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escondido123 Oct 6, 2013 11:34 AM

My husband and I have a new group of friends. We had the two couples over for dinner about a month ago and did our typical dinner party. Lots of smallish courses of what we consider good food, made by hand. The party was a huge success.

Since then, each of these couples has taken us out for dinner, a great treat. Each of them "confessed" that they weren't gourmet cooks like us so felt it would be best to take us out.

Is there some way we can convince these folks that we'd be fine with coming to their houses for whatever? We don't want to feel that every time we have them for dinner at our house they need to reciprocate with a meal out and we do love hosting dinner parties. Our menus are not extravagant so it's not like we're paying for filet mignon and lobster and folks do bring wine.

Any suggestions on how to continue the entertaining so our guests don't feel they owe us a restaurant meal?

  1. sal_acid Oct 6, 2013 11:40 AM

    Dial it back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sal_acid
      e
      escondido123 Oct 6, 2013 11:43 AM

      Make fewer course? Cook plainer food? Create dishes that aren't unusual?

      1. re: escondido123
        d
        Dirtywextraolives Oct 6, 2013 02:51 PM

        Yes. All of those.

    2. s
      saltylady Oct 6, 2013 11:49 AM

      They may not want to cook dinner . They may not enjoy cooking like you do , and may be stressed if you force them to cook . While you find entertaining relaxing , they might find it nerve wracking and unpleasant . Let the friendship develop and see what happens . Perhaps you can suggest getting together for coffee and dessert or crackers and cheese ? Maybe if you express that it doesn't have to be a full meal it will relax them . Or perhaps they do not feel their home is company worthy ? Maybe there is another way to "repay the dinner" . Since they are new friends , see what happens naturally .

      1 Reply
      1. re: saltylady
        e
        escondido123 Oct 6, 2013 11:54 AM

        Both of their homes are much nicer and better kept than ours. I have been at both for community meetings. I know lots of people don't find entertaining relaxing and to be honest, my husband feels much more comfortable as host than guest. We've never been much for getting mini get togethers and I certainly wouldn't feel right telling someone we'd be happy with cheese and crackers. But letting things happen naturally, that I can do.

      2. carlee134 Oct 6, 2013 11:53 AM

        I would just enjoy the dinners they take you on. Not everyone likes cooking! Sit back and enjoy, and maybe see where that goes from there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: carlee134
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          escondido123 Oct 6, 2013 05:12 PM

          Your answer is the one I am comfortable with. We are more than happy to take something to a pot luck, but at our house we don't ask people to bring food unless we know they too like to cook and want to bring something. Otherwise, wine, liquor, flowers, candy, sparking water are all fine. Guess I'll just sit back and enjoy those dinners out.

          1. re: escondido123
            KaimukiMan Oct 6, 2013 11:41 PM

            sounds like a great idea to me. and once they get to know you better maybe they won't be so hesitant to invite you to their place for pizza hut delivery. (half kidding)

            1. re: escondido123
              carlee134 Oct 7, 2013 02:04 PM

              :) good on ya!

          2. greygarious Oct 6, 2013 12:23 PM

            Host a pot-luck dinner in which you are only supplying one or two dishes. Give your guests the option to choose what they want to bring, and decide which courses and what you will make accordingly. I think guests feel less pressure to reciprocate when they've contributed to the meal in the first place. Guests who don't or can't cook can pick up good
            prepared or oven-ready foods at supermarkets or Costco,
            so all they need to do is use their oven or microwave.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious
              s
              sedimental Oct 6, 2013 04:11 PM

              A kind of hybrid pot-luck. Like tell them you are making empanada's ( or whatever) and ask one couple to please bring a rice dish, one to please bring a bean dish...etc. serve margaritas (ask a guest to run the blender).

              A Relaxed and shared dinner will remove the idea that there is a skill level difference .....that matters!

            2. 512window Oct 6, 2013 02:45 PM

              Invite them all back again and serve chili. Ask them to bring a dessert. That way they see that you appreciate their cooking and that you are not always "too fancy."

              7 Replies
              1. re: 512window
                p
                pollymerase Oct 6, 2013 05:44 PM

                I like this idea. Mix up the menu a bit with something really casual so they can see that you are comfortable with and like all types of foods, dinner parties, and get togethers. I don't think you should eliminate hosting the types of dinners you are accustomed to, as it seems like you greatly enjoy preparing such meals, but next time make something you think they might feel comfortable making so they can see you enjoy that as well. Hopefully they will follow the lead as they get to know you better.

