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Dec 6, 2011 12:09 PM

Only Foodie in the Family

After I excitedly spent months planning my first Thanksgiving as the cook, I was slightly disappointed to recognize that NO ONE else in my small family cares nearly so much about the food. "Food is just food" my father-in-law is fond of saying. Now as I plan the first big Christmas feast, the only thing any of them agree on is buying a ham. My heart is close to being broken, because that is not the direction I was planning on going in for Christmas. It is not that they don't appreciate all the gourmet things, but most of them could care less if I made things from scratch or a mix. The positive person in me thinks that at least I have it easy, i.e. no expectations or exacting palates to please. I however can't help feeling like I am missing out on being able to share the enthusiasm for entertaining. If you were in my situation, what would you suggest? Divorce is not an option!

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  1. I share your pain. Most of my extended family could care less whether holiday dinner is made from scratch or a mix. Don't get me wrong I think they are appreciative of my efforts but it's not their priority. I say if it pleases you and makes you happy keep on doing what you're doing.

    1. Well, you married him, so I guess it's time to suck it up Princess and live with it.

      But seriously, if they can appreciate flavor (which their genetics seem to imply), it may be a question of having adequate time to educate them as to the differences. For certain things you can make a batch of scratch against pre-made/mix and work on it from there.

      With respect to XMas, you can always prepare the ham for the Eve and something else for the day. And for the rest of the time, I think you're missing out on the luxury of being able to cook what you want in the way that you want.

      1. I'm in a similiar situation with newly acquired in-laws. They're all about getting together, but the food is a distant afterthought. The wife still gets upset when there's minimal appreciation for the well thought out cheese platter we break out, or scratch made desserts. Personally I roll with the punches, keep it simple and save the bells and whistles for ourselves or like minded friends.

        1. i have this problem in my family as well.

          actually, my problem is more that my mom THINKS she is a foodie, but she is very much a Semi-Homemademaker (which IMO might be even worse!!) she would want to buy a honeybaked ham and stick some extra pineapples on it, and then say that she is a master cook for thinking of it.

          my suggestion: take things that they want to buy, and volunteer to be the one who buys them, then make it yourself! ya dont have to tell them you did it even. then when people are saying "this is the best honeybaked ham we've had yet!" you can volunteer that little fact.

          6 Replies
          1. re: mattstolz

            «« she would want to buy a honeybaked ham and stick some extra pineapples on it, and then say that she is a master cook for thinking of it »»

            Makes me think of the old commercials showing how difficult it was to make rice crispies squares. I would at least be impressed if she grew her own pineapple for that store-bought ham.

            1. re: wattacetti

              haha or the new one where the lady makes the pie with store bought dough, then takes all the credit for how "it was really tough!"

              1. re: mattstolz

                Actually I don't mind that scenario if the filling is really good (skip the crust).

                The pie was originally a cooking container and no one actually ate the dough.

            2. re: mattstolz

              I get where you are coming from, but I really hope the OP doesn't lie about the food. That's one of my few dealbreakers in relationships among adults. It's so disrespectful and unkind-if you really think about your desired result, even in the best case scenario (which I think your suggestion is) you're planning to say "gotcha! It wasn't what you were hoping for."

              There are really only a few holidays per year where the whole family is gathering, for most people. Christmas and Thanksgiving, maybe Easter and July 4 if American. If your extended family has dishes they consider to be crucial, it's not the end of the world. And I certainly wouldn't hesitate to to a ham with a nice homemade glaze, and there is plenty of room for a huge variety of side dishes. These can be as complicated and fancy as you want, and you really can have an almost unlimited number.

              Hearing the OP's post, I suspect her (his?) family is trying to be kind. I work with older adults, and as we talk about Thanksgiving the underlying theme that keeps coming up is that it is so important to many people to have the family time, but they've often burnt out on the huge cook. A lot of people want to save their children/spouses any aggravation and that may be sincerely why they are suggesting an easier route. It's easy to forgot those exciting first couple of Thanksgivings once you've done 30 of them and are sick to death of it. If that's the case (it might not be; some people inherit or are born into less-than-sympathetic relatives and I'm not discounting that) you'll be able to get away with a lot by saying "great suggestion!" and then doing what you want. Even if there are are handful of dishes that just have to be included, you'll likely have a lot of leeway to add to those.

              1. re: mattstolz

                Haha I have the opposite issue - my mom is a very good cook, especially with baking, but is just as happy eating plain, microwaved pasta for every meal because it is less effort. She is baffled why I "waste time" to go to all the trouble to cook from scratch, but on the rare occasion she chooses to to so, her cooking is great!

                1. re: PotatoPuff

                  We have a cousin like that. When she chooses to cook, which is maybe once a year, she's really very good. Her husband, however, bought her a neon "Take Out" sign for the kitchen because that's what they almost always have for dinner.

              2. Why set yourself up for disappointment? Plan a wonderful menu for a occasion that you can share with someone who appreciates your efforts and results. Make it a group menu for Xmas and let everyone contribute dishes--think of it as a "traditional" meal, spread the work around and you have no reason to feel resentful. Just keep focused on that other meal you're going to make that's just for you.