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Is "regular" food just really bland?

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  • Is "regular" food just really bland?

    I haven't been around here long, but I've been adventurous with food during the past few months. I've made sauerkraut and kombucha. Besides grass-fed meat, I've eaten whole roasted chicken hearts and have been playing around with other offal. I've made bone broths and have been adding copious amounts of self-rendered bacon/beef/pig/chicken fat to meals. I've made my own salad dressings with raw egg and real anchovies. Raw dairy, milk, cheese, and cream, are stuffed in my fridge. All forms of coconut are my friends.

    I've gone to chain restaurants and expensive restaurants since "going primal" and...the food is generally tasteless. Except for the time I ordered foie gras (I wasn't paying the bill), I've been pretty underwhelmed. Foie gras is awesome, btw. But even when I ordered steak (or veal) the meat was like chewing puffed cardboard.

    When we were staying with family over Thanksgiving my aunt made steak for dinner because I had requested it in advance (she likes it too) and, as is my custom, I started munching on the strip of fat on the edge of my piece. The fat, I swear, tasted like rancid vegetable oil. Yuck. Turkey day at my mother's was also a gastrointestinal disappointment. It didn't help that I was constantly having to navigate my way around the Country Crock and Miracle Whip (which are not just unhealthy, but taste terrible). But the turkey was not just bland (which was to be expected) but the carcass looked positively ill. My mom offered to boil it up and bring over the turkey soup the next day and I nicely declined. No, I don't bone broth soup from a bruised and sick bird.

    Is this the way "normal" people usually eat? I'm just trying to wrap my mind around it. No wonder sugar and sugary sauces are so common, they give the taste buds something to taste.

    Yes, I know "foodie" restaurants exist, that serve actual food. But the vast majority of people don't eat at those places or eat that food. All they eat is bland food, that tastes like nothing or tastes like vegetable oil. Sad.

  • #2
    I think it depends how much you buy into CW. I already didn't eat at chain restaurants, and while I loved the occasional sandwich/po' boy/hero/sub, pizza, and lasagna at Christmas, I never deluded myself that those foods were good for me. I didn't eat a lot of legumes, but it was mostly because they are a lot of calories for very little nutrients. I didn't know that grains and legumes were actually bad for me. Just that they weren't particularly good for me.

    People who grew up living on prepared foods or fast foods probably don't know what good food tastes like. But I'm fairly old, and my perspective is different. There are people here whose parents cooked nutritious, if SAD meals, and their perspective is different from those whose parents thought a big night out was eating at TGIFs.

    I think this is one instance where people who live in larger, more trendy cities win out a bit. When you look at the posts of people who have problems finding grass fed meats, etc., they are generally from smaller states and cities. (Smaller as in population, not area.) For eg., though I can find almost everything I need locally or online, cowshares in my area are far away, and barely justify the gasoline to go get them.

    So, I agree with you. SAD is boring. Vegetable oils, cereal, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts are sad faire indeed.
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

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    Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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    • #3
      Not necessarily bland, but often either nasty, or containing flavor additives to make them appealing somehow. A perfect example is chocolate, actually- the commercial brands in the US have very low cacao content, and the fats that they use are nasty. The nasty oils and other fillers lead to a waxy taste that is just terrible. If you buy some chocolate that is 70% or higher, most of those companies will use better-quality beans and less nastiness.

      Some friends brought a store-bought apple pie over on Thanksgiving Day. I had a piece and it wasn't good. I had a piece the next day and felt ill for hours. The homemade pies that my wife makes don't do that to me. I don't know what was in that pie, but it made me sick and it didn't taste very good.

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      • #4
        I've noticed a lot of the food I used to eat has an off, kinda chemical-y taste to it after eating it again. Especially fast food. Mostly it's just a weird aftertaste, but some things that I used to love now just taste bad to me. I don't know why, maybe it's all psychological, but I guess it's a good thing if it makes me less inclined to indulge in the future.

