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Feb 4, 2013 10:34 AM

Etiquette question


OK I will jump right into the situation. My daughter and her colllege age boyfriend eat dinner with us often. Now, I am a foodie no dought about it. I take pride in what I put on the table. The boyfriend puts Sriracha hot chili sauce on everything. I'm talking garlic smashed potatos(til they are red), parsley pilaf and seafood risotto. Last night I served a dish seasoned mildly with saffron and other herbs. He immediately went to get the hot sauce. I followed him into the kitchen and told him "not every dish is meant to be hot". I said some cooks (myself included) would be offended.if he used it on virtually every entree and consider it rude.
He got mad and sulked thru dinner. Later my wife said I was wrong to take offense and I should count hot sauce as a condiment. for him it's like salt and pepper.
Was I right to tell him it was rude? Was it rude? Is hot sauce a condiment to be used on dishes that were never intended to be hot?

  1. You were rude.

    But at least the guy now has a great story to post about his GF's Dad.

    This isn't about whether or not hot sauce is a condiment. It's about someone trying to police how another adult seasons their food.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Agreed. He's a guest. Make him feel welcome. Who cares how he likes his food?

      1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

        But there is a point when a "guest" who "eat(s) dinner with us often" transcends into something else, something more familiar, familial, as in family.
        That being said, the comfort level changes and the etiquette rules loosen up. Not rude as I see it.

        1. re: Motosport

          Then by all means, scold. That makes adults feel comfortable.

          1. re: Motosport

            I agree that it is rude to tell anyone how to eat his or her food. However I also agree with Motosport that there is a point where the "guest" term no longer applies. In this case, he was comfortable enough to go on his own to the kitchen to get the Sriracha sauce. That speaks more to "friend of the family" and less to "guest"

            1. re: 2roadsdiverge

              I love when someone agrees with me. Hope my kids read this.

              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                Sure, you can have that conversation. But I don't think following someone into the kitchen and telling them they're rude and you're offended by it is the way to do it. More like, "Pete, do you mind tasting it first? It's meant to be a subtle dish. The yellow is from saffron, you won't taste it under the hot sauce. Just humour me and try a bite first. I'll go get you the sauce." I mean is it meant to be educational or just insulting to the poor kid?

                  1. re: julesrules

                    jules - exactly the route I was thinking, especially the "tasting it first" part.

                    Also, if this was still on a guest/host level (sounds like the family is beyond that) isn't it rude of a guest to not consider the thought and effort that went into the making of the dish?

                        1. re: julesrules

                          This sounds like the way to approach the subject, jules. Very well said.

                          1. re: julesrules

                            Say it Jules!

                            And only if the person is basically family. I can't fathom doing that to a guest or even my in laws (one of whom is a salt o'maniac). I just laugh and get on with it.

                            And with the OP - that kid you are schooling may well turn into your child's spouse and the parent of your grandkids. Zippy the lippy if you have a long term vision of happiness and welcome visits. You don't want the spouse thinking you are an A#1prig.

                      1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                        He uses the same condiment on all foods - who says he's an adult?

                    1. I have two thoughts, each worth .01

                      The first is: if this is the worst quality in the boyfriend, then, big-picture wise, who cares? Maybe he really, really likes sriracha. Maybe he has a taste bud defect. Not a damning offense. So, I would probably have bitten my tongue.

                      The second is: does he do this at restaurants, too? If you took both him and daughter to a fine dining establishment outside of your home, would he douse his filet mignon and baked potato in sriracha...or ask for the stuff? Would he ask for hot sauce at your local Papa gino's? In other words, does he do the douse all the time?

                      1. Etiquette is a two way street. A polite guest generally should not use or ask for condiments that aren't presented at the table with the meal. At the same time, a gracious host keeps their mouth shut when a guest uses/requests a condiment that was not intended to go with the dish.

                        82 Replies
                        1. re: mpjmph

                          I agree with this. Many find using salt and pepper before tasting something to also be rude.

