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How do you feel about people who season food that you have carefully prepared?

Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Cheese, Hot Sauce...we have all carefully cooked something only to see someone bury it under their favorite seasoning. Sometimes before even tasting! How do you feel about this? Is it a little insulting? Or are you just happy if that person is happy, even if they have altered the flavoring of your dish? Have you ever said anything?

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  1. I remember about 25 years ago going to a local French-inspired restaurant and having my dining partner ask why there was no salt & pepper on the table-not uncommon now in many fine restaurants (they usually over-salt anyway). She asked the chef-owner why not, and the chef haughtily responded that the food was perfectly seasoned and didn't want it tampered with. Maybe one extreme. I cooked a meal for family this past weekend and my mother said it needed salt. Everyone else thought it was fine. My sister jumped all over my mother when she tried to add salt (for culinary and health reasons) and restrained her from doing so. If someone wants to adjust their seasoning that's okay as long as they taste first. Still can't understand- and I see this in restaurants all the time, people who add seasonings-whether is s & p, soy, hot sauce, etc. without even first tasting. That would be a bit insulting, but that's their problem.

    8 Replies
    1. re: markabauman

      Your SISTER jumped all over your MOTHER and then "restrained" her? I'm assuming, since you're grown that you're mother is also. Why can't you just leave her alone? It's her food and "restraining" her is at least insulting to your mother and possibly guaranteed to start a food fight :)

      1. re: c oliver

        Could there be a health issue involved? If the mother has high blood pressure, and continues to eat unhealthily, I can understand the intervention. Family concerns are often expressed in such a manner as described...

        1. re: rednails

          "Jumping all over" anyone and "restraining" someone is a bit much. We all get to choose to kill ourselves as quic kly or slowly as we please. And to cause a scene at a family dinner is certainly not going to win points with the mother. If the sister would like to go with her mother to her next doctor's apointment and the mother would allow that, then that might be a way to handle it. If this occurred at my table, I'd be sending the sister packing.

          1. re: c oliver

            Surely then you shouldn't have dinner with my family.

            1. re: Blueicus

              So the whole family does things like that? How lovely :) Maybe *you* should come to my house and leave them at home.

      2. re: markabauman

        I kind of laugh at these types of threads. My answer? I do not care what other people do to their food. There are enough worries in the world, so why do I need to impose my will on others?

        1. re: Dagney

          I feel the same way. My guest can do what they want to my food without hurting my feelings. Food is to enjoyed not controlled

        2. re: markabauman

          "If someone wants to adjust their seasoning that's okay since they're the ones putting the food in their mouth" FIFY

        3. I really dont notice, I do not focus on a guests eating habits.

          so no I'm not insulted, It seems kind of like being a control freak trying to decide what is best for someone else & how they decide to eat an item. imho.

          1 Reply
          1. I think people should taste it first.
            After that.... well, they are eating to please their own palate. What may be perfect to you, may not be to them. People have different taste buds/senses. I'd just be happy they are eating it and not be offended.

            4 Replies
              1. re: MattInNJ

                Exactly. I have to remember that I cook to my personal taste. Once a guest has at least tasted something I've prepared, I'm not at all offended if they go about adjusting it to their taste. We've got a friend who oversalts everything, and another who can't eat anything unless it's covered with hot sauce or sliced jalapenos. If I want them to be comfortable at my table, I make sure that I have what they want close at hand. And most, if not all, of my friends/family have been on the receiving end of my, "Would you at least TASTE it before you reach for the salt/pepper/hot sauce? I did go to culinary school, remember?" and they know better than to risk getting a wrist slapped. ;)

                1. re: Firegoat

                  I agree. As long as no one complains loudly or dumps a full jar of ketchup on my dishes, I'll be happy. I always put fresh butter, salt and pepper on the table.

                2. There are times that I am very frustrated by this, and other times I understand. I know when I used to live at home with my parents and they would cook, there are certain dishes that I just did not enjoy eating without some sort of hot sauce or condiment and I just sauced away - perfect example is Thanksgiving Turkey, my family doesn't season the bird at all, and everyone always says how good it is, but it is soo blah every year that I know I need something before I even taste it.

                  Also, what is "perfectly seasoned" for one person is not for another.

                  But there are a lot of people who 'season' out of habbit, and I agree, unless you taste it first how can you know if it needs seasoning, especially in a new setting.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LOTW

                    I agree with all of you. I think you should taste it first - and then season to your liking. At the end of the day, as long as the dish is enjoyed by me, you and whoever else is eating it, that's all that counts.

                  2. It doesn't bother me, although sometimes I wonder if the person adding salt before tasting will then find the dish too salty. I certainly don't take it personally.

                    1. It's said that Thomas Edison, when hiring a new employee, would invite that person to have some soup with him. It the candidate salted the soup before tasting it - assuming it would require salt before testing the assumption - he didn't get the job.

                      Edison would never have hired my mother-in-law. I love her anyway, and she'll never change.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: AreBe

                        Great story! I wonder if Edison cooked?

                        1. re: SamuelAt

                          And if so-- What was his favorite recipe for Apple Dumplings?

                        2. re: AreBe


                          I have heard the same story.......but it was attributed to Dale Carnegie

                          1. re: fourunder

                            I heard it was Henry Ford.

                            In any case, the proper definition is pre-judging.

                            1. re: Cathy

                              And I heard it was JC Penney. Of course, it could easily have been all of them, proper curmudgeons that they were. I would be willing to test a new employee in exactly that way, though I'd probably blow it by saying, "Okay, now, tell me: just why in the hell did you do that?" because I'd really like to know.

                              I cut my guests a lot more slack than that, though. Anyone who did that but exhibited no other idiotic behavior would probably be invited back. However, if he salted his eggs before tasting and then proceeded to chew with his mouth open, he'd be thrown out of the house. immediately.

                          2. re: AreBe

                            I also heard that it was Henry Ford.

                            Who ever it was I have to agree with their thinking.

                            1. re: AreBe

                              snopes (urban legends) can trace the story back as far as 1977 in print, but suspects it is much older and they list a number of people/companies that allegedly used this test.


                              1. re: AreBe

                                Hah! I was going to post that same story, but I've always heard it attributed to Benjamin Franklin. But it's a good story regardless, and a good lesson.

                                1. re: AreBe

                                  I heard this same story about the CIA. The person who told me also said they wouldn't hire if a candidate took a seat with his back to the room.

                                  1. re: ninrn

                                    Your second sentence reveals that the CIA you mention is not the Culinary Institute of America (the older CIA) but the Central Intelligence Agency.

                                2. Should a person taste something before they reach for the s&p? Yes, of course. Does it bother me if they season before tasting? No. My heart couldn't stand that kind of micro-mgmt. Not to mention, taste is such an individual thing that what may be too salty to you may be under seasoned to me.

                                  And, ya know, it bugs me when I dine out and the chef is so smug about his perfectly seasoned entree that he refuses to have s&p on the table. And so when you have to ask for it you are made to feel like you're asking for ketchup to dump over your steak.

                                  Just a little pet-peeve of mine. :)

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    heh.... if a chef was that pretentious I'd have to go out of my way to order ketchup.

                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                      See the I Love Lucy episode where she is in Paris and orders Escargot. Not understanding what she has ordered, she requests Ketchup after tasting. Needless to say, the Parisian chef comes out, I think with a meat cleaver, and hilarity ensues. Classic classic TV.

                                      1. re: SamuelAt

                                        haha - didn't she say Es CAR got too? ;-)

                                        DH and I have a deal that he tastes what I eat before putting hot sauce on it. Other than him I don't mind what people do. :)

                                      2. re: Firegoat

                                        Reminds me of a date I had when I was about 25, with a young woman who was sorely lacking in culinary adventurousness. I took her to my favorite French restaurant where she ordered steak au poivre (probably because it was the only dish she remotely recognized on the menu) and when it came, she asked the waiter for ketchup. He politely explained that if he went to the kitchen and asked the chef for ketchup it would cost him his life, but that he might be able to get her some A1.