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        • #5
          Def nasty, but most grain based stuff is bland and stodgy.
          Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
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          Don't forget to play!

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          • #6
            Sounds like certain individuals just need to learn to cook...
            "All of God's creatures have a natural habitat... my dinner plate." -Me

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            • #7
              I think it all just tastes the same. The same over-salted taste, the same overly-sweet taste. The same "seasonings". When you clear your palate of the chemical flavor enhancements you can taste real food again and every real food tastes different from each other.
              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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              • #8
                I dunno, I have always eaten at home, so the food always tasted good to me, not bland or anything. I baked my own bread, and I made cereals from my culture background, like buckwheat, millet, and barley, and I love using spices. Dunno. Fast food is crap, and restaurants are a waste of money. I still miss fruit and hot chocolate a lot. And, no, 'primal' hot chocolate is not hot chocolate, sorry.
                My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
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                • #9
                  I find the 'regular' food you describe still tastes pretty good! I do know what you mean by munching on a rancid piece of fat, though. I've been eating grass fed beef for a few years now and it makes a huge difference. But, I had a $50 Delmonico steak (no mention of being grass fed on menu; I wasn't paying!) last month that made me cry it was so good!

                  I think it all depends on the cook. I had the most amazing piece of homemade lasagna a few weeks ago. Very regular. Very non-primal. Very delicious. I guess my family (who is NOT primal) has never had Miracle Whip and Country Crock on the table: all butter and Hellman's. I was lucky to grow up with a mother who valued good food and whole ingredients (plus I'm too old for the microwave generation).

                  What tastes horrible to me now are processed foods like chips and bagged cookies and even bread. I wasn't one to crave them in the first place, but the taste is, well, tasteless.

                  I think you are in the Holier Than Thou phase of PB. I hope that isn't too offensive of a comment.
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                  • #10
                    Holier than thou? Meh, maybe.

                    But really, where in "regular" food do you get the full mouthfeel of raw cheese? where in "regular" food do you get the acidic tang of an actual fermented beverage or food? where in "regular" food do you get the deep taste of a bone broth? where in "regular" food do you get the melt-on-your-tongue fatty goodness of a piece of roasted actually-beef fat?

                    The best food I had on my Thanksgiving road trip was the Mongolian lamb dish at P.F. Changs, and the whole time I was thinking - where's the lamb taste? where's the fat?

                    I did, unfortunately, grow up with Country Crock and Miracle Whip and the fake whipped cream. My mother now has hypertension and numerous health problems, and as much as I try to tell her to ditch the vegetable oil, I don't think she makes the connection.

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                    • #11
                      Yes it is bland. Really bland. I don't know if it is "just" really bland though, and the blandness has nothing to do with primal/non-primal.

                      Chain restaurants succeed largely on the formula sugar+fat+salt=profit. Think starbucks, chocolate, icecream, most sauces, the chocolate covered caramel with rock salt sprinkles, etc. This is a well researched area and everyone in the commercial food industry knows that sugar alone=failure, fat alone=failure, salt alone=failure, but sugar+fat+salt=$$$$$. Add the fact that the people who complain about spicy food REALLY complain (as in returning the dish/not paying), and the economics of grain (a scoop of rice costs a LOT less than a scoop of fresh veg), and you have a recipe for bland combinations of sugar+fat+salt.

                      Real ethnic restaurants (of the sort where you feel out of place walking in the door) are the biggest (but not the only) exception.
                      Last edited by Him; 12-07-2012, 07:55 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Hi Sarah!

                        Once you get your hands consistently on some real food, there is no going back, really. True quality, whether in turkey or t-shirts, always stands out and makes everything else pale in comparison.

                        I had the same experience in my life, twice: once when I moved to Europe and lived there for 8 years (and ate my way around some rural villages), and then (back in the USA) after going Primal, and both times I looked around after the epiphany and said the same thing as you: "people actually think THAT is food?!"