                          My best friend's husband does the same thing with various hot sauces, I think things initiates as a badge of honor but he may have caused it so he doesn't taste the milder flavors anymore.

                          I don't think this was necessarily the time to bring it up though either.

                          1. re: melpy

                            there was a long discussion about exactly this just a couple of weeks ago.

                            I'd be pretty hacked if someone drowned my carefully-prepared meals with hot sauce, ESPECIALLY if he did it before even so much as tasting it.

                            It would also mean I'd be going to a lot less trouble to cook for him, as he obviously only has one flavor profile in his brain.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Exactly. I have a friend I cook for occasionally. He pretty much grabs every condiment available and dumps it all over his food.

                              But the thing is, he's poor (basically homeless) and I know he's used to eating bad food that requires doctoring, so I cut him some slack. I do try to ask him to please taste the food first before he re-seasons it. He knows I use better quality ingredients and seasonings than what he's used to, so he's more willing to try his food "naked."

                              But I'm also not going to break out the really good stuff, since I know he's not going to appreciate the distinction.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                and it's okay if someone doesn't have a hound-ish palate -- it just means I'm probably not going to spend a huge amount of time and effort on preparing something with a subtle flavor profile.

                                Maybe I'm the one living in the dark ages -- but it really doesn't matter to me what someone serves, I eat it the way it is prepared and served, and whether or not *I* think it needs salt or pepper or hot sauce is immaterial -- this is the food that my friends/family have offered to me, so I take it exactly as offered.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Seriously? You never add salt or pepper to any food friends or family have prepared for you? That's amazing. I mean, I even re-salt food *I* prepared if I don't like it the way it came out of *my* kitchen.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    follow the example set by the host, otherwise eat what's served you. first is mom's voice, second is dad's.

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      We eat very little salt, so it doesn't take much to be "enough" for me.

                                      If there's a salt shaker on the table and it's really, really desperately lacking, perhaps. (but salt shakers don't appear on tables round these parts all that often, whether in a restaurant or in someone's home)

                                      I don't remember the last time I've added anything to a plate that was served to me, regardless of where. (and I rarely salt my own)

                                      I would never, ever ask for a condiment/seasoning that wasn't already on the table.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Huh. Well, I guess I don't see a problem or breach of etiquette with adjusting the seasoning of food cooked for my personal enjoyment to the level that I actually *do* enjoy it.

                                        Of course, I always have a salt shaker and pepper mill available for my own dinner guests, and would never hold it against them if they >gasp< actually used them.

                                        Tastes are subjective, after all.

                                        If people want to take offense, for whatever reason, they'll find one. It's just not my style.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          here in France, salt shakers don't often appear at the table, because the food is assumed to be properly seasoned ahead of time. Salt shakers DO exist, and I'm certain someone's going to be along to proclaim loudly with lots of eye rolling that they ate at one restaurant in Lyon that DID have shakers, so I am wrong, wrong wrong, and what's it like growing up as an idiot? -- but as a general rule, they're not there.

                                          As above, I'd never ask for something that's not already on the table.
                                          I'd never, ever season before tasting (and would hope that guests would offer me the same courtesy)

                                          But if someone were to grab the salt shaker and salt away before tasting, I'd make the mental note to not put forth my best effort the next time, since it will go unappreciated.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            I'd make the mental note to not put forth my best effort the next time, since it will go unappreciated

                                            by you or the guest?

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              I would probably still invite them over and cook for them, but it would definitely slide away from the subtle and intricate -- more toward the burgers-lasagna-pizza end of the things.

                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                              Well, yeah. I always taste my food first before I decide whether it needs more seasoning (less, unfortunately, is impossible at that point).

                                              I admit it's a bit more tricky to ask for salt if it's not already on the tables, which is why I always make shaker & mill available so as to not create some weird-ass, awkward situation of perceived or imaginary possibilities of a Serious Dining Offense for my guests.

