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When do you suck it up?

I love good food and hate eating bad food but I know for me there is a time to just shut up and eat. My belief was put to the test on tuesday.
My uncle died recently and I was meeting my cousin to help clean out his apartment in Ambler Pa and have lunch. My uncle hated the gelato place in Ambler, Toto's so we couldn't bear to go there. We decided to go to a nice little deli where my uncle ate frequently. My cousin insisted on paying.
I got the roast beef special and my cousin got a roast beef wrap. When I bit into my sandwich the beef was starting to go bad and tasted funky. The rye bread, slaw and russian dressing could not drown out the slightly spoiled taste. I was furious but my cousin was upset over the death of my uncle, her dad and so was I. I chose to say nothing and ate the tainted meat. Luckily it was only half the sandwich, the other half the beef was merely tasteless to my great relief.
My cousin devoured her wrap so I guess her meat was okay. My dad's business partner who was like a second father to me grew up in the depression and taught me that slightly spoiled meat would not make him sick. I had a feeling I would be fine and I am but I am so mad at that place. Surely the beef must have smelled a little bad when they were handling it? There was no way I was going to sniff my sandwich or let on that anything was wrong. My cousin is sensitive anyway and this lunch was about giving her some emotional support. She even mentioned her dad to the staff as we were leaving and they remembered my uncle well and were sad to know that he had died.
What do you think? Are there times when you have chosen to suppress your inner hound for the greater good?

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  1. When one's mother, who is a pretty bad cook who doesn't like cooking, serves you a beef stew with bland, overcooked beef and undercooked, unpeeled carrots while talking about how she turned down a dinner invitation from a relative who can cook because she wasn't sure when one's plane would get it, one eats it and likes it.

    When one is at a potluck and 2/3 of the dishes are desserts and one of the few savory things turns out to be canned asparagus spears wrapped in white bread and one is sitting at the table with the person who made it.

    When a friend is beaming about making her first Thanksgiving dinner it's probably not the best time to mention that the chestnuts should have been shelled before they went into the stuffing.

    Related: when one comes home late at night to find one's S.O. has made brownies, the appropriate response is "Why, thank you!", not "Why is there flour in the microwave, all over the floor, and on the cat?"

    9 Replies
    1. re: tardigrade

      <and one of the few savory things turns out to be canned asparagus spears wrapped in white bread>

      There aren't alot of things that actually make me gag but reading this somehow just did it....I'd have to make an excuse for this no matter how close the person who made it was.

      1. re: latindancer

        I have had that at a very fancy catered party in Nashville. The bread had its crusts trimmed off, spread with mayonnaise, the asparagus laid diagonally across it and then the bread folded up point to point. It was actually pretty good, though much depended on the quality of both bread and asparagus.

        1. re: Will Owen

          I think I've, most likely at some point in my life, had it too....
          I was raised around fresh asparagus that my grandmother would go out and pick and made lucious food items with.
          It's the 'canned' asparagus part I'm grossed out with. I'll take any kind of white bread, no problem, it's the mushy, smelly asparagus in a can that I can't think about without gagging.

          1. re: latindancer

            I used to LOVE canned asparagus as a kid -- I'd even it it cold, straight out of the can, with my fingers.

            now? No stinkin' way would I eat that stuff. (Mostly because I eventually got to taste fresh asparagus and figured out what it's *supposed* to taste like!)

            1. re: sunshine842

              I still love canned asparagus. And i love fresh. But to me it is like a different food altogether, kind of like canned tuna vs tuna steak.
              When i was a kid often our salad would consist of cold canned asparagus with miracle Whip on it.

        2. re: latindancer

          That one made me glad for a moment (just a moment) that I have Celiac disease... but then I imagine that after turning it down at one potluck, at the next, the person will have gone to the trouble (and expense) to make it with gluten-free bread, at which point, I would absolutely HAVE to suck it up.

