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How do you feel about your food being re-seasoned at the table?

I am not a control freak about this. Put whatever you want that will make it enjoyable for you. I would like people to at least taste it first. My mother brings a bowl of Montreal Steak seasoning to the table. Before she's had a bite she sprinkles some on whatever's on the fork and takes a bite. I was thinking "Hey this has fresh rosemary, sage and thyme, salt, pepper and garlic that I spent time and effort to put together in a hopefully tasty manner, at least take a bite first.

I'm not losing any sleep over this, I really do want her to do what she wants to make it to her liking, but I will admit to a small part of me that would like her to take a moment and see what's in there first.


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  1. I think it's a habit some people have.

    1. I really don't care about this. Like you said in your first paragraph - "whatever you want that will make it enjoyable for you". However, like you also said, it would be nice (& courteous) if folks at least took a first bite before adding their what-not.

      One story re: this that I'll ALWAYS remember, is when my dear mother invited the next-door neighbors over to enjoy Xmas dinner with us - a wonderful roast goose repast. One can only imagine her horror (although she kept her mouth shut like the great lady she always was), when ALL of the guests (both parents & two kids) asked for ketchup & proceeded to pour it all over their servings of that lovely goose!!!! Even my brother & I had our mouths hanging open. But graciousness was the order of the day, & none of us said anything about it - until after the guests had left, of course! Lol!!!

      1. Hah - my mother does exactly the same thing, and I feel the same way. I (try to) ignore it.

        1. Maybe because I don't add things to food that other people prepare, I prefer that they don't mess with my concoctions. But, knowing that salt lovers love their salt, and DH loves his red pepper flakes, I try to keep my unappreciated opinion to myself.
          Though if I could politely rip the salt shaker out of their hands, and toss it out the window, I would happily do so.

          Montreal Steak seasoning... that really is going a bit too far. I think I'd have to limit my cooking for mom to unseasoned steak, chicken, stuff on the grill..roasted veggies with nothing on them. What kind of dishes do you serve your mom?

          1. You know, mama, dad, grandparents -- just give 'em a pass. :)

            My mom hated ketchup with an undying passion. She was the eldest child of a Depression-era clan, but their babysitter (before she was old enough) fed them ketchup sandwiches, day-in, day-out. Her dad worked in delivery for a bakery, and every night a blueberry pie (his fave) fell off the truck -- she hated bluebs forever too. There were other food traumas.

            I'd bet a couple of celery stalks that your mom dealt with some crappy beef back in the day, and now has a Montreal-habit. And/or, we lose taste sensitivity as we age, and that might contribute.

            4 Replies
            1. re: DuchessNukem

              I think the aging thing might have a lot to do with it. I am on a number of medications and I have noticed over the last 6 months or so, food that I used to love seems tasteless to me now. I think the combo of the meds and turning 50 is the reason. I never used to like really spicy food but I crave it now and have developed an alarming Tapatio habit.

              1. re: baseballfan

                my mother has gone other way, her already minimally seasoned food now get nothing, a recipe is being followed and then sparingly. she will however drag out a bottle of BBQ sauce to the table after I've spent a day marinating, dry rubbing and smoking/grilling a cut. "just taste it first, please"

                when I cook for her, out of deference, I leave out anything considered 'hot' and I under-salt, but since I cooked it, have no problem 'fixing' it as best as I can on my plate.

                it's odd though, sage, rosemary, thyme and cooked garlic are usually remarked on by "I couldn't taste any of that." I can, so I guess her palate has gone to only responding to the hot or salty.

                otherwise I don't really care as long as they taste it first. it would be nice to not have to self-edit, when a dish is crying out for a sauce that has had something 'off-the-list' mellowing in it for a while.

                I'm cool with cooking 'low-salt' (not no salt) as that is easily fixed after the fact, unlike say, sauteed garlic or crushed rosemary in the dough.

                1. re: hill food

                  Maybe her sense of smell is shot.

                  1. re: ricepad

                    in decline definitely, but always leaned towards the minimal.

            2. I had a friend like your mother.

              I made him dinner one night, and when he asked for the salt, I said, "Why don't you taste it first?"

              He did. He liked it. He doesn't put salt on food I make, and he likes it. I think the problem is that most people don't put enough salt in their food when they cook.

              1. It's their problem, not the cook's.

                1. I am on iPhone and don't know how to provide a link to YouTube. But the first thing that comes to mind with this subject is the Salt episode of Chef! The Britcom starring Lenny Henry. They only had 3 seasons and the first season was the best.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: miss_belle

                    That is a hysterical first season. Thank you for the reminder - I need something to curl up and watch this weekend!

                  2. It ticks me off when people season before tasting my food. I don't knock myself out when I cook for them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ricepad

                      That's my rule. Taste before you season. Drives me nuts when someone reaches for the salt without tasting first. How do they know how much salt to add. Two of my three kids will do that - they must have spent too much time at their mothers house.
                      I might allow an exception for a baked potato or corn on the cob.

                    2. I learned long ago to taste before seasoning, growing up in Detroit and whenever we'd go to the Henry Ford Museum on a field trip, we were told the story of how Henry Ford hired people-by having them for a meal and not hiring if they salted their food before tasting, reasoning that if they pre-judge, making arbitrary and hasty decisions, they would not make a good employee.


                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Cathy

                        henry ford isnt exactly someone id want to look up to...

                            1. re: EWSflash

                              but he wasn't refusing to hire them because of the salt.

                              He was refusing to hire them because he felt it was a sign of a fault decision-making process.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                It's a myth in the first place. If it were not a myth it is a bad assumption that it is a faulty decision. Human taste in salt varies so a good cook will usually under salt because while you can add salt later to taste you cannot subtract salt. If the cook salted to the taste of 50% of customers he'd be alienating half of them. Someone who is a salt lover will almost never encounter food in a restaurant that couldn't b e subjectively improved by adding more. The odds are with the guy who salts first and tastes later.