                                        EDIT: Just realized this is a reincarnated thread from last year. Oh well, it's still a true story.

                                      3. re: lynnlato

                                        Mine too. I like pepper more than most people, and I don't expect anybody to pepper the hell out of something just because I like it that way. So i'll add my own. And if the chef thinks they're such hot stuff that they refuse to put salt and pepper on the table, I may not return. Unless it's a sushi bar. Or El Bulli.

                                      4. I haven't been out of college long, so i've only recently begun to cook on a regular basis. This situation might make me feel like, awww, wish i could have seasoned it better...but i know everyone has different tastes and i just want people to like what they are eating. So if they need to season, i would much rather them do that than eat something they weren't enjoying.

                                        1. Salt, pepper, chile flakes? No problem. I get bummed out when someone dumps ketchup all over my grilled pork tenderloin and oven roasted rosemary potatoes.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: chileheadmike

                                            pretty much exactly that.

                                            Although I never went on a second date with a guy who dumped tomato sauce (Ketchup to you guys!) ALL over his chicken parmigiana... and the accompanying salad.


                                            1. re: purple goddess

                                              I have to admit that would make me raise an eyebrow. I think in that case I would be disappointed my date didn't appreciate the food the way the chef intended it - and used a condiment I wouldn't expect on the food you mention. But I wonder if that would be a deal breaker? Can food choices be the end all?

                                              1. re: SamuelAt

                                                A most definite deal-breaker for me. The chewing with the mouth open, the vile table manners and the constant "I'm such a great catch/cook/lover/person/businessman" also didn't help.

                                            2. re: chileheadmike

                                              I get upset when anyone pours ketchup (vile substance!) on anything, but since I'm married to someone who's likely to do that I just shut up and think beautiful thoughts...

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                Dommy! needs to take your advice and breathe through it.

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  Actually, I was referring to my wife and kids. But they don't read this so I'm ok. And they know it bums me out.

                                                2. The pleasure of the company that I'd cook for outweighs any such matter. Agree with other posters that this is micromanaging and control freakish. Would hate to think that I'm under such a "spotlight" when dining at other people's homes.

                                                  1. I seem to have very active salt receptors: When something is seasoned "just right" for most diners, it's way over-salted for me. Therefore, I season on the conservative side. Family and friends know this and automatically reach for the salt before tasting. Doesn't bother me at all. That said, I would walk out of a restaurant that refused to provide a salt shaker when asked.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      That sounds just like me! Is there really such a thing as "very active salt receptors"? When I cook for other people, I try to circumvent the awkwardness by saying "I have a tendency to undersalt things so I won't be offended at all if you want to add more."

                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                        You are a supertaster for salt. And yes, you are therefore a bad benchmark of proper seasoning level for salt.

                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                          My mother is very sensitive to both salt and sugar so I try to adjust seasoning for each particular person (if possible).

                                                      2. jfood judges the meal by the emptiness of the plates at the end. no food scraps, good job. if someone likes ketchup on his braised short ribs, their choice. whatever makes them enjoy the meal more.

                                                        1. We have a friend that we invite to dinner every now and then. Since we tend to add salt to meals we prepared, I wouldn't put the salt and pepper shaker out when she came to dinner. No matter what I made, she would taste it and ask for s&p. That didn't bother me. However, I was amused one day when we fed her some bagels that we had ordered from H&H in NYC. She can't eat cream cheese so I asked her if she wanted some butter, she said yes. We buy unsalted butter. After she buttered her bagel, she asked for salt and put it on her bagel! My husband and I had a good chuckle about that after she went home!

                                                          33 Replies
                                                          1. re: MizYellowRose

                                                            "We buy unsalted butter. After she buttered her bagel, she asked for salt and put it on her bagel! My husband and I had a good chuckle about that after she went home!"

                                                            Oh, that is quite common. Unsalted butter tastes better, more like butter. In many restaurants, we have been served unsalted butter, and an accompanying small dish of special salt. I love it. I do it that way all the time at home now.

                                                            Dietary needs -- In this friend's defense, and everyone's defense, I must say that people have different salt needs, and those needs vary from day to day, depending on kidney function, electrolyte balance, athletic pursuits and a host of other things.

                                                            The most striking example I know is a professional chef who is also a long-distance runner -- every other day. On the days he runs, he salts heavily. On the days he doesn't run, he salts less. Obviously, this created a problem, and the runner/chef learned to have his sous chef check what level of salt was needed in a dish.

                                                            Taste Calibraton -- Some salt preference is just what you're used to.. If a person doesn't eat much salt at all, a normally seasoned dish may taste salty. For a regular user of salt, a lightly salted dish may need a bit more.

                                                            1. re: MizYellowRose

                                                              I like to sprinkle salt on buttered bread/toast/bagels when the butter is unsalted. I do it all the time at home. Not sure if I'd do it as a guest at someone's house, though. I generally wouldn't ask for salt unless it's right there on the table.

                                                              1. re: MizYellowRose

                                                                The laugh was on you in my view. Many people use unsalted butter and prefer to add salt to it themselves - not just for flavor but for texture. See my comment below about why some people may indeed need salt when you don't.

                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  Maybe MizYellowRose could clarify, but if she was implying that her friend added salt to a <salt> bagel from H&H (or maybe just left out the word in error) then I could see the humor. Those things have a borderline insane amount of salt coating them as it is.

                                                                  1. re: TongoRad

                                                                    Well, yes, that would be interesting (I normally scrape 80% of the salt off my beloved salt bagels, and save it for using with unsalted butter in other situations, in fact; the rime on salt bagels is usually sufficient).

                                                                    But there's no hint of that in her post.

                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                      Yeah, it was probably a big leap on my part, but for whatever reason I just got that sense the first time I read her post. I was actually surprised that it wasn't there when I went back to re-read it. One thing is for certain, though- I'm definitely in the mood for a buttered salt bagel right now.

                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                        No---it wasn't a salt bagel. Although this friend is into healthy eating, she still puts salt on her food. Her explanation is that she grew up that way---her family always reached for the salt shaker. That's one of the reasons it's amusing that she reaches for the salt shaker---given her healthy eating efforts. We, on the other hand, try to limit our salt intake due to health concerns. That said, much as I like salt bagels, I do avoid them because they, IMO, are overly salted.

                                                                        Karl S---The laugh was on me? Ummm...no---my friend is the only person I've seen putting salt on unsalted butter. However, if you say that it is common for people to do that, then I'll take your word for it. It's just that I've never seen it done before.

                                                                        1. re: MizYellowRose

                                                                          Most people do not use unsalted butter to lower their sodium intake. They use it because unsalted butter is usually fresher than salted butter (I will omit the explanation of why this is so). Adding salt to it is a delightful thing. Especially a flaky salt. I not only do it, I know people who do and of many who do so. So your friend wasn't being stupid. She was simply engaging in a practice you were ignorant of.

                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                            "They use it because unsalted butter is usually fresher than salted butter "

                                                                            Don't you mean it has a longer shelf life? If it is produced on the same date they will be the same age, but the salted will stay "fresh" longer.

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              Salted butter can be made from unsalted butter that has gotten old.

                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                did not know that one. thanks. always a pleasure learning from you KS.

                                                                            2. re: Karl S

                                                                              "Most people do not use unsalted butter to lower their sodium intake."

                                                                              I beg to differ-I know plenty of people who choose unsalted butter in an effort to lower sodium intake. I also doubt that any of them are aware of the butter manufacturers' practice of using "old" butter to make salted butter. That's news to me.
                                                                              I personally have unsalted butter on hand only because I use it frequently in baking and cooking, and have come to prefer the taste of it on baked goods.

