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Do you welcome criticism of your cooking?

i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 11:47 AM

I'm sure we all get it. How do you handle yours? For the most part, I enjoy feedback about what I've prepared. I make notes on my recipes & will tweak the preparation next time. Occasionally I get annoyed when I'm convinced I've made something perfect and along comes a picky, know it all.

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  1. LindaWhit RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 11:51 AM

    I'm usually WAY more critical of my own cooking than anyone else who is dining at my table ever could be.

    And my mother's name is Lois - she liked my turkey this Thanksgiving, whereas I thought the white meat was a bit dry. SEE? :-)

    9 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit
      i_am_Lois RE: LindaWhit Dec 6, 2013 12:00 PM

      Another Lois. Such an uncommon name. Always hated it. Grew up getting the Superman jokes.

      I am like you & usually notice flaws others are oblivious to.

      1. re: i_am_Lois
        LindaWhit RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:01 PM

        I think it was more common when my Mom was born (1930). One of her stepson's MILs is also Lois...I think they're close in age - maybe 3 years apart.

      2. re: LindaWhit
        p
        pheenmachine RE: LindaWhit Dec 7, 2013 02:37 PM

        I agree - I'm more critical of my own cooking that others would likely be. I also tend not to notice others' cooking snafus either because I'm too interested in eating :)

        I also tend to think that many people are just happy to get free food that they didn't have to cook. This goes double for co-workers who, I have noticed, will eat just about anything left out on a counter or table. Anything.

        1. re: pheenmachine
          a
          autumm RE: pheenmachine Dec 7, 2013 07:45 PM

          My husband's coworkers are where the dessert trials that weren't up to my/our standards go. Pile those not quite right cookies/bars on a paper plate and they will be gone by noon. Usually he over hears at least one nice comment about them too (did you see there were these awesome cookies in the break room?. . .)

          Never use your nice rubbermaid containers though.

          1. re: pheenmachine
            breadchick RE: pheenmachine Dec 7, 2013 08:16 PM

            Oh, good Lord, yes. Especially graduate students. I could take anything into the office and it would be wolfed down.

          2. re: LindaWhit
            c
            calumin RE: LindaWhit Dec 9, 2013 07:58 AM

            Sometimes people who are more critical of their own cooking than anyone else can be less receptive to criticism from others. (Not saying you are like that). But being extremely self-critical has a side-effect of being a bit of a defense mechanism against criticism from others.

            1. re: calumin
              Chemicalkinetics RE: calumin Dec 9, 2013 08:32 AM

              I see. I understand it. It depends why a person is critical of their own cooking. Being self-critical is a manifestation of various mental states.

              There are at least two underneath reasons why a person is very critical of him/herself. I can be self-critical of my baked goods. Mostly, this is due to the fact that I have a certain expectation, and my products are usually shy of this goal. So I would be like "Man, I changed the recipes, but the cookies are still not as flaky as I wish". In these cases, I am generally receptive toward criticism from others because I want to be better in the future.

              On the other hand, people can be overly critical as a defense mechanism. They want to be overly critical, so that they can avoid criticism. They want to be perfect in this instinct, not in the future. The person is not receptive of criticisms from others because this is exactly what they try avoid. I see this most often when people try to throw the perfect parties or perfect wedding. This is the end-game. They want a perfect party or a perfect wedding at this very moment, and not in the future. Therefore, any constructive criticism is not constructive to them.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                LindaWhit RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2013 12:22 PM

                And I am the LAST person who would ever throw a "perfect dinner party".

                When I say "critical of myself", I'm more disappointed in myself, such as the slightly dry white turkey meat at Thanksgiving.

                But was the entire meal completely and utterly ruined because I didn't serve what I thought was a pitch-perfect Thanksgiving dinner? Hellz no. Both Mom and enjoyed many leftovers from that bird. :-)

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  c
                  calumin RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2013 12:31 PM

                  Yes I think the issue is when the cook feels he or she has achieved some form of near-perfection or high quality standard (as a result of a hyper self-critical process), and then others criticize, indicating they don't share that view.

                  In this case, being hyper self-critical makes the external criticism even more jarring. It would be as if you spent a week preparing the perfect dinner party, questioning every decision, only to have the guests nitpick all your dishes. I'm not sure all self-critical cooks would welcome that kind of criticism. The dynamic is different.