                1. re: pollymerase
                  e
                  escondido123 Oct 6, 2013 05:56 PM

                  I now realize my original post was unclear. I don't care at all if they don't invite us to their homes and neither couple likes to cook and in fact one couple goes out basically every night. And my husband really prefers hosting because he has back problems and needs to stand up a lot -- which doesn't have to be explained if you're hosting.

                  I think I'll just have to see how this goes over the next few months and deal with it if it becomes to much tit for tat. Thanks all.

                  1. re: escondido123
                    greygarious Oct 6, 2013 06:20 PM

                    Nothing in your further clarification would seem to preclude more casual hosting or potlucks at your home. People who don't cook can still contribute purchased desserts or other courses. Considering your husband's back trouble, he's probably not very comfortable either in restaurants or friends' homes, yet you say you would both be amenable to going to their places to socialize. Let your friends know that it's easier for him to entertain on your own turf.

                    1. re: greygarious
                      hotoynoodle Oct 7, 2013 06:59 AM

                      as a host, i never do potlucks. if the op's guests are intimidated by her cooking, how will having to cook and deliver a dish ameliorate that? not to mention the fear of "only" bringing a costco pie because they were too afraid or cannot bake?

                      dumbing down the menu seems pointless. i despise meatloaf. why would i make it for guests? should i just serve hotpockets to the folks who nuke dinner every night?

                      a host should entertain as he or she sees fit. however, that also includes being gracious and making people feel at ease. when people i've hosted have me over, they fall all over themselves apologizing as to why their food isn't as good as mine and i am quick to remind them it's a joy to be invited and have somebody treat me!

                      if a restaurant meal doesn't feel like fair quid pro quo there is a gentle way to express that to new friends. THAT may clear the air on the part of the op. some of us enjoy having people over, some really like picking up the check. in the end it all works out.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                        e
                        escondido123 Oct 7, 2013 08:03 AM

                        Well both the couples make more money than we do so at least I don't have to worry about that. Guess I'll just sit back and enjoy it.

                    2. re: escondido123
                      b
                      Billy33 Oct 12, 2013 03:53 PM

                      I wouldn't stress so much over it - if that's the way they feel comfortable about reciprocating, let them do it their way. I recently had a dinner at a new friend's place and she isn't a keen cook and she made a simple chicken curry which she was VERY proud of and which was very tasty. It's the kind of dish that I could've whipped up out of my head for a regular weekday dinner but I loved it because someone else was cooking for me and had put such a lot of effort and time into following a recipe and coming up with a lovely dish. Now, I am yet to have her over for dinner but I too am considering taking her to a restaurant, but for completely different reasons to your friends'. I am a brilliant cook but live in a tiny flat which is a little shabby and I'm not that good at housekeeping, whereas her house is PRISTINE and she is a bit obsessed by cleanliness and tidiness. I know it's daft, but it's just one of those things.

                      1. re: Billy33
                        hill food Oct 12, 2013 05:51 PM

                        "but live in a tiny flat"
                        in the invite for dinner out just explain that part and leave off the shabby/untidy bit.

                        but if the relationship progresses, be prepared to roll up those sleeves and get scrubbing mister!

                2. John E. Oct 6, 2013 07:46 PM

                  We have a different dynamic, but with similarities, with two couples. We like to host dinner parties for the six of us, usually mostly in the winter months. (In the summer we go more casual so they are not really dinner parties.)

                  Anyway, we go all out and cook something new each time. One of the other couples cook more traditional foods. The third couple don't like to cook or entertain. I guess the difference all of us have been friends for many years. The husband of the third couple is also the world's greatest carpenter and handyman. He helped with a backyard retaining wall last summer (the most recent project). We have convinced them and they are finally comfortable with not reciprocating, although they insist on picking up the check mush too often when we are dining out.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: John E.
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                    escondido123 Oct 6, 2013 09:44 PM

                    Hi John E, I feel like you know the situation. My husband and I lived elsewhere for many years and had a myriad of food occasions with our close friends and we all lived within blocks of each other -- dropping by for coffee, quick grilled cheese at someone's house, serious dinner party, wonderful holiday meals with friends and family. Things are not the same where we live now, and we're not about to "dumb down" our food so other people will invite us to their homes. I think I've decided that we will continue to cook the kinds of foods we cook for ourselves -- chili and meatloaf, for example, are two things we just don't make -- and let people get used to the fact that we cook those items all the time. And as I have said, we don't use extravagant ingredients so I'm not worried about that. Thanks much for helping me clarify the situation.

