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Apr 10, 2013 06:13 AM

Pleasing in laws with food

We often read(here in Chowhound too) or hear about people making food to impress in laws. Why do we get nervous about making food for in laws? Luckly, my mother in law only eats salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner so I don't really have to worry about impressing her with food but do you find yourself doing this?

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  1. My W.A.S.P. in laws say I am an amazing gourmet cook.
    Their past food experience has been limited to boiled, baked, mashed meat and root vegetables spiced with salt and pepper.
    They devoured my hummus appetizer the first time I cooked for them. "What's in this!!!!!"
    I am honored.

    1. It is not possible to make my MIL happy. The in law family considers garlic to be an "exotic" spice. I am Italian so you can imagine the problem.

      15 Replies
      1. re: baseballfan

        Not Italian, but can't imagine cooking without garlic. You have my sympathy.

        1. re: baseballfan

          Yeah not fun or easy. BF's dad is allergic (intolerant) to garlic so my SIL (Italian Amercan) had to put up signs all around her kitchen (stove, fridge, oven door, etc) to remind herself to leave out the garlic whenever cooking for him.

          1. re: viperlush

            Never knew a person can be allergic to it really an allergy or just a dislike.

            1. re: Monica

              He calls it an allergy, but I think it's more of a severe intolerance. It's unfortunate because he truly likes to eat garlic, but his body isn't to happy when he does. It can be a hassle when dining out.

              1. re: viperlush

                Poor guy! That can't be easy for him! Especially since he likes garlic!

              2. re: Monica

                I knew a woman who was allergic to many members of the allium family, including onions and garlic. She couldn't be in the room with certain flowers, so yes, it's possible, but I think it must be pretty uncommon.

            2. re: baseballfan

              I don't know if thy consider it exotic but garlic is strictly verboten with my grandparent in laws. Basically for then, if it isn't a recipe they ready make then they don't want to eat it. They only make down home central PA Amish type faire. Inevitably anything I cook isn't as good because I can't make it just the same. I don't expect compliments. I just try to avoid complaints.

              1. re: melpy

                "I just try to avoid complaints." Yep, me, too. What I don't get is why people think it's okay to complain to someone about the meal they just made you. I was brought up never to do that because it's both rude and mean. Rudeness is bad for everyone's digestion.

                1. re: Isolda

                  My wonderful, long-suffering late father-in-law silently picked his way through Beef Stroganoff, Spaghetti, and whatever else I made when he and MIL came to visit. Finally, after a few years, Mom told me that Dad didn't like his food mixed together - just plain meat, vegetables (cooked to death) and starch. She, on the other hand, loved my cooking, and happily ate anything I made. So I made simple stuff when they came, and Dad grew to love my cooking, too.
                  Dad made it clear that he couldn't abide garlic, in any form or food. He'd even left the table when Mom made garlic bread once. Not until he had passed, did Mom tell me why she thought Dad hated garlic. He used to eat it, years ago, and apparently somewhere in his past, he had had a passionate and heartbreaking romance with an Italian woman who cooked with garlic. Too many memories, I guess!
                  The thing that cracked me up about Dad's insistence on plain unadorned food was that he had a sweet tooth a mile long, and he'd eat any pie, cake, Danish, coffee cake, cookie, ice cream.. anything sweet. Never occurred to him that all those things were made of lots of ingredients and flavors.

                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                    That sounds like the basis for a short story.

                2. re: melpy

                  I have started just making reservations but then we get complaints about the restaurant. Invariably, the food is sent back for a myriad of reasons none of which usually make any sense. It is always a sh*t show. My husband and I sit back and enjoy the show and then slip the poor waiter/waitress something extra to make up for the unpleasantness.

                  1. re: baseballfan

                    I am sure waiters/waitresses slip something else into her food too.

                      1. re: baseballfan

                        They probably don't like buffets. Why? cant send it back!

                  2. re: melpy

                    My father used to say "garlic is used to disguise carrion meat" and it was pointless to argue. He was raised by a Victorian woman who may have experienced this back in the day. This is the kind of logic picky eaters use to avoid trying anything new and only use at their convenience.

                3. I can only speak for myself, but I get nervous cooking for my MIL because she has, or claims to have, multiple food intolerances and allergies in all different categories of food, and these seem to change frequently. Pleasing her is a moving target. Not pleasing her is dangerous, because she also has mental health issues, so yeah, you could say I get nervous cooking for her. Fortunately, they no longer live near us!

                  1. I've tried once to only realize that they like their meat and potato with no green vegetables at all. If there is a vegetable, it's from a can and it's often yellow (even the 'green' beans). Lobster, crab, and shrimp are 'ew gross' and invites them to make pretend throwing up motions (not even joking on this one).

                    Perhaps it's a blessing as I don't have to do anything difficult when they come over. Swiss Chalet is considered a treat for them.

                    Now impressing me with their table manners... I wish that was the case. I recall MIL licking her fingers before dabbing it onto the shared family plate that had cookies with sprinkles. She was trying to get all the sprinkles that fell off the cookies.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Nevy


                      Did they wait to display their manners until AFTER you were married?

                      1. re: pinehurst

                        They lived 5 hours drive away and so we didn't see them very often. I didn't get to see this side of the family till we were engaged. Suffice to say, my mouth was agape.

                        1. re: Nevy

                          Oh you are a saint.

                          My inlaws' red-meat-and-potatoes-and-bread-and-nothin'-but is Xanadu, comparatively.

                          1. re: pinehurst

                            I always have a piece of dark chocolate close at hand when they're at my house. When they drive me bonkers, I start savouring a piece slowly. It helps keep me sane and educated on single bean notes. I thoroughly enjoyed a 70% Madagascar single bean bar last time they were here :)

                      2. re: Nevy

                        Oh god, I always see my mother in law licking her fingers when she is cooking something..grosses me out.
                        but she always asks, do you think that salad is clean when we are eating out. I always want to say, I don't f'king know but I don't.

                        1. re: Monica

                          Its crazy to think people lick their fingers on food of plates to be served. I would be horrified to see my MIL licking fingers while cooking.

                        2. re: Nevy

                          Lol I would have poured her a small dish (such as those used for condiments or sauces) of JUST sprinkles!

                          1. re: ohmyyum

                            Wow... I should have thought of this!! I'm making a mental note in case this happens again.

                        3. It's not so much impressing them, it's maintaining my reputation. The BF constantly tells his family that I am an excellent cook who cooks gourmet meals every night. And that I am an "expert" when it comes to food. Lofty praise for someone who doesn't enjoy cooking every night and is an "expert" only because she reads cooking magazines and Chowhound. My solution is to eat out at restaurants when they visit so I don't have to cook for them.

                          I have also come to accept that BF's father is not as adventurous when it comes to trying new restaurants. He likes to find a couple good restaurants and stick with them, while BF and I try to not repeat restaurants when we have guests. Thankfuly his must go to restaurants are some of our best.