HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Does Your Family Consider You to be "Weird"?

My family loves food, hands down. However, my parents idea of comfort food is ketchup on pasta, well done steaks broiled in the oven with onion and garlic powder and plain, rotisserie chicken. To be fair, my dad is a bit more adventurous than my mom but usually only when he is with me. He has no problem trying new things, to which he will usually say it is "interesting". :}
Last friday morning I baked a challah. However, it's my own version as I personally am not a huge fan of traditional challah and my fiance doesn't care what I do with it as long as it looks like 2 loaves of bread in the end:} I added in some graham flour and fresh grounded cardamom. Today I toasted up some of the challah for my parents (fresh from the freezer). The face my mom made was priceless. The horror! Cardamom in the challah! To which she then said "This is WEIRD!!!" And then my dad added "this is interesting".
I have no problem that they didn't like it, as I did not make the challah for them and didn't even know they would be tasting it. However, I find it amusing that this is just one example of my family believing that the foods I love are weird or strange. Granted, cardamom in challah is not traditional at all. However, my mom has said the same thing about almost any ethnic take-out I've ever had except for chicken and broccoli. To her credit, she will try something new on occasion... she'll take teeny tiny bites, chewing thoughtfully until she makes a wretched face and says "pew! pew! pew!" I love her:}
Does this happen to you?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Nah. My mom will eat/try almost anything, and most definitely anything I've cooked. My sister is a more timid eater - there are things she considers gross and won't try. So I don't 'go crazy' when I cook for her or suggest a resto, knowing her limited tastes.

    1. No, my family of origin is pretty interested in all sorts of food. My dad has always been a bit of a jack sprat sort, picking cheese off of pizza, trimming fat off meat. But we all enjoy most ethnic foods.

      One of my kids is leary of "strange" foods but the other one enjoys cooking and trying new things.l

      1. Yeah, but not for Food reasons. My Parents were very adventurous, food - wise . We always had to try new things growing up as well as being in the food service business. On the other hand my mother does call some of what I make "concoctions".

        2 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          I used to get the "concoction" label when I was younger, but back as a teen learning to cook on my own it may have been a well deserved label:}

          1. re: Quine

            Yeah, but not for Food reasons.

            Same here!! : > )

          2. My smile broadens as I read this thread. It reminded me that in 1997 I took my mom and dad to eat at a Japanese restaurant. They had a terrific sushi menu as well. Mom had a cooked steak dish and some vege tempura as an appetizer. She "tried" a couple of our sushi rolls, including your mom's small bite, chewed lots of times technique. Then she asked what she had eaten - basic tuna and seared eel with a sweet sauce. The look on her face was priceless. Guess she prefers her eel either as a purse or shoes. She hasn't returned to the Japanese or sushi restaurants since.

            1 Reply
            1. re: vstock

              When my parents were on their honeymoon in Oahu, my parents went to their first (and only) Japanese restaurant. Apparently they did not ask the waiter any questions because they ordered and ended up with a plate of sashimi including raw octopus. I wasn't even born yet, but I can just imagine my mom's face as she stared at the tentacles, maybe poked them. (She likes poking her food). Back to club sandwiches through room service the rest of the trip:} I do not believe that they ate anything.... but to her credit, she now enjoys california rolls on occasion.

            2. Coincidentally, my mother asked me the other day how I got to be such an adventurous eater. "Hmm, Mom? Don't you remember cooking up that beef tongue on the farm? And those bedtime snacks with Grandpa of limburger cheese and crackers when I was 3 years old?" Sadly for her, she's in a facility now that caters to the bland diet that is accepted for our senior citizens. When I get to that point, I will take a suitcase full of condiments in order to survive.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mickie44

                mickie: I have a strategy of ending up in the same home with friends who have cool kids to smuggle in sriracha, wasabi, scotch, cigarettes and well, I don't want to tip anyone off ahead of time.

                1. re: hill food

                  Mmm, sriracha...wasabi. And we could be in charge of the garden where we would grow interesting weed(s). This might be a good moneymaker for retiring boomers.

              2. I developed a rather wide palate of acceptability from traveling around the world on business over the years. My wife and kids are OK with most of what I like but I lose them pretty quickly in Chinese restaurants. Our daughter lives in San Francisco and likes pretty obscure Chinese dishes, but she feels uncomfortable in many of the 'neighborhood' places in the Sunset (where she lives) because there's a communication issue and a feeling of difficulty in figuring out things on the menu. She was very pleased to learn that a restaurant called Beijing (now in the southern part of the city) is opening a new location in the Sunset. She's just hoping the new location is as 'Westerner-friendly' as the existing one. Weird doesn't need to be 'weird', but it DOES need to be comfortable.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Midlife

                  I agree completely. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of Uzbek restaurants. The only reason I have not tried too many is because they are not often very inviting; closed doors, no windows, and often a curly reception when you open the door. They're obviously doing business but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I can only imagine how much more business they would have if they made a few changes to seem more welcoming to the rest of the neighborhood. This also reminds me about an issue in Flushing, Queens which is very heavily Chinese & Korean. You often can find fantastic food there, but many of the signs are only in chinese or korean (which by the way is illegal). I've recently read about a summer camp program where children are creating bilingual signs and giving them to store and restaurant owners in the neighborhood to encourage non-Asians to come in. This can lead into a whole other issue (if you come to a country, you should have signs in that country's language regardless of the law), but the main point being that weird is relative, but being comfortable is not:}

                  1. re: NicoleFriedman

                    wait, are you saying it's illegal in the state of NY to have a sign for your establishment say what you want it to say? can you point us to the statute please?
                    FWIW, Im pretty sure having a sign in whatever language(or not) you want is completely legal.....America and all.

