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What do you mean by inedible?

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I see many reviews or responses here that say the food at this restaurant or that restaurant is inedible. What does that really mean? I have never been to a restaurant where the food was inedible, unless there had been a clear mistake made (i.e. chicken was not cooked through or something like that).

I have been disappointed (majorly and minorly) in food at restaurants and have been majorly upset at the value of certain restaurants, but almost universally, the food has been edible.

So, when you guys say inedible, do you actually mean not fit for human consumption or just way below what you expected?

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  1. I think inedible can mean either. It's so rare for me to get inedible food in a restaurant that I really am having a hard time recalling an instance. Well, the closest I can get is a dinner at a local Italian place about 2 months ago. The bread they served was beyond stale and that, to me, was just not worth putting in my mouth.
    I did get served undercooked chicken wings one time. a long, long time ago. Management refused to take it off our bill because our party of 4 had eaten some! I noticed in on the second wing I ate and immediately told everyone to stop eating. Never went back to that place for treating us so poorly.

    1. Until last week, I would have called inedible anything that was rotten or toxic or would somehow make me sick. But the other day, I cooked a new chicken dish that forced me to redefine inedible to include that which makes me gag when thinking about the leftovers that still have to be eaten.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cachetes

        ummmm if it was inedible then dont eat the leftovers?

        1. re: kpaxonite

          That's exactly what happened. My husband and I hate to toss food, and so when one of us said we were hungry, the other would suggest that he/she eat the leftovers. Neither one of us could do it, and out it went.

          1. re: Cachetes

            haha thats a good way to lose weight.... you could always get a dog

      2. I will use the term to apply to anything that I deem, simply and subjectively, not worth eating. As I really have no aversions to any particular foods, for something to be "inedible," it must be poorly prepared or based upon substandard ingredients. Thus, a well done steak, stale bread, raw poultry, rancid produce, are all equally unacceptable and, therefore, inedible.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MGZ

          another person who hates french toast! *hugs*

        2. it's a rhetorical device - hyperbole.

          1 Reply
          1. re: thew

            Well.......... sure, but I recall a dish I declined in an Asian country (while on a business trip) because it was mostly fish bones, fins, scales, entrails and the like. For ME it was inedible as I was not going to put most of those things in my mouth (and I usually have a very wide food tolerance level). Also, there was a Mongolian hot pot experience, in Taipei, where the 'broth' was so spicy that a single taste sent me reeling.

            So............ it can be more than rhetorical, though it can be subjective.

          2. To me, inedible means I literally can't eat it--either because the chewing/swallowing necessary to digest the food is impossible (think of trying to eat a mouthful of unprocessed big pinecones, for example) or because I will literally gag and become so ill that I will not be able to swallow. And maybe I will add that if I am 100% certain I will make myself ill with e.coli or something similar by eating...I guess that would meet my inedible criteria as well.

            So for me, very little is truly inedible. Lots of unappetizing things, for sure, but very little inedible.

            1. anything with insects in it like unwashed salad, gritty/sandy food, chewy meat, undercooked poultry, stale bread, rancid dairy products, anything off tasting/smelling.

              4 Replies
              1. re: smartie

                Last year I got a salad at Chez Panisse that was garnished with a tiny - and lively - garden snail. The greens had been washed, and so had he. We (and the diners at adjoining tables) were amused rather than horrified, and the waiter promised to put him back out in the garden. Only in Berkeley.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I usually take the presence of insects to mean that vegetables are more edible. After all, if an insect survived all the way to the table, there can't have been too much horrible done to the plant in the process. Yeah, not totally rational, but relatively reasonable. This, assuming of course that the plant isn't infested and eaten to near death, which is another matter entirely.

                  1. re: amyzan

                    I agree. The occasional earwig in farmers' market produce doesn't bother me at all.

                    Alan -- not "only in Berkeley" this time. I found a snail in my salad once in Venice at an outdoor restaurant. The waiter was very amused and set it on a vine growing on the wall.

                    1. re: amyzan

                      As long as it's not a roach... (shudders) I found a small green catterpillar in my salad once. I took that leaf off the plate and rescued it and enjoyed my dinner. Nobody ever died from eating something a catterpillar or snail touched.

                2. Ah, my most hated term/word in a review.

                  For most, it means, "I couldn't find anything more creative to say, so I was lazy and used an over-used KEYWORD to describe something that wasn't."

                  The last inedible food I had was from a (South American) deli. The food item was deep fried pork and yucca. After about 6 bites, I couldn't go on. My jaws literally started hurting from all the chewing I had to do; my masseter was no match for seriously overcooked/tough food. It just couldn't be eaten; it was inedible.