                                                                              1. re: choco_lab38

                                                                                I only use unsalted, if I want salt I add salt. That is a big concern with many people I cater for. You can always add more salt, but you can't take it away.

                                                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                  I often wonder why so often restaurants serve unsalted butter with the bread basket. It always tastes off to me since I only use unsalted butter for baking. To me, salted butter, as a spread, is much more satisfying.

                                                                                  1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                    I'd say the exact opposite. I once heard that unsalted butter is a hallmark of finer restaurants, and It's been my experience that when the bread basket arrives accompanied by unsalted butter, the food is going to be very good.

                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                      That seems to me to be a very broadstroke generalization. It hasn't been my experience that the 2 are related in any way. Anyway, I am just saying that I personally prefer salted butter as a spread for bread.

                                                                                      1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                        You can add salt yourself. In fact, it's nicer that way...

                                                                                    2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                      I totally agree, I enjoy salt on my bread too although I have tried to get away from it somewhat. Lately I make my own. Cut one in half and mix 1/2 with honey and a little salt and 1/2 with herbs and a little salt and 1 I just keep plain for cooking. This way I use my honey for bread and herbs to top veggies or meats or chicken.

                                                                                      I think so many people are conscious and trying to cut back, restaurants figure they are better off serving unsalted, but sometimes it can be very bland

                                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                        In decades of cooking, reading recipes, and watching cooking shows, I have never, ever, seen or heard of a chef "worth his salt" who uses salted butter. Not only do they think unsalted tastes better on bread, but use it in recipes because different salted brands have different amounts of salt, and because since salt is a preservative, manufacturers can get away with selling salted butter that is old, whereas unsalted is sold fresher. Coming from Europe, my parents were used to, preferred, and only bought unsalted butter. This is all quite independent of individuals these days who are conscientious about limiting their sodium intake.

                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                          I'd always thought like you but then wondered if I was off base. So thank for weighing in. Sorry my hail to went away :)

                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                            When we're talking about recipes, I'd generally agree with you -- with the exception of Tate's Bake Shop in Southampton. Imagine my surprise when their cookbook recipes call for salted butter. But their products are mighty fine.

                                                                                            In terms of your previous comment about the butter they serve with bread at restaurants, I've found a lot of high-end restaurants serving salted butter, including Thomas Keller's restaurants. Of course, he doesn't use plain ol' Morton salt. He uses fleur de sel.

                                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                              Most chains I have gone to recently have switched to non salted, and most high end if there is any salt it is very low in salt, but you can always add some. I know one chef out in Oklahoma and he switched to the butter for his bread baskets to be unsalted due to customers requests. He cooks with unsalted, but some of his baguettes and other appetizers used a salted butter which he has now changed to unsalted.

                                                                                            2. re: greygarious

                                                                                              For cooking unsalted only, but on bread I was just commenting with Karl that I do like a little salt in my butter. In the restaurant we served a honey butter with no salt but I do prefer some in my butter. For regular cooking I use unsalted. I think many chains have cut back due to health concerns. Top restaurants usually always use unsalted but I would still prefer some salt in the butter. Just a taste issue.

                                                                                              Personally for dinner parties I actually make my own butter and put NO salt in it but I do add a shake on my butter on my roll or bread.

                                                                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                You MAKE your own butter? Like you churn it? Now that's got to be a real sight!

                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  I do ... and it probably is a sight. I make it once every 2 or 3 weeks. I use it primarily for on toast, bagels, breads. I either use this or a fresh stick butter to make my honey and herbed butters but prefer this.

                                                                                                  I learned this in 3rd grade from my teacher. We were making a turkey day lunch for the class and everyone sat in a circle and put 2 containers of heavy whipping cream in a cold jar and kept shaking until butter. I have done this every year for turkey day since 3 rd grade. My ex husband and son are witnesses to that. Also I continue to do it for when I want some good fresh butter. 2 container shaken last me about 2-3 weeks. I still do it. I guess it is just fun and I enjoy it. I squeeze out the liquid and then add a little salt to part and anything else and use it for more garnish rather than just sauteeing. I like it over veggies, breads, over fish, my herbs.

                                                                                                  And yes ... a real sight me shaking a jar for 15 minutes, but yes I do. I guess it is just something fun I do and love the results.

                                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                    you must have great arms kc!
                                                                                                    (I think I just found a work out I can do while waiting for surgery...)

                                                                                                    so tell me again, I put whipping cream in a very cold jar and just shake it for about 15 minutes. Then add the herbs, salt or my flavorings?
                                                                                                    Do you freeze this to keep it by the way? how long in the fridge?
                                                                                                    this could be a fun activity for my toddler, he loves to help me cook...

                                                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                      Yeah, I'd like the details on that also.

                                                                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                        Sure chef c and c oliver.

                                                                                                        And yes, the arms definitely get a work out. One note of caution. Using a small container vs a pint does go a bit quicker and I would recommend trying that first. But same method.

                                                                                                        I use a cold mayonaise jar in the freezer (any jar with a good lid word works), then 1 container of heavy whipping cream, I use 1 pt. And it has to be heavy whipping cream. Add the cream to the jar and I wrap with just a kitchen towel so my hands don't freeze. And shake, and I mean shake. It will seem like nothing is happening and then you will see it become thick like whipped cream, then a bit thicker and will seem like nothing is happening but it is. And then, you will hear it sloshing. When the cream and the butter separate. Just shake another couple of minutes until you have clear butter and liquid.

                                                                                                        Then I put in a dish and press lightly with a spoon to get any additional liquid out and season. Salt, honey, herbs ... anything you want. It has a great fresh sweet flavor I tend to use it just for breads, rolls or to garnish veggies or fish etc.

                                                                                                        It is great to teach kids too and then can pass it around. Don't know why I keep doing it other than it is just fun. Some people love to make stock ... I make butter. A cool tradition.

                                                                                                        I'll buy a good quality butter unsalted and flavor too and use but I try to do this every 2-3 weeks about. I still use good ol' grocery store butter for cooking most other things. I taught my son when he was little and a few other friends with kids and their families do it too.

                                                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                          make sure you leave the heavy cream out on the counter for at least 3 hours, so it it room temperature, it makes it much easier. I have done this many times myself because my grandmother used to do it, she took the cream right from the cow... literally.

                                                                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                            It's considerably easier to use the immersion blender or stand mixer- you make butter exactly like you would whipped cream, only you keep whipping past that. You do need to wash the butter to get the remaining milk out, otherwise it will go bad.

                                                                                                            1. re: Coconuts

                                                                                                              I had to laugh when I read that. I saw butter made from about 16 liters of whipping cream at work once. Not deliberately and not be me. Unfortunately, it had stabilizer in it and maybe some sugar so not usable.

                                                                                              2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                I am very much enamored with unsalted butter with a good sprinkling of sea salt on top.

                                                                                        2. re: MizYellowRose

                                                                                          salt is not unhealthy, unless you have a condition salt is contra indicated for. eating salt will not make you unhealthy.

                                                                                2. Is it insulting? No, it's their tastebuds they have to live with; I have to live with mine. I cook and serve to suit mine and I hope it suits others.

                                                                                  1. if someone adds seasoning(interchangable with salt, but not spices) or spices before they taste it, how do they know how much to add? if i made a dish and someone did this i would think 2 things. one, they dont think i know how to cook/ season a dish. and two, they dont know anyother way.....
                                                                                    but first and foremost I want people to enjoy food i make for them. so if adding salt, or anything else lets them enjoy it more, I could care less. In fact, if it were a weird or strange ingredient, I would try it myself.....who knows, you might find a new idea!

