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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.


                    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.

                    4. Could it have been that his DW, divorced wife soured the meal and the mood for him?

                      1 Reply
                      1. I got past the "pearls before swine" thing early in our marriage and learned to gear my meals to the guests. It saves me a ton of frustration and allows me to enjoy my guests for their company, which, after all, is why I invited them over in the first place - not to impress them with my culinary skill. (Although that is a nice perk, when it's appreciated).

                        So I now pick my menus based on the guests. I know my friends and their food preferences pretty well (I always ask new guests if there is anything they can't/don't/won't eat) and cook accordingly. Those who I know don't have terribly adventerous palates might get simple roasted chicken and mashed potatoes and a salad with some kind of nice cake for dessert. But for those friends who cook and/or enjoy really good food - those are the ones I'll pull out all the stops for and do something really creative.

                        Either way, I still enjoy entertaining several times a week, and I have less to complain about when my guests leave happy and satisfied. Whatever their tastes.

                        Now, as for your guest who didn't eat anything - yes, that is offensive and rude. You have a responsibility to be a good host to your guests, but your guests ALSO have a responsibility to be good guests, and that includes eating SOMETHING. Unless there is a food allergy that creates serious problems, he should have made some effort to make a good showing at table. That right there, as my Arkansas relatives would say, "shows no home trainin'".

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Andiereid

                          Exactly.....I couldn't have said it better myself (I really couldn't - I'm a horrible writer!). I have my steak & potato friends and my "put out all the stop" friends. And....we have a great time with all of them - regardless of the menu.

                          I'm also lucky enough to be in a dinner club with eight other couples and everybody (besides one gal with an unfortunate onion phobia)is willing to try anything. It's allowed us all to get those creative juices flowing on a more regular basis!

                          1. re: Mushroom

                            I wish, wish, wish I had a group like that to cook with/for. I guess, from the way this guy especially went on and on about how he was a foodie and loved to cook, that he would appreciate a well-done, fresh, basic menu like the one I thought I presented.

                            We'll probably be moving to another state in the summer...when we do, I am going to try to start some kind of dinner club or something. I need the outlet!

                            1. re: Mushroom

                              Oh, you ARE lucky! I couldn't muster up a dinner club out of all of our friends if my life depended on it! Too many diverse activities, kids with stuff going on, people who don't cook, etc.

                              But honestly, we love 'em all and consider ourselves very lucky any time we get to spend a great evening with any of them, whether it's over delivery pizza or rack of lamb.

                              1. re: Andiereid

                                Mmmmmm.....rack of lamb. My all time favorite (to cook and eat).

                                This is our second attempt at a Dinner Club - the first failed due to a few different reasons - geography, organization and divorce (only one couple - not the whole group).

                                The second atttempt has been far more successful. Nobody lives more than 15 minutes apart, we set the dates several months in advance and everybody is required to get marriage counseling (for the more serious minded - I was kidding on that last one).

                                Not everybody makes it for every get together, however, with such a big group that is a bit of a blessing.

                                Give it a whirl - we've all got kids from diapers to college -and we make it work!

                                Our January host is suppose to be coming out with the menu ASAP - can't wait!

                          2. You are absolutely correct to be offended. Accepting your invitation but rejecting the food you prepared for him is incredibly rude. I could understand if he ate it but didn't appreciate why it was better than franchise dreck, but refusing to eat ANY of the food on his plate? It's not as though you served him something that wasn't recognizable as food to a typical American, for heaven's sake! (For instance, my roommate from China prepares stuff you wouldn't see at PFC, although it all smells wonderful.)

                            Yeah, definitely don't invite him back to dine. If he and his DW are amusing people otherwise, there are plenty of things you can do with them that don't involve wasting your effort and ingredients on feeding them good food they won't eat.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: gothbiologist

                              Yes, we still like them as people as long as food doesn't come into the mix, LOL. The last time we got together he made us reservations at Buca di Beppo and specifically requested a seat near the kitchen so we could "watch the chefs." I mean.

                              But, yes, I know not to have him over for dinner again.

                              1. re: IndyGirl

                                How well do you know your friends? What they like to eat, what they are able to eat (allergies, religion, medical restrictions?). What are their favourite foods?

                                IMHO, hospitality is about creating an experience that can be enjoyed by everyone involved, not about "dumbing down" a meal. If it is known that the invited guests are happier and would enjoy a meat and potato meal more than the beautiful one you prepared, why not minimise your effort, and create a wonderful experience for everyone?

                                I maintain a little record of what friends can eat and what they won't eat (e.g. pimiento, eggs, brussel sprouts). I plan my menus around their enjoyment in eating and my enjoyment in cooking. I have M&P friends for whom meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes (really good potatoes) is their version of fine dining. That's okay with me. I "gourmet-up" my meatloaf (fun for me), and they enjoy it for its familiarity and comfort. I have friends who are limited in the foods they can eat (gluten intolerance, pork and seafood allergies, vegetarians, and the odd kosher requirement); I maintain recipes and records of what has worked in the past, and am always in search for new ones to try. And I have friends who are foodies and are willing to push the adventure in dining envelope. For them, I reserve "Guinnea Pig Night". Experimentation, new recipes, and flavour tests are all part of the mix.

                                I don't judge my friends by what they eat or drink. I respect those who don't partake of alcoholic beverages for whatever reason, and enjoy the discovery of wines and spirits with those that do. In turn, my friends, as guests, are gracious in return, by trying that which I have prepared, and enjoying the company of friends.

                                With that, no offense is ever meant and none taken by all parties, and everyone goes away happy, and full.

                                1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                  I do exactly the same thing. Know who eats what, who won't touch something with a ten-foot pole, and plan accordingly. My goal is to to have my friends over, have a good time, and everybody go home satisfied. If someone doesn't eat something I've prepared, or doesn't have a good time, then I've failed, and plan better the next time.

                                  1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                    I'm also right there with you on this matter. The first dinner party I threw entertaining my husband's closest friends at the time, 2 couples, was a great learning experience for me. I spent a lot of time the week before the dinner finding out exactly what each diner's dislikes were, as my husband warned me that they're all picky eaters. Here was the list of no-no's...