                                1. re: BrianMacker

                                  But he made hella lotta money by making decisions about people -- his customers AND his employees, and he was more than moderately successful at it.

                                  Entrepreneurs tend to have their own system of evaluating employees. Some are logical and sound, some are based on possibly-faulty reasoning, and some are downright wacky, but you can't argue with the resulting success.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    That's all moot if it is a myth. It also requires additional info. If he really did this then It might be could have been even a greater success had he never hired so-and-so. Maybe that guy could have saved Ford from making the Edsel.

                          1. re: kpaxonite

                            Yeah, because he was only an amazing industrialist, who made cars a consumer good instead of a luxury.

                          2. re: Cathy

                            Did he also get naked, lock himself in the house for weeks and pee in jars?

                          3. My husband tends to underseason, especially with salt. Yes, I salt items he has cooked because after 14 years together I know he thinks a pinch of salt is fine for 3 pounds of mashed potatoes.

                            However, everyone else I try before I salt or add pepper flakes or hot sauce or the like.

                            But I don't take it personally if someone touches up my cooking to their own palate. All palates are different and that is okay.

                            1. I have to admit that I am guilty of this crime as well.

                              Almost without fail, when I am presented with a bowl of Ramen, before my first slurp, I am reaching for the spicy powder.

                              I don't know what it is, I just know I want it spicier. Especially if it's the milky, alkaline, bone marrow broth kind.

                              1. I've never had anyone add anything other than salt and pepper to anything I've served them without tasting first (other than an appropriate condiment, which is a different thing). Even the s&p thing happens rarely. My husband does it, but it's because he knows I like things somewhat less salty than he does (and I admit to being somewhat heavy handed with salt - he is a downright salt freak). I might be irked if someone dump some sort of random spice blend over what I served them without tasting first, but whatever, to each his/her own.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  my ex used to dump Tabasco on everything before he ever tasted it. One of the many things that infuriated me...but he had sunk into a hardcore Tabasco addiction, and would not only dump Tabasco on everything he ate at restaurants, but actually bought restaurant takeout packets so he could always have Tabasco within his grasp, no matter what the type or cuisine or restaurant.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    I've known a couple of people with hot sauce addictions - I don't get it. I LOVE hot sauce, and always add it to certain foods (scrambled eggs, for instance), but it does NOT go with everything. Tabasco on coq au vin? That's just weird.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      My husband used to put tabasco on a lot of his food, as well as adding extra vinegar to salads.....then came his CPAP machine, and now he's like a new eater, tasting things he never could before. No more hot sauce, and he's having to learn to like some things all over again. Some people just have compromised tastebuds, for whatever reason.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        sandy - I was that way back when I indulged in certain recreational... uhh (misdemeanors, just misdemeanors) when I stopped, I better understood the fun in nuanced dishes.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          sunshine - as a present to your ex (and maybe a sly FU his current) forward this link. everything under the sun in individual packets

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            naaah. Haven't spoken to him since the day I walked out (and only laid eyes on him once, and I wasn't ever trying to avoid him...)

                                            I see no reason to change that -- we've both remarried and gone on.

                                      2. I think I'm a little more annoyed by it than you are, but I feel about the same way. I'd like folks to at least try it before they cover it with ketchup/malt vinegar/barbecue sauce/extra soy sauce.

                                        Whenever I make stir fries, my fiance adds extra soy sauce. But he always tastes it first, since he knows how I feel about it. His father, however, will take a (huge) helping of whatever I just made and douses it with either ketchup or malt vinegar without even bothering to SMELL it first.

                                        He always thanks me for coming over to cook for them, which I appreciate, but it still gets under my skin. :( I try to overlook it, though.

                                        EDIT: Just read a few more of the responses. Can adding salt and/or pepper even be considered reseasoning? Salt is one of those things that differs greatly from person to person.

                                        It's funny, though. The same man who pours ketchup on everything he eats will jokingly try to snatch the salt shaker out of my hands and say I'm getting too much sodium. They eat so much processed food in that house, I'm sure they're getting 3-5x their daily salt allowances. *eye roll* But again, I just smile and keep my trap shut. Usually.

                                        23 Replies
                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                          I think that the people who do the ketchup and hot sauce things can't taste very well and need to notch things up in order to taste them at all.

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            Or maybe they like ketchup and hot sauce? I don't need to taste my fries first to know that I want ketchup on them nor to taste my pizza first to know I want Tabasco on it.

                                            1. re: kengk

                                              I have a friend who salts his pizza, every time.

                                              1. re: kengk

                                                What if it was a pizza with sausage, brocollini and hot calabrian peppers?


                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                  Would not eat that pizza at my house so it wouldn't come into play. I don't ask for hot sauce when eating pizza out.

                                                  1. re: kengk

                                                    It's a pizza you might get served at my house. I'd hope you'd try it first and if you still wanted tobasco I have a bottle in the fridge at all times. I'm a tobasco fan myself.

                                                    boun appetito.


                                                  2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                    he won't eat anything spicy at all. but he puts salt on a pepperoni, sausage, and canadian bacon pizza.

                                                  3. re: kengk

                                                    Knowing you want ketchup on something that you eat all the time and is traditionally eaten with ketchup, like fries, is slightly different than automatically putting it on something that you've never tasted before.

                                                    If I served FFIL fries or are breaded chicken item, I wouldn't even blink when he put ketchup on it. But stir-fry?

                                                  4. re: sandylc

                                                    It's possible that his problem is somewhere along those lines. But their whole family takes serious issue with anything being "dry". A sandwich with no mayo/mustard/whatever? "OMG I'm choking what is this it's so dry."