                                              I do remember now hosting a couple of GFs way back in HS, having prepared a simple (*perfectly* seasoned, of course haha) Greek salad. One of the girls kept pouring salt on it like it was going out of style. Well, she ended up rendering it inedible, and I had to toss it. That did raise my cockles just a tad, as I hate wasting food for such an idiotic reason.

                                            3. re: linguafood

                                              yeah, the breach of etiquette question is what is so subjective (as well as taste). my problem with some of these posts is people saying "i would never never never" in a "how dare you even think of doing what i wouldn't do, you must be a terrible person" tone. i would not NEVER ask for seasoning that wasn't intended, nor would i not EVER feel some sort of resentment/displeasure, however, small, if someone seasoned my food differently than i really wanted it. i would also not NEVER say something, nor not ALWAYS make my displeasure known, nor not EVER be impolite, even unintendedly. (this is not aimed at you lingua, just where i decided to pipe up.)

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                I was making no statement about anyone else's behaviour.

                                                *I* (me, myself) would never ask for that which was not already on the table. Period.

                                                I would, however, find it bizarre if someone were to ask me if I had a bottle of sriracha for the cassoulet, and would answer "sorry, I don't have any" -- which in the case of sriracha, would also be a statement of truth....nor would I feel particularly obligated to fetch the Tabasco, Crystal, or piri-piri which I do have.

                                            4. re: sunshine842

                                              i get not doing that in a person's home, but if say you were at a Chinese restaurant but you weren't automatically offered the little hot chili sauce/peppers tray that we pretty much know are available at most Chinese restaurants, even not in America, you wouldn't ask for it?

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                probably not, unless it was supposed to be offered with the dish I ordered (like in a menu description) and was just overlooked/forgotten.

                                                I also don't eat ketchup (don't like it) -- so I don't ask for that for burgers and fries, either.

                                                I don't usually add soy sauce (see "I don't eat much salt" above), although sushi usually warrants a few drops.

                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                  Restaurant ettiquette is a bit different, because you are a paying patron, not a guest. Even then, how you ask matters. I was recently in a restaurant that served what, in my mind, was a terribly underseasoned, bland risotto. There was no salt & peper on the table. I flagged down the waitress and said something along the lines of "I don't mean to offend the chef but ... would it be possible to get some salt & pepper?" She laughed, said no problem, and brought it to the table. In the same circumstances in someone's home, I'd never ask for salt & pepper no matter how flavorless the dish were.

                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                  "I would never, ever ask for a condiment/seasoning that wasn't already on the table."

                                                  Not even a pepper mill in a restaurant? I live in metro NY, and most places still have s and p on the table, some servers carry pepper mills, others will offer it after food is served, and others will bring it when asked.

                                                  I haven't asked for seasonings in anyone's home, but I'm not offended if someone asks me; I want folks to have what they like.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    probably not, unless it was supposed to be offered with the dish I ordered (like in a menu description) and was just overlooked/forgotten.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      I love pepper, and find it's a wonderful addition to most meals. It's usually offered, but I ask when it isn't. Are you saying that's bad manners?

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        I'm saying I would never ask for the pepper if it wasn't already on the table.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            because if it was intended to be offered, it would be on the table.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              That seems like a very odd, hard line to draw.

                                                              For example, how many times on Top Chef have we seen chefs send out food that some but not all judges have found to be over or undersalted or seasoned?

                                                              And so often, the contestant says s/he has tasted the food and it was good... but one or more judges found a really bad taste experience.

                                                              Your meal is made to suit a palate other than your own, and adding a seasoning to it after tasting it to make it suit you does nothing to diminish its other qualities.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                I'm not sure why I'm being made to feel like a freak or beast for doing things a) the way I was taught and b) the way I feel I should do things.

                                                                What YOU do is your choice, and since the chances of us sharing a table are rather remote, neither of us impacts the other.

                                                                If it's not on the table, and it's not something that's *obviously* supposed to be on the table and was overlooked, I don't ask for it.