                                    1) One gal hates eggs or anything with an overt egg presence. Egg noodles were OK, because they don't taste "eggy," but deviled eggs or carbonara was out.

                                    2) One guy hates lettuce and "white creamy things" as in mayo, sour cream, cream cheese,sauce veloute...

                                    3) Another guy "likes seafood" but won't eat fish. Ends up his definition of "seafood" is shrimp, and only of the bay variety at that.. he said he liked "any meat" as well, but lamb was "out of the question"

                                    4) The remaining gal would not eat: peppers of any kind, mushrooms of any kind, anything "bitter" (quite subjective), anything "too garlicky," and, I love this one, "no visible onion pieces." This meant that if there was onion in there, that's fine, but she doesn't wanna see it.

                                    So working with those limitations, I prepared what I believed was the most boring dinner ever presented to guests (pork loin braised in milk, salt-baked Yukon Gold creamers, steamed green beans with butter and chives, and assorted salumi/cheeses/baguette as an appetizer.)

                                    The interesting thing is, I was the only one who thought the meal was totally pedestrian. My guests LOVED it, cleaned me out of any leftovers.

                                    So that evening, I learned that my standards of what a good dinner party meal is might be a bit off from what others expect and/or appreciate. The bottom line is that we all ate well and had a great time being together. That, in my opinion, is a successful dinner party.

                              2. Which do you like more your food or your friends. Hopefully the latter.

                                From this side of the aisle, although you might think pesto crusted salmon is mainstream or as another post states "not out there" I, for one, am sick of salmon and have not eaten in over two years. It was just salmon this and salmon that. Family loves it and i cook at least once a week for them but i just can't stomach the thought. I tried and couldn;t get there and now loose my appetite when i see it. Just a view from the other side.

                                That being said i agree with many posters who suggest to bumb it down. I used to make fancy guest meals and it was intimidating to some of our friends. Since my serving-catharsis i make a lot of grilled stuff, with potatoes, rice, veggies, nothing too fancy. I have found that the night is much more enjoyable.

                                Keep the high end to those that appreciate it and cook for the audience for those who might not. If you really want to please this guy, order a big take-out order from PF's. He'd be in heaven. BTW, i like PF's.

                                1. For picky/veggie/plain old lame guests I have one dish:

                                  Mac and cheese.

                                  You get to make a roux, and then a bechamel, so it feels like real cooking. You can upgrade or downgrade the cheeses to your liking. You can add dark beer and hot sauce.

                                  Only time I hit a snag with this one was someone was allergic to cheddar. So I sent the DF out to get a bunch of Gruyere lickity split.

                                  Doesn't work for vegans, though, (soy cheese as a sauce with flax oil and soy milk?) but then I don't think my kitchen is close enough to vegan kosher to serve non animal products out of it. I made cherry Italian ice once for a BBQ, and quickly learned that strict veggies and vegans won't eat anything with Jello powder. Oh well, more for me :)

                                  1. Sounds like you served a pretty green colored plate...maybe he had an aversion to green? whatever the reason, the fact that he didn't eat was beyond rude. i hope you're not frustrated by people who do eat and don't compliment effusively enough, though. that can only lead to ulcers.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: soypower

                                      Oh, no. Actually, he is the main one who gets under my skin. The only one who actually gets UNDER my skin...other people might not be fun to cook for, but he actually was offensive.

                                    2. I was thinking, "Where do you find people like that?" when I thought of some filipino work colleagues who were briefly in India with me long ago. They brought canned sardines from the Philippines to have something to eat... in INDIA!!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Hahah. I went to France in high school on an art/history tour. The girls that went with me were obsessed with eating at.....

                                        wait for it....

                                        MCDONALD's. In France! I was all about eating things I'd never tried and that were as authentic as possible even then!

                                        1. re: IndyGirl

                                          I went to Ireland with similar people. I remember going into McDonalds with one of them. The words my dad used to say, back in the days when the nearest McDonalds to us was 75 miles away and my sister and I would absolutely beg to go there, came rushing back to me: "I didn't come all this way to eat at McDonalds."

                                          1. re: IndyGirl

                                            I admit I did eat *at* McDonalds in Paris...but I ate street food that I took in to eat with the friends who insisted on eating there. I found other friends for the other meals that week!

                                        2. Ahh, i feel for you. My DH's best(or beast) friend considers himself a real gourmet foodie or something, and thinks he knows everything about food, but EVERY restaurant we go to, he complains, and complains, that he could make it better at home (calls himself a chef too) but guess what? won't actually make anything for us or ask us over for dinner! and when he does (the one time) it wasn't that good, i mean, sure, he knows cooking technique, but everything is bland and flavorless.

                                          anyways, back on the point, He constantly complains about food in restaurants, but guess where we go to eat? Montana's, applebees, chianti, poverino's, and a host of other chains.
                                          He refuses to set foot in a dingy ethnic place with good food, refuses to spend the money on fine dining, and will only eat at the worst restaurants in town... AND THEN COMPLAINS B/C THE FOODS BAD!!!!!!!!!
                                          i refuse to eat out with him anymore, he's so negative about every dining experience.

                                          1. Except for jfood's response, I'm pretty disgusted with this whole thread. Do you entertain in order to try to impress your guests with your culinary expertise and sophisticated palate or do you entertain because you like to be with your friends? For me, "entertaining" is a chance to get together with my friends and the food is definitely secondary. I'd rather have a good laugh than a perfect souffle. That's not to say that I don't try to prepare the absolute best and the same with my friends. It's just that the friendship and socializing takes precedence over the food.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Mutt

                                              Do you honestly think that the guest who refuses to eat is focused on socializing and friendship?

                                              That is flat out rude. I've been to some pretty bad dinners prepared by people who don't have the interest, background or experience to prepare a meal I would enjoy. I eat with a happy smile on my face and tell them how much I've enjoyed their tuna casserole. We have a great time because we're each choosing to meet and enjoy the evening.