                                                    Maybe the ketchup is the same thing. Everything needs to be bonded together by sticky sweetness and easy to chew and swallow or something. :/ Maybe?

                                                  5. re: Kontxesi

                                                    Seasoning IS salting, according to Thomas Keller as quoted by Michael Ruhlman in "The Elements of Cooking." Also pepper, but not so important.

                                                    In my opinion, the cook should salt food to bring it into proper balance — not flat, not salty. I don't like it when someone adds salt to food I have prepared without even tasting it. Pepper doesn't matter, as it is optional. Unless cooking only for myself, I use pepper sparingly. Some people like pepper and know there won't be enough pepper to suit them (unless they ordered the pepper steak). That's why it is common for servers to add fresh-ground black pepper to the diner's taste.

                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      +1 I am on record in another thread as saying that the most useless recipe instruction is 'salt to taste', for the reason you give: There is a correct amount of salt, and the recipe writer should figure out through experimentation what that amount is. Beyond that, some people know they like food quite salty, know that they will not get it 'as cooked', and therefore salt right away. I don't take it personally.

                                                      1. re: mwhitmore

                                                        but the "correct" amount of salt for one person is not the "correct" amount of salt for someone else.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          The "correct" amount of salt is that which matches the salinity of bodily fluids, about 9g/l. That is an objective standard. Some people want their food to taste salty, but that is a purely subjective standard. A cook cannot know how much saltiness an individual prefers, but can know how to avoid the flatness of undersalted food.

                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            " A cook cannot know how much saltiness an individual prefers"

                                                            That would be rather the point.

                                                            There are people who would crab that 9g/l is too salty, there are people who would crab that it's not salty enough.

                                                            Biological percentages don't mean much to your tongue.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              On the contrary, biological salinity is precisely why improperly salted food tastes flat or salty. This hypothesis occured to me when I read the excellent discussion of salting food in Michael Ruhlman's "The Elements of Cooking." I calculated the salinity of his recommendation for salted water, and it agrees closely to "normal saline."

                                                              You are the one missing the point here. "Correct" is a value judgement, a subjective standard, which is why I put it in quotation marks. But "normal saline" is an objective standard which will avoid both flatness and excessive saltiness.

                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                It might be an objective standard, but it doesn't seem to me like a very practical one for writing recipes. How would you determine how much salt to add to a steak? Is it 9 grams of salt per liter of solid steak or 9 grams per liter of liquid in the steak? If you season the steak before cooking, do you account for evaporation of the juices or contraction of the steak?

                                                                1. re: tripit

                                                                  Recipes are not written with reference to body chemistry, but when cooks write recipes for salting such that the result is to avoid both blandness and saltiness in the food, they are bringing the food into balance with body chemistry, whether they know it or not.

                                                                  I'm no expert in salting steak, but my practice is to add very little salt. Meat isn't where the problem of blandness occurs, in my opinion.

                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                    Thanks GH, especially for the quantification. My point exactly---I have no objection to people who like things saltier. That is what table salt is for. But people who claim to want little or no salt are usually health cranks, not people who love delicious food.

                                                                    1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                      "Health cranks"? I don't think so. A lot of food is over-salted, and excessive salt can be harmful. Reducing one's sodium intake for health reasons is not crankery.

                                                                      1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                        er, no.

                                                                        We use very, very little salt at our house -- I dropped and broke my salt shaker, and it was 6 weeks before anyone noticed.

                                                                        We had a recent medical issue that required that we shift temporarily to a no-salt diet. I was pretty intimidated at first -- but frankly pretty impressed at how much of a non-issue not adding salt really was. Now that we're back to "regular" diets, I've gone back to salting rice and pasta -- but I either don't salt at all or add very, very little salt to other dishes.

                                                                        My food is delicious, according to my family and friends.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          I think it's only "crankery" if you reduce salt just because you think you should, not because you know you are eating too much or have an actual condition. Some salt is needed for proper bodily function. Of course in our pre-packaged-processed world if you eat a lot of food from a bag it's not hard to get more than you need. If not, as Ruhlman says, salt to your taste.

                                                                          People see headlines that salt is bad, fat is bad, gluten is bad and don't really have an idea what that means for them. Of course some do, people that have an actual condition or those that choose to reduce any of these items because it makes them feel better, still many just have a knee jerk reaction and we get a heatlh fad, ie "Crankery". I like that word. :o)


                                                                        2. re: mwhitmore

                                                                          Not so, mw! I love delicious food, and I have never cared for a salty flavor. I never equated deliciousness with salt only. Many wonderful foods are tart or sweet or herbal or savory in many ways other than their salt content alone.

                                                        2. re: Kontxesi

                                                          I am admittedly a ketchup lover with french fries, but today was nearly smacked in the face when I walked into the office break room to be overwhelmed by what could not be mistaken for anything else other than a bottle of ketchup which had been "spilled" somewhere. Well, I discovered the culprit - a takeout container of fries, not a big container, it probably had no more than a handful of fries doused in ketchup that it was quite difficult to even recognize a fry. I love ketchup, but I never understood the dousing - not only can you not really taste anything other than ketchup but the soggy effect is not pleasing to me either. I'm not judging, but have always found it fascinating when a bottle of ketchup is grabbed and poured onto anything.

                                                        3. drives me nuts - my husband does it without even tasting his food first. grrr. I don't mind at all if someone tastes first and wants to adjust afterwards.

                                                          1. In a way, I kind of prefer someone ask for hot sauce or salt or pepper before they taste the food I've made because then I know that they are addicted to spice and it has nothing to do with my cooking. If they taste it and THEN ask for hot sauce, I have to wonder if maybe I made the dish too bland.