                                                                I - me - myself.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  I feel the same way. For example, I love butter on my bread. But if I was at a home and it was not offered (not everyone serves it that way) I simply wouldn't ask for it. Others may think this is nuts, but I would rather eat the meal the way the family usually eats it. It would otherwise seem to imply that the meal was "lacking" if I need to ask for something.

                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                    I think someone would have to be awfully thin-skinned to be offended by a request for salt or pepper or another condiment.

                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                      one more do what you want to do; I'll do the same.

                                                                      Nowhere have I ever said that I think it's rude or boorish....I have said (repeatedly!) that *I* don't do it.

                                                                      That is all.

                                                                      and thanks, DGresh-- there are also places in the world where butter isn't ever served with bread (even places where, maddeningly, the butter is good enough to consider eating right off of the butter plate...)

                                                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                        Apparently some are. I never knew until reading it here. Be careful about asking for salt, pepper, butter or anything else you might want or need.

                                                                        Dare not ask about the toilet unless it is offered up. : ))))

                                                                        Funny what raises the ire.

                                                                        I am gonna start bringing a secret stash of condiments to friend's homes where I am iffy on their feelings about condiments. Pepper up the sleeve, mild distraction of husband spilling water onto the table... WABAM! Potato peppered!

                                                                      2. re: DGresh

                                                                        That's really different; you're not paying for an experience as a guest in someone's home. Different situation, different etiquette.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          But isn't this whole thread about being in someone's house? At a restaurant, sure, I guess I'd ask for salt if I thought it needed it. But I honestly can't recall that ever happening.

                                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                                            Yes, a home where the young man was welcome to go to the fridge and get the siracha before, the dad knew about this habit, and had not said anything in the past about it. Yet, chose to make a fancy dish anyway.

                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                              I am not one of those who said the dad was alright. But I also have said that I wouldn't help myself to condiments at a sit down dinner at *anyone's* house, even my FILs, and I've been married 23 years. That's just my personal feeling. And as I said downthread, I personally would want to know (gently however) if I was doing something that was rubbing someone the wrong way.

                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                My point is that this was already allowed to happen on previous occasions, the dad gave him permission at other times. It was something that was done before.
                                                                                It's not about what you or I would have done.

                                                                              2. re: wyogal

                                                                                I think this is an interesting study on the need for control and maybe a few other things. I cannot fathom trying to dictate how another person who is a guest in my home (comfortable or formal) will be ALLOWED to enjoy their meal especially if it is not hurting anyone else. And to ambush someone in the kitchen? LOL

                                                                                I am blissfully naive.

                                                                              3. re: DGresh

                                                                                There's actually been quite a bit of side discussion in this thread about home v. restaurant etiquette.

                                                                                Even if restaurant food is well seasoned in the kitchen, for many folks, like me, fresh cracked or ground pepper enhances it a lot... compared to black pepper that's been cooked in.

                                                                                I'm pretty sure that's why so many restaurants have begun placing pepper mills (and not shakers) on tables... a development I'm very fond of.

                                                                                Why does the food have to be deficient for a diner to want to add something that enhances the experience?

                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                  you have never had to salt your food at a restaurant?

                                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                    no I never have (except maybe french fries, and then they always have a shaker available)

                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                      Except for eggs, I don't think I've salted restaurant food more than maybe two times in my life. When it was severely lacking taste. But fresh black pepper is a whole nuther thang.

                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                              I'm not trying to make you feel like a freak, and I"m sorry if you feel that way.

                                                                              I'm addressing it only from the perspective of this topic, etiquette, not personal psyche. Your personal choices to season or not season your food are no one's business, that's not what my question is about.

                                                                              So you still haven't answered, but clearly, I don't want you to keep feeling all angsty.