                                              It's definitely a two-way street. Faulting the host,l who has gone to some effort to offer a nice meal while exhalting the guests who sits at the table and pouts is a bit ridiculous!

                                              1. re: Kater

                                                If the host(ess) thinks that the food is more more important than my eating it, then the host(ess) is the one being rude. There have been times when while DW and I are cleaning the dishes we see that someone may not have eaten the entree. It bothers me more that (s)he may have gone home hungry and did not notice while dinner was being served. I would have thrown a burger, dog or some frozen lasagne into the fray if i had noticed.

                                                I couldn't care less if my host(ess) cooks foie gras or chopped liver. I am there for the company, some laughs and a great time with friends.

                                                Anyone who finds fault in a host(ess) dinner prep needs to get a life.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  But...but...did you and Mutt read the post?? Then guy did not eat ANYTHING. There's something seriously wrong there. Unless by some odd twist of fate he is alergic to salmon, green beans, lettuce and chocolate, he could have eaten SOMETHING. To eat nothing is an overt insult to the host.

                                                  If a guest is picking at my food, or completely avoiding one item, I would not mention it because that would be rude on my part. However, if they didn't touch anything, I would ask if they were ill and cared for some ginger ale and saltines, perhaps.

                                                  1. re: danna


                                                    You bring up a couple of good points and agree with both and, yup i did read the OP. If the guy just sat there on his hands and stared at the food and said nothing, then he was either sick or has other issues. I'd ask DW to call his DW the next day to check in. If he was engaging while eating nothing, so be it, he had fun and was engaging and did not want to eat.

                                                    Your second point is exactly mine. I would feel horrible if a guest left hungry and in my response I mention I would do my best to serve him anything to satisfy his tender tummy and picky palate. Sitting there and fuming at the guy sitting there not eating does no one any justice.

                                                    But in the end it's about the people and the fun we have with them. If the guy is a friend, will not eat anything I serve him, I'd probably down-size his portion knowing full well he was going home hungry, and then DW and I would shake our heads as we shoved his non-eaten food scraps down the disposal.

                                                    But at least we had an entertaining night.

                                              2. re: Mutt

                                                actually, my comment was not about putting down what others eat, or putting the food over the guest, (since i've never really cooked for him) but more about the fact that there are people out there who claim to love food, and then procede to act the opposite and NEVER be satisfied with any food,and refuse to try anything new. Such negativity does ruin everyone elses evening (especially when they are as vocal about it)

                                                1. re: RiJaAr

                                                  yes! yes! yes! It's the incongruity that kills me. (And surprised me).

                                                  1. re: RiJaAr

                                                    Also, i would like to point out that CH's passion is food, and their love is for food, so yes i too would be hurt if a supposed friend of mine dissed my food, and was consistantly rude about my cooking. True friends should never be rude to you, regardless of whether or not they like your cooking, if he hates salmon, its way politer to tell the host in a nice way that you can't eat it, instead of simply not eating it.

                                                2. So, how would chowhounds define "food snob"?

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                                    Anyone who looks down on what others eat!

                                                      1. re: Mutt

                                                        Isn't this whole thread about looking down on what others eat/don't eat?

                                                            1. re: Andiereid

                                                              I don't really see how anyone got that from this thread (there have been A LOT worse "food snob" comments in the past)! I think it's more about being frustrated with people who won't try new things.

                                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                No, Katie Nell, my apologies. I didn't state myself clearly. I'm generalizing more about posts as a whole on CH rather than this particular thread. It doesn't seem to matter what the original post is, it seems to often degenerates into insults and "my appreciation of food is superior to yours", which I find pretty ridiculous. This comment came at a time when I'd had a cumulative "good grief". Sorry about that!

                                                                While I say that, I also give a big nod to folks who make it a point to say "While I find this to be utterly digusting, I recognize that others may like it, and that's just fine by me." I just get little incredulous at the snobbery that creeps its way into a lot of the posts.

                                                            2. re: BangorDin

                                                              It's too bad that 99% of the responses to this thread are like that

                                                        1. I'l have to say fish is pretty iffy in this part of the country. If I were planning a meal and you knew what his ultmate restuarants I might invite them saying something like " I'm planning on making a pesto crusted salmon for dinner on Sat. PM. and I would love it if you and your DW could joins us for it. I'm making the pesto from the basil I grew in my garden." That would give him an out. I'll bet he felt bad about not eating. I have tried and tried to like salmon but I just cannot put it in my mouth. I have made a real effort for over 25 years. I just can't stand even the sight or smell of it I love other fish and when we go back to the NE to visit friends and family we will eat a lot of fish. But I have pushed my own portions around on a plate and eaten the other things that were offered but I have finally had to say, "Oh that looks delicious , but please don't waste any of it on me." We all do have likes and dislikes and some strong aversions. Just because I love something does not mean everyone has the same desires for it. I do try to check or couch my invites so I can guage what is going to be pleasing to all especially if it might be one of those iffy things.

                                                          I'm sorry your guest did not eat his dinner. Think you might get them to slowly branch out like instead of PF Changs suggest they might want to give Viet Bistro a try? Then again that might be too adventurous!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                            I hear you on the fish...I will only eat fish certain places, too. It's not like I bought it at Safeway or LowBill foods or Aldi's. Nope, I bought a $20 hunk of salmon at Costco. I totally trust costco and we eat their fish all the time.

                                                          2. Look at it the bright way...more leftovers for you!

                                                            1. The guy shounds like a schmuck...that said, maybe he's not a fish eater and that's why he tuned out. On a polite note he should have made an effort but I know several people who can't bring themselves to eat fish.

                                                              Maybe you asked. If not, asking the wife or going over the menu when you confirm the details is a good thing. Giving options is a nice thing too and will keep things on track.

                                                              I can for see several foods that would freak people out (by no doing of the host), stuff like lamb, seafood, "exotic" food, etc., if they didn't expect it.