                    1. re: nkeane

                      I made a mistake. I read an article recently about some small towns upstate NY that passed laws requiring english on all business signs. http://www.planetizen.com/node/44205
                      Regardless, I do believe that while it is the right of any US citizen to have a sign in whatever language they choose, it's sad (in my opinion) to not include the national or common language to welcome as many people as possible into their establishment- and also out of appreciation for being a citizen of the larger nation.

                      1. re: NicoleFriedman

                        there are worse things than not having a sign in english.
                        Like the sign in Chinese that says "food is poisonous, do not enter."

                        It may be that the person would feel self-conscious about a language they are not very familiar with.

                    2. re: NicoleFriedman

                      often a curly reception when you open the door.

                      Years back, my GF and I went to a Polish restaurant in a nearby city because the newspaper's restaurant critic said the service was "brusque," and we just had to find out how brusque. To our disappointment, the service was great, as was the food.

                      In their "defense," service is not a high point in many eastern European countries, and that's what they bring to this country.

                      1. re: NicoleFriedman

                        Now I am sorry to hear that, about the signs. I live in Chicago, where so far we do not get snotty with immigrants. Thanks to them, our city bustles with commerce. We have entire neighborhood where signs on store windows aren't even translated. Who cares? Being there is like going abroad without a passport and the grocery stores and bakeries and delis and restaurants, when you go inside, are heaven.

                    3. Yes. It seems to run along the matriarchal line though, my mom and my sister: "Raw fish? Feh!" Same with rare meat. My dad and I used to sneak out to eat rare steak. My sister now carries on the "gedemft" tradition.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mnosyne

                        I LOVE raw tuna, but I hate rare or even medium steak. (medium burgers are ok) My fiance recently was aghast a few days ago when I asked him to cook my steak a few more minutes:} I'm not a big steak eater so he just naturally assumed I liked it the same way he does... bloody. Each their own. I doubt the cow cares:}

                      2. My oldest brother was looking at some photos on my computer once and when he saw some photos I took of some BBQ spare ribs he said, "I see Joe (my other brother) isn't the only one that takes pictures of food".

                        1. My parents both come from solid Midwestern farm-town backgrounds. So the fact that they were relatively experimental with food as I was growing up was a stretch for them - my mom was very interested in cooking as I was in my teens, primarily French-inspired. My small Michigan hometown didn't have much variety at all. When we went out to eat, primarily on family vacations, my dad really encouraged my brother and I to try new and different foods. He still does that, with friends and family. I've found myself doing the same, as I realized after persuading my daughter's school group to have dinner after their event at a middle-eastern restaurant, rather than McDonalds.

                          My dad's still pretty adventurous, but my mom has gotten more conservative in her tastes, so my dad doesn't have or take many opportunities to try different things. I'll try almost anything, and love new foods and cuisines. My mother, if she were forced to try any of them, would get that pursed-lips mother look and not say anything!

                          I feel like my parents started me on my way to foodie-dom; they took steps beyond their upbringings, and I took steps past mine. And yes, I'm quite sure they think my current food interests and many of my recipes are weird.

                          1. My parents used to mock me when I was younger because from an early age, I couldn't eat things that had artificial flavors in them or were from a box. They tasted, and still taste, really bitter and off to me. To my mom's credit, most of her meals were not from boxes, except for mashed potatoes (she later told us that she didn't like mashed potatoes and therefore never thought they were worth the trouble.) They think I'm an "exotic" cook when I really make simple stuff about 75% of the time. But if your preference is for grilled salmon and salad with dressing from a bottle, you probably would find fish in tahini sauce "exotic."

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Isolda

                              The funny thing is that growing up, my grandmother had some strange food "bubbameises". She started my mom liking ketchup on pasta (over cooked pasta by the way) by not introducing my mom to "pasta sauce". Also, only sugar on french toast. My mom was introduced to such exotic tastes as marinara and maple syrup (the aunt jemima stuff) in camp. Then my dad introduced her to Uncle Ben's rice ( a huge departure from minute rice mush). If you grew up in my grandma's house, ANYTHING would seem weird or exotic to you.

                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                Nicole, amazing that in one generation a foodie was made! I am sure that the idea that there are various types of rice out thare is amazing to you Mom.

                                Today, my Mom and I tried a new Pan asian place. I ordered two sushi rolls. Mind you, my Mom never tried sushi 10 years ago. Those two rolls were SO amazing, it was a delight to see my Mom's face! See said before I could say it, that is the best sushi I've had!" And she was right. Keep trying.

                                I know you are engaged to be married: think what your children will learn!!! And I bet they will be "weird" too!

                            2. My mom and sister definitely consider my food tastes to be at best exotic and at worst downright strange. However, my mom actually makes a lot of the recipes I have given her. My sister, however, (at age 16) is definitely more of the Appleby's type and rejects practically all of my "try this" food advances. My brother, more of a McDonalds / gas station food type, also considers my taste in food to be weird. My late dad did not consider my forays into ethnic cuisine to be as odd, though he had a "lust for life", a real love for food (no matter whether it was the "artificial type" so often maligned on these forums or the "real" stuff), which actually sort of ended in his demise.

                              Really, you can't blame them. I'm in northern Minnesota, which is meat-and-potatoes country through and through. Most people around here - at least from my social class - have no idea what "curry" or "hummus" is.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tvdxer

                                It often occurs to me that my grandmother would not recognize at least 50% of what I cook, my mother maybe 25%. We have all globalized now.