                                                                                    1. Once I forgot to salt the soup before serving it.

                                                                                      I served it. My guests politely ate it (very quickly)... to my horror a few minutes later when I sat down to eat it a minute later.

                                                                                      1. I don't mind guests adding seasonings AFTER they taste. I always put salt and pepper on the table. We all have different tastes. But to dump Tabasco on everything as a couple of friends do, ticks me off big time. They taste nothing except hot sauce. We are talking beef tenderloin, pork chops, rib eyes, shrimp, everything.

                                                                                        Then there is my husband of 41 years, peppers everything before he tastes. But that is another story.

                                                                                        1. I don't find it insulting...personal preferences and all of that. However, I admit I do salt everything my Dh cooks before eating it because he cooks with WAY too little salt.

                                                                                          1. Guests are supposed to taste first before seasoning. Hosts and other guests are forbidden to notice whether a guest then seasons. It's essential for hospitality that hosts and guests learn to cultivate what used to be called custody of the eyes - learning to not see what is not proper to be seen, in the moral sense.

                                                                                            Palates differ. You might be a supertaster for whom seasonings register at a lower thresshold than another. People with allergies and sinus congestion won't be able to taste much of anything and often need more salt to have much flavor register. On the other hand, the dominance of processed and prepared foods in the diets of many Americans has led to a general coarsening of the palate in a way that makes BIG! BOLD! FLAVORS! (eg, capcaisin) a crutch for many. Still, as a host, you have zero way to properly distinguish between those things, and must accord guests the benefit of the doubt unless the guest overtly criticizes the seasoning, et cet.

                                                                                            You have no control over those things and should learn that they are not necessarily a commentary about whether or not you perfectly seasoned things to your taste.

                                                                                            I should add that salt and pepper are in a different category from condiments like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Customarily in our culture, S&P belong on a properly set table for guests to use as they please. The others do not, and therefore guests are not supposed to ask for those things.

                                                                                            1. Why would I care? Everyone has different tastes. My husband and I like salt, garlic, and hot peppers. I salt PB&J sandwiches, buttered toast (with salted butter). My mother is an even bigger salt consumer (long distance runner like the chef in an above post) and adds salt to everything, even my food!

                                                                                              When I'm cooking for someone else I always go lighter on the spices, peppers, and salt. They're free to add, and I'll make mental note and season a touch more to my taste next time.

                                                                                              1. I don't really get offended. I think that I do unconsciously choose to put less effort into cooking for the person next time, because it's obvious they will not detect the extra effort.

                                                                                                1. Reminds me of the boyfriend family dinner scene from Joy Luck Club. Personally I don't mind but I can certainly see how that's taken by a well-regarded cook/chef. Culturally I know that's a definite no no in Chinese families.

                                                                                                  1. Put anything you want on it after you taste it first. And if you don't cook or don't know how and you are the type that eats just to survive stay home with your box mac'n cheese, you won't like what's been prepared anyway.

                                                                                                    1. I grew up with parents who both had high blood pressure, so it was a low-salt environment. To this day I tend to undersalt everything, so if someone wants to add salt, I don't get offended.

                                                                                                      Ketchup on the other hand...

                                                                                                      1. I don't mind if they add salt/pepper/whatever to it... but I'd really appreciate it if they tasted it first to see if they really needed the extra! DH drives me up the wall sometimes because he salts EVERYTHING - I opened him up a can of soup the other day (okay, it was a 'deluxe' brand) but it was so salty that I can't even EAT it, and he said 'where's the salt shaker?' ARGH!

                                                                                                        1. If it's before tasting, it's annoying. If after, still frustrating but at least they gave it a chance.

                                                                                                          1. I saw Bobby Flay asked that same question. He said that it's not insulting because everyone's tastes are different. He thought that people who don't put S&P on the table are just being "Arrogant."


                                                                                                            1. It is a pet peve when people salt before tasteing it is just being narrow minded. After trying something that's jut down to personal taste.

                                                                                                              1. I'm COMPLETELY insulted when people do this. Unfortunately my boyfriend does it CONSTANTLY. I'll make a perfectly good meal, only to have him drown it in tabasco or soy sauce. It makes me wonder why I bother to put any care into the preparation since he can't even taste it anyway.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Al_Pal

                                                                                                                  The good news is it's much easier to change your attitude about this than to change anyone else.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                    Absolutely - my husband does this too, and it used to really bother me, but I've learned to live with it. And, now, when making something new, I ask him to taste it before seasoning, (as I do too), to see if he thinks the dish needs more salt.

                                                                                                                2. Oddly enough at dinner tonight, Mrs. Sippi salted her steak without ever trying it. She decided that it was too salty.
                                                                                                                  I laughed.


                                                                                                                  1. It is interesting that fresh ground pepper is traditionally offered just as the server has set your salad plate down--if you so much move your fork, they leave without you having the chance to sample and decide if the pepper is necessary...

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: NVJims

                                                                                                                      I was wondering if anyone would mention this aspect of contemporary dining out. I find it very strange to be presented with both pepper and parmagiana cheese BEFORE I could possibiy have determined if the dish needed either.

                                                                                                                      1. re: LJS

                                                                                                                        and the waiter/waitress is always surprised when I say "let me check" and try a bite.

                                                                                                                        i do have a friend who liberally salts virtually anything set before him, no matter how much salt is already visible on the food (like french fries). Sometimes I think salt is the only thing he is able to taste.

                                                                                                                    2. My brother-in-law came across the street this weekend for a "welcome to the neighborhood" lasagna dinner. I was serving it up, a plate at a time, and he says "where's the salt?" before he's even tasted it. I just shook my head and handed him the shaker. He's the one who's eating the food, if he wants it to taste like a salt lick that's his business. I really can't complain, because when there's a pepper grinder on the table, I go right for it.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: podunkboy

                                                                                                                        A lot of people salt their food before tasting it. According to a study:

                                                                                                                        "In many American households, the salt shaker is a staple item on the dinner table. Shockingly, nearly two in five Americans (37%) say they salt their food before they even taste it. Moreover, younger Americans (18-54) are more apt to automatically salt their food (40%) than those 65 years of age and older (31%)."


                                                                                                                        Personally, I taste the food first before salting it (that is, if it needs it). But I did that at a dinner party once and received the "death glare" from the host -- she was a self-proclaimed "gourmet" and left a salt and pepper shaker on the table. What gives? But it seriously needed salt IMHO, and I'm one who tends to go lightly on the salt. But after that incident, I learned to do things more discretely because some people can be very touchy about it.

                                                                                                                      2. I have a tendency to under-season, particularly to under-salt, so I'm used to my husband tweaking just about everything I cook...but as a courtesy to me, he has gotten in the habit of tasting it first. It wasn't always like that, and yes, it used to drive me nuts.

                                                                                                                        1. My ex-husband used add either salt or soya sauce to everything, usually without tasting. I told him repeatedly that it was impolite to assume the cook had not properly seasoned the dish. He should taste and if necessary add something. But taste it first.

                                                                                                                          Clearly the end was near when he added salt to something I had cooked without tasting it. For about a week I served my self and then hyper-salted everything just to proof my point. I am sure that he and his high blood pressure are out there drowning everything in soya salt still.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. Food is a matter of taste, isn't? Like many othr things. So as long as no one complains overtly or making show of sprinkling salt or pepper on the food I prepared, I can understand. Don't they say that you should not marry someone you never had supper with before?

                                                                                                                            1. If they do before tasting, I don't like it. After they taste it, it's fine with me.

                                                                                                                              1. If that's what they want to do and it makes them happy, I'd rather them be happy.

                                                                                                                                I tend to oversalt/overseason for most peoples' tastes anyways :)

                                                                                                                                1. I'm quite anal about that, I would take offense. Because I made the dish in a certain way and I always feels insulted when someone say it should be salted gah.