                                                              Just a thought.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                                Add liver of any sort to the iffy list. You may love it but it may be abhorent to others. I remember at pot luck cocktail party where one person brought her adored chopped liver and another unsuspecting guest who tried some and could not get that stuff out of his mouth fast enough. He was pretty much in agony. As a teen I remember bring invited to a friends house for dinner and they were all so excited to be having fried chicken livers. I cut up what I could into small pieces and swallowed it whole to be polite.

                                                                I don't find letting a potential guest know what I am planning pandering to their taste. I am just giving them an out and a possibility of coming another time and make a mental note of their dislike.

                                                                1. re: Candy

                                                                  Actually finding out what a guest likes/dislikes is just being a good host. Absolutely nothing wrong with being accomdating. Everyone has food like/dislikes and I'm guessing that includes the OP.

                                                              2. Just keep trucking on, Indygirl. There's an old Irish saying; when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. Applied to your pal, don't even think about his ignorance. There's more for everyone else.

                                                                And, though I live in NY, I am often out your way. So if you find yourself with a spare place at your table, let me know and I'll fill it, and be thrilled to have some great home cooking!

                                                                - Sean

                                                                1. Why waste your time being offended? Of course, he should have at least tried your delicious-sounding meal (and please invite us over any time!), and they should reciprocate - maybe by taking you out to eat, doesn't sound like they're cooks. A fine home-prepared meal can be a wonderful gift for someone who appreciates it - but not everyone appreciates everything. A cruise is a fine gift, too, but not appropriate for a claustrophobic who also gets seasick. You can't make him have your tastes. Would you want him to give you a gift of the red sauce from Buca? Or take you out there? Maybe they should reciprocate with a movie... The key to being a great hostess is to anticipate your guests' needs and wants. Salmon and pesto for me, grilled cheese for him? I do hope he was pleased with your effort. Two of my kids are non-eaters. There's absolutely nothing I could make to please them. I've just worked on making sure they act with grace and appreciation when food is offered. Your cooking deserves accolades - save the good stuff for people who will let you know how good it is.

                                                                  1. After reading the replies to this post, I believe I have something new to add. People like the guest who refused to eat a lovingly prepared gourmet meal are what I call “foodphobic.” Foodphobes are literally afraid of food. Not all foods, of course, but most foods. Foodphobes have in common a limited repertoire of acceptable foods (which foods specifically varies from person to person) with an overwhelming preference for meat and refined carbohydrates. With the possible exception of potatoes, all vegetables and salads are considered scenery, as unlikely to be eaten as a tree leaf or a blade of grass. Fish and beans are off-limits, except maybe tuna or baked beans from a can. Perhaps these people have overly sensitive sensory perception and experience tastes differently than other people. Particular smells, appearance and textures also give these folks the “willies.” These “willies” manifest as actual FEAR, similar to the way one of the posts above described a guy who recoiled in horror at sour cream.

                                                                    For instance, a foodphobic friend of mine will eat nothing that has a creamy texture; she's repulsed by farina and oatmeal. The smell of fish nauseates her. She would sooner eat someone’s gangrenous leg than a slightly bruised banana. A co-worker of mine sent back a chicken teriyaki that she had ordered at a fine restaurant, without even tasting it, because she looked at it and was clearly afraid. The terror was evident in her expression. My mom will often refuse to eat normal, ordinary food because it sometimes looks "funny," meaning “not perfect.” The common denominator for all these people is an instinctive FEAR that overcomes them...fear of the sudden exposure to a taste or texture than might -- damage or destroy them? cause them to faint or vomit? When I’ve tried to gain more insight into exactly what bothers my friend about the texture of oatmeal, she can’t tell me. It just disgusts and revolts her. The look of terror I see in the eyes of people who refuse to sample a new food is real. These folks are not snobs, they’re not stupid, they’re not rude or crass. They are afraid. How it happens that some people develop a love of food and the exploration and expansiveness that go with it, while others shrink back from food and actually feel threatened by it, is a fascinating topic that I’d like to see explored. But not by me. I’m too busy eating.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Cara1

                                                                      Good stuff. I have a friend who doesn't "eat greens". He doesn't eat vegetables. Think about that for a minute.

                                                                      It's absurd. You can call me a food snob till you're blue in the face, but not eating greens is just silly.

                                                                      1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                        Greens irritate my IBS problems. I eat them very sparingly.But, I love them. I have to watch the consumption.

                                                                      2. re: Cara1

                                                                        We have a dear, dear couple friend that are both foodphobic. Unfortunately, they have different phobias.

                                                                        He: Onions, Mushrooms & Rice - they are all texture issues.

                                                                        She: Meat on a bone & Seafood & not overly fond of red meat.

                                                                        We did a lot of Pork Roasts & Roast/Baked/Fried Potatoes. That is until it hit me that I didn't have to make them the same thing. He loves lamb and she loves chicken. So...three of us have lamb/beef/seafood and I then have a ton of fun coming up with chicken (off the bone) recipes for her.

                                                                        Not that it would matter - they are always incredibly gracious no matter what the menu - and we'd love 'em if they only ate dried toast.

                                                                        1. re: Cara1

                                                                          This guy wasn't a foodphobe--trust me.

                                                                          I have known other people like you describe, though. A friend who wouldn't eat any ethnic food at all because it seemed strange to her, yet her favorite thing to eat was grilled cheese with applesauce on top.

                                                                          I kid you not!

                                                                          1. re: Cara1

                                                                            There was a good article in the Washington Post about this subject last year. I wish I still had the link to it. It made me really happy that I have no food allergies or phobias.

                                                                            1. re: Cara1

                                                                              Cara1, this is a fascinating post. You have described my MIL to a T, right down to the types of food she can manage. In a public place she covers up this fear by saying she isn't hungry, that it's not what she thought she ordered, or that it's lousy. Not to sidetrack the thread, this was just an eye-opener for me.

                                                                            2. Hey Hounds,

                                                                              One of my dearest friends is a vegan. We had him over for Christmas dinner and I cooked him a vegan risotto (thanks to a separate posting on Chowhound), and all the roasted veggies. We kept the braised duck legs to ourselves.

                                                                              But, get this. He wears leather shoes and has leather seats in his new BMW. Vegan, eh..

