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Why I am trying to feed you? Because I love you!

I love cooking and eating. My twin soul ideally would want me to cook for them and love every bite I serve them. I cook for people I love, and want to I win over. My 'suitors', friends and family. It's very hard to get anyone to eat my food though. I work so hard and make it from the best ingredients and it's damned good. But no one eats it with the gusto I prepare it with. Anyone else in the same boat? I did get to cook for my Dad. And he declared me a great cook.

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  1. I do get this. I live alone--so around holidays and occasions, I tend to make a ton of things for the loved ones that I am around. I somewhat store up recipes that I want to try, therefore, when I finally have people around, then I want to get their opinions about the recipes. I think part of it is that I tend to bake sugary treats.. and the people around me are people that like to stay healthy and avoid sugar. Therefore, they think I am trying to compromise their strict ways.

    Additionally, although I eat a ton of sugar, I am skinny--which does not help my case. In fact, I was told by the owner of a well-known cupcakery in Chicago that she would--even though she had just met me--"[...] never eat [my] cupcakes because [I] was a skinny baker and they are not to be trusted." I will never be eating cupcakes at her place again, despite that it has a following, because of that comment and because her cupcakes were horrible!

    I basically gave up cooking for others because as you noted, no one appreciates it--which is deadening because the career I just started (teaching) takes all of my time anyway and no one appreciates that either. I hope you do not give up, you just find people who appreciate it.

    1. It could be that you are not being as thoughtful about your loved ones food choices as you could be? Maybe you are making things that *you* like or that take talent and creativity....not what they would like to eat.

      I say this as someone who just received many beautiful Christmas cookies and candies!!! They were sooooo beautiful and baked with love. I am sure they tasted exceptional. I either threw them out or "re-gifted" them. I don't eat sugar. I haven't eaten sugar in YEARS. I have no clue why my "gift givers" didn't "remember" that about me. It was not like I just now decided not to eat sugar. I think they got caught up in giving what THEY wanted to give.

      You are much safer in giving healthy food -and knowing (for certain) just WHAT your gift receiver would like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sedimental

        Yes, if someone is giving food as a gift, I would definitely agree that one should give only what the individual could eat. I agree 100% that someone should be attentive to the gift-receiver's allergies, food choices, and tastes are.

        But I think if it is just a general cooking-occasion, like Thanksgiving or Easter, that people could stand to be more appreciative for homemade items.

      2. Is it because your food is exotic, or spicy, maybe just too "adventurous" for a lot of people?

        i'm lucky - i have a boyfriend, many friends, and family who like my food and request me to make things. I can't say everyone loves every bite of everything i make, but they're always appreciative of the effort. Maybe you could join or form some kind of cooking group, so you could be cooking for people who care about food as you do.

        1. I take into consideration what my family wants, but I also want to take them beyond the "safe" food. That's hard. How would you introduce something different without them jeering and declaring it's not fit for eating when they haven't even tried it?

          For Thanksgiving, I made fantastic pies and a ginger cake. I ended up having to take them all home (minus the cake) because I assumed my newly immigrated relatives would enjoy them. I was sooo disappointed that I was made to take them home. Such a slap in the face! I took this as a challenge, so for Christmas, I decided to bake sweets that would challenge me and that would also be enjoyed by my family. Being Vietnamese, they are very familiar with French pastries. I made strawberry Mille Feuille with my own puff pastry. That was fun. I finally also ventured into using agar agar to make layered Asian jello, and found out it wasn't as scary as it seemed. I made other stuff too that were well received, but I was really proud of the puff pastry.

          I like mariacarmen's idea of joining a cooking group. Maybe you can find one on meetup.com. I looked for one specifically for baking, but there isn't one in my area. There are a number of potluck groups.

          1. Welcome to my life. I have been told over and over again that I am an accomplished, adventure-some, handy, and diverse home cook. People ask me to bring things over, I've helped others with their own cooking, shared recipes, etc etc.
            My husband hates my food. He would rather eat mac & cheese with hot dogs (boiled) than my Indian curry, homemade pizza, or even a fried egg sandwich! So, I'm "done." I cook for ME, for my friends who appreciate it.
            For him and on weeknights, we do basic, cheap food. Chicken, rice, and veggies. The end! :(

            1 Reply
            1. re: stellamystar

              well listen Stellabystarlight, you can cook for me anytime.
              I think you're amazing...........................so there to your hot dog lovin man, enjoy the ones who enjoy your amazement!