                                                                                                                                  Also, it does not taste as good salting something after as oppose to salting before.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                                                                                    "Also, it does not taste as good salting something after as oppose to salting before."

                                                                                                                                    true but salting after does taste better than undersalting before.

                                                                                                                                    but my take on all this is YMMV

                                                                                                                                    1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                                                                                      "Also, it does not taste as good salting something after as oppose to salting before."

                                                                                                                                      Wow, I so disagree with that. I think a tiny sprinkle of kosher salt after is WAY better than salting before cooking. Unless you need to draw liquid out. Just my opinion.

                                                                                                                                    2. Hmm. I would say I'm ok with people adding more salt, as that sort of thing can't be adjusted for individual tastes, and adding salt can heighten all other flavors However, I'm not really a fan of adding more cheese or pepper/hot sauce. My dish doesn't have to be as spicy or as punchy as whatever that diner is used to, and that doesn't mean that it's bad as it is.

                                                                                                                                      1. I must admit I am one of these people! Especially when it comes to ground black pepper. I might seem odd but I don't believe insulting. I'll always taste ahead of asking but I love black pepper on nearly everything.

                                                                                                                                        If someone seasons food I prepare, I am not insulted. I just hope I can offer them the seasoning they prefer from my pantry.

                                                                                                                                        1. Well, if you have all of these seasonings on the table, why not? Are guests digging around in your cabinets looking for condiments?

                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                            Yes, I have been asked if I had horseradish and once, ***shudder***...ACCENT!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                              I like horseradish with prime rib and other beef. But if it wasn't on the table, I wouldn't ask.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                I love horseradish with prime rib, I would ask too!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                Why shudder at accent, it's just MSG. That's guaranteed to make stuff taste better.

                                                                                                                                            2. I used to write for a big health care company. My writing went through 13 layers of bureaucracy before being published. I had to adopt a "once it's off my desk, it no longer belongs to me" attitude. I try to do the same with cooking.

                                                                                                                                              1. I groan when people do this before tasting it first, it is more than insulting, its foolish and can destroy a good meal before a bite is made. But hey, let them suffer. But I will be sure to not go out of my way to prepare them anything again.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                                                                  Obviously, they are not "ruining" the food as long as they eat it and enjoy it. Everyone has a different tolerance to salt and heat, not to mention age and smoking can diminish a palate over time. I do not like as much salt as my husband, but should he be forced to eat a bland meal because someone else at the table would think he applied too much salt? How silly, life is too short to be offended over someone's eating habits. As the other poster said, it is the height of arrogance to assume your palate is the standard to measure by.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                                                                    I have an uncle who practically empties the pepper shaker all over his plate before taking a bite. He also drowned his steak in A1. It really irritated the hell out of me.

                                                                                                                                                    Then he donated a kidney to my mother saving her life and I realized that I was the dick. Bamagirl is right; life is too short to get worked up over such trivial matters.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I serve nearly everything rustic or family style, no painting the plates with sauce or delicately arranging things, just put the food on the plate or platter then on the table, that's not to say I slop it around and make a mess of it.

                                                                                                                                                    There's red and green chili sauce on the table, pre-ground white and black pepper, table salt, gray sea salt, Worcestershire sauce and a deli style mustard. Once the foods on the table, do with it what you will.

                                                                                                                                                    Personally, I do not add seasoning to anything prior to tasting it.

                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Demented

                                                                                                                                                      And everything you wrote above is why you're another of my heroes :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Demented

                                                                                                                                                          Demented, do you serve foods that mostly need condiments? What if you served lasagna?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                            Dried crushed red pepper flakes go on lasagna and sauteed broccoli rabe, even if delicious as served.

                                                                                                                                                        2. I would not be offended at all, I do get offended when I'm told or criticized on how I like my to eat my food. (No longer married to that one.)
                                                                                                                                                          So fine with me, eat your food and I'll eat mine, it's a personal thing.
                                                                                                                                                          And if you want to adjust what I've cooked to suit you, then go right ahead, its just food.

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                            I may be offended that they didn't like my seasoning, but I understand everyone likes different things. I just agree and get what they need or let them do whatever. I may be slightly offended but also understand. As long as they are happy and having fun ... that is all that matters.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                                                                              Good point. They are guests, after all.

                                                                                                                                                              I love a good cider vinegar on my French fried potatoes. At one restaurant (casual in the extreme) I brought my own bottle and they stored it behind the bar. I was amazed at how quickly I had to replace that vinegar, though this was in the Deep South, where vinegar of any sort, is often not thought of with FF's.

                                                                                                                                                              Usually, as a guest, I'll go with what the host/hostess serves and not ask for anything. However, on the way home, my wife and I will usually dissect the dish(s) and comment on how we'd season it. Yes, we're guests, but the cook is the cook.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                Vinegar on fries, when you invite me over ... I'd love it :)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                  If you haven't tried malt vinegar on fries (and you probably have) do it! Hush puppies and fried fish, too.

                                                                                                                                                            2. As I am not a chef, I have no problem. I cook to my tastes, and they are not universal.

                                                                                                                                                              Now, if I have carefully prepared a fine steak, I will not have any sauce (save for a reduction) available, but should someone ask for A-1®, I'd try to find it for them. They are, afterall, my guests, and I want them to be happy.

                                                                                                                                                              Were I a chef, I might take some offense, but my ego does not get in the way. Every palate is not the same. Same for my choices in wine. I have tons of other offerings, and am never offended, should a guest ask for something else - hey, not everyone loves older white Burgs!


                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                I agree with you, especially on the wine...lol

                                                                                                                                                                but I do not like when people salt food without tasting it.... but you are right, I am not eating it, so why should I care?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                                                                                  Now, that is a bit of a problem. I agree, and wonder why they do this. We enjoy salt, but do not add it without reason. Because of my wife's Deep South (and New Orleans in particular) background when cooking, there is usually no need for more seasoning of any sorts, by our palates.

                                                                                                                                                                  Now, if we've done a recipe, that might be a bit lacking in salt, we usually have a dozen specialty salts around, and urge anyone wanting more to explore each of these.

                                                                                                                                                                  All that said, I am probably guilty of adding pepper (again, we have a few dozen different peppers on hand), BEFORE I taste - shame on me!


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                                                                                    I only salt food my husband has prepared without tasting it as he cooks with very little or no salt. Last night he made squash and I was making chicken and watched him and there was ZERO salt on the squash (herbs, wine and unsalted butter were used)...so yes I salted and peppered the squash before tasting it.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                      no seasoning in the world could help anything my husband cooks..lol

                                                                                                                                                                2. When I look at them..little daggers come out of my eyes..A la Spy vs Spy.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. There are generally two times when I season my food before I eat it... eggs and homefries at a breakfast place (it's never seasoned enough) with S&P, and fried potato/sweet potato products at most places that serve them... again for the same reasons. I don't know why really, but it's something I do without really thinking.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Blueicus

                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I've probably done the same in those situations. As we both love seasonings, and many mainstream breakfast restaurants are playing to both the "health conscious" and to Midwestern tastes, we'll often season before we taste. Probably not the best course, but we are both guilty.


                                                                                                                                                                    2. This was one of my mother's pet peeves and she trained me well: "It is an insult to the cook to salt your food before tasting it." I would NEVER salt first, and probably wouldn't salt after tasting.

                                                                                                                                                                      Actually, some friends and I had this very conversation not too long ago, as this friend tends to salt first. It, too, evolved into, "Is it also an insult to salt after tasting?" The consensus was, "It depends."

                                                                                                                                                                      When I cook, I don't add salt as a rule, and don't miss it. I also don't insult easily, so no, I'm not insulted if someone salts my cooking before or after. (I have been known to make a snotty comment, tho. Fortunately my friends don't insult easily, either.) I have been known to add things like hot sauce or pepper flakes to my own cooking. DW doesn't like food too spicy and therefore I cook accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                      Like I said..."It depends."

