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Family Food Dilemma

KaimukiMan Jul 20, 2009 06:01 AM

There have been similar posts in the past, and probably there is no good answer, but I'm still looking to you chowhounds for some help. 15 months ago my friend was at his folks house for dinner before taking them to the airport for their annual vacation. Not-so-evil-stepmom announced that dinner was eclectic because she had used up all the perishables before they left - a very scary statement if you have ever seen the inside of not-so-evil-stepmom's fridge. After years of suspect meals my friend took a deep breath and managed to consume most of what was on his plate. OK, you guessed it, after dutifully dropping them at the airport, my friend spent most of the night doubled over the toilet with a mild case of food poisoning. In the intervening 15 months my friend has managed to avoid eating anything that comes out of that kitchen. They have not been in the same place or have gone out for each of the subsequent holidays, and at other times my friend makes sure he has a late lunch or finds another excuse not to eat when he is there at mealtimes.

Now the problem is that my friend's sibling and family (spouse, 2 youngish kids) are coming for two weeks vacation, and not-so-evil-stepmom has planned family dinners for several of those nights. I have two questions: 1) How does my friend avoid eating there? 2) Does he warn his sibling and family not to eat any food they haven't themselves brought into the house and/or cooked themselves?

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  1. monku Jul 20, 2009 06:04 AM

    Maybe some pre-Pepto Bismol cocktails.

    1. bayoucook Jul 20, 2009 06:07 AM

      I would think it was just a one-time thing and move on. Your dad stays relatively healthy, right?

      1. Servorg Jul 20, 2009 06:27 AM

        Anybody else in his family get sick that night? It may well have been a totally unrelated illness that your friend came down with.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Servorg
          KaimukiMan Jul 20, 2009 07:12 AM

          it was only the three of them. someone once mentioned to me that it is not uncommon for the residents of a household to build up an immunity to whatever beasties are living in their own kitchen, but newcomers are more susceptible. She was a home health care worker and part of their instructions were not to eat food in the patient's home or that the patient had prepared.

        2. q
          queencru Jul 20, 2009 07:22 AM

          It seems like the stepmom had some poor judgment that night because she was trying to clear out her fridge. It doesn't sound like this is an everyday occurrence and I'd give her a second chance unless I knew she was leaving town right after the dinner.

          1. emmaroseeats Jul 20, 2009 08:59 AM

            Suggest a bbq for at least one of the meals? That way there will be items that can be cooked by other folks and NSESM can make a few salads or something.

            The other thought I have is for your friend to say that he is having some sensitive tummy issues and can he bring a couple things so that he can be specific about the ingredients.

            I would argue against telling other people about the food for the first dinner...and then if the issue presents itself, there is a larger group of folks with the same outcome and he can group think alternate solutions.

            1. alanbarnes Jul 20, 2009 09:32 AM

              It's impossible to say for sure without having more detailed information, but I think your friend may be overreacting. Unless the stepmom's kitchen is truly horrific, it seems improbable at best that anybody's going to get sick just from its condition. And warning his sib about the place would be truly bad form. If it's unhygenic enough to be of legitimate concern, the guests will be able to see that for themselves.

              FWIW, it's unlikely that your friend's GI discomfort was caused by the meal at his folks' house. Food poisoning symptoms usually take a lot longer than just a few hours to manifest themselves. People tend to blame the last thing they ate for their illness, but they're almost invariably wrong.

              All that said, there's a simple solution for anybody who's worried about the condition of a kitchen - just don't eat uncooked or undercooked foods. There isn't a pathogen around that can survive 150F for more than a minute or so. So take seconds on the roast chicken and pass on the salad.

              1. p
                pengcast Jul 20, 2009 12:03 PM

                I think I would feign a new medically necessary diet. When I was having horrible headaches one year, I was put on a no food mold diet and it pretty much cut out everything -- cheese, any thing with yeast, smoked meats, melons, tomatoes, anything with vinegar including ketchp and mustard, beer, wine.

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