                                                            That said, I do tend to do an internal cringe to the knee-jerk ketchup-ers of the world. I never to say anything to them, to be polite, EXCEPT the once a year I make my Hannukah latkes... then I'm going to enjoy putting my foot down for a good 30 seconds. NO KETCHUP ON THE LATKES!

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                              I think there have been some rulings that ketchup on latkes renders them treyf.

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                I am absolutely screaming with laughter over this post, hill food! Thanks for a great laugh!

                                                                I, too, feel that putting anything but sour cream, salt and pepper on latkes renders them "treyfisch"! -- and I'm a goy!

                                                              2. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                Ketchup on latkes sounds as bad as ketchup on cheese blinzes! IT'S A SACRILEGE!!!

                                                                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                  That is disgusting and I like ketchup...a lot.

                                                                2. I had an argument with my girlfriend's 30-y-o son at Christmastime when I said I wasn't going to butterfly the leg of lamb, marinate it in olive oil, salt, garlic and rosemary, and grill it, if he was going to put mint jelly on it.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                    That's too bad. As delicious as your lamb sounds, mint jelly is one of my great loves, I look for an opportunity to eat it on lamb and since I don't eat lamb very much, I think it would be perfect. Why would you deny everyone your beautiful lamb simply because your GF's son would *gasp* dare to eat mint jelly with it? He would probably love your lamb either way. Also, when I do make lamb, I make it like you do and I eat it with mint jelly. Why would you "yuck someone's yum"?

                                                                    1. re: bamagirl30

                                                                      I love lamb.
                                                                      I love grilled lamb.
                                                                      I love lamb grilled with rosemary and garlic.
                                                                      I love mint jelly.
                                                                      I love mint jelly ON lamb.

                                                                      But my impression is that WNYamateur's point is that olive oil, garlic, and rosemary-seasoned grilled lamb is NOT where mint jelly belongs.

                                                                      The flavors are all wrong together. Ergh. Like mustard on strawberries.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        oh but I LOVE mustard on strawberries...

                                                                        but seriously, I'd employ the mint lightly macerated in the olive oil marinade or in a chutney/chimichurri on the side, not as a jelly.

                                                                  2. You have to make allowances for family members, in a non-family situation imo it is extremely rude. If I am someone's guest I'm going to eat whatever they serve without seasoning it at all, and make believe it's the most delicious meal of my life.

                                                                    1. After reading the replies I realize what I would actually like. Taste it before you change it. Tell me what you like or don't like. Give me a little of Topchef Judges Table. Everyone has a different palate and learning what people like or don't serves two purposes. One is that I want to make food that you like (within reason) and I will take it into account next time I cook for you. Second, as I learn about your palate I can take that into account when you give me feedback and understand how I want to incorporate your comments into my cooking knowledge. I will treat the comments of a someone who loves McDonalds differently than someone who is a chef.

                                                                      In the end I want you to enjoy the food and like anyone, if I get a kudo every now and again that doesn't hurt either.


                                                                      1. I'm very mellow about it. I feel that if I invite you for food, then make the food, once I hand the food over it becomes a gift from me to you. Do whatever you want with it.
                                                                        Then again, for the husband, Imma let it fly. Sort of like "why would you not friggin' take a bite before you ask for your godforsaken low fat ranch?!?!"

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                                          Interesting. Polite to friends, but not to spouse. I would think the latter relationship more important.

                                                                          1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                            I'm half joking with him and he knows it. But I do get fer up with his willingness to drown everything in ranch.

                                                                          2. I've changed my mind on this: there's enough variation in individual perceptions of taste that something that is seasoned to perfection for us can be quite over- or under-seasoned to others. See, for example:


                                                                            The higher density group had an average fungiform papilla density which was 1.8 times greater than the lower density group and an average of 1.5 times more taste pores/papilla. The subjects also rated the intensity for 4 suprathreshold concentrations of 5 taste stimuli placed on the same region of the tongue where taste pores were counted. The group with higher taste bud densities gave significantly higher average intensity ratings for sucrose (196%), NaCl (135%) and PROP (142%), but not for citric acid (118%) and quinine HCl (110%) than the lower density group.

                                                                            There is also the complicating factor of whether there is any 'proper' level of seasoning in the first place. Nathan Myrhvold suggested in Modernist Cuisine that:

                                                                            Salting "to taste" is fine, but for most foods, and most people's taste, the proper salt level is 1%-1.5% salt by
                                                                            weight. A few salty foods may reach 2%, and some people might prefer a bit less than 1%, but the range is actually quite small.

                                                                            Those ranges are not inconsistent with the degree of variation found in the study above, but salt, as one of the basic taste sensations, is distinct from other seasonings like pepper.

                                                                            With pepper, I can't help feeling that its place as one of the two essential seasonings is really only history and custom, and, even then, only in Western/European cuisine; the importance that chefs place on seasoning with pepper isn't because it is intrinsically necessary (as salt might be), but because their palates are so accustomed to it.

                                                                            tl;dr the aphorism is correct: there's no accounting for taste.

                                                                            1. I cook because I like to eat. If I share what I cook with other people, it's my gift to them. It's theirs when they receive it. They can douse it with salt, soy sauce, hot sauce, finish it off in the microwave, put it between two slices of bread with ketchup or feed it to the dog....as long as I enjoy my labor.

                                                                              Life is too short to have issues about food. Cook to make yourself happy and invite everyone to bring their own condiments.

                                                                              I think that might have been a Frank Zappa song.

                                                                              1. Y'all are way more understanding than I am about this. I see now that I take much too much ownership of the food I cook.
                                                                                Really, the only person I've ever mentioned it to is DH, but in future I will just leave it alone if he spikes his dinner with hot sauce or pepper flakes.