                    1. re: escondido123
                      hill food Oct 6, 2013 10:43 PM

                      oh just relax. it took me a long time to understand most friends just don't know how or want to cook (you can tell by looking at their kitchens - spotless walk-in wetbars or even one was that AND an auxiliary closet)

                      they do like the thought and effort of home-cooked meals as they have no clue how to pull it off and their only reciprocation is the next time for dinner out. so don't sweat it.

                      I base that on direct observance and comments that have filtered back over time. (but I still like the idea of a walk-in wet bar)

                  2. Cherylptw Oct 6, 2013 09:55 PM

                    I would not dumb down or change my food if my guests enjoy it. You should talk to them and voice the same things you posted here, that you would enjoy whatever they provided at their homes and you don't want them to feel the need to take you out just because you invited them to your house for a meal.

                    It would be another thing if they didn't enjoy your food. You might ask them what types of food they usually cook at home or what their specialties are and let them know you would be interested in trying what it is they cook. But changing my food, uh, that would be a no.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cherylptw
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                      escondido123 Oct 7, 2013 08:01 AM

                      For the one couple they mainly cook fish, very plainly. They both are thin and obviously work at staying that way. The other couple, their specialty is making reservations.

                      1. re: escondido123
                        LindaWhit Oct 8, 2013 01:42 PM

                        Then you just enjoy going out with them, and they'll enjoy coming over for your "fancy food".

                        1. re: escondido123
                          Cherylptw Oct 10, 2013 08:32 PM

                          I'm going to go with LW on this one; you really don't have a whole lot of choice here with these two couples....at least if you go out, you can bet the food will at least be halfway decent (hopefully)

                      2. Gastronomos Oct 7, 2013 05:44 AM

                        you're not alone. we have similar dinner party and bbq adventures. we invite people over for dinner. we get invited to a restaurant.

                        a nice family with children, like us, invited us to TGI Fridays for dinner one Friday night. the wait at the door was over 45 minutes we were told. they didn't want to wait with young kids that long so I suggested a simple family style Italian place not too far from there. they were, again, intimidated.

                        we make a large spread of homemade food. people come with appetites ready. clear the tables of food.

                        we goto bbq, people sitting around with a bowl of chips. burgers, dogs come around later or are sitting cold in aluminum tray. we have a good time, despite no food.

                        1. b
                          Bkeats Oct 7, 2013 08:26 AM

                          Don't worry about it. We are similarly inclined like you. We like to entertain. We invite friends over for dinner because we enjoy their company. We're not looking for reciprocity. They understand that. So our guests bring wine, booze, cookies and from my best guests, cigars. Once your new friends get to know you, everyone will settle in.

                          1. Motosport Oct 7, 2013 09:08 AM

                            I am a good/great cook but I don't do complicated preparations: sauces etc..
                            I throw several dinner parties each year but I keep it simple. Meat on the grill, Pasta, stir fried veggies, hummus, shrimp cocktail. I usually ask the guests to bring desserts.
                            Family and friends think I am a wonderful gourmet cook and are a bit intimidated. I do my best to explain the simplicity of the meals but they can't wrap their heads around it.

                            1. a
                              Auntiewoman Oct 8, 2013 04:57 AM

                              Next time you have a dinner party, make something that doesn't seem so difficult. Or, if you have the space, invite them over to help prepare the meal...make that part of the evening. It's fun to watch someone cook and be part of it by chopping veggies or stirring risotto.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Auntiewoman
                                Motosport Oct 8, 2013 07:32 AM

                                That reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws who are dyed in the wool W.A.S.P.S.. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is not very tasteful and no spices were used. Basically turkey and starch.
                                My mother in law (she is wonderful) asked me to help stir one dish. It was a pot of pearl onions from a couple of jars and flour. "Keep stirring until the onions dissolve with the flour, no lumps!" I did as instructed and the end result looked and tasted like wallpaper paste. The family loved it, go figure?