                  There's a scene in the movie Joy Luck Club where one of the mothers prepares this lavish meal, and the daughter's boyfriend says how wonderful the food is and only needs to be doused in soy sauce. That criticism, however well-intended, was not taken well!

            2. Master RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 11:54 AM

              I do welcome criticism of my cooking, so long as it's constructive, meaning there is something that can be better or changed for the better, then again I'm my hardest critic.

              1. b
                BangorDin RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 11:57 AM

                Criticism of my cooking is okay, but not of my *taste* --
                the problem is, they're so intertwined!

                2 Replies
                1. re: BangorDin
                  i_am_Lois RE: BangorDin Dec 6, 2013 12:06 PM

                  By 'taste' do you mean (as an example) someone saying to you, "Why in the world would you serve ____ with ____ ?"

                  1. re: i_am_Lois
                    b
                    BangorDin RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:09 PM

                    That's a very good example. Deciding to have breakfast for a dinner party, or sometimes embracing unhip / out-of-fashion dishes also come to mind.

                2. Candy RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 11:59 AM

                  It depends on how it is tendered.

                  1. s
                    Siegal RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:02 PM

                    I try to say I am open but it sometimes ends up with yelling that my husband should appreciate me more.

                    But to put it in perspective my husband is a PITA and once complained my pie crust was not moist enough...wtf? It's not supposed to be moist.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Siegal
                      monavano RE: Siegal Dec 6, 2013 12:07 PM

                      Is your husband a really good cook or baker? Or a pro?

                      1. re: monavano
                        s
                        Siegal RE: monavano Dec 6, 2013 12:09 PM

                        No. He is just very picky where in all seriousness it borders on an eating disorder

                        The pie crust debacle happened bc not being from the south we don't do pies often so he decided he likes cookie crumb crusts best (made it once on a cheesecake) and all other crusts are not as good

                        1. re: Siegal
                          monavano RE: Siegal Dec 6, 2013 12:16 PM

                          Pie crust is a lot of pressure, IMO!
                          I tend to default to pies and tarts with those graham cracker/butter crusts. Either that, or I buy the pie crust...

                          1. re: monavano
                            s
                            Siegal RE: monavano Dec 6, 2013 12:18 PM

                            Yea it's hard to go wrong with butter and cookies! Haha. But sometimes it's fun to change it up. And then you get criticism and try to put on your big girl face but want to cry.....

                            Maybe that's just me. Lol

                      2. re: Siegal
                        i_am_Lois RE: Siegal Dec 6, 2013 12:20 PM

                        Your husband & mine could be identical twins. Once I made chicken-ala-king. Husband insisted I add no bell pepper or pimento to his. So I prepared 2 separate pots. He tasted both then complained his pot tasted bland & wanted what was in my pot for his dinner. I prefer that he stays out of my kitchen.

                        1. re: i_am_Lois
                          monavano RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:27 PM

                          That reminds me, last week I made Turkey A La King with some of the leftover turkey. I have fond, fond memories of it and was really looking forward to eating it.
                          DH was not so over the moon with it. Just not his thing, I guess.
                          (I've got to have it with green pepper and pimento too)

                          1. re: i_am_Lois
                            s
                            Siegal RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:29 PM

                            Haha! They are exactly the same! You just have to try to remember their good qualities when they do those things to you

                            1. re: Siegal
                              i_am_Lois RE: Siegal Dec 6, 2013 12:47 PM

                              Siegal, I gotta tell you this one. I asked him once what his favorite dessert was. He told me pineapple upside down cake. I make one for him from scratch. He refused to even taste it... complaining it was prepared in the wrong shaped pan. (I used square, he thought it should be round)

                              1. re: i_am_Lois
                                s
                                Siegal RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:53 PM

                                Lol
                                OMG that remind me of when I first met my husband and we were registering for the wedding he told me he would only drink his espresso out of glass. I thought he was kidding....

                                1. re: Siegal
                                  i_am_Lois RE: Siegal Dec 6, 2013 01:00 PM

                                  Incredible. Somebody must be cloning men.

