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Cooking for non-food people

It's just so unfulfilling. I have some friends who don't really appreciate good food or high-quality ingredients. I find that I am loath to entertain them. Is this wrong? I put my heart and soul into my cooking and entertaining and it really makes me feel badly when people don't appreciate it.

One example: I have a friend who considers himself a foodie. His favorite restaurants are--NO KIDDING--Buca di Beppo, and P.F. Chang. He considers the latter especially gourmet. He's also lived in this city for two years and never so much as darkened the door of either of our two Trader Joe's.

I had him and his DW to our house, where I made pesto-crusted salmon (homemade pesto made with my own garden basil), roasted green beans, a large salad and a chocolate torte made with expensive, high-quality chocolate.

He didn't eat. DIDN'T EAT A THING. Was I wrong to be offended? I mean, he considers Buca and PFC's the pinnacle of haute cuisine!

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  1. IndyGirl, Wow! You sound really frustrated. But first you have to understand, the success of The Olive Garden, P.F. Chang's, etc. reflects the fact that most Americans don't care enough about food to seek out anything by franchise dreck--or know the difference.(Fortunately Chowhound bucks this trend.) I suggest you divide your friends and acquaintences into the two food groups and only entertain Chowhounds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Walters

      Yeah, that's basically what I've been doing. It's hard though--I don't have many friends who like food the way I do.

      And the one guy I mentioned--what made that especially frustrating was the way he proclaimed himself the be-all, end-all food guy.

    2. My ex was the same way...he would PREFER fast food over fine quality, organic ingredients.

      I would suggest continuing the dinners and entertaining because YOU like doing it; however, I would tone it down a bit. I wouldn't serve them the best of the best ingredients. Make them something one step above what they are use to but one step below what you are use to cooking.

      I feel your frustration but some people will never get food.

      1. I posted a similar thread some time ago. My solution is to dumb down the cooking because it's pointless to cook for people with no taste. I can't not invite my non-foodie guests because they're my husband's family. Some of them regard themselves as sophisticated gourmets which I find funny, but they're all good people and loyal to family so I deal with their food likes and dislikes. Even if I do rant regularly to DH.

        1. I don't quite get that he "didn't eat a thing." Did he give you any explanation? Does he not like salmon? I certainly would be offended if he didn't try a bite of anything without saying why...

          1. What kinds of things do you make to dumb it down? Pizza? Quesadillas?
            Last time, we ordered pizza. Plus, our friends had a very young little boy and it was just easiest....

            11 Replies
            1. re: IndyGirl

              I think last time, maybe cheryl_h said she will make spaghetti with meat sauce, but she will make her own bolognese sauce or something like that. Comfort food, but good comfort food done well.

              1. re: Katie Nell

                Yeah, simple classics. I do steak and potatoes a lot for my inlaws. But maybe this particular rude non-eating guest is one of those people who is actually food-phobic to some degree and won't eat anything homemade, or any meat on the bone, or anything they haven't had before... these people are no fun to cook for at all. Just order in, pizza is an excellent idea! You can always make appetizers and dessert - for your own enjoyment, I don't think you can win with this guy.

                1. re: julesrules

                  Yeah, I don't know... it's not like anything IndyGirl made was really "out there", so he may just be a weirdo! :-)

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    I know, right? DH was totally offended as well (even though it was all my cooking). I just think he is an arrogant blowhard with nothing to back up all his talk (when it comes to food)...he's honestly a nice guy otherwise, and I love his wife.

                    1. re: IndyGirl

                      Interesting, could almost be a defensive thing, so when people want to go out to places he's not comfortable with he can pretend he's too good for that. Bet he has, like, one dish he always orders at PF Chang's.

                    2. re: Katie Nell

                      Oh, god, we met someone who was like that once. He wouldn't eat anything except plain hamburgers cooked well done - nothing on them or chicken fajitas. And I use the term "chicken fajitas" loosely. They consisted of frozen chicken breast steamed, cut into chunks and stuffed in a cold flour tortilla with pre-packaged Kraft cheeese shreds. Period. He was mental.

                      1. re: Andiereid

                        That sounds like this guy. And it would be ok if he didn't act like I was a food moron! He's insulting as can be!

                        1. re: Andiereid

                          Oh gosh, don't even get me started! My best friend's husband is the worst! Flashback to nice steak restaurant in Colorado on vacation, he orders his steak (well done!) and baked potato... Waiter: "Would you like sour cream on your baked potato?" Him: (Horrified look on his face!) "Oh no, no, no sour cream!" Me: (Screaming inside!!!)

                        2. re: Katie Nell

                          Katie - Weirdo is too kind a word for him. Sounds like a pompous, righteous ass to me! :)

                          There are some people I eat meals with. There are some people I go to movies or live theater with. There are some people I go to concerts with. There are some people I enjoy staying home with or going to others' homes to watch DVDs, play games, enjoy jazz jams. Not all people fit into all categories. A precious few do, however. I try to focus on what we have in common with each other when deciding what kind of event we'll share together. Works for me. I don't dine with Joe who thinks Applebee's is the end all, be all, but gosh,it's fun to go to a movie with him.

                          1. re: KCJ

                            Ahhh. I feel better just by commiserating a bit with you guys.

                            Ahhhh.

                    3. re: IndyGirl

                      The last time we had the entire family, I made soups (navy bean, butternut squash), a pan of roasted root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, parsnips) and two main dishes - beef short ribs and veggie lasagna. Dessert was sticky toffee pudding. We have a militant vegetarian so I have to have non-meat choices. Nothing was particularly complicated, just about everything could be made in advance and reheated and it was basically comfort food. I used instant lasagna noodles, frozen spinach and combined a jar of pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes for the sauce in the lasagna.

                      Pizza is a good choice. Make-your-own sandwiches or fajitas or plain pasta with a couple of sauces also satisfy a range of tastes. For a family brunch I once made buttermilk pancakes from a mix which I gussied up with extra butter, eggs and fresh berries. Some scrambled eggs, smoked salmon (from Costco) and a choice of breads, rolls with preserves and cheeses rounded it out.

                      I keep getting requests from DH's family to make Chinese food which is my everyday cooking. I can't bring myself to dumb this down, it's just too offensive to me, so I don't serve this unless I know the guests will enjoy it and appreciate the work that went into it.