            2. There could be a lot of reasons why people aren't enthusiastic. If you're using the best ingredients all the time, it may be that people can't tell the difference between the expensive and the cheap, or they just don't feel comfortable eating what they find to be extravagant foods on a regular basis. It may also be that you aren't taking into account dietary restrictions/preferences. I don't eat red meat normally and while I'll certainly be polite and eat it if someone prepares it for me, I'm not going to be eating it with a huge amount of gusto or raving about how delicious I found it. It may be the same thing if the food you're preparing is too spicy or uses flavors that people aren't necessarily used to.

              It's possible to use your cooking skills in a way to try to make more traditional dishes a little bit more exciting. If your guests like that, then you can try something a little more exotic until they are more used to what you are preparing. I think with suitors especially, you have to start out slow.

              1. Very difficult to make someone do "feel" what you want them to feel but they either don't have the capacity or simply, don't want to.

                1. I find this line a little suspicious: "It's very hard to get anyone to eat my food though." Maybe that is because it's not actually as good as the OP thinks? The one rave came from the OP's own father, who could/should be a pretty biased reviewer.

                  My mother claims she works hard on cooking too, but the sad fact is that her food just isn't very good. She has severe blind spots when it comes to certain things (like when meat is overcooked, or food too sweet, etc.) Consider that possibility...

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: travelmad478

                    I agree. My mom thought she was a wonderful cook. Sadly, she was not.

                    1. re: travelmad478

                      Another possibility, as in the recent thread about eating strangers' food, is that there are special snowflakes among us who will not eat food prepared by people whose kitchens the snowflake has not seen. The germaphobe snowflakes are fearful of improper food prep or storage.....if they thought it through they'd realize that contamination is just as likely in commercial kitchens.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        That may be true for a tiny minority of individuals, but in the OP's case, it's everybody. I doubt that everyone the OP has ever cooked for is a paranoid germophobe. I'm still betting on the "you're not as good a cook as you think" solution.

                        1. re: travelmad478

                          It could be equally as likely that the OP is surrounded by people who don't like food very much, don't know or care much about food and its preparation, don't like experimentation of any sort (i.e., anything other than "red" sauce on pasta is questionable) - like the majority of CHrs are - much like Ribeye's experience, below. i'm fortunate to live in the Bay Area where foodiesm is everywhere, and to have a close circle of friends who like to cook, who do it well, who appreciate good food and trying each other's dishes. But i know that not everyone has that. You hear on these boards all the time "my husband hates this", "my father won't eat that", etc.

                          1. re: travelmad478

                            In view of the OP's 1/21 posts revealing that his/her kitchen is messy, it looks like I was right. ;-D

                        2. re: travelmad478

                          Well one them a friend and former paramour said I was a fantastic cook. He's just on a diet now. I get compliments about my food when I bring to it family gatherings. My father is not biased at all. I feel kind of insulted. I know my way around a kitchen I know how things taste, I know what people like. So please don't assume what you don't know.

                          1. re: YAYME

                            > I know what people like.

                            If that were the case, you wouldn't have started this thread. Quoting your own first post: "It's very hard to get anyone to eat my food."

                            1. re: travelmad478

                              I started the thread mainly about cooking as expression of love.

                              1. re: YAYME

                                It doesn't come across that way, even though you put "love" in the post title. Maybe they are not particularly effusive people. When my parents visit me, I always cook a few great meals, yet my dad (who doesn't compliment much) doesn't praise commensurate to the effort I put into the meal. So what? I love him and I'll keep cooking for him. Anyway, it seems (to me) more like you are looking for accolades.

                                You obviously care about your family/friends, so why not just let this one go?

                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                  It's just my kitchen is messy and most people are leery about trying anything that come sout of it.

                                  1. re: YAYME

                                    Okay. Now this whole thread is making sense.

                                    If your kitchen is so "messy" (relative term) that others don't want to eat your food over it....then you shouldn't be offended. Many people will not eat food when the person cooking it has obvious "unappetizing" habits related to cleanliness.

                                    The good news is that you can change that if you choose.

