How many of us complain about our access to good food? What are we doing about it?

I live in North Orange County, yet I drive 20 minutes each way almost daily just to have by blessed boba and true Chinese food. Why? No good Chinese food in North OC? Most likely. I've tried many, many places and have yet to find something nearly as good as just about anything I find in Rowland Heights. But it's also price. It's irritating to me to pay $10 for a dish of noodles in Orange County when I can get much better noodles in Rowland Heights for $5. And I'm not complaining about it. I don't mind the drive, although it gets tough to do.

Which is why I cook. I'm not dependent on restaurants to satisfy my palate. But I don't necessarily want to have friends over for me to cook every night of the week, and I also don't want to eat out every night of the week. I break it up and I'm happy with it.

But are you? What are you doing to solve the problem?

Don't know any good restaurants? Collect some friends and plan to visit a new, uncharted restaurant every week. You're bound to find something. Done that and still aren't happy? Start a home foodie group. Switch off houses each week and cook it up. Go through a cookbook.

I'm rambling at this point, but I'm still thinking everyone needs to do their part to enjoy food. It's a bit of a fad now and in some ways, 'everyone's cooking' these days. I've been cooking all my life and don't plan on stopping once the fad passes. But I still find ways to make it enjoyable. Food groups, cooking nights, whatever.

Tell me about what you're doing.

~ Brock