                                  1. re: i_am_Lois
                                    c
                                    cleobeach RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 03:50 PM

                                    Count my father in that cloned pool. He made my mother return a rice cooker in the 90s because it didn't make rice like he remembered from living in Japan in the 50s.

                                    He had many "expression only out of glass" traits passed on to me that I need to check myself on once in a while. Mine is I can't stand colored drink ware.

                        2. monavano RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:05 PM

                          NO SOUP FOR YOU!

                          Like Linda Whit, I'm harder on myself than anyone could ever be, but I often solicit my DH's opinion because he's the one I want to please, at the end of the day.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: monavano
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                            pheenmachine RE: monavano Dec 7, 2013 02:42 PM

                            I agree. I always ask my wife what she thinks since I do most of the cooking and would like to make things that she enjoys, too. Though sometimes I do wish she had a more discerning palate to give a little constructive criticism, though I do appreciate generic "that was really good/not so good/needed more salt" etc comments. Maybe more time talking about food and flavors with her over the years will give more in-depth direction!

                            1. re: pheenmachine
                              LaureltQ RE: pheenmachine Dec 9, 2013 09:03 AM

                              I have the opposite problem. My husband has a phenomenal palette, and I don't. It means that he knows exactly what went wrong with a dish when I can only determine that it wasn't quite right. The resulting conversation makes me glad that my knives and frying pans aren't within reach.

                          2. davis_sq_pro RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:07 PM

                            As a bit of a perfectionist, I often ask my family for harsh, pointed criticism. I very rarely receive it, except from myself; like LindaWhit, I am my own critic.

                            Most people, I find -- especially non food geeks -- are unable to easily identify specifically what they like or don't like about a given dish. And most people aren't willing or able to be harsh, even when invited. The only exceptions to that rule are very young children, who will happily spit out something they don't like. Wonderful and direct :-)

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: davis_sq_pro
                              LindaWhit RE: davis_sq_pro Dec 6, 2013 12:11 PM

                              "Most people, I find -- especially non food geeks -- are unable to easily identify specifically what they like or don't like about a given dish. "

                              BINGO, davis_sq_pro. I've asked Mom to tell me what she doesn't like about something, and the most I can get from her is that it's too salty or garlicky (sacrilege!) pr too much rosemary. But I know her tastes differ wildly from mine, so I give her more leeway. And since I do make freezer meals for her, I often cook stews and the like to her tastes, or split the recipe and make half for her and half for me, the way I'd like it.

                              1. re: davis_sq_pro
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                                Isolda RE: davis_sq_pro Dec 6, 2013 01:08 PM

                                And sometimes the children who are so direct are not so young. A few years ago, our CSA gave us Brussels sprouts, which are quite disgusting, but which I thought we should all at least try to like.

                                I made my son try one. He must have been 12 or 13 at the time. He immediately collapsed on the floor and began rolling around moaning in agony, calling for "water, Drano, anything!" I don't mind criticism that is funny!

                                1. re: Isolda
                                  i_am_Lois RE: Isolda Dec 6, 2013 01:16 PM

                                  LOL... too funny!

                                  1. re: Isolda
                                    Shrinkrap RE: Isolda Dec 6, 2013 08:19 PM

                                    I so want to give a shout out to that little girl in my daughters brownie/girl scout troop. Her name was something like Lee Anne. I thought I would make those coconut cookies from some fund raising tub. She was the most diplomatic 8 year old I've met. Kudos to her and to her mom.

                                    1. re: Isolda
                                      davis_sq_pro RE: Isolda Dec 7, 2013 09:09 AM

                                      Brussels sprouts are quite disgusting?!? They're my favorite vegetable :-)

                                      Try this recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/11/br...

                                      1. re: Isolda
                                        p
                                        pheenmachine RE: Isolda Dec 7, 2013 02:46 PM

                                        I am a Brussels sprouts convert. I used to think they were disgusting, too. But, I've learned they are quite good roasted, but you really have to remove the tough stem part - even up into the actual sprout.

                                        Also, chopped small, sautéed a bit, and put into a grilled cheese with balsamic reduction? YUM!