                  I've never encountered inedible food at a chain or higher place (Meaning any place that's even worth a look for a review). It's only from those smaller places that I encounter truly inedible food.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Most things I see in the fridges on Kitchen Nightmares.

                    1 Reply
                    1. It happens on rare occasions. Examples I can think of.

                      Odd recipes with mis-aligned ingredients, which can make the dish taste bitter or medicinal.

                      Inedibly chewy meats (and my standards are pretty high for this). Often, this happens when a more unusual meat or cut has been cooked improperly, especially if fat hasn't rendered.

                      Fried foods where the batter is under-cooked in spots.

                      Cracker Barrel.

                      Last, this is probably a matter of taste, but certain Asian fish dishes with thousands of hair-thin bones (not talking whole fish, which is relatively easy to conquer). I don't know if certain people just don't mind. I can't imagine anyone takes the time to finesse the tiny shreds of meat out of these dishes.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kevin47

                        "Fried foods where the batter is under-cooked in spots."

                        Similarly--fried foods that aren't cooked thoroughly. I'm a serious french fry lover--I really don't care if they're hand-cut, fresh, frozen, bought in bulk at Costco. I have preferences, but I'll eat whatever. They're french fries, after all.

                        Big pet peeve: being served fries that were cooked just until the potatoes were soft--but not crunchy. If you've ever had a limp white french fry that sh*t oil into your mouth when you bit into it, you'd probably agree: inedible. Or--I've been served fries at hole-in-the-wall places here in LA where they were still frozen (albeit half-thawed) on the plate. Happened more than once--super gross to bite into.

                      2. I mean it literally. While I've had many things I didn't enjoy in restaurants, I've only actually had 1 one meal I found inedible. I ordered a pasta that was so full of cheap olives and feta that it was horribly salty. I think pure salt is less salty!!

                        There are also a few foods I am physically incapable of forcing myself to swallow - liver and sea cucumber come to mind.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                          I once ordered a pasta with vodka sauce at a restaurant in London and I think they put about half a bottle in it and didn't cook off the alcohol. It was inedible and rather embarrassing because a friend's father had taken a whole bunch of us poor students out to a very pricey restaurant and I didn't feel I could send the food back (and I was only about 20) so I had to do my best to eat as much as I was able without gagging.

                        2. Almost nothing is inedible to me. If I encounter something I don't like, I eat it and resolve to never cook it / order it again.

                          Which reminds me, I'm constantly amazed at the number of times I have read on CH something like, "I bought XYZ, brought it home, tasted one bite and tossed it out." I NEVER toss things out like that willy-nilly (unless it is clabbered milk or something along those lines, which almost never happens.) I must be poorer than most people. I can't bring myself to throw money down the drain. I suffer through eating it, and resolve not to buy it again.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: woodleyparkhound

                            I have purchased things that I have taken them home, prepared them according to the label directions, and the result was so horrible-tasting that I spat out what was in my mouth (into the garbage can, as I was alone) and chucked the rest of it. Life is just too short to choke down something that is repugnant, especially if whatever I bought wasn't that expensive. It it *was* expensive, I'll try to recycle it into something else so it's not wasted, but it depends on how awful it was on the first go-round.

                            Inedible can mean anything from dirty, rancid, slimy from whatever, clabbered, etc. -- to "so horribly prepared that I simply cannot imagine how hungry I would have to be for me to consume this of my own free will."

                          2. To me, 'inedible' usually means too salty for me to possibly put more than a spoonful in my mouth without gagging. Most things can be worked around, glossed over, or plain ignored, but if it tastes like a salt lick it'll only work as an emetic!

                            1. Pragmatic as usual, the Chinese have a saying: "If it flies and it's not an aeroplane, if it's got four legs and isn't a table, we'll eat it!" . Think they'll outlast us.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: arktos

                                I may have an Anglo face, but I definitely have a Chinese palate.

                              2. So, when you guys say inedible, do you actually mean not fit for human consumption or just way below what you expected?
                                the former. as in, something that tastes so awful [or excessively salty] that i literally can't get/keep it down.

                                1. Having been raised to conserve, I'd have to find a thing really disgusting to my palate or a health concern to my body to utter it *inedible*.

                                  Despite my rather hyperbolic expression in the positive (I *LOVE* lots of foods and constantly say that such and such flavor is *AMAZING*), I find myself much more literal and subdued in the negative.

                                  1. For me, it's a small handful of things. Something too tough to chew, or so full of grit that I worry about breaking a tooth. Something obviously hazardous to my health. And, very, very rarely, something so nasty that I reflexively spit it out before the taste even fully registers. I once had this happen with a piece of food that had been so over salted it should have had a white coating of salt crystals.