                              2. My family definitely considers me weird, although not necessarily only because of my foodie tastes!

                                1. A little, I think. they're all pretty conservative eaters. not that we're as adventurous as a lot of 'hounds, but we love our sushi and trying new places.
                                  we got my mother and step-dad to try sushi at his favorite hibachi place... he was a little insulted that we didn't want hibachi steak... he cut his california roll in half with his fork, speared it and smothered it in his hibachi ginger sauce. then gave my mother the other half. sigh. she, on the other hand enjoyed it and has eaten sushi again with me. :)
                                  my BIL tells his kids "don't eat that, it's weird." i want to smack him! lol

                                  1. Yes, but not because of my food choices ;-)

                                    1. My family thinks I'm weird (they say in a GOOD way, sure!) partially because of my culinary book choices (i.e. "Salted", "Olive Oil", "Truffles") and that I can talk about such topics so passionately and animatedly for sooooo long!

                                      1. My parents are pretty good with trying different things, Mom more so than Dad. They do ok considering most meals when I was young seemed to be the "meat and potatoes" type, or maybe a casserole or something. Now I'll try about anything, and probably like it. My one sister will try a lot, and likes to cook new and different things, though she stops short of things like sushi. She is stuck, however, with a husband who has no adventure in his food tastes. No sauce but butter on pasta, no melted cheese on anything, even pizza, plain wings if he is at a wing joint (not even mild or a sweet bbq or something!), and very few veggies of any kind, maybe iceberg with Miracle Whip. Unfortunately two of their three kids are following in his footsteps, afraid to try many things, or if pushed to try it, they do so already convinced they will not like it. The worst was maybe last year when they were at our house for a football party. For such occasions our house is usually a finger food/appetizer bonanza. Her 12-year old son walked into the family room with some stuff on a plate, I don't recall what it was. Mom (my sis) looks at him and asks "what do you have?" He told her what was on the plate, and she says, before he has tasted it, "Oh, you won't like that". OMG! man, did I give her hell for that. Some kids will never get the chance to be "weird", I guess!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Cheez62

                                          You might have hated what happened to me recently (especially given your moniker): I was at a cheese shop that gives free samples and has a lot of tourist trade. The samples of three cheeses were out for tasting. A girl, about ten or eleven, who was in the shop with her parents, grabbed a toothpick and selected one of the three to try. Before she even had it in her mouth, her father grabbed her hand and send, "oh no, honey, you won't like that one...try this one instead: it is much milder." I wanted to slap him....

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            Yeah, that's awful! I think you should have slapped him ;-)

                                        2. Nicole, as soon as I saw "pew pew pew" I knew you were a member of the Tribe. : ) (Not that your name or the reference to Challah should've tipped me....
                                          Yep, they do think I'm strange. I wasn't raised eating pork or seafood, but I'm an omnivore now! Mom and her husband keep a kosher household, and I do not. I eat food in combinations that she finds strange and distasteful. The funny thing is, she was only Kosher with her first husband, my dad, and wasn't......really, anything.....until years later, but she dropped back into Kosherdom with warp speed and seems to have forgotten there was a time she'd eat basically anything. Go figure.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: mamachef

                                            LOL Friedman is not my real name but I am definitely one of the "tribe":}. Could the fall back into kosherness be due to spiritual/religious reasons?

                                            1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                              Absolutely 100%. That is EXACTLY why she changed her lifestyle.

                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                A lot of my friends are the same way. I keep kosher myself but am always amused when some of my friends express disgust for shell fish or some other non kosher item because I know full well that they used to eat it all the time!

                                                My family doesn't think I'm too weird (except for my sister because I dip my fries rather tham smother them LOL) but my friends do, Because I *know* how to cook and bake! One friend, especially,is in AWE because when she comes over I can put together a good (kosher and veg, AND low carb for her) meal in no time. Her 14 year old daughter just thinks I'm "cool" :)

                                                1. re: Miri1

                                                  It sounds to me that you are, indeed, cool. Your niece is correct. I wish you lived next door to me.

                                          2. My father was a pretty adventurous eater in the past. With age and with my mother having difficulties eating their repertoire has become rather limited. Restaurant choices are a few comfort zone places - new is too fraught with potential issues. Vegetables were always seldom seen growing up. I recently visited my folks and ended up buying and preparing a number of vegetables , they opted out. When asked, I explained I need more veg in my diet than I was getting. They were astonished since my dad had prepared a frozen spinach souffle 3 days prior!

                                            My brother picked up Chinese for dinner one night. There are two choices in the neighborhood. One is wretched, one is slightly better than ok. He went with wretched because he didn't want to make a left-hand turn.

                                            My sister was a very picky child. She has gotten better over the years, but food is basically just fuel. She also remains blissfully unaware of the pros and cons of artificial additives. Fortunately her husband is aware and his influence is starting to have good results on their child. At the end of this last visit my sister expressed awe that I was more knowledgeable about restaurants and food stores in her area than anyone she knew!

                                            As far as weird goes, they do find me so! They joke that a trip to the grocery keeps me gone for hours. My "must eat" list of old favorites to experience during the visit is subject for amusement. The fact that I keep up with restaurants in a place I haven't lived for 15+ years is beyond belief. My father asked if I was still working, because he couldn't fathom anyone having the time to follow all this "food stuff" otherwise!

                                            1. My family, no, thank goodness. In fact I have my grandmother and my mother to thank for teaching me to try and enjoy lots of different food. When I was real little for a while I was one of those "hamburger-and-hot-dog-only" kids, plain pasta, no veggies but corn, etc. Then my mom started working in NYC and tried taking me to "exotic" restaurants with her...I fell in love with Japanese when I was like 7 because it was so cool to sit at those low tables and the waiters would bring me these little boxes of Japanese candy. Soon she had me progressing from tempura to sushi.