                        It is both a blessing and a curse to have taste buds that have been awakened, as you are noticing. The US has good food, too - the more we all support the real food wherever we meet it in the supply chain (from farm CSA through farmer's markets to various eateries and grocery stores selling real food), the better it will be for all concerned, and more folks will catch on - you did, no?

                        In the meantime, eat well (I am sure you will), share (knowledge and food) when it makes sense to, and perhaps eat a belly full of good food before you go to next Thanksgiving's meal so you can concentrate on the (hopefully) good company and less on the less-than-stellar dishes (I can relate - one of my aunts made the least-tasty Thanksgiving meal I have ever had...) because the company trumps the food quality on holidays like this IMHO.
                        I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

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                        • #13
                          Thanks Crabbcakes, glad to know it's not just me.

                          It also applies to t-shirts, yes. I got some shirts at Dots a few months ago and they are already pilling. Pilling t-shirts? So weird. Good thing I bought them on clearance for a few bucks.

                          I think you had more gastronomic delights in Europe than I did. I remember once eating an Irish breakfast cooked by French people, not a success.


                          Him, also, now that I am thinking about it, nearly every food-place orders their food from Sysco or some other large food vendor. I think that in a lot of the chain restaurants the food even comes pre-prepared from the vendor, sliced and seasoned a certain way according to the wishes of the corporate office. And the mixed veg, ugh, all that stuff comes off one assembly line, I think. Try doing a special order that specifies how a food is prepared at a place like Applebee's. The answer "we can't do that..." says a lot. In this way, the chains aren't much different from fast food. The only exception to this, maybe, is Ruby Tuesday's, because I've gotten food there where something actually did go wrong on the prep line (the manager quickly resolved it, and made me happy).

                          I remember, I think it was in one of Salatin's books, where he relates how a friend was at a beef conference and he asked "how do we make the beef taste better?" The speaker asked, "You mean, how do we make it bigger?" Reply, "No, I mean better." Answer, "Oh, I don't know. Who cares?"

                          These days, it seems like no one really cares. As long as what they eat gets a sprinkle of the "seasoning" mix and a side of vegetable oil and sugar. Fat/sugar/salt, and then you take these out to be "healthy" by being low-fat, and you get extra-bland. No wonder everyone wants to just eat Doritos.

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                          • #14
                            Yup, its the same for me. I used to love any excuse to eat out, but now its rare for me to get excited about restaurant food. It all taste the same. Generic. Bland.

                            Sure, I know where I can get a pretty good spinach or mixed green salad, but I can make those at home for 1/4 the price any time I want. We used to treat ourselves to a nice surf & turf dinner, but now that we have a freezer full of grassfed beef, we can have fabulous steak at home (ribeyes are defrosting right now!)

                            So now I limit my dining out to ethnic restaurants (NOT Chinese or Italian), where the flavors are interesting and some of the ingredients are exotic. For the most part the ingredients will be 'real food', and not built around bread or pasta. Ethiopian is my current favorite.
                            Sandra
                            *My obligatory intro

                            There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and days you don't. As soon as you label a day a cheat day, you're on a diet. Don't be on a diet. ~~ Fernaldo

                            DAINTY CAN KISS MY PRIMAL BACKSIDE. ~~ Crabcakes

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sandra in BC View Post
                              Yup, its the same for me. I used to love any excuse to eat out, but now its rare for me to get excited about restaurant food. It all taste the same. Generic. Bland.
                              DITTO. It's disappointing to make the effort to go out with my family or meet some friends only to be completely and totally repulsed by the food. There are times when it's unavoidable or it would be rude/improper to decline a meal and it's unfortunate that very little meets my standards of enjoyable.

                              Last weekend I indulged in some pizza for my beloved niece's birthday and while it tasted good going down that night I had the worst headache and nausea. No more regular pizza for me. My parents brought over a huge amount of Chinese takeout one night as a surprise. I had a little just to acknowledge their kindness and all I tasted was cornstarch during every bite. Ugh.

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