                                                                                We do all taste things differently, and I know that he can't taste herbs nearly as well as I can, so maybe the food does need a bit of a kick for him.

                                                                                1. The only time I will season at someone's house is if I like an unusual condiment. By that I mean steak sauce on Mac and cheese, etc. otherwise I don't want to be insulting so I just eat it.i

                                                                                  I used to think it wouldn't offend me if someone seasoned the food I prepared. Hey they're the ones eating it! Recently though my boyfriend had a business associate over for dinner. I made jarred spaghetti, maybe I shouldn't have. But it was after all 11:30 at night. He proceeded to add salt and pepper without tasting it. I like to think I doctor that stuff up pretty well. Well I guess he disagreed because he proceeded to tell me what I should do differently. And no, he isn't used to some gourmet house made sauce.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                    ehh there's so much salt already in processed stuff. let me guess, 11:30 PM, a few glasses had been enjoyed before then?

                                                                                    at that point in some cities, delivery is not an option, spaghetti sauce out of a jar (doctored or not) is perfectly acceptable.

                                                                                    1. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                      sorry, he shows up at 11:30 at my house, expect to be fed, and then has the stones to pick apart your cooking?

                                                                                      He's have been lucky to have left without the entire plate of spaghetti down his shirt.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        (holy cow. Can you tell I hadn't finished my coffee yet? First person/second person, mixed tenses...you'd never guess I teach English)

                                                                                      2. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                        <And no, he isn't used to some gourmet house made sauce.>

                                                                                        House made sauce for pasta is "gourmet"? For me it is quite everyday.

                                                                                        1. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                          I live in the Deep South, between the beach and the swamp. Pasta sauce of any kind is usually considered gourmet.

                                                                                          Yes, this guy is quite... Interesting? He likes to be "different". He means well, but come on.

                                                                                        2. I'd just like people to taste the food first.

                                                                                          1. The thing is, especially with salt, a fresh sprinkling on top of food seasons it in a different way than the salt that the food was cooked with. Some people just don't taste anything unless their desire for that tingle of fresh salt is accenting the underlying dish.

                                                                                            If you don't want people to re-season at the table, its very easy to solve. Just don't put any salt or pepper or anything else on the table.

                                                                                            Oh, and when it comes to family, all bets are off. They will go out to the garage or down to the basement or anywhere else because they know you have some extra salt stored away there. Not a thing you can do about family except grin and bear it.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                              Completely agree about the difference between fresh salt and cooked in salt. I like salty food. Very salty food. I'd probably use a salt lick if they made them for humans. I try very hard to be polite when someone serves me any potato or egg dish with no available salt, but inside I'm DYING to add a nice glistenig coating to those two dishes, no matter how much they've been cooked with salt.

                                                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                My husband is the same way - he likes that added burst of pure salinity when he takes a mouthful. It backfires on him sometimes, though - last night I made a chicken stirfry (with quite a bit of soy sauce) and he salted his plateful without tasting. He didn't say anything, but when he went back for seconds he commented "this is really perfect without the salt." Score!

                                                                                            2. I certainly don't get offended by it - not anymore! I used to find it really impolite, but then I moved to Germany. The people there have a tendency to salt everything you cook for them before they've tasted it, I suppose simply because they have a penchant for highly salty flavours in everything! I just had to get used to it...

                                                                                              I don't think it's an insulting display of their view of one as a chef, however; I think it's more of a foolish bad habit people get into that more often than not will actually spoil a good dish rather than improve it. I'll never forget the time my brother added pepper to a parsnip soup I'd made until the soup turned dark grey in colour...

                                                                                              1. Ticks me off. No matter what I prepare, my spouse has the soy sauce bottle in hand before he even tastes it. Grrr.....

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Kat

                                                                                                  Soy? Sorta makes me chuckle. My hubs likes to fondle the Tabasco bottle.

                                                                                                2. Doesn't bother me. Everyone's palate is different.

                                                                                                  What does bother me is when restaurants don't put salt and pepper on the table, or get offended when I ask for it.

                                                                                                  Related anecdote from this past weekend: at brunch at a well known, well regarded pub style restaurant. Ordered eggs. Having lived with myself for 32 years, I know I typically feel the need to add salt and/or pepper to egg dishes. Having sat at the table for the preceding 45 minutes, I know our waiter was hard to flag down when something (milk instead of half and half, extra spoon when one dropped on the floor etc.) was needed. The food is delivered and I pre-emptively ask for salt and pepper. Not because I'm not going to taste first. But because I think chances are good I am going to want it, and chances are also good that if I didn't ask then, I'd be sitting a nice long time with my food getting cold before I had the opportunity to do so. His response: "We do season our food, so you should taste it first."

                                                                                                  Dude. Mind your own beeswax. If the restaurant possesses the thing I asked for and it is not a hardship to bring it, then do it and don't question how I choose to eat my food. Thanks.

                                                                                                  And you know what? The eggs needed salt.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                    Had the same thing happen to me at an oft-discussed popular LA place famous for their no changes menu policy. I am going to need salt because if you made all of your eggs to the saltiness of my personal taste, 96% of the dishes would be sent back. I like salty eggs. I know this. I will taste your dish first so I know how much to add, but I am going to be adding something.

                                                                                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                      Now I definitely DO agree with having salt & pepper available on the table, & find it quite snobbish/snooty when a restaurant feels the need to banish these from the table - even if they're doing it as a cost-cutting measure disguised as an "eat our food as it's prepared because it's so very special" masquerade.

                                                                                                      It's MY decision if a dish requires more salt &/or pepper, & I don't give a hoot how "special" the "chef" believes his dish is.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                                        I want to add that I totally agree with this and would never deny a guest access to any spice, herb or condiment they want. And it's not that I think I'm such a good cook. It's really about having a dialog. If they don't taste it first we won't have that dialog in the same way. I look at it as an opportunity to learn.