                                              My grandmother got into collecting cookbooks and soon we were trying everything from Thai to Cajun to Japanese country cooking and Spanish paella. My grandfather wouldn't eat it - he came from a very traditional Polish family - so sometimes my grandmother would actually cook two entirely separate dinners for the family (one for him, one for the rest of us.)

                                              The ones who think I'm weird are my in-laws...the men don't cook at all and almost all have fussy eating habits, and the women primarily stick with basic Italian-American fare. When I bring anything over to a family dinner it usually gets eyed suspiciously for a while before someone decides it might be edible, even if it's something they've never eaten before.

                                              1. I was assigned to make Chex mix for some family thing this year. fortunately this is something rarely set out in my family so while they could tell it wasn't trad they really had no basis to object to the presence of wasabi peas (kasugai), seaweed /sesame crackers, hulled pistachios and the dash of sesame oil in the butter melt.

                                                at first they acted like cats inspecting a new piece of furniture, but they really surprised me and ate a lot of it.

                                                1. I'm a weirdo for sure. When I go visit in my hometown, my grandparents and aunt will specifically ask that I not be allowed to cook. To the whole crew, honey barbeque sauce would be considered "exotic". Sigh...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                    allie: well, duh, if you want sweet BBQ sauce - it's brown sugar and/or molasses or squat, you heathen (honey? really...). but they sound like my family, they're quite sure condiments can only come from a bottle and god forbid while sitting in the middle of a forest I want to find hickory and slow smoke with real hardwood and not use some liquid thing found on a grocery store shelf.

                                                    when I am allowed to cook I have to try really hard to not go overboard. I DO sneak in herbs and seasoning, just not raw garlic, nothing hot or too much salt or anything off somebody's list. Mom thought it weird when I roasted a chicken for Xmas day, I stuffed it with lemon, garlic and rosemary. she liked it, but I could see her eyes cross in confusion.

                                                  2. My family is very adventurous, so they don't think I'm weird when I eat new things, we usually do it together. What they think is weird is the way I "criticize" my own cooking. I don't think I'm criticizing, just making mental notes to improve the recipe next time I make it. They always tell me to stop ragging on my cooking, saying "it tastes fine", but I just want to know how to do it better.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: sarahjay

                                                      I self-criticize too and for the same reason (too much fresh ginger? not enough? ok did you even NOTICE it?, but I think they think I'm only fishing for compliments, so I just observe what dish is plundered and who adds salt to what, etc. I came to realize there's no real evaluation for them beyond that. highest praise are seconds and thirds and somebody else packing up what's left over and maybe a few weeks later a relative will pass on some comment. (I need to keep a log of this delayed 3rd hand feedback)

                                                    2. My mom often says that she set out to "raise adventurous eaters" with me and my brother, and then goes on to say that she "exceeded her wildest expectations." So, yeah, I think Mom might not use the word "weird" to my face, but I suspect that's her opinion. My dad tells me outright that some of my likes are weird. They were both raised in the Midwest US, and I do think they are sometimes proud that my brother and I have different tastes. It's just kind of challenging to share a meal with us from time to time!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: amyzan

                                                        I kinda get that attitude, but it's more a matter of perception, my mother sees a bunch of use immed. fresh basil and balks, but thinks nothing of buying a container of essentially useless dried for twice the price that will gradually ossify in the cabinet and really become nothing but gerbil snack. I DO use the fresh basil (and I usu. just grow it myself anyway).

                                                        so I receive the "champagne taste" accusation, but who really wasted money in this scenario?

                                                      2. Hell yeah, they do... We (my wife and I) eat oysters, sweetbreads, calf brains, Rocky Mountain oysters, guanciale, tongue, trotters, foie gras, caviar, bottarga, blood sausage, marrow, sea urchin, etc, etc, etc.

                                                        1. My parents are quite possibly the least adventurous eaters on the planet. Seriously. For example, both order burgers and steak "burn it and then burn it some more".

                                                          A classic example was my dad telling a story. "Your sister went and ate Chinese food last week. CHINESE FOOD! AND SHE LIKED IT! THERE AIN'T NO WAY I'D EVER EAT THAT WEIRD STUFF!!!" Read it in a heavy Texas accent.

                                                          I am 100% sure they have never once had a single ethnic dish. Ever. Tex Mex, and only the basic enchiladas, is as far as they'll travel from burgers and the like.

                                                          Obviously, they are completely freaked out by what we eat.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Heck yeah. I finally gave up bringing hummus to the family xmas eve nosh-a-thon after explaining what it was several years in a row.

                                                            1. Both side of my family originated from Cholong, the Chinese enclave in Vietnam. Being "foreigners AND oligarch (They were in the ramen business, the dried version)" my dad's side were able to escape the "reeducation camps" and flee the country to Malaysia, with the helps of formers employees. The food that were served in the refugee camps were Canned Sardines and rice, everyday. Understandably, he refuse to eat fish anymore. After which seems like an eternity, he emigrated to Canada.

                                                              My mom has a similar background and parcour, without being that "lucky". Half of the family were sent to reeducation camp for being intellectuals. She was also accepted in Canada as a refugee, she lived with the Quebecer versions of a "meat-and-potato" middle-class family that were helping out refugee. For her, good food is oldschool french/quebecer, Traditional Chinese, and east Asian food of all sort.

                                                              I'll eat things my family will have never eaten, even when they were living in Asia. I love balut, known to me as knap tsai dan(little duck eggs). I love fish under any other form, including good canned sardines, but only the good stuff. I enjoy nouvelle-cuisine, while my parents laugh at the "rip-off they get away with by serving small portions". and the like.

