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Jan 18, 2010 01:34 PM

Bad food

I was wondering if others have had the same experience as I and how they felt about it.

I was at a meal the other day and people there were strongly complimenting a home-baked cookie that I found, after one bite, no point whatsoever in finishing. I have also been at other meals where the hostess' food was truly lacking taste. This woman feels salt is so dangerous, I believe she leaves it out of recipes entirely. She often serves soup that tastes like a bowl of water with some chunks of vegetables in it. And gets compliments on it!

I guess I understand wanting to be polite, but what if the same people complimenting these poorly made foods are the same ones that also compliment your cooking and baking? And am I supposed to compliment food I find truly lacking? Am I just being too honest for my own good, if I refuse to lie and compliment bad food?

What to do?

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  1. Best to just say nothing and make up some excuse to not go to any more of her get togethers. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

      I have a friend that thinks she makes "the best" fried chicken and it's always overcooked, dry and the crust is too brown. I tell her, Wow, you sure cooked the hell out of that chicken! She takes it as a compliment, and I graciously accept leftovers to take home.

    2. You are supposed to be a gracious guest if you accept the invitation. If you just cannot stand the food, and do not find the company enough to make up for it, politely decline. If you wish to attend for reasons other than the food (or because of, say, family obligation), say something nice about the event, the company, how good it is to get together, etc.

      Just because you do not like something does not mean that other people share your tastes. I have a family member who is a decent, but not particularly flavorful, cook. She gets raves from other family members who really enjoy it. I can honestly tell her I am happy to be able to be with them all for the meal. All is good.

      Sometimes manners trump honesty.

      1. I will not give a round-about compliment ("Such creative presentation!") if it makes it obvious I'm avoiding praising the food. There's always a way to "kiss the cook" and it's worth doing. I am a very honest person but I'm kind and appreciative, too, and will always compliment the cooking.

        1 Reply
        1. re: fern

          "thank you so much for a wonderful dinner" can go a long way. "wonderful dinner" (for the scrupulously honest) can mean the get-together, whatever.

        2. Queens, I have a mother in law who raves about the Olive Garden, I truly wonder sometimes if I am "normal" because I think the Olive Garden is the McDonald's of Italian. If mainstream tastes are such, then I am happy to be a weirdo. I think that most people are happy with mediocrity and mundane. It is "safe". Me? I would rather hang with Andrew Zimmer.

          1 Reply
          1. "This is very nice" is what jfood normally states.

            And now this thread enters the "Threads not to respond to" bucket as the "totally honest" posters tell you to tell the cook she needs cooking lessons.

            8 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              Indeed. It always really surprises me how many people will go on and on about manners as it relates to not be loud in a restaurant, bringing a hostess gift, etc, but apparently being kind to a friend/human being is just WAY out of line. Refuse their invites! Tell them how awful their food is! Spit it into the garbage while they watch!

              1. re: GirlyQ

                I don't think any of the "totally honest" posters would advocate what you're suggesting. But don't you have friends that you are close enough to, that you can be honest with each other about your faults, in a supportive way ?

                Not that I'm suggesting you do this with just anyone. But it should be OK to do it with certain people that you have the right kind of relationship with.

                1. re: dump123456789

                  Only if they ask, and you're sure they really mean it. Then, still using your head and being kind, you could find a supportive way to discuss the issue and offer assistance if it is desired. No matter how close I am to someone, I'd never bring up the "fault" of having poor cooking skills.

                  1. re: fern

                    Fern answered perfectly for me.

                    1. re: fern

                      I get your point. But personally, I like having one friend whom I can count on being honest and supportive with me, without my asking for it. I don't like it when I realize that I've been "humored" while people are talking smack about me behind my back.

                      Or is that what a spouse is for ?

                      1. re: dump123456789

                        It all depends on your relationship with the cook. Within my close circle of friends, I feel free to criticize their cooking all I want. On the other hand, I would never ever criticize anything, say, my mother in law made.

                        1. re: joonjoon

                          This represents my position as well. I have a close circle of friends who will tell me they really don't like my rice pudding and so on and with whom I will be similarly blunt. However, I wouldn't take this approach with others with whom I am less familiar.


                          I will not lie. I will evade, I will obfuscate, and I will be tactful.

                          If I am asked point blank, I will tactfully and politely say the truth with emphasis on what I really enjoyed and liked about anything.

                          i.e. "Are you enjoying everything?" – "I really XX. How'd you make it?" or "This must have been a lot of work. Thanks for having us." or something similar.

                          "Do you like the XX?" – "You know, I really like the ZZ and the YY, but the XX just isn't my sort of thing" or some other such.

                          1. re: Atahualpa

                            I'm with you. With my friends who cook and take food seriously, I'll tell them what I think about the food (good and bad) and I expect them to tell me when they don't like something. But with friends who don't like to cook, I'll always find something nice to say. I have some friends who are "nervous" to have us over for dinner because they think we'll be too hard to cook for. Which is nonsense. We don't choose our friends based on what they can cook. We choose our friends based on who we like to hang out with.

                            Quite frankly, there aren't many meals I've had served to me that are so dreadful that I can't find *something* nice to say about them. (There have been only a very few, and then I comment on what a lovely time I had, or what great conversation, or whatever).