          Which brings me to... when a family member/friend/co-worker has gone to great pains to make something you can eat, despite a dietary restriction, even if what they make is something you never liked to begin with. When people go out of their way to make something gluten-free for me, I eat it, I rave about it, I thank them profusely. It doesn't really matter if it was any good or not. The thought does count. It counts a lot.

          1. re: MelMM

            I don't really enjoy desserts too often. But I went to my daughters once in Texas while her hubby was out on his ship for 6 months. She had strawberries dipped in chocolate waiting for me. I ate them and raved (but didn't really care for them).

        3. re: tardigrade

          Ha ha ha tardigrade! That made me smile. Thanks!

          1. The occasion you described was a time to suck it up. Bravo that you did.

            3 Replies
            1. re: escondido123

              Oh thanks escondido! /blush. I can rise to the occasion when I feel like I have no choice at all. :)

              1. re: givemecarbs

                It just occurred to me that this was a time and place where one could say "Oh I really don't have much of an appetite" and be free to leave food on the plate.

                1. re: escondido123

                  Absolutely. In this context, sucking it up to me means not making a fuss of any sort that would detract from uncle's death. Not to a need to consume the spoiled food. Cousin wasn't the cook! I'd have pushed it aside and said just what you write.

            2. Suck away. It was an unusual time.

              1. We've got some neighbors/friends who fancy themselves pretty fair hands in the kitchen. And in truth, they really are tremendous cooks. Thing is, their tastes don't exactly mesh with mine. And there have been a couple of instances where they prepared something which made my gizzard quivver, but I managed to choke the stuff down, just because I didn't want to hurt their feelings.

                Hence, Catherine made some sort of liver pate that she was obviously very proud of. I had never eaten liver in my life and had no intention of doing so. Nevertheless, I managed to get down several liver-bedizened crackers and make appropriate noises about how delicious they were. She also made an apricot tart which made me weak in the knees--and not from pleasure! I'm generally not a fruit guy in the slightest, but in the interest of neighborhood harmony, I choked down a slice of the tart, making sure not to chew but swallow as quickly as possible.

                1. It was great that you sucked it up on that occasion. I like to think I would have, but would have had a hard time eating something I thought was spoiled. At least your cousin got a good meal. After the death of my grandmother last spring I was almost completely unable to eat, dropped 10 lbs and looked as bad as I felt.
                  I can always suck it up in cases where I am the guest, and the food is just poorly prepared or not to my liking. I think if someone went to the effort to make something for you, then it's down the hatch, no matter how awful it tastes.
                  Sorry for the loss of your uncle, and I hope that beef didn't cause any, um, problems later ;)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: alliegator

                    Thanks everyone for your kind responses. I was fine. I had a feeling I would be even though the beef tasted nasty. I could see and feel with my mouth that it wasn't actually slimy.
                    Not eating with her would have upset my cousin. The sharing of food was a bonding experience, and also like food after a funeral, life affirming. Permission not to feel guilty for still being alive. Some would say that there is no more life affirming experience than eating food. Not sure about that. /wink

                    1. re: givemecarbs

                      I'm right there with sucking it up when it's the tasteless beef stew with mushy vegetables...

                      ...but I'm not sure I could have done it with spoiled food. I'm willing to take one for the team, but having had several episodes of food-borne illness....sorry, that one I'm gonna duck.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Some people do have more sensitive tummies than others. I had a feeling I would be fine. Joe, who was like a second father to me, used to eat slightly off steak and enjoy it and not be wasteful I guess that is what catsup is for. He never got sick from the meat.
                        I really probably should not have ordered the roast beef rare since it was my first time there. We were looking for some comfort to help with our healing. I was pretty mad at the restaurant and tempted to write about my experience on the Philadelphia boards using the name of the place but decided not to.
                        I guess independent cash only places aren't always better than chains. Right before a funeral service the spring before last I found myself at a free standing chik fil a during the lunch hour. They were fast, caring and attentive. I wasn't going to be able to enjoy the food on that day no matter what but I was grateful that no mishaps added to our misery. Thanks again everyone for all your kind comments.

