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dining with plain eating friends- coping strategies? ;-)

Sort of a self-indulgent rant/post, but I'm getting tired of deferring to plain eating friends when it comes to restaurant selection.

When I suggest a restaurant I like, I'm met with a grimace and "I don't like that kind of food".
When my friend suggests a plain eating establishment, I'm automatically a food snob if I say I don't like her choice of restaurant or that kind of food.

I feel like it's a wasted opportunity, and a calorie drain for me to eat plain food when I don't like it. I realize it's just one meal, but this week, meeting up with friends has meant the only food I've liked eating has been what I've been making at home.

I realize there are some plain eaters out there, who will find something on any menu, or pick the mushrooms off the pizza. If you're a peaceful plain eater, please don't be offended by this post. It's the domineering plain eaters that I'm beginning to resent ;-) Just a little.

How do you deal with this situation? Grin and bear it? Should use my mom's approach of repeating "Try it, you'll like it" until she caves?

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  1. I'm in the same boat as you. Either entertaining outta town guests, friends who are steak and potato only. Some ppl are just set in their ways, and you sometimes can't change that. One thing that always helps ppl to try new things is ordering for them AND picking up the ol tab. Make sure they know you're buying before you tell them what kinda place. If they don't like the stuff you order and pay for, then you gave it a shot. They might just not like that type of food, but more often than not, if you order correctly according to their tastes, you'll blow their minds with the new experience of a new food that they have avoided because of prejudice. Can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say "no thai food, it's too hot" (yet they've never tried it) or "no Indian food, I don't like curry" (yet they've only had some cheap curry powder sprinkled on chicken, which has nothing to do with Indian cooking at ALL) or "no sushi, I won't eat raw fish" etc... In multiple instances, I have taken folks who claimed they could NEVER eat things like that, and afterwards, they become JUNKIES, and hound me to take them out for the same type of food again. Conversely, there are ppl who just don't like what they don't like. Grin and bare it. If they are friends, enjoy the company. Remember, a nice half pound burger and a few decent onion rings is a pretty decent meal that can be prepared well by most of the cooks in the chainy type pjmcfuntimeapplebeefridaychili joints. Although, last time I had a burger at applebees, there was a layer of salt crystals just sitting on top of the poor thing. Had to scrape them off.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gordeaux

      I feel your pain.
      "I don't like curry. It's hot"
      "medium Italian sausage is too spicy. It burnt my tongue"
      "I like sushi, but only California rolls. It's the only sushi I like."

      I figured grin and bear it was probably the most diplomatic route.

    2. Firstly, I don't think you're being self-indulgent at all. Clearly, your 'plain-eating' friends do not share the same passion for food as you do and it's natural to feel frustrated with having to eat bland, generic stuff when there are so many wondeful meals to be had! They're being limited by saying that they don't like certain 'kinds' of food (btw, have they really tried them? Something tells me the answer might be no...)

      Obviously, it's about compromising but you shouldn't be the one doing it all the time...You could use their same argument and say that you don't like plain food but that might sound a bit 'tit for tat'. How about coming up with a list of places that would have food you like but could acommodate them by serving them a plainer dish?

      If that doesn't work, could you suggest taking it in turns to choose a place with everyone else agreeing not to question anyone's choices and giving anything a go?

      I have a couple of friends who are plain-eaters and, generally, I do my utmost to get together for coffee rather than a meal so as to avoid this situation but if you must eat together, then you need to do something about it before resentment keeps building up. Good luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Paula76

        The funny thing is, that one of the friends is passionate about food- she loves to eat, loves going out to eat, but likes plain stuff.

        I think I will try to steer it towards coffee from now on.

        And yes, you're correct, my friend hasn't tried any of the foods I'm talking about- she isn't willing to give the new foods a chance;-) And my friend isn't willing to give new "kinds" of restaurants a chance, even when the restaurant has kept grilled chicken on the menu for people like my friend.

      2. I'm rarely in Plainville getting to eat with plain eating friends. When I am in such a situation, I always find some selection of plain food to enjoy. Some Tabasco or chiles may be all you need to have a nice plain meal and time together.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Yes, Tabasco definitely helps. I'm starting to think about carrying travel-sized spice rack in my purse.
          I'm sure I would appreciate Plainville more, if I didn't end up visiting it so frequently.

        2. Well-executed plain food gets no complaints from me. Roast chicken, a great steak, wonderful pasta, etc. The right restaurant shoud be able to satisfy everyone.

          4 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            I agree with this suggestion-properly executed classics are always ok.

            But generally, I avoid eating out with plain/picky eaters. I just don't have the patience to waste my money on crappy/disappointing food at all anymore, especially when I can have a competently cooked meal at home.

            I would suggest just doing the "lets go out for drinks" route or, alternatively, invite them over for a meal at your place. Manners (if they have any) would dictate they would eat what's being served (allergies/dietary restrictions aside). For friends who just aren't foodies (which are thankfully few and far between in my world), I tend to suggest other enjoyable activities to share with them.

            SWS

            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              I think you're on to something with the avoid eating out with plain/picky eaters approach, SWS. Thanks.

              1. re: phoenikia

                Why is someone who prefers "plain" food necessarily a "picky" eater?

                1. re: c oliver

                  I meant the slash between plain/picky to imply plain or picky, not plain and picky.

                  I realize plain food can be done well, and that people who like plain food could be picky or non-picky, just like people who like adventurous food could be picky or non-picky. I also realize that some adventurous eaters also like plain food (or some plain food). I'm the first to admit I'm a picky eater.

                  Of course, I like some plain and/or comfort foods (including some mediocre plain foods, that are not necessarily done that well), but not all the time, and there are times when I cannot find anything I would want to eat on a well-executed, safe "continental" menu, especially if I have been eating a lot of safe food at work events, banquets, etc.

          2. Grin and bear it. It's my chance to eat the healthiest food I can find on the menu, if there's nothing I won't enjoy on the menu anyway. I refuse to waste a lot of calories eating bad food but if it's not high in calories and is healthy, I get something out of it. Sometimes eating is not about the food but about enjoying your friends. I would much prefer to eat at their "plain jane" restaurant than to hear the, "Eeww, I can't eat that" at my favorites. When you come down to it, it's only one meal out of three, just for the day.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              I agree chowser...AND....I order a big salad and no less than 2 glasses of a nice wine!

              1. re: sedimental

                LOL, because after a couple of glasses of wine, you won't notice how plain the food is, and your friends become much funnier, too!

                1. re: chowser

                  I'm not sure that it's fair - to the friends OR the food - to make "plain" food lowsy food. I can go to many, many different types of restos and have "plain" food that's delish.