                                                                              Keep at it Indygirl. Don't be put of by people who know nothing better.

                                                                              - Sean

                                                                              1. Indygirl, your meal sounds pretty good to me too, and I am wondering why someone would be talking about being a foodie and then not touch your meal. Strange.

                                                                                I made what I thought was a lovely dinner of osso bucco one time for a couple and a single, and the DH was late, I wanted to be a gracious hostess, so I tried to hold the meal and I dried it out ruining the meat. Never again. Being late, is about as rude as not eating or commenting with appreciation for your offering of food to share.
                                                                                Shame on those people...

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                  Let me just clarify (as I have other times in this thread) that the reason this person in particular was rude (IMO) is that this person consistently proclaims his foodiness, and is rude/condescending to me about my food knowledge; then, he came over and didn't eat anything. If I'd thought he was going to react the way he did, I'd have made something with less investment on my part or have suggested a meal out instead. But I didn't expect that from a self-described food lover and expert.

                                                                                  And he doesn't hate salmon; I did ask beforehand. I honestly think that the issue is that he considers himself the pinnacle of food snobs and couldn't bring himself to try my food.

                                                                                  Let me also clarify that I did not act offended in the least, that we remain very good friends with this couple even though they have moved several states away, and that I graciously ate a (tasteless) dinner of (under-done) chicken skewers and chocolate cake at their house a couple months later. I just know not to invite him to dinner at our house again, although we can do other stuff together.

                                                                                  1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                    Maybe the reason everyone is jumping to conclusions is because we don't have enough information. Did he say anything? Did she say anything? Did he make a face?

                                                                                    Maybe he had the flu that day- we don't know! Tell us his precise reaction. And if you're like me, you grilled his wife the next day....

                                                                                    PS- I am inclined to be on your side- people who simply will not try things bug me. Life is just too darn short. I really think that one should try everything at least once.

                                                                                    1. re: julietg

                                                                                      as to your P.S.: When I first moved to Oregon I lived with my (now-ex-, thankfully) in-laws. She wasn't much of a cook, and their basic diet consisted of broiled hunks of chuck steak, completely unseasoned, with baked potatoes and some kind of artificial sour-cream-like substance.

                                                                                      One time I had the afternoon off and cooked a chicken pot pie, not from leftovers but starting with the chicken and going from there, homemade pie crust, the whole bit. My father-in-law took about three bites of it, bolted them down and left the table, never saying one word the entire time. I was absolutely mortified.

                                                                                      (Their son, fortunately for me, was considerably more adventurous; whenever his parents were away we'd cook all sorts of things there was no way they'd touch. But the longer we spent back in their cul-de-sac with them, the more he reverted to being like them.)

                                                                                      1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                        That sounds like how I felt with this guy. My FIL used to be much worse but has mellowed out and last time he was positively delighted with the meal.

                                                                                      2. re: julietg

                                                                                        I'm totally on IndyGirl's "side" (not that I think anyone is really against her!) but I would also love to hear how someone can sit through dinner as a guest and literally not eat a thing - it just sounds so incredibly rude.

                                                                                        1. re: julesrules

                                                                                          He just DID. I was up and down to the kitchen throughout and my husband attested (besides the fact that I could tell by looking at his plate). My husband is just about the most non-judgmental nice guy you can imagine knowing and he was appalled.

                                                                                          He didn't really make a face, or anything. Just sort of sat there--talked some. It was on Easter and they left abruptly about five minutes into dessert. They are the sort of friends who would have said if he'd had the flu or something, I really believe that. He is definitely crass and know-it-all when it comes to food.

                                                                                          Once (when they invited us to PFChang's) he tried to tell me that one of the sauces on the table was something totally unreasonable...can't remember exactly what he was trying to convince me of, but it was akin to saying it was maple syrup instead of sesame oil or something equally nonsensical, that showed he didn't know anything about asian cuisine, even american-asian cuisine. This is just a testament to how he is about food (notice we did join them for a meal at his favorite place and I didn't condescend the restaurant at all--in front of him, at least--although it is not somewhere I'd've chosen).

                                                                                  2. I tend not to cram dishes that food Philistines might consider "weird" down their throats, but your meal frankly didn't sound very challenging, just delicious. I did a fairly elaborate meal for my in-laws over the holidays, and I imagine they would have preferred something simpler with no unfamiliar ingredients, but they were gracious about it, and despite themselves, enjoyed it (I think).

                                                                                    In my view, your guest is not just a know-nothing, but a crass slob. In my book, he'd get the same treatment as dining-out companions who cheap out on a tip: they never get invited again. Parochial tastes I can forgive, bad manners, not.

                                                                                    22 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                      "Parochial tastes I can forgive, bad manners, not."

                                                                                      Yes, I guess that about sums it up for me. My mom doesn't like spicy food or brussels sprouts and that's just fine--I'd never make them and try to convince her to eat them (not that consider those parochial tastes, just dislikes on her part). I have no problem accommodating tastes.

                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                        Not to be contrarian, but the data points are coming out in pieces. So let's do a CSI before we call a guy who says a few words (nothing brash from what we know) and he and his wife leave five minutes into the dessert.

                                                                                        We have no info on the hors or apps so let's start with the entree.

                                                                                        - a piece of salmon, crusted in pesto - sounds wonderful but looks very light and dainty
                                                                                        - roasted green beans - a nice accompaniment, but once again somewhat light on the palate
                                                                                        - salad - again light on the palate

                                                                                        Guy also likes PF (I never heard of Buca) which from my experience has fairly full flavored and saucy dishes. So we know where he's coming from on visual likes.

                                                                                        Not eating the food is not rude or bad manners, but basically no manners (if he said something, grunted, rolled his eyes or pushed the plate away i'm with you). He did have a few words. Do not see how anyone gets to "crass slob."

                                                                                        Leaving during dessert. If he or his wife were not ill, then you have me on your side with rude. Not only do i vote rude, but i vote very rude.

                                                                                        I think OP acted in a perfect mannerly manner by not making a scene and her going to PF's and listening to pontification with a smile deserves a medal.