                  2. As many times I've sucked it up, I believe it cut both ways. My beautiful bride is Filipino and an excellent cook but other than Lachon,Loya, and some Pancits I am not a fan of Filipino cuisine and the times I cook dishes from my youth, Crab and calaloo, shark and bake,peas and rice, I know she's sucking it up so as not to disappoint me.
                    Over the years we have come to a somewhat happy medium, I'll cook her traditional dishes for her and her friends,serve,smile graciously and eat out.
                    She will just eat out when I prepare mine.....

                    Works for us.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Duppie

                      Just a little curious, Duppie, but the "shark and bake" is actually "shake and bake", right?

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Nope.....fried shark on a fried bread is a popular beach snack where I grew up.

                        1. re: Duppie

                          I've had a "shark and bake" and they're delicious!

                          1. re: Mutch2Do

                            Shake and bake! Cal Naughton, Jr.

                    2. There is a difference between eating something you don't really care for(such as over cooked pot roast ,liver pate etc) and meat on or past the verge. Out at a restaurant no less. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have eaten "funky" tasting food. And while I can understand your not wanting to hurt her feelings, sometimes honesty is the best policy for health reasons. As a humorous aside. I guess we can be thankful you two didn't hit a seafood place and the fried shrimp was a bit "off"..:-)

                      1. I think there are many times in someone's home when there's an element of just sucking it up to be polite - but in a restaurant I do believe that those incidents are far less often. However, a generic time when I'm going to be far less likely to complain about the food in a restaurant would be if I was at a business lunch. In such a case when the meal isn't the most important part (such as the OP's situation), I would let an off item slide.

                        1. Sorry, I don't care what the situation is, I don't eat spoiled food. I have had food poisoning too many times.

                          1. I would never eat rancid food to be "polite" thats just ridiculous.

                            1. I would do my best not to eat your sandwich and stifle any ideas of correction.

                              Weddings and funerals each have a unique dynamic that really needs to be catered to.All of us have been to one or the other with problematic food etc and some boorish guest that didn't suck it up.I've even gulped air on that,not my nature,because to respect the unique dynamic is paramount..

                              17 Replies
                              1. re: lcool

                                As a devoted foodie, Thanksgiving should be the pinnacle of my culinary year; instead I travel with Mr. Cheflambo to his family's dinner in another state, and am not invited, or even allowed, in the kitchen. We eat overcook turkey, canned gravy, dressing cooked outside the bird (our hostess is obsessed with food safely and desperately afraid someone will get sick), factory pies with ReddiWhip, all from paper plates with plastic cutlery. Someone always brings a bizarre Jell-O salad that is, occasionally, worth eating. There's always someone who "can't eat _____" and we all have to hear about why. Don't get me started about the "no carbs" year when one couple brought all their own food. Yes, this is sucking it up. Mr. C and I suck up a lot of alcohol (luckily our host provides quality libations).

                                1. re: Cheflambo

                                  Works for me.
                                  I have a niece in law,an only child,who's family subjects all to the same.

                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                    <all from paper plates with plastic cutlery."

                                    Why? I don't understand why people do this. Fine....the person doesn't want to do dishes or make a beautiful table or make extra work or whatever the reason. But to push their ideas and laziness onto their guests is presumptuous.

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      How are they pushing their "ideas" onto their guests by using paper and plastic?