                                                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                          I am guilty of salting food before tasting it and will try to at least make an effort to taste first, but I salt everything and even carry a salt grinder in my lunchbag to work. Fortunately my sodium levels at the doctor are low, so I figure I am free to salt away. But I will be sure to be a little more sensitive to my hosts/hostesses before reaching for the salt after reading this thread. And don't even ask me about the number of condiments in my fridge. I think some people are chocolate/sugar people and some people are salt people. I haven't ordered a dessert in a restaurant since I was 12 so I know which one I am.

                                                                                                    2. I love to cook for others. And my monthly pot luck crowd is getting together tommorrow. I try to bring a main dish. To feed fifty. And here are the people I am cooking for.

                                                                                                      Folks from Columbia, South Africa, Puerto Rico, vegetarians, Muslims, Jews, north and south of the Mason Dixon line, and even California. You try cooking both Halal and Kosher at the same time.

                                                                                                      The first few times I heard "What did Dale bring?", my ego got so inflated. But then I realised it was just as much the question of who could eat what. And I am flattered when with a wink and a smile I get asked for a slice of the smoked salmon when it is obvious it is a Kassler ham.

                                                                                                      And it irks me no end when somebody spices it up before tasting it. And this includes one of my dearest friends who makes the most insanely flavorful and fiery sauce that he pours over everything.

                                                                                                      And I no longer try to please the low/no salt crowd. Eat salt free, and any processed or seasoned food will be too salty.

                                                                                                      1. Taste it first, then you can add whatever you like. My parents are obsessed with that Montreal steak seasoning, too. I've had it as a rub on steaks at their house and like it, but it doesn't grab me.

                                                                                                        The only thought I have is that people's ability to taste (and smell) declines with age, so maybe they really do need more salt and other seasonings in order to taste the food they're eating.

                                                                                                        1. I am guilty of both crimes, seasoning / saucing something someone else cooked and thinking someone is weird / rude for not at least tasting the food I prepared first:

                                                                                                          - Had a close friend, single guy in my unit that came over for dinner frequently. First time was a BBQ. Asked for ketchup and then used it on his steak and baked potato. Thanksgiving. Ketchup on the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatos. Another time on macaroni and cheese. We just got used to it. If he was eating with us, I broke out the ketchup bottle.

                                                                                                          - I like my food spicy. I put a little more black pepper on most of my dishes no matter who cooked it. One night a roommate decided to break me of the habit. He mixed up a batch of goulash and intentionally made it HOT AS HELL. I immediately grabbed the pepper and put more on it, stirred it up and took a bite. Ok, maybe I should taste things first.

                                                                                                          - Went to a friends house where he did a bunch of steaks up for everyone. Now, growing up, the only way my Dad or Mom knew about steak cooking was cheap cuts and burnt to a crisp. I got so used to A-1 and tabasco on my steak that I still eat it that way today even if it is a great cut of meat, seasoned properly and cooked just to my liking. So, as I slid my piece of beef on the plate, I asked my buddy if he had any A-1 and Tabasco. He exploded. Didn't know if he was gonna kill me before or after he kicked me out of his house. Learned my lesson. Took a bite first. Before I finished, he brought over the bottles for me. It tasted good without it, but it tasted better with it.

                                                                                                          Now I always make the effort to try it first and then make it my way, and, understand when someone does the same to mine.

                                                                                                          1. My husband's dad does this. Salts without tasting before hand - with a heavy hand. I had not noticed that he did not pretaste and when he came over for dinner I decided to heavily salt the mashed potatoes to save him the shaking. My mouth fell open watching him wring that shaker even after I told him I had salted heavily. He just loves salt I suppose. It annoys my hubs. Me? I think it is hilarious. Some people lack taste buds. That is the only conclusion I can reach - esp. if the person opts to shake Montreal steak seasoning on each forkful.

                                                                                                            Side note - said FIL is crazy into EVERY health fad that rolls thru our society. He conveniently ignores the admonishments against pickling his tongue and stomach in salt. He won't suffer from a goiter.

                                                                                                            1. My son's buddy back in high school decided to give up salt for Lent. He was one who crystallized his food before tasting it.

                                                                                                              By two weeks in, he mentioned to my son that he 'didn't know foods tasted so different from each other!'.
                                                                                                              By the end of Lent, he was converted, for the most part.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. I saw a funny episode of salting before tasting recently at a restaurant. It was a buffet, food was well salted and there was no salt on the table. This guy sat down right across from me at the next table and started looking for the salt. Moves stuff around looking, no salt. He flags a waitress down and asks for salt, she says ok and will be right back. He commenced to asking everybody that came by for salt. He seemed to be in a near panic, certainly getting agitated. It probably took two minutes before the salt arrived. The whole time he kept looking at this food and looking around. Never would even touch the food until he had his salt shaker and had doused the whole plate.

                                                                                                                1. Several years ago my Dad had a business assoc who had this same bad habit but only with hot/spicy stuff. They were a party of 5 at a very well known steak house in NY City & they all ordered shrimp cocktails (a house favorite with very hot cocktail sauce)) along with their steaks. My Dad decided "This would be the night to fix him". His friend asked for a dish of grated white horse radish on the side. The waiter started to say something but my Dad hushed him. When the shrimp cocktails arrived, his friend dumped a heaping tsp right into his sauce & began to eat .He turned a few shades of purple & his eyes bugged out of his head, as he was reaching frantically for the bread & water. Needless to say, this really cured him of that bad habit! His wife was hysterical with laughter about it all, even years later.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: jeansboat

                                                                                                                    I loved this story. Was the steak house Spark's? I recall that they always have very hot, very fresh, very good horseradish on hand for shrimp or crab cocktail -- and for prime rib.