                                                                                        But once again i'd say, if you enjoy the company, figure out a way to entertain at the house. If he acts like that all the time, do what OP did, do an away game, listen to his "expertise", agree in front of him and have a few laughs with the spouse on the drive home.

                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                          Oh yeah, I mean he didn't say it was disgusting or anything, jsut sort of participated in table talk without eating anything and then left during dessert. Didn't really offer a reason. It was really, really weird.

                                                                                          I would never make a scene over something like that, either. It honestly just hurt my feelings and put me off entertaining for awhile. I'm just not interested in setting myself up like that again with him particularly, since I think he has his preset opinions and can't be changed. Besides, like I said, they live in a different state now so entertaining here probably won't happen.

                                                                                          And after an initial check to make sure I heard him correctly, I always agree with his ludicrous staetments (like the one about the sauces on the table at PFCs) to his face. I would never argue, because there's no point.

                                                                                          For appetizers, I just set out some olives/homemade hummus and sliced fresh (homemade) baguette. According to my SO/DH/husband/wild thing, he also did not sample the apps.

                                                                                          1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                            Oh geez, this is really going to drive me crazy!! You have to ask him what is up!! For us! ;-) Maybe you could just say, "So, I noticed you didn't eat anything when you were at my house? Is everything okay with you?" I'm only kidding, but seriously, this would drive me to insanity if it were me!

                                                                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                              It's been too long. I couldn't bring it up now. I probably should have asked him that day but I felt like he thought I was disgusting or something. Everyone else ate and enjoyed it, so I guess it wasn't me, it was maybe him? I don't know but it has really bugged me for a long time adn it really did put me off cooking for people for quite awhile.

                                                                                              1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                                From everything you've said about this guy, it was definitely him and not you or your cooking. It's kind of sad that he has picked food as his self-proclaimed area of expertise, but his ignorance is not something you should take personally - although I understand how hard that is when you invite someone into your home and prepare something nice with the expectation that it will be appreciated. I commiserate.

                                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                  Thanks :) This has been like therapy! It's been bugging me since Easter.

                                                                                            2. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                              I would never be friends with someone who acted so oddly and irrationally. Really. I am just not someone who can keep from gently prodding and challenging a person who manifests such cognitive dissonance. He would either have to own up to his odd behavior and consider altering it, or be offended by my unwillingness to politely ignore it. I'd be funny/polite about it, but I would fully engage him in a conversation about his oddness. And he probably wouldn't like it...

                                                                                              But that's just me.

                                                                                              1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                                                It's more like he comes along with the territory of his wife, who is in my field and is really more my "active" friend than he is, if you KWIM.

                                                                                                I don't think he would like being prodded at all!! And it wouldn't be worth it since his wife and I are colleagues as well as friends.

                                                                                                I actually have a feeling that he is terribly insecure about many things, and his food knowledge/ability is something to which he clings.

                                                                                            3. re: jfood

                                                                                              Contrarianism is the spice of Chowhound!

                                                                                              I admire your charity, but I think the guest -- barring dietary restrictions, food allergies, religious/ethical issues, etc. -- is obligated to try a bite of everything on his plate in honor of the host's efforts in the kitchen.

                                                                                              Maybe he has one of these issues and is shy about it, but my inner Occam's Razor goes for the simpler explanation: he's a social troglodyte, ergo doesn't get asked back to dinner.

                                                                                              (Buca di Beppo is a casual-dining chain featuring huge plates of Italian-American food served family style; I rate it about Olive Garden atrocious)

                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                Awesome response, took two trips to wikipedia to understand.

                                                                                                Coming from NJ we believe wholeheartedly in Occam's Razor for our normal tongue, another post goes through this in length titled with some reference to liverwish or something like that.

                                                                                                Can't give you troglodyte, as he seems to enjoy going to some restos so let's coin him with pfchanglodyte as a person who likes oversauced asian-type food who is uncomfortable not being the sooth-sayer of the meal.

                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                  LMAO: "pfchanglodyte"

                                                                                                  Really, I just feel a lot better talking about this. I have felt bad about it for months--felt bad that he kinda dissed my food that I thought he would really like (being a food lover).

                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                    Sorry, my Englishmajoritis flares up periodically, like gout.

                                                                                                    I like the "not the smartest poohbah at the table" theory. It must be tough to be able to awe some of your friends with your connoisseurship of casual-dining dreck ("One hasn't *truly* enjoyed Chinese spare ribs until one has had them with the special sauce that they make tableside at P.F. Chang's"), yet be utterly at sea with others (the silent "I don't know what this green crud is, but there's no way I'm even trying it.")

                                                                                                    "Pfchanglodyte" is an awesome coinage which I intend to use again at the earliest opportunity!

                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      ""Pfchanglodyte" is an awesome coinage, which I intend to use again at the earliest opportunity!"

                                                                                                      me too.
                                                                                                      His ignorance of food-related things (when he says he knows so much) can be staggering.

                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      Do you think you need to try a bite of everything the host provides? My SIL's standard dinner might consist of queso (velveeta cheese and canned chili), shrimp creole (three cans of tomatoes in sauteed onions and some small shrimp on top), green bean casserole, store bought potato salad and boxed cake mix. Not comparing it to the OP but I don't try a little of everything. I take as little as I can to try to make it seem like I might have eaten but I hate wasted food, too, especially since they all really love it. I hope they don't think I'm rude but I think it would be more rude for someone to notice and talk about what I ate/didn't eat.

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                        Hmmm. Well, if it weren't something that had been a lot of investment for me, like if I had storebought hot dogs/potato salad/oreos, I wouldn't have cared. Or if I made velveeta/rotel dip I wouldn't have cared. It was personal investment on my part and also kinda expensive for us (musician/phd student) to buy everything and prepare.