                                      2. re: davis_sq_pro
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                                        pheenmachine RE: davis_sq_pro Dec 7, 2013 02:48 PM

                                        For sure. Most of the comments from my wife are along the lines of "needs more/less salt/pepper". Which is fine, but that isn't usually the solution to all problems :)

                                      3. n
                                        nikathemadbaker RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:08 PM

                                        Yeah, i figure that's one of the only ways i can improve, Plus most of the time i'm the only one whos overly critical of my food.

                                        1. w
                                          WishyFish RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:20 PM

                                          Heck no! The exception is my husband or if I specifically ask. As a guest I happily accept what's put in front of me, and I appreciate the same.

                                          1. Chemicalkinetics RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:23 PM

                                            I will be honest. It depends the situations and my mood at the time. I would said that 80-90% of the time I welcome or at least neutral toward criticism. Like LindaWhit said, I am usually more critical of my cooking than others, so any criticism would have been mild in comparison.

                                            That being said, 10% of the time, I would wish that they be quiet. In my mind, I would say "Shut the f up! You don't know what you are talking about!" Let's face it. Some of the criticisms are just plain weird.

                                            :)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              jrvedivici RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 6, 2013 12:50 PM

                                              Yeah I've got to tell you CK I don't think this was your best post or response. It kind of lacked that certain CK "punch" most of your posts do, also you don't seem to be too strong with your statistical quotes. I mean honestly I think it's more like 82%-92% of the time....not just rounded to 80/90, that's just being lazy.

                                              1. re: jrvedivici
                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: jrvedivici Dec 6, 2013 01:51 PM

                                                < I mean honestly I think it's more like 82%-92% of the time....not just rounded to 80/90,>

                                                :) I guess I know myself less than I know others. I am just not very confident when it is about me.

                                            2. meatn3 RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:29 PM

                                              I welcome a good critique. Especially with someone who understands flavor and technique. Often a cook knows that there is "something" missing. Brainstorming and having another perspective can point you in new directions.

                                              Criticism can be valid. It helps me know my audience better but it usually is based on personal taste more than on improving a dish. It is more helpful if someone can be specific - texture, too spicy, etc. I seldom change a recipe based on criticism but I remember and adjust future menus for the individual with their preferences in mind.

                                              1. dave_c RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:34 PM

                                                I only welcome criticism when I ask for it, especially when something seems to be missing from the dish.

                                                Generally, I cook to my liking which happens to cover a majority of my guest/guinea pigs. :-)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: dave_c
                                                  c oliver RE: dave_c Dec 6, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                  I think that overall I'm a better cook than most, not all, of the people I cook for. So it's unlikely I'd ask "what's missing."

                                                2. c oliver RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:35 PM

                                                  I can't even imagine critiquing someone's cooking. And it's never happened to me. Do y'all mean to say that people actually do this? Mercy.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: c oliver Dec 6, 2013 12:42 PM

                                                    Yeah..... sometime I asked for suggestions, but sometime they just give me suggestions without me asking. I used to bring cookies and baked goods to work very often, and I would get all kind of suggestions. Some are good. Some are interesting. Some are just dumb. (clearly from people who actually don't bake.... for example).

                                                    1. re: c oliver
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                                                      Isolda RE: c oliver Dec 6, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                      It's just my family that will do this for me, and only if I start out by saying, "This sauce is missing something. What do you think?"
                                                      Foodie Daughter: Needs acid.
                                                      Husband: It's delicious.
                                                      Picky Son: Don't put any on mine.

                                                    2. v
                                                      valerie RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 12:41 PM

                                                      My husband will never make negative comments about the weeknight dinners that I make, but when he doesn't eat something, clearly he doesn't like it (he is not the type to just eat something he doesn't like) so I know it needs improvement or it need to go away.

                                                      When I entertain, if there is a dish that people aren't eating, I will usually ask people (friends) what they didn't like so I can make adjustments or again, I just never make it again.

                                                      I am often surprised when I entertain when I make a dish and I think "oh no, this is going to be a dud" and then everyone loves it, or the opposite when I think it's great and then nobody eats it.

                                                      But I love to try new dishes all the time, so when something doesn't go over well, I just usually scratch it off the list.

                                                      1. i
                                                        Isolda RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:02 PM

                                                        If I start the criticism (and like others here, I am very critical of my own cooking), then it's okay to join in. But if you're just a super-picky eater who only likes plain food, well, please keep your mouth shut.

