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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.


            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.

            2. I'm not a particularly plain eater, but I do find it interesting that you put down the domineering plain eaters when you seem to be just the same about refusing to eat plain food. Neither of you is willing to accept the possibility that there could be good food in the other camp. I've had plenty of delicious plain food in my day, just as I have had quite a bit of delicious food. I think until both of you become more willing to compromise, the situation isn't going to improve. If you take the high road and accept that you might actually like some plain food, then perhaps she will be more willing to try fancier food.

              15 Replies
              1. re: queencru

                Actually, I'm tired of eating plain food when I'm out with what I called my "domineering" plain eating friends, and getting to the point where I feel like refusing to eat plain food because I've been eating it so often, whenever I go out with the various plain eaters.

                I craved shawarma yesterday, but ended up with a chicken salad sandwich because of my friend's choice of restaurant. I didn't say there is no good plain food out there- I eat a lot of good, high quality plain food at business lunches, group birthday dinners, and when plain eating relatives come to visit.

                I'm just tired of dining at plain food establishments being chosen by my plain eating friends, when they are not willing to try my favourite non-plain restaurants, ever ;-)

                1. re: phoenikia

                  Presumably you became friends with these plain eaters for some reason other than food, so why not focus on those similar interests than continuing to obsess about the fact that certain people only eat plain foods? Is going out to eat the only option available? What about meeting at a park and bringing your own picnic food? You can avoid food altogether by taking a fitness or other type of class, going shopping, attending a sporting event, or doing some other activity together that doesn't require any sort of agreement about food. If you crave a shawarma, there's nothing preventing you from getting one on your own time. It's not like you have to go with another person to enjoy a certain type of food.

                2. re: queencru

                  Actually, just speaking from own experience as a more adventurous eater, I am much more often the one who does the comprising. In my circle of friends, the ones who don't like to go outside their comfort zone end up picking the restaurants because I'm willing to compromise and they won't. If you give them a choice of say sushi or the chain place down the road, they will always pick the chain place and that is where we go. If I want sushi (or something off the beaten path), I go alone.

                  1. re: Jambie

                    Seems to be the case with me, too, that I end up doing the compromising.

                    I'm lucky enough to have some friends who like some sushi (tuna/salmon/CA rolls- but I can order what I'm craving once we're in the sushi bar), but I usually end up eating my shawarma, soup dumplings, goulash and curries when I'm alone ;-)

                    1. re: Jambie

                      Okay, here we go again. The either/or is (implied good) sushi or a chain resto. How many days a week or month do you eat sushi? Do you have NO other friends? Maybe find some? The "or" is a chain resto. Why not just a basic "continental style menu" (whatever THAT means) where everyone can be happy. I'm a VERY adventuresome eater --- I mean like street food in third world nations --- and I have NO problem eating out with anyone. This is feeling like a form of faux-snobbery.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        How is this snobbery? I go to lunch where my friends want to go so we can visit and be together. If I want to go someplace they are uncomfortable with (and I really want to go) then I go alone. This makes me a snob how?

                        1. re: Jambie

                          I think it was more the either it's MY adventuresome place or it's THEIR chain resto. MY choice is good, of course,and their choice is, well, "the chain place down the road." And do you have no other friends to eat out with???

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I should have been more clear that I'm discussing work lunches during the week but what I was trying to say was that I can make all the suggestions that I want as far as those lunches go but they get a thumbs down and we end up at the same type of familiar places if you prefer that word instead of chains. I'm sorry if you think that makes me a snob but it is just the way our work lunches go. I could refuse to go with them but I think that makes me more of a snob than going ahead and joining them because I can find something to eat on just about any menu you set in front of me. I won't apologize for wanting to eat something a little different for lunch once-in-awhile and on those days, I go alone like I already said.

                            1. re: Jambie

                              If these are work lunches I would liberate myself from them unless it's the kind of workplace where the compulsory socialization would determine my job success.

                              I'm not saying never go out with the gang, but make going out with the gang the occasional thing rather than going alone the occasional thing.

                              1. re: BeaN

                                I think you are exactly right because they are supposed to just be fun social events but I end up being the one sitting in my cubicle with my arms crossed just waiting for the verdict of where we are going because I'm the only adaptable one in the entire group. I like a wide variety of foods-food snob hardly describes me.

                                1. re: Jambie

                                  How big is this lunch group? If you have 4 or more, you can always split into pairs or smaller groups if some are interested in one restaurant and others in another. Once you get a larger group, it gets harder to find something everyone likes. I ate with one group for a while that would always end up at the same pub if the group got bigger than about 4 people. Other times we couldn't agree and would split into two groups. Let's face it, you see these people enough that a few smaller groups during the week isn't going to harm the friendships.