                                                                                                        I do think it depends on the kind of meal. Potluck, no way. A bunch of prepared food people set out? Probably not. An obviously thoughtfully-planned, well-thought out sit-down dinner for 5 or 6 people that included printed menus? I think so. (IMO, barring food allergies/phobias/various other ills)

                                                                                                        1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                                          But, her meals are well thought out for her (she really does think it out) and she thinks she's providing great food. And, because of the way she shops and the amount of processed food she buys, I think she does spend quite a lot on her dinnners. I do, though, tell her everything was delicious and no one has noticed I didn't eat much, except the other chowhound family members who also do the same.

                                                                                                          In your case, though, I really don't think the issue is as much that he didn't eat anything as much as he sounds like he's a "foodie" and is somehow beyond homecooking. It takes all kinds. You know, it sounds like everyone else loved the food--who really cares about what this one person thinks? Don't be offended by what he didn't eat but be happy that everyone else was pleased.

                                                                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                                                                          Now maybe I'm a troglodyte, or maybe a misanthrope, but

                                                                                                          Yes, you should try everything, chowser (see- you ARE worried about how your hosts feel, about their not thinking you are rude, unlike our PFChang'sman).

                                                                                                          It brings to mind the Chinese hostess' custom of insisting that the food she serves is not worthy of her guests, thereby inducing more praise.

                                                                                                          Our OP not only spent time and effort making food for her guests, she spent hard earned cash. If someone has gone to the trouble of making something for me to enjoy, jeez, even sharing with me the fruits of her garden crop, then by god I will at least try it, even if it smells and looks bad! And I will say how much I like it, even if I don't. That's just plain common decency when invited into someone's home. Granted, if it were a fellow gourmand I may offer constructive criticism, but certainly follow up with, but it's really good, and thank you so much.

                                                                                                          As for the CSI part- I have some theories:

                                                                                                          My first clue is- I think there may have been more than just this couple invited, yes? Should this be the case, then perhaps he thought his lack of appetite would've been hidden in the safety of numbers.

                                                                                                          Next- this was Easter Sunday? You never know, with their abrupt departure they may have been double booked, and he needed to save his appetite for his beloved mother's Easter ham. Or may have had brunch with his family beforehand and did not tell you. Or really, they may have had a terrible fight- I know when I have a blow out with my guy I completely lose my appetite. This is made worse when we are forced to be all smiles in social situations. Either way, it probably had absolutely nothing to do with you.

                                                                                                          Finally, if you know he's full of it, then for godsakes, screw him! His opinion should mean nothing to you! On the contrary, if he with his warped perception doesn't like something, then don't you have an inkling that you've done something right? That maybe your food is different (read: better than) P.F. friggin' Chang's?

                                                                                                          If they do come over again, cook for his wife, and get him takeout.

                                                                                                          1. re: julietg

                                                                                                            LOL, great response. A few things:
                                                                                                            They don't live near family so no other family "dinners."

                                                                                                            There were 5 people there--us, them and one other single person. I could understand thinking it would be hidden that he didn't eat if he were hidden in a crowd of 20 or even 10 bt not 5.

                                                                                                            Finally: Yeah, I guess you have a point. His opinion really shouldn't matter to me and I'm seeing that more clearly now *feels dense* ;)

                                                                                                            1. re: julietg

                                                                                                              What bothers me more than having to try everything is that there are people who notice what others are eating. Not if someone completely abstains from everything because that's obvious,as in the OP, but for people to take offense that someone in the dinner party didn't try every single dish, I think, is taking entertaining too seriously. I don't try every dish when I go out and I don't expect my guests to either. If I make expensive sea scallops, I'd be more annoyed that someone took one, though they hated scallops and not eat more than a tiny bite than if they just passed. Someone would have enjoyed that scallop. When I host a party, I know some things that people eat or won't eat and try to make sure there is something for them. For New Years, I made a spaghetti squash casserole. My SIL and MIL don't like cheese so I made a small one for them. I didn't notice if they tried it, I wouldn't have been offended if they hadn't. It was there for all.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                I totally agree. I have a close friend who is vegetarian and border line food-phobic. There is a limited list of things she will eat and everything else tastes bad to her - she'll come up with a reason like "oh I that has caraway, I don't like caraway" , but her palate isn't actually that good, there's actually no caraway, she has no idea what it tastes like - she just decided that she didn't like it when she was twelve or something and now applies it to other unfamiliar tastes. Anyway this drives me nuts, can you tell? But she is very well-mannered and just pushes food around on her plate, makes appropriate compliments or diverts the conversation. So eventually I realized *I* was being rude whenever I called attention to what she wasn't eating (usually in my shock that she didn't like something). Same goes for suspected eating disordered people, say nothing.

                                                                                                    2. Yeah, since I know him and have witnessed food-related rudeness from him many times, I vote troglodyte. He's OK everywhere else.

                                                                                                      Once I gave him adn his wife a plate of christmas goodies and he asked me if I really made them myself (and not in a nice way--more like, "are you sure you're not lying?"), and then proceeded to act totally unimpressed. For real!

                                                                                                      1. Please remember one thing the next time you see the guy. Probably everyone of us who have replied would like to give you a big hug, enjoy a meal of yours with you, and have you over for a meal with plenty of warmth, laughter, and enjoyment.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                            That is so nice of you :) Thank you for your kind words!

                                                                                                          2. Our best friends are like that. They don't want to eat anything they haven't tried before and chain food is their favorite. If it's not plain and bland, they don't like. Their favorite meal is plain steak with plain fries. Makes them very easy to cook for, but very boring (foodwise) to eat with.

                                                                                                            I once dragged him to an Indian buffet by himself because his wouldn't even consider it. I really thought that if I could just get him to try it he'd know there's more than meat and potatoes. Well, being the stubborn $astard he is, he only took naan, tandoor chicken, and chicken curry. He separted the chicken pieces from the curry sauce and proclaimed Indian food sucked and it was no different than anything else. He wouldn't even give anything past plain chicken a chance!

                                                                                                            After that experience I completely gave up hope in getting them to come with us and ENJOY rather than loath the idea of coming to dinner with us at our favorite little ethnic places.

                                                                                                            Sometimes you just have to give in. Just like you might not get someone's obession with say Star Wars, many people think we're nuts because we enjoy food so much.