                                1. re: Motosport
                                  hill food Oct 8, 2013 07:41 PM

                                  yeah that. pearl onions and not even a garlicky white sauce?(oh shut up hf you know better)

                                  1. re: hill food
                                    Motosport Oct 9, 2013 04:43 AM

                                    Garlic??? No way!! Their spice rack has salt and pepper, nothing else!

                              2. rockandroller1 Oct 8, 2013 08:26 AM

                                This will probably sound terrible, but sometimes your friends are not always wrong. I know it's all about the company and the friendship, but we finally got invited over to another couple's house after we had them over a few times. They too are very "plain and simple" cooks who work hard at staying very thin, and their menu reflected that. The food was nothing like what we would eat at home and very sparsely provided in quantity and variety. We were properly gracious, thankful, enjoyed the company and divided things appropriately and then we ate another full, richer meal later that evening after we got home because we were both still starving.

                                I honestly wouldn't rush over there again for dinner. They are LOVELY people but next time we will offer potluck or suggest pizza or something.

                                I know it's the thought that counts and everything, but I've gotten to the point where eating grocery store, factory farmed chicken made with Pam spray in a teflon pan is something I have a lot of trouble choking down. Not everyone is on the same place in the food journey, and I understand that, but sometimes when friends suggest "you wouldn't like our cooking," they're right.

                                I'd continue to enjoy the dinners out they suggest. For some people, that just works better than entertaining for a variety of reasons.

                                1. davis_sq_pro Oct 8, 2013 01:27 PM

                                  We have similar problems and deal with it by simply not caring. I love experimenting with different techniques and creating involved meals, and it would be no fun to not serve them to some friends. If they don't wish to reciprocate in that way, no big deal. Their company is enough. And they put up with my high stress level when I'm right in the end of the cooking process. (I love cooking and serving my food, but I'm often not the best host -- I get way too invested in the cooking process, am always one hour behind where I should be, and invariably am forced to ignore my guests to finish. My wife, luckily, is good at balancing everything out when that happens.)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                    Motosport Oct 8, 2013 01:35 PM

                                    Agree 100%!! I enjoy cooking and I enjoy the social event. It's all about the 10-12 people sharing food, conversation and themselves.
                                    I don't ever expect "payback."
                                    We do have one friend who does reciprocate but is overwhelmed at the idea of having a group so they just invite the two of us. It's very nice but not quite the same as a dinner party.

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                      a
                                      Auntiewoman Oct 8, 2013 02:37 PM

                                      This sounds like our house. My husband is an amazing cook who can squeeze every bit of flavor out his ingredients. Me, not so much. I will grocery shop, prep and clean up but he is usually the chef when people come over. We are very laid back and feel no need for anyone to reciprocate. When we go somewhere else, I will usually bring two bottles of wine. One for dinner and another one for the hosts to enjoy later. My husband travels and has a high stress job...we usually do things on the fly as he finds it exhausting to fill up his weekends with scheduled events...sucks all the joy out of it for him. I think it's best to just go with the flow that works for your family and forget about the old rules unless it is work related.

                                    2. LindaWhit Oct 8, 2013 01:40 PM

                                      Just tell them - burgers and chicken on the grill is just fine with you both!

                                      I disagree with dialing it back. If that's the way you cook, and you enjoy it, so be it. But if they are really friends, they shouldn't be afraid to make a good pot of spaghetti sauce, or a roasted chicken......unless they really don't WANT to cook. They enjoy eating at someone's house, but don't like to cook themselves.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                        coll Oct 8, 2013 05:58 PM

                                        I think the thing is to go as fancy as you want, but don't let them see you sweat! Just act natural. The stressy-ness is very contagious. They are there to hang with you, not have some supernatural experience.

                                        1. re: coll
                                          e
                                          escondido123 Oct 9, 2013 12:29 PM

                                          Since my husband and I both cook, we have everything ready to go -- either serve or fireup -- before guests ever walk in the door. But we don't cook standard American dishes and I think that's what makes people think it's difficult. But if you love doing it, it is not work.

                                          1. re: escondido123
                                            coll Oct 9, 2013 03:53 PM

                                            Well, then it's definitely not you!

