HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Is it better when you haven't cooked it yourself?

  • f

Many of us can cook exactly what we feel like eating, or at least most of it. In terms of foods within your cooking knowledge, does it taste better if a friend/relative makes it or you do?
Example: my grandmother's soups are very bland, yet they taste amazing to me. when i replicate it at home it's not the same. My mom made a clam sauce last time I was home that was not at all how i would choose to do it, but it tasted great to me. Is it the food, the company, the love for the person who makes it, or the fact that I didn't have to make it myself? Certainly the feeling one gets from restaurant food is completely different, even if it's tasty and enjoyed in company.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wow! What a great question. I think it is all of those things you mention - the food(simple as it may be), the love for the person who makes it (I would add the love the person who makes it feels for you & the love with which she serves it to you!), plus the fact you didn't have to make it yourself. Another theory: the feeling of being loved & pampered by mom or grandma leads to relaxed enjoyment; it's a love thing!

    1. I much prefer food made by someone else than something I made. For me that is one reason why I love eating out.

      1. My husband and I love to cook, and generally, I love our cooking. BUT, for some strange reason, I always like someone else's potato salad much better than my own. I have many versions, most of which I get raves about from others, but I usually like it at someone elese's home...or a a restaurant. Conversely, I love my meatloaf. It's my mom's recipe and I've never had a better one anywhere.

        1. This might not be quite what you meant, but I've always enjoyed eating what I cook myself a little less than if my husband had made the same dish (and I'd say we're both equally talented in the kitchen). The reason, I feel, is that when I cook it myself, by the time I come to eat it I've spent most of the day in the kitchen with it - as opposed to having my husband spend all that time in the kitchen while I'm up front reading - then, voila! - the meal appears as if by magic, totally fresh and new to me. I love to cook, and I love to eat (someone else's cooking) - they're two completely separate ways of having fun.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Akatonbo

            Yes! Sometimes I'm just not as interested in something after spending all day with the ingredients, aroma etc. Or if the prep has been stressful, I rarely feel the results were worth it. DH cooks less than me, is somewhat less skilled, but when he does cook I tend to LOVE it precisely because I didn't choose the recipe or do the cooking. When I try to recreate those dishes I never enjoy it as much.

            1. re: julesrules

              I'm rarely hungry after I cook a big meal and often times I'm my biggest critic, so a lot of the time, the end result is not worth it.

            2. re: Akatonbo

              I so agree with you. Food for me too is always better when made for rather than by me yet my friends all rave about what I make.
              (And ask for handouts)Prime example is Thanksgiving turkey. After playing with it all day in the oven, smelling it, taking a taste here and there; it just isn't the same as when you are at someone else's house for Thanksgiving

              1. re: Chas

                I hate Thanksgiving. Just thought I would share <g>. I would love for one year to be the person who gets to bring a dish or the wine to someone else's place.

                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                  I'm not a big fan either! (Thank goodness I'm not the only one!) Last year we catered it in because we had to travel right after we got off work, and that was the best damn turkey I've ever tasted! ;-)

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    I have asked hubby everyway possible if we could bring in T'giving or go out but unfortunately it's his favorite meal and thinks it's just grand. I hate it.

            3. My great grandmother never measured ingredients, never worked from a cookbook, could never write down her own "recipes" and I have yet to duplicate her choc chip cookies, chicken soup, mandelbread, chicken livers....and when I crave those homey foods...boy do I miss her! How did she achieve consistent flavors and I can't even come close?!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                My grandma is still alive, but whenever she gives me a recipe there's always an addendum at the end of the recipe: "Sometimes I add this or sometimes I might add that, or I don't always use this", etc., etc. I can't duplicate no matter how hard I try, but I think most of it is grandma's touch.

              2. For me Pancakes always taste better when someone else makes them.

                1. I thought this was only a problem with people who worked in food service industries. I love to play in the kitchen and cook meals for my friends, but the last thing I want to do after I have been cooking for 4-5 hours is eat the results of my labor.
                  When I make Thanksgiving or other holiday meals, I just say grace with my family and friends, and then I usually go take a nap for a hour or so.

                  I used to go out to eat with co-workers after we closed the restaurant at 2:00am, but we usually went to a diner and the most common order were pancakes or cold cereal. There were times that many customers of ours would stop in and they always found it weird that we would eat the most simple items from the menu. I could never explain this phenomenon, but I know that just because my professional repertoire is continental European pastry doesn't mean that I prefer madelines and and Sacher torts. I love to bake,m but many of the most requested item don't sound appetizing to me. I love the challenge of complicated recipes and techniques, but I tend to prefer the most simple items.

                  I may be (very) wrong

                  1. I think this is very true and just isn't about "How mom used to make..." I think as a cook, I am a bit hyper critical about my food. SO is the same way. When working with a dish, you taste and constantly taste. You know it's strong points, you also know it's weak points. This week SO made a pasta sauce, when I came home eager to try it, he had a pained look and gave me the warning that it wasn't very good. It tasted just fine! I loved it. But if the roles were reversed, I know I probably would have given him the same warning when he walked through the door too...


                    1. For me, many food items are better when not made by me.


                      Because I don't have to visually "see" all the raw ingredients that go into a dish.

                      Take cookies for example. Butter, mixed with egg yolks and then flour, then a dash of sugar or salt, a pinch of this (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) ... just not very visually appealing.

                      The final product - the cookie - looks awfully good and tastes great, but knowing what went into it somehow detracts from the eating experience.

                      1. This could possibly be a thread unto itself(perhaps one already exists...sigh)...I love to cook...do so virtually everyday...but, generally, though I'm happy and interested to see what the s/o or friends' reactions will be, I have a very small appetite by the time I'm done tasting, seasoning, etc. I've taken to explaining when cooking for guests that they should feel free to eat, have as much as they care for while I simply have a small bit of whatever, play host, sit back, and enjoy the dinner conversation. I'm just not that hungry after cooking a large meal.
                        Sometimes when cooking for two I'll end up having something completely different and enjoying healthy leftovers(from that day's cooking) later on.

                        who said "never trust a skinny chef...?" bah!

                        1. I always find that salads taste better when someone else has made it. It's probably because I don't own a salad spinner and often try to toss salads in bowls that are too small. I love how restaurant salads are usually so well mixed with the dressing.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Humbucker

                            Completely agree! I love salads in restaurants, but mine just never seem to taste the same! This was always my "chore" when I was younger, so I think I just got burned out on making salads.

                          2. I would probably never make myself a sandwich, but I sure do love sandwiches. I order them at restaurants and just love when my dad makes me one. I cannot begin to explain this.

                            1. I love to have a meal prepared for me and if it is something that I grew up eating regardless of how it actually taste I love it. Now that I am busy with work and kids I cherish every meal that I did not cook.

                              1. Interesting question. All things being equal, yes I think a dish would taste better if made by someone else, mainly because (as others noted) there is less work and less knowledge of what is not perfect about it. But the fact is, the dishes would not be equal, and in many cases I would prefer my version.

                                1. Great question. There certainly are things that are better made by others...esp. if they they know the recipe, grandmothers, etc.

                                  On a more general note (someone mentioned it) there are certain things that are better if someone else prepares it, even if you could and used the exact same ingredients:

                                  1) sandwiches
                                  2) omelettes
                                  3) salads

                                  I've always wondered why these taste better if someone else makes it and serves it? The best I can think of is the simplicity of the dish and being served.

                                  1. I agree with the consensus...however, I do make a damned good apple pie : )