                                                              But by readings some of the comments, I feel lucky enough that my family is ready to try anything, even though they know they will probably dislike it. (Then again, I don't push it and bring my dad for sushi.)

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: vanierstudent

                                                                vanier, you've got a book in there. I'd read it. the personal tensions magnified by the food and the perceptions of maintaining the past while aiming for some assimilation.

                                                                and on a side note, balut? wow if I'm served it in someone's house I'll eat it, otherwise it has yet to make my list. I understand that smell does not always equal flavor, yet...(I had co-workers that ate it on a regular basis, and while I LIKE to think I'm open...)

                                                              2. Yes but in a little different way. My very Korean mother loves food and has owned restaurants so she's definitely interested in food and is quite adventurous by American standards. When she and her husband came to visit me in NYC, wanting to show them the best NYC has to offer, I took them to a few high-end, fine-dining restaurants. We had a tasting menu at Jean Georges, for one. She HATED waiting between the courses ("Where is the food? It's taking so long I'm gonna forget what I've eaten") and thought the portion size too small, food too prissy - complained the whole time. Oh, and when the check came out - forget it, she was so pissed that "a bunch of little dishes" cost that much - even though she wasn't paying for it. She thought it was straight-up thievery. She totally didn't get Western-style fine dining, which of course I love, so yeah, she definitely thinks I'm weird for that. Her favorite meal in NYC was Keens, BTW. A big, bloody, good-ol' American steak, nothing prissy about it!

                                                                1. Yes:
                                                                  1. I am the only one in the family who drinks coffee... everyone else thinks it is a harmful drug.
                                                                  2. I put ketchup and hot sauce on many things.
                                                                  3. I like Japanese food, Indian food, Thai food... whereas the rest of my family only branches out to eat Italian, Chinese, American, and maybe Middle Eastern.
                                                                  4. I eat a ton of sugar-laden items and baked goods. IE: I love frosting out of the can.
                                                                  5. I avoid oil at all costs. I think it is 100% nasty for cooking and baking.

                                                                  1. My parents are from South America. My father thinks a lot of things are "weird" - certain herbs, couscous, just about all fish except for some reason salmon, unless it's "too salmony" - and he eats meat cooked 'til it's shoe leather, and pasta 'til it's floppy. Vietnamese food in front of him, or crab, produces shudders. My mom was a lot more adventurous, but even so - ketchup and regular pepper were too spicy for her, and she didn't like anything with a weird texture - nothing "rubbery". However, the two of them would eat canned sardines, and liverwurst, on occasion, but I always thought that was because those were something common in Bolivia. My sister is about as adventurous/accepting as I am in cooking and eating, but we didn't learn this at home!

                                                                    1. >>>my parents idea of comfort food is ketchup on pasta<<<

                                                                      Is that a Jewish thing? The only time I have ever heard of this was on THE NANNY. It's how Fran's mother makes spaghetti. It grosses me out to the very core of my pasta-loving soul.

                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                                        My Dutch friend's kids think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread - I thought their heads would explode when I made a bolognese sauce one night....they couldn't believe I'd gone to so much trouble!

                                                                        (my Dutch friend is a great cook, by the way, so it's not the lazy mom who can't cook thing)

                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                          It's not a "jewish thing" to my knowledge. If anything, it's a Japanese and Filipino thing, at least in rice. My grandmother who started the "tradition" simply has MAJOR food issues. I'm as understanding as I can be when I visit since she does have acid reflux and asthma, both of which are exacerbated by certain foods/spices/smells. However, I know as does the rest of my family that this is not the entire picture. I will never forget my friend who had the unfortunate encounter with her. "Are you wearing PERFUME????" I actually am allergic to perfume and cannot enter a Bath & Bodyworks without my throat hurting and my eyes watering, but I would never greet a new person that way.... but that's my special grandma:} The funny thing is that despite ordering everything with "NO salt, NO spices, just PLAIN", she'll smother almost everything with ketchup (and not low sodium either)- which has SALT and SPICES:} I have not said anything to her because I know it's just a food hang-up, and I don't want her to suddenly have to give up one of her only condiments.

                                                                          1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                            I put ketchup on exactly two things: diner scrambled eggs and potatoes, etc. and grilled cheese, the latter consecrated in childhood, when grilled cheese meant Velveeta.

                                                                            Does anyone have ideas for a substitute tomato compote thing to eat with grilled cheese? It should probably be cold, though I'm not rigid about that, but straight-up salsa doesn't quite cut it--maybe if I substituted tarragon for cilantro?

                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                              How about a Cuban-style sofrito? Fry up some onions, garlic, and chopped bell pepper, slather it with tomato paste, and drop some tomatoes in. Keep cooking until it's thick again.

                                                                              1. re: gentlyferal

                                                                                That sounds really good. Thanks.

                                                                              2. re: Jay F

                                                                                how about grilling actual tomato slices into your sandwich? I've always loved tuna melts with a big fat slice of sauteed tomato in the middle.

                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                  Hmmm...in the summer, I shall give this a try. It sounds wonderful.

                                                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                                                  I registered today (after lurking on here on and off for years) just to answer this. Tomato Jam is what you're looking for. I just heard about it for the first time a few weeks ago and made a batch. My life will NEVER be the same again.

                                                                                  I first heard about it here: http://puttingupwiththeturnbulls.com/... but there are plenty of bloggers making it and posting their comments. It comes out as a tomatoey sweet and spicy (kick up the amount of pepper flakes and even add a chili if you like heat, but don't reduce the sugar) and just right. It goes so well with grilled cheese that I have eaten more grilled cheese sandwiches in the last month since I made this than I probably did all of last year.