                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                This may be poor etiquette to jump into a side conversation that I was not a part of but from an etiquette perspective, I think I can now at least partially go along with others who question the OPs, maybe, lack of tact in addressing the issue. It may not technically be the question that the OP asked, but I strongly believe the more glaring breach of etiquette was committed by the boyfriend. So, does one bad deed deserve another?

                                                                                Having followed this thread from the beginning and read all the opinions from, "talk to your daughter" to "you may never see your grandchildren", this is now my final conclusion to this drama based on my astute observations.

                                                                                Dad snapped.

                                                                                That's about it. He snapped.

                                                                                Having said that and if I were, and for the most part, am, defending him, I would point out the mitigating factors.

                                                                                First, this was not a guest in the normal sense of the word. He's a regular in the house. He helps himself in the kitchen. My guess is that he knows the password for the WiFi and the one for the garage remote. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't actually have a toothbrush of his own in the house. He's almost family so the normal guest-host relationship has been adjusted.

                                                                                Next, dad is a foodie who cooks, takes great care and pride in the product he puts out and to watch his work disrespected right in front of him just eats at him (notice the excellent use of the word "eats" - I'll do it some more further down). Ever lend your spotless car to a friend and have it come back trashed? That's how he feels about his food. We should not underestimate the level of intensity that cooks feel about their food.

                                                                                Now dad didn't just blow up at the first offense. That would have been over-the-top rude. He let it fester, eating at him each time they sat down for dinner. Months pass and dad is now waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares of drowning in sriracha, having sriracha thrown in his eyes, having his yet to be born grand daughter, aptly named Sriracha Elizabeth being weaned on a similac/sriracha formula... OK, I'll stop but you get the picture.

                                                                                Finally, after purchasing some wonderful imported saffron at $9 million an ounce, gently stirring in those threads to get that perfect yellowish, orangey hue and those great subtle flavors, enter Sriracha Boy.
                                                                                Ladies and gentlemen, can you really blame the man? For the love of food and how amazingly wonderful the taste of saffron is, this man was only defending what is truly good and right in this world, food.

                                                                                Next time dad, just be a little more tactful about it. Apologize to the young man, maybe buy him a sriracha variety pack or get him in a headlock and give him a noogy.

                                                                                I've got to get a hobby.

                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                  Yes, I can blame the man. He knew what was going to happen.

                                                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                                                    True. I'm just saying, yeah what dad did was not right but I kinda understand where he's coming from. If I were the judge I'd consider everything, find him guilty and sentence him to probation and maybe a bit of community service. I get the feeling that many on this thread would give him life.

                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                      No, it's just that there are too many people, self-professed "foodies" that value their own cooking skills over relationships. and harbor resentment towards those that don't feel the same way about their food.

                                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                                        Yeah, that's the divide, I think. For me, an awful lot of the enjoyment of cooking is making folks happy and making sure they get something they love and will enjoy.

                                                                                        I mentioned, on another forum, that I serve three different cranberry sauces at Thanksgiving, and one is the dreaded canned stuff that is neither berry nor sauce that you slice because some people in my husband's family like it and grew up having it annually. Bleah.

                                                                                        One person posted in high dudgeon that it would *NEVER* appear on her table under any circumstance.

                                                                                        I guess she told me.

                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                          "NEVER" for me is the problem throughout this thread. when someone says "i would NEVER" it's implicitly a judgment on those who would/might/have. i distrust anyone who says they'd NEVER anything. you NEVER know when you'll have to eat your words. but hopefully there will be a bottle of sriracha around because it won't go down easy.

                                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                            No. It is not.

                                                                                            "I would never" indicates *my* behaviour.

                                                                                            If you interpret that as a judgment on yourself, it's your issue, not mine.

                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                              I would never berate another human for srirachaing food at my table. I can say that with 100% certainty. Others, it should go without having to say, are free to do as they please. No implied or overt judgement.

                                                                                              Now if my dog decided to start srirachaing her kibble I have laid before her - that my dearest Mariacarmen I would have to put a stop to.