                                                                                                            1. Might I suggest new friends. Seriously, the only thing to do is keep it simple when they come over. I always ask: Is there anything you guys won't eat?

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: fluffyk67

                                                                                                                Exactly. Why go to all the trouble if they won't eat it? Best to ask in advance than risk the resentment after the effort is expended. With all the dietary restrictions/issues some people have (I'm highly allergic to--of all things--enoki mushrooms) you're better off knowing.

                                                                                                              2. I am sorry, but your friend behaved childishly and should be treated as such. He deserved a time out...in his car, on the way back to his home. I can see not liking Salmon--but not eating the WHOLE dinner speaks volumes about his ego and lack of maturity. If this was an isolated incident I wouldn't react so harshly, but it sounds like he gets away with this sort of behavior at the cost of your feelings. I don't know if I could toss someone out of my house (though I'd be tempted to in this situation); alternatively, not doing things foodwise with him is the best course of action.

                                                                                                                1. I agree with most of the posts here, and certainly with the general theme of responses - that the OP's guest is nutty and not worth her worrying about.

                                                                                                                  But at the same time there seems to be a recurring judgmentalism here that's really making me queasy. I just really don't like the kneejerk contempt for people-who-don't-eat-greens and who-like-chains-and-plain-food-too-much and cook-from-processed-ingredients and don't-like-Indian and formed-their-tastes-at-12.

                                                                                                                  I mean let's face it. Chowhound is a voluntary club. Anyone can join, and those who do, tend to share certain characteristics - like liking Indian and disliking chains. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course, but it in no way makes us better people than folks who feel differently.

                                                                                                                  I'm not dissing the OP and don't mean to hijack her thread. But there's a strain of smugness and intolerance here that's really bugging me. It's not us at our most appealing :-/

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: spigot

                                                                                                                    I reiterate that I wouldn't have had a problem if this guy hadn't acted like Mr. Foodie. I know you're not necessarily dissing me, but I just wanted to reiterate that. It was the incongruous mis-representation of himself as a food expert and snob. And, I don't care if someone likes chains...but having your favorite restaurants be the kinds of chains this person likes (and having those be the only restaurants you'll visit), to me, does not say "foodie." As I mentioned once above, my own mother won't eat ethnic food or brussels sprouts or spicy food. That's OK. (And not just because she's my mom!)

                                                                                                                    After this thread and after thinking about this some more, I've decided that his not eating was probably arrogance. I won't re-hash all the reasons why since they are spattered about this thread, and to do so would be tiresome at best and tautological at worst.

                                                                                                                    1. re: spigot

                                                                                                                      There is a marked difference between incredulity and contempt. I pity those who derive so little enjoyment from food, or who deprive themselves of truly nutritious food, but I seldom indulge myself in centemptuous feelings.

                                                                                                                      However, anyone who behaves like the fellow described by the OP deserves contempt. Some things are contemptible.

                                                                                                                      And this has been a great thread, IMO.

                                                                                                                      1. re: spigot

                                                                                                                        I give people the benefit of the doubt that they come to CH in order to vent about this stuff and be 'with' like-minded people. Then we can all go out in the world and act more graciously :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                          Oh gosh julesrules, THANKS. You've just restored my faith in humanity (well, meels helped too). What a good, generous and entirely reasonable interpretation :-)

                                                                                                                      2. allow me to hijack the thread with a humorous anecdote about cooking for some *other* non-food people...

                                                                                                                        my parents live out in rural oklahoma, I now live (when I'm not traveling) in Berkeley. Berkeley has spoiled me for food, so I don't always look forward to holiday meals. My dad's birthday is Dec. 20, so a couple years ago I decided to make him a feast. I spent two days before I left collecting ingredients - specialty cheeses from cheeseboard, handmade pasta from phoenix pastifico, two bottles of wine, a sprig of rosemary from my front yard, and to top it off, a stinky white truffle, packed in rice, from monterey market.

                                                                                                                        I arrive in OK and go straight to the kitchen. I set the good china and even print out menus for everyone - fresh meyer lemon and cracked pepper fettuccini all’Alfredo topped with a thickly shaved white truffle and paired with a sauvignon blanc, followed by a roasted free-range chicken with garlic and fresh rosemary, a green salad, and a pinot noir. We finished with a cheese plate and sliced apple and toasted walnuts for dessert. It was a resounding success, everyone loved it. I felt great.

                                                                                                                        The next morning, a woman at church asks my dad how his birthday was. He replies, it was wonderful, Meels made me an amazing birthday dinner. She coos, "That's so nice, what did you have?" I lean in, eager to hear his accolades ...

                                                                                                                        "Chicken and pasta."


                                                                                                                        1. I haven't read all of the replies, but my honest initial reaction was - so what? So your friend has different tastes, most of which don't meet your standards. It's about preference and what people find important in life. I have a friend who believes food is purely for energy and sustaining life, so he eats extremely healthy food and doesn't care to dress it up at all to make it taste better. He has different tastes. Who am I to judge him on that?

                                                                                                                          Not everyone will like the same food you like and not everyone will have the same high standards. I'm sure in some other aspects of all our lives we are a bit substandard - fashion, work, technology, etc. Does that mean we should be judged harshly in those areas of our lives? No, maybe we just don't care as much about those aspects.

                                                                                                                          1. I've already weighed in, but since this discussion seems endless, why not again?

                                                                                                                            The question here to me seems to be one of "host's good manners" vs. "guest's bad manners", and you either think the guest behaved inexcusably (as I do), or you don't.

                                                                                                                            The host here did the right thing as a host: tried to make a good meal that few diners could reasonably be expected to have a problem with (barring forseeable food issues, e.g., allergies). The host was also polite, i.e., tactfully said nothing when a self-proclaimed foodie guest ate not a bite.

                                                                                                                            It's America: we're famously on a fast track to Most Ill-Mannered Society in the World, [Johnny Rotten voice] and we don't caaaaare. But if you regret that decline at all, I wonder how you can NOT see the guest's behavior as boorish. A big part of politeness is sidestepping avoidable insults to people's feelings. The host did that, the guest did not.