                                      2. boogiebaby Oct 8, 2013 01:49 PM

                                        Lots of "smallish" courses all made by hand can be intimidating for some people. They might be thinking "Good Lord, we can't compete with 10 handmade dishes! Let's just go out and save ourselves the embarrassment!"

                                        I'm curious to know what you served. Me, personally, wouldn't find things like spinach dip with crudités, mini pizzas, cantaloupe with prosciutto, etc. intimidating, but if you started serving me small bites of caviar on blinis, micro greens with foam, etc., then yes, I'd throw in the towel and give you the win. I would think that that is the type of food you enjoy and want to eat, and that my chicken satays and bruschetta won't be good enough for you.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: boogiebaby
                                          e
                                          escondido123 Oct 9, 2013 12:39 PM

                                          Here is about the menu:

                                          Bruschetta (on my husband's bread) with goat cheese, black olive tapenade and browned zucchini.

                                          Cold corn soup

                                          Arugula pizza

                                          Vegetable platter -- roasted peppers, heirloom tomatoes, roasted baby potatoes and something else

                                          Oil poached tuna

                                          Fresh fruit crostada

                                          I don't cook satay at all --- would be thrilled to have it.

                                          1. re: escondido123
                                            b
                                            Bkeats Oct 11, 2013 05:50 AM

                                            Can I come? I'd be happy to attend and be a grateful guest. Your menu looks great. Actually seems like clean uncomplicated food. Lots of stuff that's easily made ahead of time. But if someone doesn't cook, they wouldn't know that.

                                            1. re: Bkeats
                                              e
                                              escondido123 Oct 11, 2013 08:31 AM

                                              Cooking is like gardening. If you like to do it, it's a hobby. If you hate to do it, it's a chore. Glad you like the menu, it was for a hot summer night.

                                        2. Sandwich_Sister Oct 8, 2013 05:13 PM

                                          If they are good friends, talk to them, find out what they like, listen, look.

                                          Maybe you could do a home style dinner for them at your house.

                                          Salad, Lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, with a easy dessert.

                                          I wouldn't say dial it down just be able to relate to them.

                                          Or is it that they do not cook at all?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister
                                            KaimukiMan Oct 9, 2013 03:26 AM

                                            never assume what is easy to you is easy to everyone else. lasagna is intimidating because of the time involved. how many of us have heard horror stories of poorly made meatballs (breadcrumbs? but these croutons were on sale, and they already have italian seasoning on them,) or have watched garlic bread go from the almost melting stage to charcoal in the time it takes to grab an oven mitt, step over the dog, and turn off the timer. I started a thread on roasting a chicken and other things (omg, its October, and I promised caroline . . .) that many cooks can do in their sleep. I know a woman who makes an osso bucco that would bring tears to your eyes but would rather fight a wild fire than tackle anything involving yeast. Easy dessert? I know people who can't make jello turn out right. And whipped cream better come out of an aerosol can in their house (what's an electric mixer?)
                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/909100

                                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                                              w
                                              wonderwoman Oct 9, 2013 11:00 AM

                                              years ago a colleague asked for my chocolate mousse recipe. i said "sure, it's easy. separate 3 eggs..." she, looked puzzled, asked " how do you separate eggs?" for her wedding shower, i got her a copy of the "joy of cooking," and decorated the wrapping with an egg separator.

                                              1. re: wonderwoman
                                                John E. Oct 9, 2013 11:13 AM

                                                I hope you bought her one like this.

                                                 
                                                1. re: wonderwoman
                                                  Sandwich_Sister Oct 9, 2013 04:42 PM

                                                  Hah, I never knew there was an egg separator. I've always done it the old fashion way.

                                                  I do have the same issue when I pass along recipes though. People always say, "Wow I didn't know it was this involved or had this many steps" or you were right when you said you make everything from scratch, I think I'll just buy the store bought version.

                                              2. re: Sandwich_Sister
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                                                escondido123 Oct 9, 2013 12:43 PM

                                                The one couple does not seem that interested in food -- they're the Eat to Live types. The other couple -- who goes out a lot -- are the Live to Eat type. She studies cook books but is older so really doesn't have the energy to cook complicated which is what she loves to eat out.