                                                                                          2. re: wyogal

                                                                                            Ah, but foodie is really in the mind of the beholder. Whether his food is really any good misses the point. It's his passion. It's probably pretty obvious to anyone familiar with him that his cooking is important to him and anyone with a clue would recognize that and be particularly sensitive to what they do to his food.
                                                                                            I think we are all passionate about something??? that others might not understand but, recognizing said passion, most people avoid demeaning or minimizing it. I don't understand my friend's obsession with ceramic pigs or another's fixation with all things Red Sox but I wouldn't use one of those stupid pigs as an ashtray or wipe down the kitchen countertop with that dish towel that Big Papi once used to wipe the sweat from his head. And don't even get me started on how easy it is to inadvertently minimize the importance of someone's pet ("hey, it's just a dog". See how that goes over with some people). Was dad wrong? Sure. Understandable? I think so. Does that make it right? Nope. Do I think he should not be allowed to see his yet to be born grandchildren as a result of this? No.
                                                                                            Most likely conversation with his daughter 20 years from now:
                                                                                            "Hey, what was the name of that boyfriend of yours that used to put sriracha on everything?"
                                                                                            "Oh, that jerk. I forget."

                                                                                            1. re: bobbert

                                                                                              You are far overestimating the social awareness capacity of a college-aged boy!! ha

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                I think this is actually insulting to college age kids. I think very many have developed a rather nuanced view of interpersonal relations. It's kind of insulting to say "well he's only 20, what do you expect?"

                                                                                              2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                Some are passionate about siracha.
                                                                                                Still, he (the dad) KNEW this was going to happen. It was not unusual. He should have avoided it, and handled it differently.
                                                                                                Relationships are more important than food.

                                                                                        2. re: bobbert

                                                                                          "...having sriracha thrown in his eyes, having his yet to be born grand daughter, aptly named Sriracha Elizabeth... "


                                                                                          If his wife isn't giving him a pass on his behavior, I don't think you should, except that you do it so amusingly.

                                                                                          Thanks for the smile.

                                                                            3. re: mcf

                                                                              Pepper is an optional addition to many things, so is customarily offerred to diners in restaurants. A pepper mill should be on the table for a private dinner, but if it isn't, as a guest I would not ask for it. Even though I like black pepper, and add it to many things, it wouldn't hurt to do without it for one meal.

                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                See, and I really think black pepper brings out the flavors in some dishes.

                                                                                I don't understand the hosts who don't put out salt & pepper for their guests. It's like "my food is perfect the way it is". Yah, maybe for you, but not for me. And undersalted anything is just a waste of time and not worth eating.

                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                    Usually, pepper is available, whether in a restaurant or at home. It's optional. Some people don't like it.

                                                                                  2. re: GH1618

                                                                                    @GH1618 -- THANK YOU.

                                                                                    @linguafood -- it's pretty rare to have S&P on the table in France -- either at someone's home or at a restaurant.

                                                                                    I didn't ask for condiments before living here anyway, but living here reinforces that - it IS considered rude to ask for it here.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      I haven't been to France in a while, and I don't remember the table settings at the few mediocre bistros we went to.... but either way -- bummer.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        the chefs can get a little touchy if you ask for condiments -- it's a clear statement (in their eyes) that the dish is badly seasoned - a smack right across the chops of any chef in the country.

                                                                                        (truthfully? I rarely ever think it needs it...things like raclette are served with a pepper grinder, but that's because it's traditional and expected.)

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          You live in France. You're fortunate to be able to have *the* finest food in the world at your fingertips. Whether it be a little, old French woman cooking at an Inn for 4 tables, no menu just walk in an eat what she's prepared, or a restaurant in Paris....
                                                                                          There's nothing like it. S&P at the table?

                                                                                          Enough said.

                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                            Yes, it's absolutely impossible to receive bad food (or badly seasoned food) in France, ever. No matter where you go, the fact that you are in the magical country of France will elevate any food served, with no need for s&p at the table ever.