                                                                                  It's also rediculously easy to make. The tomatoes don't need to be seeded or peeled, just chopped up fine. In fact it took me more time to chop the 5 lbs of tomatoes than to make the jam. I really need to work on my knife skills.

                                                                              3. re: Jay F

                                                                                My husband's mother used to make taco's and use Ketchup on them instead of salsa.

                                                                                  1. re: JEN10

                                                                                    I love and adore good Mexican food, and eat a lot of it. But once in a blue moon, I have to have a crisp-fried corn tortilla stuffed with plain hamburger, lettuce, shredded American, and tomatoes. Topped off with a big squirt of Heinz.
                                                                                    My kids call them Cheeseburger Tacos, and it's exactly what they taste like.
                                                                                    Oh, the shame.

                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                      you know what makes that so good? the fried tortilla! gives it instant mexican flavah.

                                                                                      the first tacos i ever remember having (seriously!) were when I was 13. my mom, upon our move to the big new suburban home in O.C. from our little crackerjack box apartment in L.A., for the first time, pulls out these delicious things - crispy fried tortillas, ground beef sauteed with onions, mashed avocados, chopped tomatoes, shredded iceberg and monterey jack - i thought i'd died and gone to heaven. Nothing authentic about them (and why would there be - we're bolivian, not mexican), nothing spicy nor spiced, but fantastic. just something about the contrast in textures, and again, the corniness of the fried tortillas.... YUM. It's one of the dishes i remember mostly fondly when thinking of my mom.

                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                          'tis, thanks. think i'm going to go fry up some tortillas right now.

                                                                                  2. re: Jay F

                                                                                    It's definitely not a Jewish thing. the Jewish side of my family are all very adventurous eaters and would never put ketchup on pasta. I did, however, work with a Jewish bachelor whose idea of good cooking was condensed Campbell's tomato soup on spaghetti. I made him bring in leftovers once to prove he actually ate this. He said his grandmother made it for him when he was young. Que sera, sera.

                                                                                  3. Well, my family definitely regards me as the "adventurous" eater.

                                                                                    It's wierd because I got my love of food, cooking and eating - all from my family, (Italian American) but as I grew older, I wanted to expand my horizons beyond Italian and Chinese food.
                                                                                    It's a bit frustrating for me when they makes faces at any other kind of cusine...no Indian, Japaneses etc...
                                                                                    How dull.
                                                                                    I dont get it because they LOVE to eat....but only certain things!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                      I can sympathize as with Japanese food I KNOW they'd love katsu, tempura and teppanyaki among other things, but they're convinced somebody is going to slip in raw fish on the sly.

                                                                                    2. I was taking my inconsistently picky eater kids to have lunch with my grandparents one day, and I was briefing them on being polite, no matter what (great) grandma fixed. Says I, "Grandma tries hard to fix stuff that you like, so at least try it, and then you can say 'no thank you,' but don't make a big deal about it if you don't like it, yada yada."

                                                                                      The 3yo pipes up, "I like chicken nuggets!" Well, I doubt we'll have chicken nuggets. "I like squid!" (True story -- big fans of calamari.) I'm *sure* we're not having squid. The 5yo chimes in, "Why?" Well, I don't think Grandma likes squid. "Why?" Well, she's probably never tried it. "Does she like any tentacle food?"

                                                                                      My grandmother has plenty of favorite family dishes, but is not adventurous. My husband is willing to be a buster and cook things my grandfather wouldn't otherwise get. He made lamb for Easter one year (we also offered ham, knowing she wasn't into lamb). It was fabulous. My grandfather loved it and we sent him home with a doggy bag. My grandmother actually tried it, and came up with the highest complement we could expect: "It wasn't as gamy as I expected."

                                                                                      1. I'm definitely the weird one, which is particularly odd because I can't eat anything spicy, so you'd think I'd be the bland one of the bunch. But I'm weird because I shop at farmer's markets and buy organic when I can despite being poor, cook every night by both choice and necessity (aforementioned impoverishedness), and when we do go out, I always try to order something I've never tried. I try to avoid all processed foods, and now that I have a child, I'm going to "turn him into a freak" because I refuse to buy him oreos. He can have homemade cookies at my house or eat oreos at a friend's if that's what's offered, but because I won't buy them, I'm pushing my views on him. Don't get me started on the breakfast cereal debate (we eat oatmeal or toast/eggs/homemade muffins for breakfast - I don't particularly like cold cereal and they have so much food coloring/additives I didn't see the need to introduce the kiddo to them...the horror of a continental breakfast! the horror!)

                                                                                        Though my mom cooked every night, they're an old-school grocery store-staple bunch - not that there's anything wrong with that, but they would never dream of trying chard or kohlrabi or anything other than the basic 5: broccoli, lettuce (iceberg or romaine only please), zucchini, frozen peas, frozen corn. They did branch out into tomatoes a few years ago, so there's that... But I can't blame them too well. My dad has eaten the same breakfast cereal every day for literally the past 15 years. When the grocer discontinued it, my mom convinced them to restock just because he goes through it enough to make it worth it.

                                                                                        My sister, OTOH, has nothing EXCEPT processed food in her house. She even has little foil cups of microwaveable pre-scrambled eggs instead of buying a dozen...I honestly cannot figure out how that's more convenient than cracking an egg. Those foil tops can be hard to open. One brother eats nothing but donuts and Applebee's. Another brother still eats bologna sandwiches on Wonder for lunch. He's in his forties. Every reunion I'm still mocked because growing up I hated frozen corn but liked corn on the cob. The one time my mom tried to placate me by buying frozen cobs, I still didn't like it - I could tell the difference between fresh and frozen even then, and they've never let me live it down.