                                                        1. a
                                                          acssss RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:04 PM

                                                          Family - always
                                                          Guests - never

                                                          I always ask husband and kids if they liked it or not and how it came out - does it need more of this or that spice. They know that if they don't talk, next time I will make it the same way and they will have to suffer if it wasn't tasty.

                                                          Husband and I have more or less divided our chores into "outside" and "inside". He takes care of the outside chores, I take care of the inside chores. Many times I tell him if he has to go out again to move a branch or blow some leaves he missed. So, I can't complain when he tells me I made my soup too spicy. It's all good.

                                                          1. Jacquilynne RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:13 PM

                                                            If someone critiqued my cooking unsolicited, I think I'd be pretty offended. My dad occasionally says unkind things about my cooking when I'm visiting my parents, and my usual response is a somewhat unprintable declaration that he can feel free to cook for himself.

                                                            If I have started it off by saying "I think this has too much salt" or "Wow, sorry, I really overcooked the Brussels sprouts. I hope you're all okay with a little carbon in your diet." then I wouldn't be offended if other people chose to agree with me instead of trying to make me feel better. And, of course, there are always the mid-prep "Taste this and tell me if it needs more cumin" moments where feedback is fine. Sometimes if I'm feeling uncertain about whether something's good, I'll even flat out ask people what they think of something.

                                                            I don't need people to blow smoke up my ass or anything, but I do think criticizing someone else's cooking without being asked is frightfully rude.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne
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                                                              fourunder RE: Jacquilynne Dec 6, 2013 01:25 PM

                                                              criticizing family meals at/during the holidays is a family tradition for us.....just like telling war stories.

                                                              1. re: fourunder
                                                                Jacquilynne RE: fourunder Dec 6, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                                I think that if it's a family sport and everyone participates in a teasing but genial sort of way then it can sort of be assumed to be solicited. Families can kind of decide what's okay in and among themselves. Etiquette is for when you don't know if someone will mind.

                                                                1. re: fourunder
                                                                  MidwesternerTT RE: fourunder Dec 6, 2013 09:30 PM

                                                                  NOT a great tradition if it is everybody (non-cooks) against the holiday cook(s). Verbal abuse is still abuse.

                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT
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                                                                    fourunder RE: MidwesternerTT Dec 6, 2013 09:39 PM

                                                                    You really need to lighten up, it was meant as levity. ...I had a girlfriend who's family insisted on playing Trivial Pursuit after dinner.....I'll take the banter anytime. Abuse is having to eat overcooked meats, fish and mush....and have to be polite about it.

                                                                2. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: Jacquilynne Dec 6, 2013 01:59 PM

                                                                  <I don't need people to blow smoke up my ass or anything, but I do think criticizing someone else's cooking without being asked is frightfully rude.>

                                                                  Just saying.... I definitely get criticisms/suggestions.

                                                                3. f
                                                                  fourunder RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:15 PM

                                                                  I welcome criticism of my cooking and finished dishes always trying to improve....but some things will not change. I have some family members that want the red meat and dark meat chicken cooked to death.....while I would normally entertain their preferences....they actually don't like to eat red meat or dark meat chicken....preferring their white meat chicken....also cooked to death. Why make everyone else suffer for only a few.

                                                                  1. eatzalot RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:25 PM

                                                                    "I do think criticizing someone else's cooking without being asked is frightfully rude."

                                                                    Agreed. My experience anyway is most people like my cooking (I came from a cooking family and we always ate pretty well) so if there is "criticism," it usually is some helpful suggestion, which I learn from and appreciate.

                                                                    1. h
                                                                      harryharry RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:32 PM

                                                                      I have a friend who eats frozen green beans by the pound, cooks tortellini in cold water and eats sauce from a jar - he has cheese in his freezer that is more than a year old - and he still eats it...... - when he critiques my food I get annoyed - sorry, I know that's not very evolved.... but when he tells me that my ricotta gnocchi are a little soft - I get testy - he doesn't even know what a gnocchi is.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: harryharry
                                                                        c oliver RE: harryharry Dec 6, 2013 01:40 PM

                                                                        And after you strongly tell him how you feel about his comments he still does it?

                                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                                          h
                                                                          harryharry RE: c oliver Dec 6, 2013 01:47 PM

                                                                          No, I'm very passive aggressive, I just give him the hairy eyeball.