                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  Of course there's miserable, horrible, industrial food in France.

                                                                                                  But is there typically a salt shaker or a pepper mill? No.

                                                                                                  I do my best to avoid the former, then there's no need for the latter.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Are you sure? Miserable food in Fwwwwaaaaance?

                                                                                                    Why, impossible, I say '-D

                                                                                                    Of course, not even the addition of s&p could've saved some of the mediocre bistro fare I've had the displeasure of sampling in Paris.

                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                      Next time, ask latindancer for restaurant reccos.

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        Ha! Thanks for the laugh, mcf :-D

                                                                                                      2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        the worst steak I've ever had in my entire life was in a "mamie cooking for four tables" hole-in-the-wall in rural France.

                                                                                                        It was a piece of shoe leather cooked to death and then cooked a little longer, swimming in a salty, factory-prepared sludge of oily sauce, and served alongside frozen french fries.

                                                                                                        I didn't salt it, because it was a salt lick on its own, and there wasn't enough pepper in the entire place to save it

                                                                                                        It's one of the few meals in my life that I basically pushed around my plate until my companions were finished..

                                                                                                        made the oversalted steak at Applebee's seem like gourmet least that one came with steamed broccoli that was actually still crisp-tender, and was tender enough to cut without electric tools.

                                                                                                      3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        Well, I've never eaten 'miserable, horrible, industrial food' in France.

                                                                                                        I'm assuming that's what linguafood's referring to and where she/he's eaten.

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          my companion's meals were quite nice, by the way -- one chicken, one fish -- both reasonably well-prepared. I have no idea what they did to that steak.

                                                                                                          Miserable, horrible, and industrial DOES exist in France...fortunately it's not all that common -- most of the food here is anywhere from decent to awesome.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            Miserable, horrible and NOT industrial also exists in France. Though the food is usually wonderful, not every restaurant serves great food. And I've had some pretty lamentable meals to prove it.

                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            I do have friends in France (and yes, they are native-born French) who have harissa at the ready.

                                                                                          3. re: GH1618

                                                                                            See my comment above: I agree, in a private home, I would not ask for anything not on the table. But as a host, I always ask if everyone has everything s/he needs before I sit down, because in all the last minute pre meal activity, I may have forgotten something.

                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                              If I really wanted salt or pepper I would pretend not to notice that it wasn't on the table and go from there.

                                                                                              "Pass the salt please", "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that the food was salted perfectly".

                                                                                              1. re: kengk

                                                                                                THAT kind of snarkery would ensure that you never had another invitation to many homes.

                                                                                                Talk about passive-aggressive.

                                                                                    2. re: linguafood

                                                                                      I cannot not resalt a baked potato. If it is not on the table, I would rummage thru the kitchen til I found it.

                                                                            4. Like everything in life, it depends.

                                                                              It certainly is *not* rude to inform someone that some dishes should be enjoyed, at least initially, sans condiments.

                                                                              But like with childbirth, it's all in the delivery.

                                                                              If you approached it in the way of, "You know, son, I too love me some good Sriracha, but sometimes I find that I like certain foods with no condiments whatsoever. For example, I like Sriracha, but I find that ice cream is infinitely better without the red stuff. Perhaps you should consider some of your favorite foods without Sriracha and see if you prefer the difference, etc."

                                                                              If you did it this way, I don't think it would be rude and I don't think the BF would be sulking afterwards.

                                                                              But if you took the tone of a scolding father (or, ahem, father-in-law), and said something to the effect of, "Son, when I was your age, we didn't have Sriracha, we ate all of our foods bland, and by god, when we discovered saffron, we treasured it like water in the desert, etc." Then by golly, he might never step foot in your house again ...

                                                                              1. I don't think I would have openly said something. I'd probably be passive-aggressive and hide the sriracha when he came over. "Oops we must be out"

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                    He probably carries a spare sriracha in his holster.

                                                                                    Thanks for the chuckle.