                                                                                        Yup, I'm definitely the weird one in my family.

                                                                                        1. My mom and dad come over to my house periodically for dinner, but my mom always asks me not to "Food Network" the meal too much!

                                                                                          And when my husband's parents came over for dinner I served them potstickers and fried rice and when she thought I wasn't looking his Stepmother leaned over to his father and whispered "What are these things again?"

                                                                                          I think they are the weird ones :)

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. From your post I think you are "weird"

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. This thread is really making me laugh. So glad to know I'm not alone. One of my Dad's favorite things to say is "where did you learn to eat that?" as though I went to some secluded training camp where eating international and/or spicy foods is taught.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                Timeline: 30 years ago. Place: MN. Scenario: deciding where to go to lunch with a friend.
                                                                                                Me: Let's try El Torito!
                                                                                                Her: Ummmmm....
                                                                                                Me: What?
                                                                                                Her: I'm only Just Learning to eat Mexican food.

                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                  yeah, Mexican, I could just never quite get the hang of using all those unfamiliar utensils.

                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                    Ahahahahaa! you are on a roll today.

                                                                                                2. My dad constantly comments on how everything I eat is strange or weird or "not manly enough". His idea of food is potatos, bread, pastries/cake and samboy chips (He doesnt eat meat or eggs). I eat more fresh foods, salads etc..Just tonight (this is a regular occurence btw) I made roasted vegetables and he walked past and gave me a disgusted look. It can get annoying, but he definitely thinks I'm weird

                                                                                                  The Italian side of my family will never understand why I dont eat meat or why I dont finish everything on my plate. Thats just not me, I eat untill I am satisfied and leave whatever is left. I have the Italian love of food, but not the stomach! haha

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: dinnerwithfox

                                                                                                    ok wait, back up, he's assigning gender roles to food choices and YOU'RE the weird one? and HE doesn't eat meat or eggs? (he is aware that most cakes contain egg, right?)

                                                                                                    and what the heck is effeminate about roasted veggies? I'd say an open flame is a bit more robust than something like the delicate hand required for a pastry. I'm not giving you trouble, just trying to parse the train of thought (and if you find return volley ammo for his comments, help yourself).

                                                                                                    I get crap as I don't eat until I'm hungry, not because it's a particular time of day (yeah I should eat because it's X o'clock, sounds like a good way to get fat to me - that was delivered to a critical relative who has a more than slight weight problem, mean, yes, but it shut the person up without making a direct insult - hey anybody out there want advice on passive-aggressive tactics, I'm your source)

                                                                                                  2. Yes they do think I'm weird....my eating habits are probably the least of it....

                                                                                                    What I find funny is that as a child and teen I wasn't big on meat (never had it anything but cooked well well WELL done so I hated it) and it became a big war in our house to make me eat it. I liked fish and other things instead.

                                                                                                    Fast forward twenty years, there's Mom grilling salmon and telling me "Too much meat is unhealthy" LOL. We used to have it at every meal. Even dear ol Dad has taken to not cooking meat to death, when they do have it. Over the years their food habits have evolved to be closer to mine, I find it funny.

                                                                                                    1. About five years ago, I would only eat wheat bread or brown rice or whole wheat pasta... my family flipped and thought I was being 'extremely picky.' Even though I tried to talk them about the difference-- "There's no difference." they said.

                                                                                                      ....Wait a couple years... now they also eat wheat bread, pasta, whole grains...

                                                                                                      Now, I avoid HFCS, trans fats, and GMOs... they again think I am being a picky-psycho.

                                                                                                      I am guessing if I wait a few years, they will read-up and see that these things are also horrible for the body.

                                                                                                      Don't get me wrong, if we're at a party or a social gathering, I eat whatever is there or comes on my plate, but I consider myself an educated shopper/eater.. and in this case, I find they're always a few paces behind--which is fine--but extremely doubtful of my practices, until it hits the 'mass media.'

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: GraceW

                                                                                                        wait until they see you at some event eating non whole wheat and start lecturing YOU. AAAGH that's what I hate, when the newly converted start getting all up in my face for not being 100% diligent when for years I was saying maybe a bit more whole grain and lower saturated fat might be a good thing. they're all on statins, diabetic or gluten intolerant now. and I'm glad they're more sensible, but don't EVEN lecture me like this is something new.

                                                                                                      2. Not family, but an old (and in her 80s) friend who was a team captain at today's Relay for Life. She had brought some cookies she'd bought at another event. They were in a zip-lock bag and labelled "Peanut Butter Scotch". They smelled like ginger, and according to those who tried them, very dry. We were debating whether they were actually Peanutbutter Scotch or Peanut Butterscotch.

                                                                                                        I tend to use ginger quite a bit, and mentioned that I'd used it in a dish the other night of cooked brown rice, minced pork, salted duck egg, soy sauce, pepper, ginger, all steamed with a chicken egg spread over the top. Also that I'd used ginger in my breakfast quinoa with dried fruits and cardamom. At that point, she said I was speaking a foreign language, and what was this quinoa stuff anyway? I laughed and said: "Yeah, I watch too many cooking shows."

                                                                                                        1. No, my parents are pretty good albeit traditional eaters.

                                                                                                          While SO and I seek out interesting ethnic to try my parents stick with tamer things. They like interesting as long as it isn't too out there. They also have an aversion to maki with raw fish although they will eat tuna tartar and other raw fish at high end restaurants. I took them to Indian once and it wasn't a somewhere I could see them eating again on their own.