                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                        <How are they pushing their "ideas"onto their guests by using paper and plastic?>

                                        I attended a holiday dinner a few years ago. Fifteen people, including my family of 4, were the guests. The hostess announced, when dinner was being served, that she didn't like to do dishes and so we were all going to eat off paper and use plastic utensils. Now, don't get me wrong...I'll use these things for camping, take-out when I'm unable to use stainless etc., but when is a dinner for someone like this special enough to use dinner plates and silver or stainless? Her ideas about what was important to her were what mattered. What I took away from my experience with her dinner was that her guests really were not that important. She didn't have any interest of bringing out her nice dinnerware (she did have it).. I would have much more preferred to help wash dishes all night long rather than eat off paper. A lovely dinner served on paper. Ugh.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          We were invited to a lovely Indian couple's first American Thanksgiving, and the lady of the house declined all help. When we arrived, around 1 p.m., for a stated dinner by 4 p.m., she said "maybe I should put the turkey in now?" I blanched. Ended up with curried turkey (a shock to my tummy, even tho' I've been married to an Indian for 40 years), hacked up 'cause it was, of course, still raw, and then microwaved within an inch of turkey leather. Sucked it up, ate only bits of turkey, but had wonderfuly Indianified sides.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            I take it as she would rather spend time with her guests than spend a lot of time cleaning up. Maybe she got burned too much by guests.

                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                              Wish it was the reason but it wasn't. She hated having the dinner, she resented having to do it and all the way around the meal absolutely reflected her attitude....right down to the flimsy, paper plates and cheap plastic utensils.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                So if it was so terrible,why do you think it would be better without paper plates?

                                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                                  latindancer and I both gave the details of the "not hospitality" experience in replies below.

                                        2. re: latindancer

                                          Some people may not have enough real dishes to accomodate.

                                          1. re: olyolyy

                                            <Some people may not have enough real dishes to accomodate>

                                            Really? I've known alot of people from all walks of life....the ones who could hardly afford plastic dishes from the grocery store would never have thought of serving their food on paper to their guests or flimsy plastic utensils.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              I guess it depends on the meal (I'd hate to have to cut through an overcooked steak with a plastic knife, balancing my paper plate delicately on my lap, for instance), but generally speaking, I have no problem with someone choosing to use paper and plastic when they're hosting. I don't really feel it's my place to judge the serving tools when someone has taken the time to cook for me.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                My niece in laws family is real clear about the "obligation" grudge and drudgery they feel,not hospitality and the breaking of bread.
                                                My MIL was nearly as bad.Raised everyone on paper and plastic,from a bag,box,bottle or can.To set a holiday dinner was about power and she made certain EVERYONE knew all the sacred cows and sacrifices a set table etc was.
                                                The resentful angst just oozed out completely smothering all sense of hospitality.

                                                1. re: lcool

                                                  Icool....you hit the nail on the head! :

                                                  The host who'd served us paper plates and plastic utensils had the exact same attitude. It's as if though we all needed to bow, thank her and apologize for the work she'd done. She clearly hadn't enjoyed the preparation and we got it, loud and clear.
                                                  I was walking through Target yesterday and saw colorful plastic plates/ $1 each. I was thinking how creative someone could be with them if they had a lick of taste and really, truly wanted to make a Thanksgiving lovely.

                                              2. re: olyolyy

                                                I'm with latindancer on this one

                                            2. re: Cheflambo

                                              This sounds similar to the family of a former BF--bags, boxes, cans, and jars. One year the Stove Top stuffing was the only thing on the table that still had any residual warmth left in it!

                                              But....it was a loving and welcoming household of several generations, and it was that that mattered in the end. Years later I still carry fond memories of these gatherings.....

                                          2. You made the right decision. You didn't want to make the meal about you. You wanted to support your cousin.

                                            I've eaten things to keep the peace, or to not call attention to myself. It depends on the situation.

                                            Once, many years ago, I brought my own diet food to a casual get together, and was called out for it by the hostess. In another situation much more recently, I told friends about my new eating plan and that I wouldn't be eating dessert with them at our meetings. Because we knew each other so well, I felt the situation would not be interpreted as an insult to their cooking or personal choices.

                                            In your case, you chose to keep the focus on your cousin. How you did that isn't important. You made the best choice you could think of at that time.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              Thanks sueatmo! Sharing a meal can be a minefield. Sounds like you've had more than your share of obstacles.