                                  1. re: Jambie

                                    I posted something last night (or thought I did) that I guess got deleted. I don't know where you live or what your work environment is although now I know it's some type of cube-space. So it's hard to generalize. But do you and your co-workers eat together EVERY DAY??? If so, why? I worked for 40 years in every type set-up imagineable and NEVER ate lunch daily with anyone including a best friend who I worked with for two years. Sometimes I ate at my desk, sometimes with REAL friends (as opposed to WORK friends), sometimes my book and I had lunch together in a park, some days I ran errands and picked up lunch on the way back. If you're having lunch with the same people every day, I just wouldn't. There's definitely no snobbery involved there. Start slowly, wean yourself (and them). Who knows? Maybe there as tired of eating together as you are. So if you do that and you wind up eating WITH them one or two days a week, is it a huge deal to ratchet down your zeal for different things one or two days out of seven? You might as well face it, in a group dynamic, be it travel or food, you wind up going the lowest common denominator route. And it's fair actually. Since you can find something you like on any menu and they can't, then.... It's not your (or anyone's) job to change others. (I had pig feet and ears for lunch on Saturday but I respect that for some people that has an eww factor.) And as a giant step, how about just calming telling them how you feel????

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      NB: I got an unsolicited note from the mods that they had not deleted my post. I guess I just dreamt it. Getting old is hell.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Don't worry. I have the same issue all the time, sometimes with posts that are so mundane that I am sure they couldn't have been deleted.

                                      2. re: c oliver

                                        Let me try and explain what I meant and I hope I don't dig myself in deeper. No, these are not mandatory lunches and we certainly don't eat together each day. We try to do it once-in-awhile as a fun event although it isn't sounding much fun. The words "sushi vs chain" were bad choices. This isn't like that because we are not talking about chain places really. It is more a matter of my being willing to try different types of restaurants but their range of acceptable restaurants is much more narrow. It isn't a matter of my food choices being good and theirs being bad. I would say their choices are just more limited. I have even gone so far as to print menus from other places and hand them out for review. I have gotten comments back such as "Gross, disgusting, what IS that?" and so on. But as I said before, I have no problem taking a book and visiting those places alone.

                      2. oh dear god, i sympathize but i think i'm worse off with my folks - not only do they keep eating in the same places and at home they only eat the most goddamn tasteless mundane and boring food. when i cook it's like i'm limited to a cheap greatest hits medly because they don't like herbs and spices. they can't stand cumin, turmeric, anise and other fairly basic spices outside salt and pepper. put more than a microscopic amount of bay, thyme or oregano and they complain it's different from what they're used to.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: epabella

                          Then don't cook for them. This isn't hard.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            It's a little trickier when it's your spouse who's the picky one!

                            1. re: Kajikit

                              If you buy into it, yes; if you don't, then no. My spouse can eat what I cook or cook what he wants. He's not a small child.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I don't think it's that simple as having a meal together is a big part of sharing your life with someone as is having them trying and enjoying the food you make for them (and viceversa). It would make me really sad to have separate meals all the time because neither is willing to compromise and find a middle ground. After all, isn't that what all relationships are about?

                                1. re: Paula76

                                  Let me tell you a little story. When I married my husband over 20 years ago, I didn't change my name. At some later date, someone asked me "what if Bob had had a problem with that?" I replied that if he were going to, we'd have had insurmountable problems before we ever got around to name changing conversations. Same thing with food and many, many other things. ALL relationships involve compromise and if it's only one person doing all the compromising, it's going to harm the relationship. In my mind, it is SIMPLE but it might not be EASY. There are more threads on CH than you can shake a stick at that go down this same road. I haven't yet screamed "STOP BEING SUCH AN EFFING ENABLER!!!!" because I'd get deleted for being a name caller :) But this is one of my major hot buttons. I don't like it in any aspect of life but we're only talking food here. Paula, thanks for giving me the entree to state this.

                                  1. re: Paula76

                                    I think it's unrealistic to expect a pickier spouse to enjoy every meal you make, so what's wrong with spouses having separate meals a few times during the week if it makes both people happy? I think if someone has a passionate hobby, it's often better to pursue it alone than to feel like you have to compromise with it on a daily basis. I've seen a lot of people lose a passion for something they love by being forced to do it a certain way at work, and I think the same thing can happen in a marriage.