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Salt and butter are flavor enhancers to food - not alterers. So after someone first tastes, I have no objection to an addition of salt or butter. Like many others have said, people's tastes run differently. Now if someone asks for a bottle of A1 or the like, all bets are off as that type of additive does alter, thereby change, the flavor of the intended dish.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm okay with it. I am always afraid of oversalting, so I may actually undersalt for some guests. To each his own.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. There's a word for this: for a diner to add seasoning without tasting first is an "insalt" ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I think it's the height of arrogance to believe that what suits your taste buds is what is perfect for everyone else. I don't pay any heed to how other people season their food, even if I cooked it. I don't care if they season before tasting or not. People know what they like. I'm not second-guessing them.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Orchid64

                                                                                                                                                                                Orchid, but to have them season it before they taste it? That is insulting.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. You should taste first. Sadly, I don't always (well, seldom). The food source in my case is wife prepared and yes it does conflict with her taste but 40 years of enjoying the home cuisine gives me the freedom to add some salt and usually pepper to most preparations (I enjoy a slightly higher salt flavor than she). Now, in a restaurant the procedure is often the same, ie salt by habit before taste but if challenged my response has been that I am the customer and will have my dinner my way - it is my money that keeps restaurants going. This has only happen once and in a light and polite manner on both sides. But perhaps I should convert and at least try the dish first.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I am indifferent. Some people have fetishes with certain condiments and will just automatically go for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I always laugh when I think of the fine dining restaurant that I worked in where one of the customers asked for ketchup for his pasta! If the chef knew, he'd probably die.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. If I am paying for food like in a restaurant, I do not give a rip what they think BUT if I am at a friend's home I would rather eat it bland before salting.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Because my father-in-law who I know salts everything without even tasting it seems to want to bury my meals with salt and ketchup. I did not think something like that would bug me, but it makes me batskat crazy. I have sunk so low as to be vindictive. I plated prime rib, potatoes and asparagus for him and before I brought it to the table I emptied the salt round on it. while I was doing it I was cackling like a witch and hadn't the slightest bit of remorse. I was sick! when he shook the salt shaker like a mad man over the food I just smiled with self satisfaction. Then he ate it ALL with not of dissatisfaction. I was double crossed and he did not even know.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                                                                      If it's any consellation, people lose their sense of taste as the age and it's even worse for those who smoke.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Pretty funny though.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I saw a real blow out recently. It was at a friend's dinner party. She served a green bean casserole (the kind with the "frunion" topping), and a guest I did not know added crushed red pepper flakes. The host said through clenched teeth "Why don't you taste it first" to which he replied "I did" (not true) and then liberally added a large amount of the red pepper flakes again. The host told the guest she took offense to this nd the guest said "anything made with a can of soup does not deserve such high regard." A long discussion followed by raised voices occurred and the guest left. Unfortunately, no one wanted to eat the casserole or comment on it after that.

                                                                                                                                                                                      24 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                        As much as I (actually do like) the holiday favorite, I'm with the guest who left.....although I would have just left without making a comment to my rude host... and continuing any further discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                          The host is not supposed to notice or comment on what guests do or don't do with their food. Nor are other guests. It's inhospitable behavior. The host is not the parent of the guest.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                            People not being clear on their roles causes problems, doesn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                          oh, that was a nice one!

                                                                                                                                                                                          sounds like they were both jerks. the host was rude first, then the guest was rubbing it in after lying. yikes!

                                                                                                                                                                                          as a non-participant in the food fight, i think i would've discovered that i had a migraine headache, or that my alarm company had called -- and i needed to go home. <reminder to self: create secret code on my cell phone to make it ring itself with "special alarm ringtone" (maybe like UK ambulance).>
                                                                                                                                                                                          i just thought of something. the hostess seems a little wound up, with the "clenched teeth" thing and all. maybe she should just bite the bullet (er, so to speak) and spring for that xanax refill -- or was that haloperidol? ;-O.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                            The hostess often says things through clenched teeth at gatherings - she attacked back that she was "sure the guest was used to food out of a can, isn't that what the government issue food comes in?" and he said the beans we "repulsive." It was a disaster. I retreated to another room and left quickly. I don't think the guest was rude using condiments that were on the table, by the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                              The hostess has thereby abandoned the role of hostess, a fairly fundamental breach of hospitality. People should abandon her functions and, if they wish to continue to socialize with her, do so in other ways. The guest is no prize, but when first baited by the hostess, the hostess loses the right to her ultimate sanction, which is to make it clear that the guest is no longer welcome. But this hostess appears to utterly lack the discretion to carry that off properly anyway (she may think she gets to play Bette Davis to Miriam Hopkins, but she'd be wrong). Too many people these days are at sea in understanding the roles of host and guest; when people whine about the oppressiveness of etiquette, they should consider that making it all up as you go is not necessarily a formula for convivial relaxation but often for greater tension instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If this hostess has any very close friends who have observed this, they should privately have a word with her, as it were.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                wow, samuelAt, that is truly astounding vitriol for a dinner party. i'm SOOOOOOOO nosy to want to know HOW IN THE WORLD these two came to be in each other's company? and if she does this often, why does anyone go to her parties? this backstory has GOT to be a good one! ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think the two work together. I had never met the guest, and am friends with the hostess. She is known as being frosty, but has a nice side when you get to know her. The theme for her party was Christmas dinner in July. She blasted the AC and served a full turkey meal. It was bizarre, I must say. She served Gimlets, and maybe that was what fueled the fighting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                    aaah, a christmas party. that explains the hatred! HAHAHAHAHA!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    and samuel, i think you're right about the gimlets. another reason to avoid cocktails before dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    i hope you got some leftover turkey and dressing at least. i just saw some ocean spray cranberry sauce in my pantry, and was looking forward to autumn -- and turkey and dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                      i'm sure i've told this story before , but here it is again-

                                                                                                                                                                                                      this is the story of a man i consider one of my great teachers, even though he only ever uttered 4 words in my presence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      i was in srinigar in kashmir, sitting outside a chai shop waiting for a friend, who was late. i was chatting with the locals at the shop, most of whom spoke english pretty well. after maybe a half hour or so my friend showed up and said "sorry i'm late, i got really stoned on some charas (hash) and lost track of time"

                                                                                                                                                                                                      at this an old man (easily in his 90's) who had not taken part in our gab session, and i thought didn't speak english, leaned forward, looked at my friend and said "don't blame the charas" and then sat back into his silence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      my point - gimlets don't turn nice people into asses. perhaps they only give assh**es the freedom to be themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thew & Alkapal I could not agree more. The final straw was when a gimlet was thrown in someone's face. I fetched my coat and left. I don't plan to attend "Easter in October".

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                          funny thing is i think alkapal and i said opposite things. not that i think that precludes agreeing with us both

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                            well, we agreed in substance: the gimlets were part of the problem -- in "loosening up" the crowd to be, in your estimation, themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            gimlets are insidious -- sort of like long island iced teas; they taste harmless and are easy to gulp, but they're quick to get you high where you lose your social inhibitions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            there's another aspect to the scenario, too: samuel said the hostess and the bad guest worked together. that means there was certainly plenty of pent-up frustrations and resentments from that relationship brought to the boozy gathering in the hostess' home. and if she felt that way, i'm wondering if she also must've felt somehow compelled to have invited that guy (the bad guest) -- despite those less-than-hospitable feelings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Right..Thew your story is a good one, and I meant that you agreed the Glimlets added to the situation. Perhaps a bad idea, and as your story outlines, only gave the A$$es the freedom to be more open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know if there was an obligation on the part of the hostess to invite the bad guest, but based on the nearly scripted sound of the insults being hurled between them, I guess they either secretly enjoy the sparring and seeing what the other says, or at the very least they go way back and therefore fight like old paramours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                actaully i meant that asswipes are asswipes and no substance makes them asswipes or are to be blamed for their asswipery

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                            her invite for easter in october:
                                                                                                                                                                                                            "please join us to celebrate the resurrection and our insurrection!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL. My reply will include the words "with regrets". Each holiday once a year is all I need!