                                    1. re: YAYME

                                      Well, honey; that's the heart and soul of the problem. I don't care how good your food is; if it comes out of a nasty kitchen I'm not eatin' it. You need to do some serious houseclearing and cleaning, and be consistent about it, and might could be folks will change their minds about being so reticent. But put yourself in their position: would YOU take the risk of becoming ill by ingesting cross-contaminated food? Not trying to be mean here, but be realistic.

                                  2. re: YAYME

                                    I do see the love in your post, Yayme. Keep on spreading it, cooking it. Hopefully you'll draw people who appreciate your cooking, like your dad, to you.

                            2. I feel your pain. After having gone through a divorce, cultivating a couple of very blunt friends and taking a hiatus from cooking for others I have been able to reflect on my relationship with cooking. For me a lot of it comes down to having more realistic expectations for myself and others. I don't have the expectation any more that my friends will find my food as enticing as I do. OTOH, I do try to meet their expectations and cook what I think would be a compromise. In the search for a compromise I usually find a recipe that piques my interest and will satisfy them at the same time. I sort of take it as a challenge. If all else fails, take out from a favorite restaurant always saves the day for me.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                Tracy -- This really makes sense. Trying to find a middle ground that will satisfy them and also interest you at least a little.

                              2. Sounds like you need some new people in your life YAYME. Posting and reading on chowhound helped me understand that not everyone loves food as much as I do.
                                I'll bet you are an awesome cook. This is going to sound off the wall but at one time in my life I was very keen on crocheting and I especially liked making baby blankets. I found it fun easy relaxing and satisfying. So whenever I heard someone was having a baby or just had one I would be sure to send a crocheted blanket as a gift. Once a good friend hand delivered a lovely little blanket and the new mom asked my friend "how does she find the time for this?" My friend reported to me that she seemed genuinely troubled by this. As if she was somehow jealous of the time I had to crochet. She was a new mom after all but is it possible that some of the people you cook for are feeling jealous and competitive? It's just a thought but maybe they are holding back on the gusto factor to avoid giving you praise?

                                1. Yayme --

                                  What do your friends and family make for themselves on a day to day basis?

                                  And what would they make for a special occasion?

                                  What do you prefer and like to make?

                                  Is there a disparity? If so, what is it? Type of dishes? Cooking methods? Ingredients? Cultural differences?

                                  Some examples would be interesting to think about.

                                  I like the idea from another poster of identifying the differences and then trying to find something in the middle.

                                  If it's unfamiliar ingredients that are the difference, maybe use only one different ingredient in a meal rather than a number. So there is something that interests you but that they are also comfortable, for example.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: karykat

                                    My two best friends and most of my family are pretty democratic eaters. I have a friend who is gourmet who really loved my rataouille, also my honey and fennel pollen ice cream. It's the condition of the ktichen which puts them off I think.

                                    1. re: YAYME

                                      Well, then clean up the kitchen. What's the big deal?

                                      1. re: YAYME

                                        If that's the issue, you'll probably need to have a clean kitchen a few times they come over before they'll be comfortable with eating your food. If the kitchen looks filthy, I think people might be worried about health/safety even if the food does taste delicious.

                                    2. I'm guessing if they aren't great cooks/into food themselves, they simply look at food as fuel. I remember someone raving over what I made, saying it was much better than storebought. I passed along the recipe, asked about it later and they said they'd rather stick to storebought because it just wasn't "worth the trouble" to make homemade. I didn't get it at all. If the homemade version is that much better, why not make it? FYI, it was guacamole, not that complex.

                                      There have been times I've gone out to eat with people not into food and we happened to be going to a great restaurant. I'd think that somehow being at this great restaurant would turn on the lightbulb for them but the next week, I'd hear about how they got a great steak at Applebee's and I'd realize they just didn't notice/didn't care about the difference in quality.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: ribeye621

                                        This reminds me of a time when I was living in southern California and I took my visiting friends to a coffee shop that served Intelligentsia coffee.

                                        Their response was, "This is fantastic! But I need my Starbucks."

                                        1. re: Eat.Choui

                                          withdrawal symptoms are a bitch. that's why only double cappuchinos for me!