                                              3. breadchick Oct 8, 2013 05:55 PM

                                                I love throwing dinner parties, as well. We all have a great sense of humor, and I downplay my efforts in that manner. I also make sure to let the guests know that "hey, this is my second try, so let me know how it is." If I goof, no problem (rarely happens, but so what.) I used to do some catering, so people know what to expect when they come and usually are more than happy to sit at the table. Generally, I think it's important to make everyone comfortable, and I really look forward to going to friend's houses as well.

                                                Maybe it's just a matter of time and these couples getting to know you. I wouldn't worry about what you serve, just make sure everyone is happy! Wine helps.

                                                1. Caroline1 Oct 9, 2013 03:21 AM

                                                  Well, good luck on this one! There is NO single right answer, but hopefully you will find one that works for the two of you. You're in good company when it comes to your situation where some friends feel obliged to match your cooking skills or not share their table with you. Whose the company? Well, name just about any chef whose name you can recall, then add me to that list, and a whooooole bunch of others on these boards! It's a common situation for all who cook well and love doing it. The catch is that there are some who feel that all of life is a competition, and they don't want to play unless they are sure they will win. When that happens, everyone loses. <sigh>

                                                  For me, the right solution was to enjoy cooking for others, and most of all, don't keep score! The huge challenge in this department was finding friends who don't cook -- many just outright don't have the aptitude or the interest -- then convincing them it was alright for them not to keep score either. THAT is the challenge!

                                                  For what it's worth, I have worked into a few conversations in my lifetime the gentle information that I do not consider life a contest, and that I'm always touched when people think enough of me to invite me over for a pb&j with a glass of milk that is shared in friendship. Sometimes it worked very well. And sometimes it didn't. It's that old saying, "Birds of a feather flock!"

                                                  Your biggest challenge is finding what works for you. I can't speak for others, but I've never been able to find any kind of satisfaction in "dumbing down." I am what I am, and while I try hard to make others comfortable, I just can't give up being me to put them at ease. When you can't find mutual ground to build a friendship on, no one is going to be happy in the end.

                                                  My very best to you two, and here's to finding happy solutions!

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                    KaimukiMan Oct 9, 2013 03:35 AM

                                                    oi Caroline, are you following me? yes, ill roast a chicken. and i believe a happy birthday is in order sometime soon as well.

                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                      Caroline1 Oct 9, 2013 03:42 AM

                                                      At last! A loveable score keeper! hooray! As for the chicken, have they finished the bridge yet so I can get to your house driving????? '-)

                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                        KaimukiMan Oct 9, 2013 01:01 PM

                                                        Ill send the yacht. LOL

                                                    2. re: Caroline1
                                                      e
                                                      escondido123 Oct 9, 2013 12:51 PM

                                                      The more I think about this, the more I realize it is totally fine with me if they never invite us to their homes for a meal if they are not comfortable doing that -- we love to cook and entertain at home.

                                                      I have an old friend who has never liked to cook and is basically a bad cook like her mother was. When I go to visit (it's a six hour drive so I stay for a couple days) I always hope that she will say she needs to stop at the store so I can offer to cook dinner -- not something super complicated, but something that tastes good. But she always worries about me "working" when I should be relaxing--the idea that people enjoy cooking is foreign to her. I arrived one time as her grown son drove up and he said "Are you cooking tonight?" I said no, tomorrow. He said, "Well then guess I'll just come and say hi for tonight and be back tomorrow for dinner." She was definitely a food is fuel person, while her boys loved good food.

                                                      1. re: escondido123
                                                        EWSflash Oct 11, 2013 05:43 PM

                                                        I had a friend who was a proud noncook, and didn't care if I ate when I visited her, either. Cooking was EXTREMELY foreign to her. It took a little getting used to. I finally decided that I didn't want her to cook for me, because it would probably be really crappy, and fed myself from time to time. Result- I lost weight during my visit.

                                                        1. re: EWSflash
                                                          e
                                                          escondido123 Oct 11, 2013 10:26 PM

                                                          My friend had no idea she was a bad cook, she considered herself a low fat cook. I remember once looking at her travel albums and it was all nature and hikes. She once traveled with another couple and complained that they were always focused on where they were going to eat and what the food would be like...she thought that was such a waste of time and money. (And for her money is no problem.)