                                                                                                                    I've only seen the reaction 2-3 times in my life, the folks who're used to the little stale jars from the refrigerator in the supermarket trying the real, fresh stuff for the first time!

                                                                                                                  2. SO has a thing for Tabasco. It it's something he knows he likes, anything with a sauce, he splashes Tabasco on. He's an older gent and he's had a stroke and is on meds, so he wants foods that would take my breath away. I figure he deserves it. None of us live forever. I wouldn't take away from him his last taste, so to speak, his pleasure in food.

                                                                                                                    For most folks, eating at a high-end restaurant, they might expect that meals are seasoned as they should be, and be pleased. For some, a fine meal with a taste of what pleases the taste buds over and beyond what's expected of a meal, that is what I'd hope would get that person to sleep with a smile.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: afridgetoofar

                                                                                                                      The dude -- my SO of three years now -- had a neanderthal upbringing (he's a great, great guy, though). One of the ways it shows is the liberal application of Tabasco on just about anything he eats (to his credit, *after* he tastes, first).

                                                                                                                      He "cheaped out" recently and bought "Texas Pete" (shame on me for not having a huge bottle of Tabasco in the house -- there's a half a case of the big bottles at the restaurant!). The dude found that the Texas Pete was not hot enough at all!

                                                                                                                    2. Clam chowder always needs more black pepper. I will shake furiously to get enough out onto the soup. Or if it is less formal I will unscrew the cap and dump in the right amount. Then stir quickly to integrate it as best I can. Same for chicken noodle soup.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                        Yes! Yes!

                                                                                                                        The first thing I do, even at the most informal, un-assuming places, is ask for a peppermill, and humbly ask my server's permission to leave it on the table. I have been pleasantly surprised in a number of dives/diners when good black pepper is brought out with a smile.

                                                                                                                        Otherwise I'm just like lastZZ, (causing embarassment and consternation to SO) -- unscrew the damned thing so as to get enough of it into my food.

                                                                                                                        Yes! Clam chowder, other cream soups, chicken-noodle (sometimes), spinach, chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and any kind of eggs all -- in my humble opinion -- beg for tons of black pepper!

                                                                                                                        1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                          One of my pet peeves is coarse-ground pepper in a shaker with teeny tiny holes. One is forced to remove the cap

                                                                                                                      2. I grew up in a family that put a lot of pepper on food at the table, so that's what I did until I got married. My husband likes pepper fine, but his seasoning is salt. Well, the first time I had perfect summer tomatoes without pepper it was a revelation--the flavor wasn't overpowered by the pepper. So over the years I've continued to try new dishes without adding pepper at the table automatically--though it's usually a must on creamy dishes and potatoes.

                                                                                                                        1. I Agree With Wyogal. My Mother Has A Habit Of Putting Hot Sauce On Everything.

                                                                                                                          1. I guess it doesn't bother me too much. Tastes are what they are, very individual. Even if I season a dish to my liking and think it's perfect that way, everyone has a different opinion and I don't feel offended if they adjust it to their liking. It seems that the combination of a well-seasoned dish plus your own personal seasoning preferences is the best of both worlds.

                                                                                                                            1. I'll let Chowhounds in on a little secret about restaurants. Salt.

                                                                                                                              Our new venue's been in biz just over a year now and we're already creating a buzz about the food. Now, we use very good ingredients, but to the chef and the helpers I howl the same "mantra" all the time: "Did you check the seasoning? Add more salt and pepper!"

                                                                                                                              I am aware that there are health concerns for some with regard to salt (although the hypertension issue was recently challenged by medical researchers here and abroad).

                                                                                                                              The public finds salt delicious yet they're hesitant to use it. In fact, some amateur cooks don't taste; they just add a token amount (I had to comiserate with the poster above who mentions her husband's use of a pinch of salt -- for three pounds of mashed potatoes!)

                                                                                                                              People used to make fun of British cuisine 'cause it was all over-boiled and under-seasoned. Americans ought to take a look at themselves. How often does one go to a diner and see the folks at the counter toss salt, pepper and ketchup all over a plate of food? And you know what? They're right -- because the food has not been seasoned properly in the kitchen!

                                                                                                                              These days, I occasionally cringe when I see a customer served a plate of our fresh Marinara sauce on pasta, and, prior to the first bite, they cover it with grated cheese, hot pepper flakes, salt & black pepper. But that's what they like!

                                                                                                                              The risk one takes when seasoning liberally is that indeed there are people who're genuinely very sensitive to salt (never use it at home). These are the 1 in 100 diners, for us, who return a dish as "too salty." We accommodate them as best we can.

                                                                                                                              What does irk me -- but again I can't do anything about it -- is that I have some very flavorful recipes for seafood dishes, specifically shrimp cocktail and baked cod. We encourage our customers to taste before squeezing lemon wedges or applying cocktail sauce or tartar sauce -- but invariably it happens. The customer does his/her best to completely cover-up any nuance of flavor that these recipes reveal so well. Hey, it's all in a day's work.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                <The public finds salt delicious yet they're hesitant to use it.>

                                                                                                                                Truer words have hardly ever been spoken.

                                                                                                                                Sometimes a friend will wonder why he likes my version of something better than his own, and most of the difference IMO is that I use enough salt.

                                                                                                                                I have a friend I taught to cook, and I had to force her to look at how much salt I used. She would literally use a two-finger pinch (with tiny hands) in everything she made, no matter the quantity.

                                                                                                                              2. Everytime I see this topic, I have a vision of someone coming up to my plate of food and seasoning it. And I know that's not what you meant....

