I’ve been heavily into the food exploring scene for a while. I think I can talk about it smart enough.
What’s the deal with Chowhound?
In New York, Chowhound is an intense forum for food explorers. I’m pretty sure it’s the same around the world. Members are either well-versed in whatever or believe they are, but either way, the exaltation of their expertise is triumphant and many times proven by the date which they first became active. Going in and speaking can be like doing the gauntlet. It’s a place where you should know what you’re talking about or else you will get called out on it. Some people do rundowns of a menu, news, or a restaurant review, while others offer a question and the responses from the forest usually yield a supportive census. I like that part. Also Chowtips is addicting, super easy useful, and extremely addictive. I apologize for this chowtips hole I am about to put you in: http://www.chow.com/food-news/103826/how-to-make-rice-milk-and-horchata/
You can get some very specific information, and find many of the edgier restaurants 6 months before NY Times thinks about writing about it. I suspect this is where many paid food writers poach without contributing.
For a few years, I was well involved with it, but that has probably stopped. After being censored by moderators for putting up links to my own site and events, I no longer can agree that the purpose of the site is to share information. The owners at yahoo seem to instruct the moderators to limit links mostly back to Chowhound. Also, comments mysteriously disappear if they are seemingly not by some also mysterious ethos guidelines of Chow. I’ve made myself quit cold turkey because of it, and instead am concentrating on giving tips on my own blog, twitter, facebook, apps, jacksonheightslife.com, queenslove, and even yelp (but in a more casual way). Another thing that is frustrating, but possibly with purpose, is that there is no messaging functionality.
Further, lately my research has been in spots that aren’t covered in chowhound, like street food in Queens or the Bronx. For these items, I can’t find any experts online. I’m mostly just doing the legwork, speaking to locals, and taking tips from unconventional sources that don’t know how valuable they are. Yelp is actually not bad for this. Hey, I gotta hit the next level, right?
Another extreme food forum is egullet. I am not active on there and can’t speak accurately on that, although I can see they offer a wealth of information – with a higher ratio of industry insiders than just fans of eating. More recently, I’ve gotten involved with Quora, which is as much about smart information gathering, but has more worldly topics. It’s like a mature Yahoo Answers. Roadfood has also been reliable to me, but it seems too curated to be open like I like.
I used to check chowhound every day, multiple times a day. I’ve pulled away, and I think I’m better for it. Now I have more time to concentrate on my stuff, and use it mostly for research when traveling to foreign cities.