                                                                          Just kidding - Even though I get bent out of shape, it takes about five minutes for me to let it roll off.

                                                                          1. re: harryharry
                                                                            c oliver RE: harryharry Dec 6, 2013 03:38 PM

                                                                            And give him permission to continue the abuse.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                              linguafood RE: c oliver Dec 9, 2013 09:56 AM

                                                                              Abuse is a bit of a strong word in this context, no?

                                                                      2. SaraAshley RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                                        No. I only like being told that I am awesome....at everything. Jk....I guess I don't mind it too much, as long as it's honest. I hate being told that something is good if it's not. I don't like being patronized! On the other hand, my little brother is never going to give me high praise on anything I make, even if it's the best thing he ever ate, and I don't like that either.

                                                                        1. Gastronomos RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 01:55 PM

                                                                          although I welcome all criticism, comments usually come in the form of what's been discussed on other posts and threads on chowhound.com as others seem intimidated by my cooking and feel they couldn't cook for me.

                                                                          I would rather dine on unseasoned well done roast beef and cold potatoes than not see my family and friends.

                                                                          1. JerryMe RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 02:13 PM

                                                                            The two people I ask for feedback is DS and SO. DS's conversation goes something like "Keeper or not?" He'll reply "Keeper or not so much".

                                                                            SO will critique the entire meal - Too much of this or not enough of that or more meaningful, to me, information.

                                                                            I am my worst critic, as some other CHers have responded. I made cranberry sauce one time and put in 3/4 teaspoon of ginger ilo 1/4 teaspoon. I thought it totally sucked but everyone raved (people beyond my normal range) and so I've kept at it. One person's response was that he was going to open a sandwich shop just so he could serve that cranberry sauce.

                                                                            One time my sis (who is Martha Stewart's clone) said that my lasagne was better than her's. Ahem, I used the recipe on the back of the lasagne noodles.

                                                                            1. j
                                                                              John Francis RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 02:21 PM

                                                                              Of course not. Anybody who doesn't like my cooking won't have to eat it a second time. :-) (No, I've never had to cook for a family 7 days a week.)

                                                                              1. monfrancisco RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 03:32 PM

                                                                                When I was a kid, my parents' response to any criticism of a dish was, "Eat it or wear it." We all considered this the height of wit, and most food was eaten.

                                                                                All these years later, I don't mind a hint or an outright slam, but pick your spots, please-- not in the middle of an otherwise nice, social meal. As others have noted, nine times out of ten I'm already well aware of the miss.

                                                                                1. pikawicca RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 03:45 PM

                                                                                  Only if I ask for it. I'd be seriously offended if someone I'd taken the time to cook for informed that she thought my sauce was under-seasoned. That said, I do frequently ask for comments.

                                                                                  1. c
                                                                                    cleobeach RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 04:05 PM

                                                                                    No one has outright critiqued my cooking without being asked. It is probably because most of my friends and family simply aren't that particular about food.

                                                                                    I value my husband's and dear friend's opinion because they are such fantastic eaters. I value their opinion because they know food.

                                                                                    I love hearing my 8yo son's opinion of my food because his comments are fascinating. He is bothered by the strangest things and on the flip side, is delighted by things that surprise me.

                                                                                    1. e
                                                                                      escondido123 RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 04:09 PM

                                                                                      My husband and I have an agreement that unless a dish is inedible (and that's usually pretty obvious because it just gets pushed around on the plate after the first bite) criticism can hold until the next time the dish is proposed. For example, we make chicken thighs with white beans and kale. Last time he made it it was underwhelming because he didn't start with a mirepoix and didn't thoroughly brown the chicken. I said nothing because it was still good. So the next time, I did both those things and mentioned it casually without referencing the earlier dish. He noticed the difference. (Which in that case means I make the dish.)

                                                                                      I do not get much pleasure in hearing what's wrong with a dish I made while I am eating it and so that's why criticism is delayed.