                                        2. re: ribeye621

                                          I suspect you're right. I've met entire families who are not into food and don't like experimentation. When I met the family of a new boyfriend years ago, I made all kinds of things that were so special for me. But just too experimental for them.

                                          So that's why I asked the questions I did about their tastes in food.

                                          Yayme -- What are their tastes and how do their tastes differ from yours? And is there a way to bridge that? See my questions above. What do you think?

                                          1. re: ribeye621

                                            This doesn't necessarily mean they disdain food; it just may mean they hate to cook more than life itself... like my mom! She LOVES to clean which I find to be pure torture. However, to even have to make toast makes her heart putter... in the worst way. Yet, she really loves food. (Yes, in spite of her food issues if you've read some of my old posts about my mom's interesting dietary "preferences") Hating to cook does not always mean they also hate food.

                                            1. re: ribeye621

                                              ribeye: I was considering posting something the same, I dumb down my cooking for some family who still think fresh guac is somehow indulgent and therefore sinful (yeah compared to the crap in the tub) or pesto ("is it spicy? how do I use it?") I've given up and just put little twists on standards. some times you hit, some times you miss.

                                              don't get us started on the crowd that equates quantity with value.

                                              1. re: ribeye621

                                                I know I already responded to this a while ago but I have a new thought to add. I LOVE beautiful clothes. However, I HATE to shop. (Yes, I'm a woman!) Let me rephrase. I hate to shop for clothes. I love to shop for food. Perhaps it's an inner rebellion against my mom and grandma who spend half their lives shopping for clothes. Whatever the reason, it's usally just not worth the effort to go shopping for clothes more than a few times a year. This does not mean I do not like clothes. Obviously this is in response to guacamole being "easy" to make. Just because someone logically knows that as far as recipes are concerned it's not so complex does not mean it's worth the effort if that person is not someone who loves to cook., This does not mean that this person does not like food. We all have different interests. Also, the time in a day is limited. We all have to figure out for ourselves what is worth the extra effort to fill the time in our days.

                                              2. Sometimes I think something I made for a meal is incredible.
                                                While the kids'll say, not so much.
                                                It's ok, my taste buds are different and [weird even] at times.
                                                My husband thinks he's a fairly lucky man.
                                                I make as many goofs as I do triumphs though and I must own that and do.
                                                It's really only important that I impress me in the kithen and I do.

                                                My husband sat through ladorious school yesterday and almost passed out from the material.
                                                After the final chapter and it was done, he went to the Dr. lady presenting the material and said, "My wife is an accomplished cook [he calls me a chef] and she cooks with reckless abandon. The way you want me to organize my life and my home according to your stats, would ruin the greatest passion of her life. Her hard work which is 90% flour on her face, up her nose, all over the counters and floor, would be no longer a loving interest if she changed and did it your way, a way of numbers and calculations.......for her it'd be a chore. NO THANKS."

                                                I was shocked at this when he told me last night after dinner.
                                                So fortunate for him in my life

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                  what a great tribute. what a wonderful man! you are very lucky.

                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                    I am one fortunate girl and you're right, he is amazing

                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                      Wonderful. He understands you and appreciates what you do.

                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                        Not sure he understands me, but I'm hopeful

                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                          Try Stuffer31 is you want to see the love of feeding!

                                                2. I know what you mean :) I am very blessed that my partner and daughter appreciate my food, and yes - I really do express my love through cooking. My mum is more like one of those people who consider food and cooking to be a chore - food is purely utilitarian. But I love her anyway :) Her passions lie in other areas, like music.

                                                  1. I've cooked for Mr. Sueatmo for over 40 years. My cooking is not terribly exotic, but it is more adventurous than what he would eat if left to himself. It is useless asking how something is. It is almost always good, or real good. He is seldom enthusiastic. On the other hand, he is seldom critical, and will eat almost anything I put on the table. So-- that's the way he is. And because he would eat anything I cook, my kids grew up eating anything too. They are more adventurous than either one of us! My point is, he is easy to cook for. I like to cook, and he will eat anything I make. I can think of worse scenarios!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. I hope this doesn't sound assuming but...

                                                      When I give a gift, I never expect a response. Yes, I secretly expect a "thank you" but I never ask if they liked it, use(d) it, gave it away, forgot about it etc.

                                                      When I cook for someone, I don't have expectations of how much or little they will like it.