                                                                                                                                However, once you give someone the plate of food, it belongs to them. It is no longer your food, it has become their food. It's the next stage in food evolution. It starts out as ingredients, gets cut up and cooked, and then gets eaten. It didn't belong to you until you acquired the ingredients. If you give it to someone else, it belongs to them.

                                                                                                                                People have different perceptions of food and once you give them the food, they can season it to make it palatable to them.

                                                                                                                                My mother kept trying to give me a table and chairs that I hated. Over and over again. I finally told her that I would take them but then they would be mine and I would do what I wanted with them. That might involve leaving them out in the rain. She kept the furniture.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                                  512 - "then they would be mine and I would do what I wanted"

                                                                                                                                  oh, I have to remember that tactic. quite good, useful (and a touch evil!).

                                                                                                                                  1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                                    I have to say that this notion of all eating situations ever resulting in one correct answer bugs me.

                                                                                                                                    If I'm having a business lunch/dinner, I'm going to order and eat in a fashion that will enable me to fit in/build rapport, and be the most comfortable talking. If I'm eating in the home of a significant other's or friend's family, particularly for the first time, I'm going to more closely mimic how they eat and appreciate the meal. If I'm eating in a restuarant with my mother (who keeps her version of kosher), I'm less likely to order foods that I know she won't eat because it inhibits sharing dishes and may irritate her making for a less pleasant meal.

                                                                                                                                    Sometimes meals are about enjoying food exactly as we want - and other times meals are about bonding with people. In those cases, sometimes the food seasoned or "condimented" the way we would most prefer just isn't the best idea.

                                                                                                                                  2. <<How do you feel about your food being re-seasoned at the table?

                                                                                                                                    once i've served the food, i no longer look at it as "my" food.
                                                                                                                                    it has been gifted to the eater for them to season it however they like --as long as what they do is not immoral, illegal, unethical, dangerous, or the putting of strange "non-food" things on it--i stand down.

                                                                                                                                    1. My aunts husband salts his anchovies...
                                                                                                                                      He salts his ham...
                                                                                                                                      His mom never seasoned any food, salt is not the only seasoning in the kitchen...
                                                                                                                                      He won't taste it or eat it until he puts salt on it first...
                                                                                                                                      I guess it's a knee jerk reaction to his moms unseasoned food?

                                                                                                                                      I dislike salting food at the table. It's the only option we got at that point. But I taste first and if it ain't got no seasoning of herbs and spices related to the food, I will salt after tasting the blandness... And empty a pepper shaker or grinder as well...

                                                                                                                                      1. I KNOW when my oysters on the half-shell arrive that I want a slight squeeze of lemon juice and a single drop of Tabasco Sauce on each one. There is no better way to eat them.
                                                                                                                                        But I can commiserate with the OP because my parents (especially my mother) are the same way.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                          Putting Tabasco Sauce on an oyster is a little different, because that is always left to the discretion of the eater, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                        2. No, I'm not going to taste it first. Salt is a matter of taste and there is little chance your refined taste for salt matches my more gluttonous nature.

                                                                                                                                          You see, I'm quite aware of something you are not. My desire for salt on my food is in the 99.99th percentile. It is very very unlikely that you have seasoned to my taste, and I do not even know you. Where I your relative, like your mother, my insistence on salting first would actually increase. You see, I would have tasted your food before an would know you did not evolve from sea dwelling creatures like I did.

                                                                                                                                          I put salt on my steak, taste it again, then I may have to add more salt over the whole thing, salt each piece as I make a fresh unsalted cut, and then perhaps a bit more salt and pepper shaken on the plate for dipping.

                                                                                                                                          I also salt food on my plate that I cooked for myself. I do this because I've made a habit of cooking with consideration to other peoples tastes. You can always add salt but you can never take it away. Since habits are hard to break I make a habit of salting lightly for those who evolved from fresh water ponds. A good cook adds salt very lightly if at all. Which is why we have salt and pepper shakers on the table.

                                                                                                                                          BTW, you are a control freak. The whole point of this article is to sway my behavior, and your mothers. Sorry, you are not the boss of me, and the behavior your mother seems quite sensible. She knows you don't put on as much salt as she likes.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: BrianMacker

                                                                                                                                            Hey Mom, Thanks for stopping by the thread. See you on Friday. :o) Just kidding. You make a good point. One that as I re-read through the post a few others also mentioned. She has tasted my food before and she may have already known what she would like to add to make it her way. And I have no problem with that if that was the case.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                              Sorry for reiterating the point a year later if others have already pointed this out. Perhaps you should update the article stating your mom was right all along. :)

                                                                                                                                          2. Let them enjoy it in whatever way they like.

                                                                                                                                            I went to an Italian restaurant once where they stated on the menu that you would only get bread for courses that they thought were suited to it and there was absolutely no parmesan or fresh pepper available since they'd seasoned their meals to perfection.

                                                                                                                                            The food sucked.

                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                              hal - I think the collective term for the proprietors is "fun suck".

                                                                                                                                              1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                                So, they give you bread and then what? Take it away when you move on to the next course?
                                                                                                                                                Frankly, I they sound just cheap- not surprised the food sucked.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                  Yes, they do.

                                                                                                                                                  I've seen it done in France, too, albeit rarely.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                    They'd get the stink eye from me!
                                                                                                                                                    I want to decide when I eat my bread.
                                                                                                                                                    Many times, I save it for soup or something with sauce, so it'll sit on my plate for a while.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                      if it's on your plate or on the tablecloth (as is common in much of Europe) they won't take it -- they'll just take the basket.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, well that's no too bad ;-)
                                                                                                                                                        I've had the bread basket taken away when we get into the meal- a space issue lots of times.
                                                                                                                                                        What bothers me is the reason- that the restaurant tells me when to eat it, with what.
                                                                                                                                                        It's kind of parental.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                          Do they serve the bread they take away at the next table?