                          2. A friendship is a give-and-take proposition. If it's all give or all take on either end, it's not a friendship.

                            I would have a frank discussion and ask if it's possible to take turns picking the restaurant, with NO grousing on the outcome on anyone's part. If that's not acceptable, or you find that they won't reciprocate when it's your turn to pick, then either move away from food related activities with these people or re-evaluate the friendship.

                            I've eaten lots of meals that weren't my favorite thing on earth and it never has killed me yet. I think you've discovered that also and want them to take their turn having a non-favorite meal.

                            Best of luck to you.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: BeaN

                                Good answer BeaN! Make it like a game; I'll eat the Onion Blossom @ your resto, but you have to eat the Tom Yum Gai/ Chicken Tikka Massala/ Durian (!) @ mine. adam

                              2. With my "plain eating" friends, I will normally try to throw a few suggestions onto the table that could work for everyone involved. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. However, I find that even on the plainest or most boring menu, or even at chain restaurants, there is always *something* I could order, even if it's just a bunch of sides. There is also the option of a liquid dinner! ;-)

                                To me, it's just one meal (and even then, you can eat AFTER the get together). My friends and I are all so busy that I'm just happy to be able to all sit down together and enjoy each other's company.

                                Have you tried having an open, frank discussion with your friends about occasionally compromising?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pinkprimp

                                  I have thought about having an open, frank discussion with them about occasionally compromising, but haven't had that discussion yet because of the group dynamic.

                                  It's interesting, my plain eating friend insisted that I try the french toast at a place in Leslieville. I'm not a french toast person, in fact, I dislike french toast, and I explained this to her, and she insisted that I had to try the french toast because it's the best. It will be like no french toast I've ever had. I again mentioned that I don't like french toast or other sweet breakfast dishes. She kept insisting, so I finally took a bite. Then, she started asking me, "isn't it good? isn't it great?" I said, "it's pretty good for french toast" Did I like the french toast? No. Did I try it to make her happy that I tried something that she liked? Yes.

                                  Would she agree to try some of my goulash or taboulleh if we happened to be in a restaurant serving it, on the same menu as dishes she liked, even if I hyped it up as the best goulash or best tabbouleh ever? The answer is no. Some friends are better at compromise than others ;-)

                                  I have been making a mountain out of a molehill with this thread. We do enjoy each others company, whenever we meet, even if it's at her kind of restaurant;)

                                  But the liquid lunch is a great idea.

                                2. phoenikia, i totally sympathise with you. I too end up being the compromiser as the plain eaters can't bear the idea of something new. For some reason, the assumption is that "plain" is guaranteed to be good for everyone because what's not to like about a chicken breast or pepperoni pizza....? My problem is I have to budget my eating out and it kills me to waste it on something I could make better at home but likely wouldn't because there are so many better things to eat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. Not being snarky, but what type of places are you considering "plain" food and what types of places do you want to go to that they want?

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                      I didn't take it as snarky-

                                      I guess most of what I would consider plain food is what you'd find in a family restaurant or on a hotel's dinner menu. Some replies in this thread brought up chains, but I wasn't even thinking about chain restaurants when I started the thread.

                                      Things I consider plain food- pretty much standard North American Continental standards- I realize other Chowhounds might consider other things to be plain food:

                                      grilled chicken breast
                                      steak and potato (yes, I even consider steak frites to fancified plain food)
                                      grilled Atlantic salmon
                                      a standard caesar salad

                                      I know all of these dishes can be done well. And sometimes they hit the spot. I love fried chicken, mac and cheese and apple pie, if they are done well- which I'm sure some people consider plain and ordinary.

                                      Janet from Richmond, I think you're right that maybe I should be thinking about which types of places do I want to go that they want. Maybe in the future, I will try to steer these types of friends towards dessert.

                                      I'm regretting that I started this thread because it's stirring up so much negativity in the posts.

                                      I am the type of person who always defers to the consensus- so it was interesting to hear so many CHs telling me to find a nice continental menu, and reminding me that plain/continental/North American standards food can taste good. I obsess when I'm organizing banquets for large groups- always making sure there's a red meat, poultry, fish and veg option, and any time I have people over, there's always something for everybody. When I organize dinners at restaurants while visiting family, emails fly back and forth, while we try to determine what will work for everyone, when someone doesn't want Italian, 3 people want Thai, one person doesn't do Thai, one person won't eat chicken unless it's chicken breast, one person can't hear well, so we need a quiet restaurant, and one person won't eat buffet. If I happen to have only a week visiting California, and we end up eating at the Olive Garden to appease the person who didn't want Thai who spoke up the loudest, I'm going to feel like I wasted a dinner- even if I means I got to spend quality time with my family members who were being so difficult.

