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I Am Not A Restaurant Reviewer...And I Won't Play One in Your Home

Like most CH'ers I love eating well, I enjoy cooking and baking, and I am good at it. I especially enjoy baking for other people and it makes me happy when they enjoy my baking. Here's my problem.

When you invite me to your home for dinner, I accept the invitation because I like you. I enjoy your company and spending time with you is a pleasant way to pass the evening. I don't really care if you're a great cook. I will happily eat what you serve me and thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness in asking me over. If I don't like what you made I will not let you know it. If I have to have a snack at home later, that's my problem.

So why do you have to make a fuss over my being a good cook and your cooking likely not being good enough to serve to me? You're probably a perfectly fine cook. I never criticize your cooking and, for all you know, I really look forward to your famous specialty. Steve makes the best Texas BBQ. Jaime makes heavenly deviled eggs. You get the picture.

Please stop stroking my ego like that. My ego doesn't need it and frankly, it's really embarrassing. I like eating with you and you're making me uncomfortable.

I find that the above scenario happens far more often than I would like. Do you get in this situation and how do you handle it?

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  1. Why do so many people have a problem accepting any type of compliments?

    People must know you are a good cook, and some are intimidated. If they do try and cook for you, they are wanting validation that are "up to your standards". It's human nature to want acceptance.

    How do I handle it? I graciously say THANK YOU, and move on.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Honeychan

      It isn't so much a problem accepting compliments. I'm human. I like receiving approval. I just don't feel that validating me must come at the cost of denigrating yourself. iI I am good you are not necessarily worse. It's the other person putting themselves down that makes me uncomfortable.

      1. re: rockycat

        Then the real problem seems to be hardwired into lots of people's DNA! *LOL* I wish I had the answer, but perhaps it's from years and years of self-doubt in general. Not being rich enough, thin enough, pretty enough, not a good enough cook. True self-confidence (not bravado that's used to cover said self-doubt) is a rare thing to find. Such a shame, too.

        1. re: Honeychan

          well, I don't know that its just a lack of self-confidence...just that its hard when you KNOW someone is a great cook and/or a very good judge of food....Its human nature to want to be liked...

          People just need to understand that sometimes its not just about the food...and that can be a hard thing for chowhounds to get :-) Today I learned a CH friend of mind was in town, and had no plans for tonight. We aren't big Christmas people and I know he isn't even Christian, but I knew I would enjoy his company and figured he would appreciate an invitation. So I invited him to turkey dinner...I hadn't planned anything fancy because it was just family...and I'm not one to go all out. After I extended the invitation and he accepted, then I had a moment of nervousness where I realized that my dinner was pretty simple: standard turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing. No fancy side dishes and a few "semi-homemade" shortcuts. Then I realized it didn't matter. A decent home-cooked meal on a holiday when many restaurants are closed is always good, even if it isn't great. Not everyone's expectations are as high as most chowhounds....and that applies to other chowhounds as well!

          1. re: janetofreno

            That made me chuckle. A few months ago a CH and his family were going to spend the weekend with us. (Wound up getting postponed cause of H1N1 on their side). I was pretty cool about the food even though he's an amazing cook. He's also really, really kind :) But one day I realized 'omg, I have Safeway brand light mayo in my fridge. What WILL he think of me?'

        2. re: rockycat

          This happens often in Chinese households. My cooking is not any good so please indulge me. The correct response is Oh you are just too humble this is better than anything I can do. It's a social dance, you dance and move on.

      2. I have a friend who's a really exceptional cook AND entertainer. Everything seems perfect and effortless ('course it's NOT effortless but feels like that). She's had long time "friends" who say "oh, we don't invite you over because you put the rest of us to shame." I think one of the reasons she likes me is that I don't do that dance. Okay, she's better than I'll probably ever be. Hip hip hurray. Love it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: c oliver

          M.F.K.Fisher had the same problem as your friend.

        2. My experience is that most people who invite me to dinner think they're the world's greatest cook and have NO idea. Except for family gourmands who Get It and know how to use it, most dinners I've had to endure have been totally forgetable. Of course I would never say anything to the cook/host... just be pleased that s/he thought enough of me to send an invitation. But then I don't expect everyone to devote all the time and effort I do to produce a fabulous meal. I do love it when it happens, though.

          1. I think it comes from self doubt. My partner and I are complete opposites regarding how we were brought up. Everything I did was wonderful, everything he did or did not do was never good enough. We are both excellent cooks and every so often, he just has to denigrate his cooking. He does this usually after I made a great meal the day before.

            "This is goinig to be now where near as good as what you made" and "I hope it is edible". Oh, for crying out loud!! "edible"??

            I just laugh and tell him it is wonderful and it always is.

            If a friend does it, well, they are allowed their self doubt but I refuse to agree with them! If I like it, I'll tell them it is terrific. If I don't like it, I wouldn't tell them that either. That just seems rude to me. But, if it is a pushy kind of "it is horrible and you absolutely have to agree with me" or a "I can't compare to you so you will never be invited over" kind of thing, then I will probably let them have their way. I've had it happen before and we eventually parted ways as friends (moves and other changes) so I've never really gotten past that point.

            I'm weird, I have a strange sense of allowing room for others to just be. If their behaviour upsets me, I just kind of let it happen. I'm not sure why I'm that way, I just am. I tend to view things and people as "this is how it is" and "so and so is just that way, they need to feel insufficient". Can't really explain it, it just doesn't get to me too much.

            Have you considered trying something like "I've heard such good things about your casseroles" or another compliment that shows interest? Just a thought.

            1. I'm a better cook than some people; some people are better cooks than me. In each person's kitchen, I try to keep things on an even keel by trying to learn something from each and by being willing to show something to each as appropriate.

              A riend called for some help this afternoon. Some time back she had had a very expensive dinner of a steak with a grape reduction sauce. She said that the staff had told her that the sauce was just reduced grapes. So we tried it together: she blended and then strained (out the seeds and some of the skin) a quantity of local small dark delicious grapes: I reduced the juice on high heat and had her try it. Not right. So I did what I would have done anyway - added salt, black pepper, and some honey and, off the heat, stirred in very cold cubes of butter. That was it: my friend said that we got it right. We both learned how to make a new sauce.