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess the correct answer by guest would be "I'm so sorry to have offended you" and to go right on doing what he is doing? I get so tied up by these sorts of things. When someone is rude to me, I have no idea what to do except to be rude back, and then you have chaos and melee. As for the original question, I agree you should taste first. Then, in a restaurant, you can ask for whatever condiment you like. The trick in someone's home is you don't get to ask for anything. If it's on the table, use it, if not, too bad. I used to get slightly miffed when my husband would season without tasting. Also, in my highly casual, serve-yourself-from-the-stove-then-find-a-seat dinner gatherings, when people would go looking in the fridge for random condiments. Doesn't bother me anymore - life is too short.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: evewitch

                                                                                                                                                                                                    >>>Also, in my highly casual, serve-yourself-from-the-stove-then-find-a-seat dinner gatherings, when people would go looking in the fridge for random condiments<<<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                    evewitch, that shows how comfortable they were with you -- they felt like they were at home! LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Who hasn't tasted this dish already? The host is lucky he didn't end up wearing the casserole! Lots of rude dudes at this do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                      not everyone follows the same recipe, even if it ends up looking the same. This does not excuse the hostesses behavior, or the guest's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow, talk about a food fight! They were both wrong, of course, and Miss Manners probably shed a few tears without knowing why- but I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall. Not a guest, though, you must have been mortified.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was. And leaving was not easy before dessert. She had a Yule Log.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOH! I'm so sorry for you for that experience... hopefully good karma will make up for it one day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. To me there is nothing worse than someone who is a control freak about how another person eats their food. I might disagree with their preferences, but it is after all their plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If someone sets me up on a blind date and the woman and get amorous should we call our mutual friend to dictate how we make love?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      When purchasing artwork should the artist come to my home and engineer how and where the work should be displayed?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The answer to these questions, obviously, is "no". The personal freedom of how a person enjoys a meal is funny. We all think we have all the answers, and want those who we cook for to have the same experience we have. It's important to remember they never will. They aren't us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sharing a meal ,lovingly prepared, with good company should be more important than dictating whether our companion is more liberal with the salt, or whatever seasoning or condiment, than we are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wish people would at least take one bite before shaking salt over something. After that, I don't care-- salt, pepper, Worchestershire, tabasco, mayo, catsup-- fine by me. It reminds me of the time I'd spent on a certain family dinner carefully peeling and trimming a beautiful batch of asparagus spears, which I then cooked to full tenderness, only to have my mother chop two inches off all the bottoms without even trying them first. Arrgghhhh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: CookieWeasel

                                                                                                                                                                                                          More than agreed - I don't much care how comeone eats it ultimately, as long as they try it first. Unless you try it you can't know that it needs seasoning - or even how much. It just makes me want to over season on my end first for a few people out there just to prove a point. I would gladly sit through a too salty meal and grin happily and bear it, making someone think they they did the damage on their end when they are a person that seasons before tasting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Again, I don't care that they want something different than I prepared. Not at all! But they can't know how much to give the food unless they taste it first!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I have no problem with it, really. I'll know sometimes they're doing something that changes the dish, fundamentally. For example, my husband ALWAYS has to have tartar sauce with any kind of fish, even if I've prepared a recipe with a certain marinade or sauce that, to me, renders the fish as prepared + tartar sauce positively pointless or even disgusting. But personal taste is personal taste, and as long people leave my table feeling happy, then I feel happy, too. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Normandie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well put and exactly my point above, Normandie

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. If they season to their own preferences, I'm fine with it. I prefer it if they taste first, but I know enough people who need more salt/spice than regular folks, so it's not a big deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My husband and I caught chikungunya (a mosquito-borne disease) about six or seven years ago. Think dengue but with some variations. One of the variations was an odd little known side effect - we needed about double the salt for the next year or so. Any less and we couldn't taste the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Further side effect that we think is related to the chikungunya is that, every now and then, when we're sick with something else (cold, flu, whatever), our tastebuds end up being shot. Last time it happened was about half a year ago. We couldn't taste anything unless it was drenched in salt and hot sauce. That lasted about a month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Under normal circumstances, both the husband and I have a fairly extreme tolerance for spicy food. We can eat bhut jolokias no problems. Jalapenos have about as much bite as a bell pepper. What is nice and spicy and flavourful for many other people is boring and bland to us. He's Sri Lankan, so grew up on spicy curries. I have no idea why I'm like this, but it seems to be somewhat genetic as there are others in my family like this as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So, yeah. I have no problem with people seasoning food to their own taste. Also, unless I'm cooking for people who I *know* can handle our spice levels (ie, some of my relatives, all of his), I tone things down fairly drastically spice-wise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Edited to add that I just realized this is an old old thread that's been resurrected. After I posted, of course. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LMAshton


                                                                                                                                                                                                            Why the comment about it being an old thread? Is there a rule about not commenting on old threads?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm fine if someone wants to add a bit of salt or pepper but I consider it an insult if they bury the piece of meat under a blob of ketchup or A-1. They're telling me they don't like the taste of what I prepared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree with you, but I don't think I'd say anything about it, although it might be that I'd just run out of ketchup, dreadfully sorry. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They're telling me they don't like the taste of what I prepared.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  or, they just don't like steak but will eat it, so not to offend you...but they really need ketchup or A1 to do so..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If they have a ketchup or A1 addiction, it's not a problem of mine, so I say to them, bon appetit. I like somewhat more salt and a whole lot more pepper than most people want, so c'est la vie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I think that people have different palates than mine. I can't imagine being such a delicate creature that someone using a shake or two of salt would offend me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. As I've gotten older my taste buds have become less receptive. I find that I prefer more salt & pepper than most people. When cooking for others I have to remember to use less salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My mother gets mad if people don't taste the food first. I don't recall this ever happening with my food, but sometimes I under-salt, intending to finish with fleur de sel at the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My understanding is that people develop these habits when forced to eat bad food for an extended period of time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am lucky that I don't have to cook for anyone I don't like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Each person has different taste buds. Some people prefer lime with there rice and others prefer butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If they want to season their dish better to their liking, why wouldn't you want them too? They will enjoy the dish more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I feel so strongly about this that when dining in a restaurant with no salt on the table, I order some with my meal. Don't tell me what perfect seasoning is, I'm paying. And don't want to have the bother of asking for it later if I decide the meal needs a bit of salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At a friend's, I will eat what is before me mostly, with appreciation and love, and mostly they have salt and pepper on the table because my friends are nice, easygoing normal people. I might seek some out for a steak or something if it's just nowhere to be seen, since why destroy a nice steak for lack of salt when my friends won't mind at all that I asked for some?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At Mom's house, I just liberate the saltshaker from the shelf above the range and bring it to the table with me. Because I know it's undersalted, and also probably overcooked, and well, I need that salt. (love you Mom)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Teague