                                      1. re: phoenikia

                                        I don't think the issue is plain vs. non-plain but a desire for more ethnic (for lack of a better term) food. My husband does not like many ethnic foods I do (such as Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Indian) and also tends towards more American or Americanized foods (with the exception of Italian...he loves very good authentic Italian and will also consider Greek food from time to time).

                                        This means my falafel sandwich is a work lunch treat as is Thai food and many other things.

                                        I think there is a lot of middle ground between the local Thai place and Olive Garden.

                                        My one SIL is much as you describe.....when she comes to town we generally take her to a good steak place or a place where they will serve beef or chicken without a sauce.

                                        Most places I know of (and I confess a good Caesar salad is something I adore) have more than one salad or offering. I think you are being a bit hard on them (and I am very hard on anything to do with Thanksgiving, so I can relate).

                                        I think you need to decide what you want to accomplish (which may just be venting on Chowhound, which is a-okay, again I am in that camp in regard to Thankgiving).

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          Oh absolutely, there's a lot of middle ground between the Olive Garden and a local Thai place.

                                          This was just me venting- probably looking for people feeling the way I do. And finding lots of people who don't feel the way I do. But a few who do.

                                          I had started the thread mentioning it was a self-indulgent rant. Most likely the last self-indulgent rant I will ever post on CH!

                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                            Awww...don't be too hard on yourself. You should see my Thanksgiving self-indulgent rants :-)

                                            1. re: phoenikia

                                              I'm sorry if my response started the negativity-all I wanted to do was sympathize with you but I have also learned a lesson about choosing my words much more carefully. I don't always express myself in the right way and I'm sorry if it caused problems.

                                              1. re: Jambie

                                                Perhaps if you responded to my post upthread we'd all have a much better understanding of exactly what it is you're experiencing. OP is talking about friends and you were talking about work associates. REALLY different guidelines.

                                                1. re: Jambie

                                                  I didn't think your post was negative and I certainly don't believe you're a snob for feeling the way you do. Although I am not in the same position as you are, I can understand how you want to be part of the group and go with the majority's decision but, also, how frustrated missing out on interesting foods makes you. I hope you can find a solution that works for you and a few places where everyone can be happy eating together.

                                            2. re: phoenikia

                                              I don't think your "rant" was all that ranty. And I hate lectures.
                                              Personally, I rarely get out to restaurants, so yes, lunch at Jack Astor's or dinner in a hotel basement feels like a wasted meal too. I make the best of it, I enjoy the company, but I'd rather eat elsewhere. Is that so wrong of me?
                                              One thing I will suggest... maybe stop being the plan-maker in your personal/family life. If you're the visitor, and you are going to end up at Olive Garden anyway, just say "Let me know the time and the place and I'll be there!"

                                          2. Eh. I appease some people and go where they want if I can't get out of it. There is always something on any menu to eat...

                                            I will order two appetizers (or the one meant to be shared by 4 people), or three side dishes or several desserts. It gets me through and are things I normally would not have tried.

                                            There are no rules. Then again, there are Food Courts.

                                            1. I am surprised that no one has mentioned dietary concerns.I realize the OP was about people who eat plain food by choice rather than necessity but being married to someone with digestive issues I know that some people have to eat plainly.My wife and I dine out regularly with friends and we eat Thai,Italian,Japanese,Chinese,etc. but she has to order fairly plain dishes.I'm sure there plenty of people who have to eat plain food but don't want to draw attention to themselves.It is not always a matter of being unadventurous.

                                              1. I do feel your pain and welcome the opportunity to rant about the time a few months ago that I met a colleague/friend (though I didn't know her very well) in Shepherd's Bush, London. We were going to have lunch and then see a play. I got there early and scoped out the neighborhood. Really interesting Lebanese, Greek, Thai, and a few other good choices. Even a big market with a good-looking felafel stand. When she arrived she wanted to go to Cafe Rouge- a chain 'bistro' that you can find on just about any High Street. Very disappointing.

                                                It does seem unfair that the "plain" eaters get their way so often, but I like the idea proposed by a couple of other people to suggest perhaps you take turns choosing with no questions asked.

                                                I also wonder what you mean by "plain" food. Would these people eat Chinese? There might be something you can build upon there.

                                                Otherwise, if these people mean a lot to you and you want to keep eating with them, I think you're going to have to scour menus and maybe heed Sam Fujisaka's advice about Tabasco.