                                                                                                          1. My "family" is mostly deceased. Now, my in-laws DO consider me weird, as I live to eat, and not eat to live. Same with my wines - gotta' be good, to great, and I do not care what Trader Joe's has in the same varietals. Just my life, but they are welcome to it.


                                                                                                            1. Not weird, but we certainly have different tastes and most definitely different budgets for food and drink. They raised their kids in lean times and I don't think it would actually occur to them to spend X amount on a stinky French cheese or Y amount on a craft cocktail at a bar. I think they'd be more aghast if they understood how much I spend on consumables rather than what I actually consumed.

                                                                                                              That said, my siblings and I all turned out to be open, adventurous eaters but I think that's more of a product of where we have lived rather than our upbringing.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                LeoLioness, your first sentence pretty much sums it up for me too [Not weird, but we certainly have different tastes and most definitely different budgets for food and drink.]. I definitely have different tastes from my family members. They're pretty pedestrian in their tastes, for the most part, and getting more so as the years pass by. I started out as an incredibly picky child. Some would argue I'm still picky, but only because I like to analyze and pick apart the nuances of foods and play with flavours when I cook. I will now taste anything once, and have come to love many different foods from innumerable countries and cultures. My husband enjoys being my guinea pig and tasting the foods of the world with me, either in our travels or in our kitchen. My parents, on the other hand, come for visits to my home armed with Pepto Bismol, the cure-all for all internal hiccups and gurgles. I think they really enjoy most of what I cook, but they eat such bland, overprocessed stuff typically that my "whole" foods cooking style and exotic herbs, spices and combinations of foods sends their systems into turmoil. Poor things. I've come to accept a little gas and stomach discomfort as a small consequence of enjoying legumes, fibrous vegetables and whole grains.

                                                                                                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                  sweetpea, when I'm at the helm I try to tailor (dumb down) my cooking a bit, but get a slight sense of malicious glee feeding them stuff. sometimes I'm flabbergasted considering their age and that they've lived overseas, in the last year they have had for the first time ever: miso soup, a gyro, ton-katsu, sushi (spat it out, eh it was just from the supermarket) hummus, fresh mango salsa (they ignored the chips and ate it like salad, whatever), a homemade caesar, polenta, gelato, dandelion greens, braised fennel, aranciata (sp?), steak cooked over hardwood served with a churrasco sauce and it goes on, sheesh. "so it's not in the Betty Crocker cookbook - must be exotic or fancy" the other day the question was: VietNamese,, what's that like? they sounded disappointed when it didn't sound like AYCE buffet Americanized Chinese.

                                                                                                                  I just wonder: where have you people been? you eat out more than I do and I've had more variety (sorry if that sounds snotty, but I wish I had their budget for eating around)

                                                                                                              2. My MIL definitely does. She doesn't understand why how we can eat meat that has any pink in it. Example-on last vist visit she bought ribeye as a treat. Insisted on putting the meat in the oven before we took her to run errands. Three hours later, she still thought the meat was not done enough-then, the leftovers are left in a bowl overnight on the counter.. She often wonders aloud hown I am not skinny as a rail as I eat so little when I am visiting. Imagine that. She also gets a little huffy over the fact that other family members ask me to cook when I am visiting.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: sherriberry

                                                                                                                  Your MIL sounds a little like one of my SILs. On our last visit she must have cooked the pork loin to 180°. She doesn't leave the leftovers on the counter however.

                                                                                                                2. They think I'm weird alright, but to my knowledge, it's nothing to do with food. My mother always said, 'Don't be provincial!!' if we ever acted like it would be a problem to try something new. I have amused small crowds with my willingness to try something new (but I must say--cuttlefish--never again).

                                                                                                                  1. yes. oh, you meant about food.

                                                                                                                    1. To quote Lydia in Beetlejuice: 'live people ignore the strange and unusual. I, myself, am strange and unusual.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                        now that movie had a dinner party to remember...

                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                          ...and every time I serve shrimp cocktail, I always think of Beetlejuice! I love that man o' mine!

                                                                                                                      2. I'm definitely the strange person of the family and my daughter is taking after me. I'll usually try anything once, and even when I think that it might be too weird I only need to tell myself that a few million people rely on it for their daily calories so it's worth a try. My daughter has been an exchange student in Germany and spent 45 days in Cambodia and Thailand as part of her college coursework, so he has had to eaten some foods that are definitely not normal to Americans.

                                                                                                                        Strangely I was a picky eater until I went to college. My diet changed partly because I had many non-American friends and partly because of cost. Ive always liked spicy food and my family laughs at the amount of peppers and other spices that I consume.

                                                                                                                        Most of my sisters are not much for ethnic food outside of European or Mexican with the occasional smattering of takeout Chinese.

                                                                                                                        1. As I have mentioned in other posts, I was raised in my momma's kitchen. I was making french toast and grilled cheese at three years old (with close supervision, of course) and at 10 I was making full dinners on my own. So when I decided at 16 to go live with my estranged father, my domestic skills were quite a shock for my fundamentalist "the house is a woman's domain" father, stepmother and two half sisters. My stepmother actually got UPSET because I did my own laundry. She felt that since taking care of the home was the only reason for her existence that I was literally taking away the very reason God created her and put her on the Earth. She told me at one point that "A boy should NOT know how to cook. That is a woman's job"! I asked her, "So what am I supposed to do when I graduate high school and move out on my own?" to which she smugly replied, "Get married!". I'm sure it tweaked her to no end that her 16 year old stepson's skills in the kitchen far exceeded her own.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                              yeah toes can get sensitive. I have to be careful about what I do/not do in my mother's house for that very reason. I too employed the "what will I do when I'm on my own?" response and I knew of course at the time it was highly unlikely I'd ever marry but kept my yap shut.