                                                                                      1. tim irvine RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 04:30 PM

                                                                                        Actually I wish people were more honest. I make something and they are saying nice things and I am thinking "overdone meat, less than ideal concept, lousy crust," etc.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: tim irvine
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                                                                                          escondido123 RE: tim irvine Dec 6, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                                                          I feel the same way and though my husband and I don't criticize each others dish at the meal, each of us feels free to criticize our own dish. Then again, I have a friend who starts apologizing for the food before she even puts it on the table. (She's a very unorganized cook who tackles dishes that are too difficult for her and usually doesn't have at least one of the important ingredients.) Of course, we all then tell her how wonderful it is so she'll stop apologizing.

                                                                                          1. re: escondido123
                                                                                            monfrancisco RE: escondido123 Dec 6, 2013 05:11 PM

                                                                                            The esteemed and well loved Julia pronounced, "Never apologize." Great advice, and I need to remind myself of it every now and then. In the words of another splendid cook, "Serve it forth."

                                                                                          2. re: tim irvine
                                                                                            c oliver RE: tim irvine Dec 6, 2013 05:11 PM

                                                                                            Yes, but you already know that.

                                                                                            1. re: tim irvine
                                                                                              ursy_ten RE: tim irvine Dec 6, 2013 09:10 PM

                                                                                              Yes! Honesty!

                                                                                              I hate it when my partner says "it's wonderful", then AFTER the next time I make it, he admits that he only thought it was "alright"

                                                                                              Gah! Don't make me waste my time and effort like that!

                                                                                              1. re: ursy_ten
                                                                                                MidwesternerTT RE: ursy_ten Dec 6, 2013 09:38 PM

                                                                                                Hey - people's tastes change and if you're like me no two batches are identical. That extra, unnoted, splash of wine / salt /butter/onion / mystery spice might be the difference between "wonderful" and "alright"

                                                                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT
                                                                                                  ursy_ten RE: MidwesternerTT Dec 6, 2013 09:46 PM

                                                                                                  That's very true Midwesterner :)

                                                                                                  But I should clarify, I meant that he never thought much of it in the first place and was just being polite... something that would probably would need more than a splash of wine to correct.

                                                                                                  On the other hand, butter fixes just about everything!

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                                                                                              ricepad RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 05:59 PM

                                                                                              I welcome criticism only from those people who I feel know their way around a kitchen and have something to add. If it's somebody who just wants to use it as an opportunity to boost their own ego but can't otherwise cook, they can fuck off. As it stands, there are only about five people from whom I'll take criticism, and most of them are blood relatives.

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                                                                                                autumm RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                                                                If my husband doesn't like something I made, I want to know about it so I can either fix the problem (under seasoned, to spicy, just blah) or he really doesn't care for that type of food and I didn't know that. He doesn't like breakfast for dinner, nothing wrong with the food, just doesn't want to eat that stuff then. I welcome that feedback because he is my primary eater.

                                                                                                It's been fun training his palate, having him taste sauces, rubs, marinades to have another taster involved if something just seems to be missing but I'm not sure what it is, when I'm not using a recipe.

                                                                                                Other criticism, I factor in who is giving it. Cooking experience/style/love of food matters in how much I take things to heart. My MIL makes little digs about all my food (usually portion size when it's family style) but she thinks Taste of Home is the food bible. If my SIL with celiacs gets ill after eating at my home, I want to know about it because I need to step it up more for her protection.

                                                                                                1. Scrofula RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 08:45 PM

                                                                                                  I don't get much criticism, because I only cook for other people a few times a year, and they are usually too polite to say anything useful. Honest feedback is hard to come by, so I appreciate it when I get it.

                                                                                                  1. MidwesternerTT RE: i_am_Lois Dec 6, 2013 09:53 PM

                                                                                                    No, I don't welcome criticism -- the meal is made and there's usually nothing that can be corrected by the time others are eating and commenting. Even with a recipe, the next time I prepare a dish it will be slightly different. I do, however, welcome a "make this again", "do we have any cocktail sauce?" or "this was funny once" comment from my spouse. How else will I understand what he enjoys eating and what he simply tolerates?

                                                                                                    Cocktail sauce is our universal cure-all for bland/boring food. Readers of Robert Heinlein's science fiction book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" will recognize the "funny once" category.

                                                                                                    1. h
                                                                                                      HillJ RE: i_am_Lois Dec 7, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                                                      Okay, first you must kiss or hug the cook. I'm all about the appreciate before you criticize.