                                                    3. w
                                                      wincountrygirl Oct 9, 2013 03:49 AM

                                                      I do what I do and some still invite me over. They don't try to compete but they know we are with them because we enjoy their company and not because we are looking for gourmet cooking. At least those friends reciprocated by taking you out for dinner. The friends that don't want to cook for us don't seem to feel they need to reciprocate, but that is for another thread!!

                                                      1. k
                                                        kariin Oct 9, 2013 09:52 AM

                                                        Good question, good thoughts, good responses here from many CHs

                                                        But consider this: its not just you or your friends. Its a pervasive infection of 'toxic competition' that's contaminated so much of life. Especially food.

                                                        I too cook alot and like to eat with friends. I've had people talk about the 'intimidation' factor and asked them about it ("where does that feeling come from?") and then _listened_ to their answers: they all cite television competiton shows; 'celebrity' chef focus in magazines, tv , internet; 'performance art' level food presentations everywhere they look; pervasive focus on expensive ingredients, complex techniques, over-the-top creations. And cut-throat competition that's everywhere. Just think of cooking channel etc.

                                                        I understand that _you_ are not doing this (tho it may seem differently to friends) but the atmosphere around food and cooking has drastically changed in the last 2 decades and one of the very bad effects is this background sense of competitiveness/performance that has sunk in on so many people.

                                                        Case in point: tacos - as in make your own at home. I did, screwed up at first, learned how, enjoyed, made for others,(cheaper, tastier, fresh). It did not go well with some friends.
                                                        I have time and interest, they don't. The majority of people I know (beyond those who cook every week) just don't have time to do much or have been indoctrinated that their best efforts are essentially sub-standard crap - not convinced by _you_ I hope, but by a food culture of media that promotes a kind of cooking and food focus that is often deliberately extreme and out of reach.

                                                        And I never appreciated how discouraged - intimidated people were until i listened to them - without arguing or dismissing their POV. I learned to stop talking/justifying and just listen.

                                                        How to help?? - start to talk about the atmosphere of competition and how you feel about that poison and its effects and why friendship suffers from that unacknowledged 'background' damage. At least its helped with my friends.

                                                        sorry for rant but this topic really gets to me.

                                                        1. p
                                                          pine time Oct 9, 2013 10:25 AM

                                                          Since I'm retired and most of my friends are not, I make my extra time the "reason" my meals are bigger and more complex. I can make chili or order pizza, but I truly enjoy the time and effort it takes to make a meal for my friends.

                                                          However, I also do as much as possible in advance, so that I'm not frantic when they arrive. I try to make serving and clean-up (I'm one of those who doesn't allow guests in my kitchen) look easy, even if it's not.

                                                          We've all finally come to accept each other differing styles. They all know I'm happy to pick up a pizza on the way to their house, if that'll work better for them.

                                                          1. l
                                                            laraffinee Oct 10, 2013 10:44 PM

                                                            "Each of them "confessed" that they weren't gourmet cooks like us so felt it would be best to take us out."

                                                            It's all about communication. It seems to me that was/is a great opportunity to talk about your love of cooking and the pleasure you experience in hosting dinner parties -and explain that your friends don't need to have the same interests to be friends of yours. You happen to like to cook, whereas they do not. By calling them friends, there must be something you like about them and why you like getting together with them. Focus on that. I bet they can make coffee, so get together for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Friendships are built from shared experiences and communication.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: laraffinee
                                                              e
                                                              escondido123 Oct 11, 2013 08:29 AM

                                                              We've had that conversation. With the youngest in the group 60 years old, we're not exactly new to the concept of friendship. Of course we like each other and have common interests or we wouldn't be friends. If we're going to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine it tends to be when we're already out so that works well too.

                                                            2. a
                                                              Anarie Oct 12, 2013 04:24 PM

                                                              I don't get what the problem is. You invite them to your house for the type of food you like. They invite you to a restaurant for the type of food they like in one case, or for variety so everyone can have the type of food s/he likes in the other case. You say that they can afford the restaurant meals. Let them reciprocate in the way they want. To them, inviting you out is more comfortable than inviting you to their homes for "whatever." They don't feel like they need to reciprocate with a meal out; they *want* to reciprocate with a meal out.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Anarie
                                                                e
                                                                escondido123 Oct 13, 2013 10:51 AM

                                                                I agree with you and the other folks who have suggested I just relax and enjoy it. I look forward to evenings out and dinners in.

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