                                                      When my guy cooks for me, I do say thank you and when it is delicious, I say so. If it knocks my socks off, I'll say that. If I find it so dang delectable that I'm making yummy sounds every few bites (num, num or mmm, mmm) well, I tell him how incredible it is. If I eat it so fast (I am an unusually slow eater) that it can be interpreted as gusto, well, good, it was gusto!

                                                      I'm just thinking that maybe you could enjoy the "feeding them" part and let go of the "did they like it the way I was hoping" part.

                                                      Just my opinion. I'll bet you really are a great cook! When my guy makes Mexican food--carnitas or enchiladas esp., I totally go ape, eat with gusto, make a few nummy noises (I normally don't make noise when I eat) and praise the cooking tons. Maybe you could ask what the person's favourite dish is?

                                                      And, coming from way far away from the other ideas I had...

                                                      Some people don't appreciate things the same way we do. I go wild when people do or make things for me, but that is because I am that way. I love to be thought of and treated with love and I enjoy sharing my thanks. Some people just are not like that. And, regarding suitors, some responses could be a warning sign! If they were ungrateful, well, maybe they are not worthy. Again, my opinion.

                                                      Wow, I can't stop, I'm enjoying your post...

                                                      Your father probably said you are a great cook for all of these three reasons. 1. He loves you. 2. He is a kind, well mannered person. 3. You are a great cook. So, some of those suitors might not be or think one or more of the above 3.

                                                      Friends and family might not break out the gusto because they assume you already know that they love your cooking, appreciate your sharing and know you know that they are grateful.

                                                      1. YAYME, I'm what you'd call an "emotionally driven" cook as well. I try to prepare food carefully and with intent of nourishing and pleasing the people I adore. It's sort of my "art", if you will. I definitely gain as much as I give. But:
                                                        It's been my experience that people DO feel the love and return it when the love is given without expectation of return! My reference is my Gramma - and I am not in any way trying to liken your situation to hers - she was truly one of the world's Great Midwestern/Jewish cooks, but she was kind of a martyr about it, if you know what I mean. It sort of wrecked the enjoyment and ease of a nice family dinner.

                                                        1. Passive-aggressive cooking -- I love it.

                                                          1. I have just gotten into cooking in the past 1.5-2 years, and I think I make a lot of really tasty dishes.

                                                            For girlfriends I try very hard to discern what they like by eliciting suggestions on what they like and comments on the food I prepare, and also by observing what they order when we go out to eat. Then I work really hard to research recipes, ingredients and combinations that I think they will like, and, believe it or not, most of the time they love my food and eat as much as they can.

                                                            For others, I've found it a bit trickier. My baked goods - cakes, cookies, pies, other baked desserts and breads - have fared exceptionally well. Actually, I disappoint them sometimes, I think, by not making such items more often.

                                                            Full meals, though, have been hit or miss. I am a pretty adventurous eater, whereas my family is more into standard meat-and-potatoes fare. Since my mom cooks such things very well, and often enjoys doing so, I try not to stray onto her turf. So, to make room for myself I came up with a plan --

                                                            My family is largely comprised of rabid NFL fans who congregate at my parents house on Sundays to watch the local team. Now, I have season tickets, so I'm not there half the time, but I usually go over their house for away games. So, this season, I suggested that they allow me to prepare the gametime snacks and dinner on Sunday away games, with the food being native to or famous in the city in which our team is playing. This allowed me to find a niche in the cooking rotation of my family, since a lot of the items I decided to prepare were outside the cooking comfort zone of my family, and I loved every second of it. Of course, some items fell flat and some were absolute hits. But I think they honestly enjoyed the whole experience, got to experience some food they would have been reluctant to prepare otherwise, and gained some appreciation for me as a cook.

                                                            My friends, of course, are a different story. They're a bunch of drunks that will eat almost anything you throw in front of them. So, when they're over, it's stuff like beer, guacamole, burgers, dogs, whiskey, chili, fries, pizza, grilled cheese and beer, usually, all of which I also love to make (other than the beer and whiskey) and eat.

                                                            So, in my experience, finding my place cooking for my family and friends has been a lot about determining what I think they will enjoy, managing expectations and providing a setting commensurate to enjoying the food I provide.