                                                1. First of all, don't be so hard on yourself! It's good to let go with a little semi-anonymous rant every now and again. Undoubtedly, venting will make you end up being a little nicer to your plain-loving friend than if you were carrying this resentment around inside.
                                                  I've been similar situations with friends. One friend wouldn't even go out for Mexican, because she didn't like it (yet anytime we got together, she wanted to make nachos... odd).
                                                  And when you don't have a lot of money to spend on your dining-out budget, it can get kind of depressing to spend it all on foods you're not excited about.
                                                  I concur with the liquid lunch poster, that's always an option.
                                                  Another thing that has worked for me in the past is getting together at one apt or the other and bringing take out. We can get take out from a few different places, like a burger and fries for her, tikka masala for me.
                                                  But also, as someone who tends to "go along with the group"- I just want to say, you don't always have to be the compromiser, especially when it's coming out of your budget. It really is ok to say, "hey, I'm sorry, I can't spend a lot of money on food this week and that's really not a favorite restaurant of mine. I know you've said you won't go with me to the Thai place, so why don't we skip the meal and meet for drinks or a movie or take a hike instead"
                                                  Or, if you really don't want to express your dislike of plain-eater's choices, hey, you can always say you're doing a master cleanse and can't eat for 2 weeks... : )

                                                  1. If you must dine with such folk, "be a grownup" both for their sake and yours.

                                                    Refuse to go where there is absolutely nothing fit to eat (probably fairly few places).

                                                    Agree to go anywhere else they prefer and reconcile yourself to settlling for the best the menu offers (surely there's a decent chef salad, or burger, or simply prepared genuine seafood or meat, a half-decent bown of chili or simple pasta).

                                                    But it does your peace, and your reputation, no good to bully them into matching your tastes.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: wayne keyser

                                                      "But it does your peace, and your reputation, no good to bully them into matching your tastes."
                                                      But isn't that exactly what they're doing to the OP?

                                                    2. Why don't you do other things with your plain-eating friends? I spend time with my friends because I enjoy their company, not because I want moral support during my dining-out experiences. I have lots of friends who I rarely or never eat out with, because our tastes are so different. Instead, we go for lots of walks, go shopping or go to the movies. I have other friends who love adventurous eating, so we've tried Buddhist Chinese, Ethiopian and Korean restaurants just in the last few months (but sometimes we do other things too- two weekends ago I went out with a very adventurous-eating friend for a photo-taking trip to a provincial park... no food involved). I have a few friends who are still grad students and have really limited budgets, so we usually meet for tea instead of a meal, or I'll cook something and invite them over.

                                                      I also find that it really helps to check out new places beforehand, so you can say to someone, "Do you want to go to XYZ? I read some really good reviews online, and I walked past the other day and saw they had A, B and C on the menu. Prices looked pretty good too- most of the entrees were around $whatever."

                                                      1. Some people are just like that and you seriously can't persuade them to change their minds.

                                                        What I do is have a potluck with a lot of people. Like, a LOT. It's less expensive than a restaurant, we're where I want to be, it's more fun, boring eaters get to sample lots of different things, and sometimes become interested in different types of food.

                                                        Sometimes they want to branch out, but sometimes they stick to their guns, and that's okay. If that's the case, just find non-eating occasions to hang out, I guess, or wait until you're in the mood for the kind of restaurants they like?

                                                        1. Don't have an answer but I do feel your pain.

                                                          1. Hi all, (I'm new here so am guessing at some things--like "reply" there or "reply to original post" here...)

                                                            I've enjoyed reading this entire thread; it has focussed my mind on the matter. Do you remember the book psycho-cybernetics??!! Cybernetics pretty much refers to setting a straight course by veering away from the negative. In the plowing through space here, we have set a straight course...

                                                            To Phoenkia, I liked your choice of topic...as we began defining, I realized how true this is of me too, in so many ways. I don't like spending money on meals I can make at home, as chocabot has said. I thought Janet from Richmond worded it wery well when she got the definition of the topic more true by saying, "Not so much plain v. non-plain but a desire for dishes more ethnic". To Jambie, I don't feel like you started a negative, you just brought out a luncheon situation which is easier to find slipping into the lowest common denominator-I think that's quite natural for a lunch group...it would be hard to agree on ethnic, they're such specific tastes...and the bigger the banquet the more common the denominator.

                                                            But it is not for me to try to put all into a nutshell, although I did realize that in general eating ethnic requires others who want to eat THAT food, as most ethnic restaurants do not really offer plain food. I'm glad my family has always agreed on the great tastes of "TexMex", my friends are happy eating Mex or my favorite: Mediterranean. It's true, if they always wanted NOT to eat my favorite ethnic food, I would also be looking for a way out of spending my money eating with them.....