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I tend to agree regarding salt and pepper on the table. It's kind of amazing how infrequently I see it nowadays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Last week I was at a restaurant with some friends. Among other things, we ordered a side of brussel sprouts to share. They arrived and we determined they were underseasoned. But we needed to wait for the server to check in, then she had to get it and bring it back to the table. Basically it was a five minute lapse to fix a really simple problem. It's a $8 dish of brussel sprouts--can't I just have them the way I want them?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. We're a low salt household, due to a past blood pressure issue. I got used to friends salting their food, but even though past experience told them they would need salt, no-one ever did so before tasting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I've been to steak restaurants where the lack of steak sauce has become an issue. In one place, the waiter told me flatly that they did not have A-1. So I asked him what steak sauces they had. He told me that they did not carry steak sauces at all. When I asked why, he explained that the chef did not want the customers fooling around with the flavor of the chef's beautiful steaks. Outrageous!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In another steak restaurant, the restaurant carried no steak sauces, but the waiter grudgingly conceded that the chef had his own homemade steak sauce which could be provided.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In several other restaurants (not steak places, as I recall), the tables had no salt on them. You had to ask for it. When I asked why, one waiter explained, again, that the chef believed that he had seasoned the food perfectly and, therefore, no salt was necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think that you should let people eat their food in the style that they see fit. Many chefs speak disparagingly of people who order their meat well done. I may agree that people who order their meat that way are depriving themselves of a true pleasure, but, hey, it's not my call. They are the ones eating the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. i gave up on this years ago: i now underseason everything, knowing that each of my family members has their own tolerance for spices, including salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                you pick your fights: seasoning isn't mine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I pretty much don't care a bit. When I go home and cook for my parents and brother, I expect my Dad to season the food - his taste buds are dead from 40 years of smoking. Sometimes I have to add more seasoning myself - I have severe allergies, and if you can't breathe, stuff doesn't taste like much sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do usually ask my husband to taste before he seasons things, but he is getting better at it. (I think that eight years of being married to his first wife, who only ever seasoned with Lawry's, may have caused this.) I will even put out seasonings and condiments that I think might go well with a meal for him to use. I don't get offended, and there are a lot of things that I season only by smell and sight, because of some food allergies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I have a friend who pours hot sauce over everything. We are close enough that I tell him, DUDE YOU ARE MISSING THE NUANCE. But I'm laughing when I say it. He likes what he likes. As long as he only pours sriracha on the food that he is eating, why should I get worked up about it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I really don't mind. I'm more upset when people are late to the table. Timing multiple dishes to be ready at once is a skill and takes practice and some planning. Even if it's just me and SO, he knows that's my sticking point: don't be late to the table when I call "dinner's ready!" After that, I'm happy to pass him the salt or his beloved hot sauce if that's what he wants. Same for any guests, both things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: team_cake

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The late to the table, now that can be sort of painful for a cook. But they are always the sort who does not care if it's cold. So I suppose it;s their choice

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. My MiL hates when I dump copious amounts of all of those on my plate of her "food"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          always before tasting... I already tasted her cooking for years
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No Taste
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At All

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. It irritates me, but it's their palate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. ketchup on eggs is what kills me. ugh worst combo ever. it actually tastes like vomit to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make a beautiful buttery omelette and then someone puts ketchup!!! grr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I hate when someone adds salt before even tasting! My boyfriend started doing this. You haven't even tried it! Im not a under user of salt either. Tho I would rather under salt then over so I am cautionary. But esp when a dish has parm or feta you need to go easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. The salting bothered me, until I had a (completely terrifying!) experience that gave me some perspective. I was prescribed a nasal spray for seasonal allergies and lost 75% of my sense of smell and taste for several weeks. I realized that some people probably just couldn't or didn't for whatever reason taste the way I did and needed to add more flavor to their food. I feel more pity than anger now, because it was absolutely horrible not to be able to enjoy my food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, but OVERseasoning might be. :-) Very rarely do people add salt at my table, at any rate. But I was thinking more of those who CAN'T taste, due to a cold, smoking, or some other circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      so, what, other than salt, maybe "overseasoning"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Very good question: other than s&p, there aren't many other options on the table, and no-one has ever mentioned anything else. (Though probably if pressed, they'd request less garlic, since I think it is more of a vegetable than a seasoning!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          what about the kitchen, before the table?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            as I loathe having to resort to emptying a salt and pepper shaker on my plate of "food", i'm curious because it seems those that underseason are very defensive and those that salt before tasting have been trained that way by those that do not season the food in the kitchen. leaving the diner with no choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            my uncle salts anchovies. his mother served food with no seasoning. no salt. no pepper. no herbs. no spices. at all. ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            he salted a nice piece of ham at Thanksgiving once at my home and I was not offended, but amused.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            what's wrong with seasoning the food in the kitchen so that the food doesn't NEED salt.? and leaving only those that are used to salty food because they dine on underseasoned food regularly and dump and entire salt shaker on their plate.?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't see anything at all wrong with adequately seasoning when cooking, and for the most part I think I do because most people I serve do not salt their food, either before OR after. In fact, when we entertain friends and family who have medical issues requiring them to avoid sodium, I have to really make a special effort to use less salt so they don't get all puffy and/or have a hypertensive stroke. And in those cases I use other, extra flavorings to make up the difference so we all can still have a tasty meal. The rest of us can add salt if we need it, but we just can't take it out, and that usually seems to work just fine, because I can't even remember the last time I had to fill the shakers on the table. I do agree with you (or at least I think I do, if I am interpreting your posts correctly) there is a BIG difference between cooks who use virtually no seasonings of any kind and those who avoid salt for one reason or another but add lots of herbs and spices. It's interesting to note that, in my experience at least, the people who dump salt are those who complain the loudest about all the "funny stuff" like herbs and chilies and spices. (I just figure I'll never be able to make them happy no matter what I do, just smile and pass the bread basket. With the SALTED butter, of course, 'cause the other stuff is just too disappointing at table.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: POAndrea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                so it seems we agree. medical issues aside, as those are a special needs thing, salt is indeed only ONE seasoning in any dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't keep a salt shaker on my table at home. I do keep a full salt pig next to the stove and use it judiciously in all my cooking. But I also am guilty of having four burners all going at once and actually tasting the food at several stages of cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                medical issues, again, aside, we are a society that underdoses on water. I have changed the lives of a few people with water. yes. a dehydrated body is prone to many things. including medical conditions that can be avoided and/or changed by proper hydration.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. It doesn't bother me, but I had to re-train my taste buds after growing eating my mom's cooking. Someone mentioned this habit as a result of eating mediocre food and I think that is spot on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Once I got into cooking and started talking to my mom about it I realized that she doesn't cook with salt. She says she leaves the salt out and then people can add what they want at the table. She doesn't get that adding salt during the cooking process brings out the other flavors instead of just making it salty. (She also doesn't think that doing things like sauteing onions/veggies as a base adds anything to a dish...she just throws in the raw onions or whatever, but that's a different topic for a different day.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's funny because growing up I thought I thought I disliked homemade soup - vegetable soup, bean soup, etc - and preferred campbells. She said she added flavor with herbs and stuff, which was "better" than adding salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyway, my mom is the type who salts food automatically, but she is also a smoker of several decades so her taste buds are probably fried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Fromageball

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree. Adding salt, especially without tasting, as she does, is making it saltier, not tastier. And adding salt at the table to food that is not salted is even worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Do older people use more salt? Are they losing there taste a bit maybe? I don't mean old old like 67ish. My mom seems to be making her food a lot more salty then she ever used to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: daislander

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The medical community has broken old into two groups: young old (60s and 70s) and old old (80s and 90s).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wait until you get into your sixties and realize just how young and vital you still feel!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I under salt to most peoples taste so I expect that - if the philistines want to douse food with hot sauce or ranch dressing so be it, I don't consider it insulting if I don't think they have a good pallet anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Once you put it in front of someone, your cooking is THEIR food. Personally I wince when better half salts without tasting.... But it isn't my call!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That being said I'm reminded of an interview tip I was given 20 years ago: "don't salt your food before tasting it if you have a lunch interview!" The thinking behind the advice being it would be taken as a sign you are... I dunno... Careless I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            20 years on and 15 jobs later, I've still not had an interview over food...