                                            2. <there is a time to just shut up and eat.>

                                              Or....shut up and don't eat. How many people are actually watching what you eat or don't eat? I love people who are dieting or have food allergies or have an aversion to foods but just sit there and enjoy the company and stay quiet.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                Yes, that's an option, especially if others know you are on a strict eating plan. Probably they don't want to know the details, so just be quiet and contribute to the conversation.

                                                In the OP's case, it was a matter of eating slightly spoiled meat, instead of taking the sandwich back. He didn't want this lunch to be about the bad food, or his unhappiness with the bad food; he wanted it to be about sharing comfort with his cousin.

                                              2. I am very sorry about your loss, but your example simply makes no sense. I understand not wanting to make a fuss about food during such a sad time, but tainted meat is beyond "making a fuss"; you could end up deathly ill. You could give your cousin emotional support without contracting food poisoning. If you really did not want to take the sandwich back, in the very least you simply should not have eaten it.

                                                1. "Are there times when you have chosen to suppress your inner hound for the greater good?"


                                                  1. Sorry to hear about the death. As for your beef, I won't have eaten it. I have a very high tolerance and I eat good foods and I eat bad foods, but I really won't want to eat spoiled foods. It isn't about being a chowhound or foodie. It is about safety. Spoiled food can make a person very sick. I was food poisoned twice in my life. The first one was merely a half-day episode (including vomiting and diarrhea). The second one lasted a total 5 days. It was horrible and I probably should have gone to the hospital.

                                                    I have no idea if you mean spoiled food as in really spoiled or you mean not-so-tasty. I won't eat spoiled food. I may not say anything. I may not complain, but I am not going to consume the whole thing.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      It was nasty chemicalkinetics. Only half the sandwich and the other half was tasteless for which I was grateful. My cousin would have noticed for sure. We were going to split an order of sweet potato fries too but she forgot to order them. The whole situation had her badly rattled already, although we talked about happy memories while we ate.
                                                      I guess I am lucky that I tend to have an iron stomach although I have gotten food poisoning a few times. Not fun at all. I'm just surprised that they couldn't smell the half rotten beef when they made the sandwich.

                                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                                        I'm pretty sure your uncle wouldn't have wanted you to spend a few days praying at the porcelain altar, even if it was in his honor.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          That is for sure. He was 86 and we ate out together frequently all through the summer. He always tried something new. Last thing he tried was a thai iced tea. He loved it. Helped cool down the jalapeno he put in his pho.
                                                          Hmm 86 and loved spicy food. Maybe he is the one I get my iron gut from.

                                                        2. re: givemecarbs

                                                          I suppose anyone in that scenario could always just claim a lack of hunger given the circumstance.

                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                            <I guess I am lucky that I tend to have an iron stomach>

                                                            I thought so too until I got my first serious food poisoning. :P In all seriousness, most of the time we don't get sick from spoiled foods. I used to eat partially spoiled food all the time when I was in college just to save money. So I have really eaten more than my share of spoiled foods for more than 10 years before the "spoiled live oyster" did the trick for me. Korean, salted, spiced, uncooked oysters. I am so scared now that I will never eat them again.

                                                            I am glad that you didn't get sick, but don't risk it next time. Yes, the chance is low, but the price is high.

                                                        3. I would have just said I guess I'm not hungry after all, I just can't eat, and I would have picked around whatever else was there and eaten something later. I doubt she would have noticed in her grief that you were specifically avoiding the sandwich. But no way would I have eaten meat that smelled or tasted spoiled to me.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                            I wish I had ordered more food. There was only the sandwich and a pickle. This has given me food for thought. :) Next time order more just in case. Thanks for all the kind and thoughtful comments. I was fine afterwards.

                                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                                              glad you fared ok! And I appreciate the spirit of what you were trying to do, but you must never do anything that's dangerous to yourself!