                                                                                                      Then, smile when you offer feedback. It's amazing how warm eyes and a smile can change the tone of a remark.

                                                                                                      Then fire away!

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                        acssss RE: HillJ Dec 9, 2013 09:45 AM

                                                                                                        I wrote below Family - always; Guests - never.

                                                                                                        After reading what you wrote, I think I'll change it to:

                                                                                                        If we are close enough for you to hug and kiss me
                                                                                                        ...then yes, I'll accept your critique,
                                                                                                        .....else keep your mouth shut :-)

                                                                                                        1. re: acssss
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                                                                                                          HillJ RE: acssss Dec 9, 2013 10:17 AM

                                                                                                          ROFL, acss. you really are too funny.

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                            acssss RE: HillJ Dec 9, 2013 12:22 PM

                                                                                                            There is a reason Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Brooks, George Burns, Bob Hope, etc., are/were so old. Laughter/good food/good friends/family - it is what life is all about!!

                                                                                                      2. jrvedivici RE: i_am_Lois Dec 7, 2013 09:28 AM

                                                                                                        I welcome criticism in all aspects of my life. With my forwardness and sometimes outspoken opinions I can often be a lightening rod of sorts for criticism.

                                                                                                        There are two factors when it comes to accepting criticism; 1.) I can accept it at any time on any topic, as long as its not antagonizing in its nature. There is a fine line between being critical of something and being down right insulting. Don't cross that line with me.

                                                                                                        2.) I take criticism from where it comes. If you are known for drama I'll accept your criticism however not heed your words. Primarily I have to respect the source of the criticism for me to accept it and consider any change in myself over it. No offense there are just to many angry or miserable people out there who like to criticize others just to bring them down to their level. The old misery enjoys company scenario, so I do try to filter those forms of criticism.

                                                                                                        1. SIMIHOUND RE: i_am_Lois Dec 7, 2013 03:08 PM

                                                                                                          I sure do welcome it as long as it is done in a helpful manner. My personal goal is to be a better cook so criticism is all learning for me. And yes I am my worst critic.

                                                                                                          1. juliejulez RE: i_am_Lois Dec 7, 2013 03:10 PM

                                                                                                            I welcome it. My SO usually just says something is "fine". To me, "fine" is just OK, and could be better. But when I ask him what I could do to make it better, he just shrugs. Or say something like "add more salt" (he's a salt fiend). He will get more excited when something is really good though. He'll show me his empty plate and say "it was disgusting!" with a smile.

                                                                                                            1. cowboyardee RE: i_am_Lois Dec 7, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                                                                              Criticism is not only welcome. It is preferred, desired, etc. Anything said in the interest of improving future cooking (even if I disagree) is more than welcome, and I only wish people were more free with criticism and less worried about offending.

                                                                                                              Complaints OTOH - comments intended to bemoan not getting what one wants - are met with a standard response: if you want to cook something better, make a bit for me while you're at it. Luckily, this doesnt come up much - I dont cook for whiners if I can help it. And I try not to serve anything awful anyway.

                                                                                                              1. StripedSpatula RE: i_am_Lois Dec 8, 2013 07:25 PM

                                                                                                                As others have said, I'm my worst critic, but welcome feedback when it's constructive. The only time I truly got annoyed was when a self-admitted non-cook started deconstructing, criticizing, and soliciting opinions of one of my dishes in the middle of a holiday gathering. Time and place!

                                                                                                                1. sal_acid RE: i_am_Lois Dec 8, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                  Thoughtful criticism is great eg this could use a touch of dijon...or a little acid would brighten this nicely.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid
                                                                                                                    LaureltQ RE: sal_acid Dec 9, 2013 09:30 AM

                                                                                                                    This.
                                                                                                                    If you're my husband, I want to know if you don't like something and why. If you're anyone else, and know of a way to IMPROVE the dish, or want to agree with me that I did in fact slightly overcook the pork loin, sure. If you want to tell me that you don't like pork loin, tough shit.

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                                                                                                                      acssss RE: LaureltQ Dec 9, 2013 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                      I would change what you said to:
                                                                                                                      "If you're my husband, I want to know if you don't like something and why. If you're anyone else, tough shit." :-)

                                                                                                                  2. linguafood RE: i_am_Lois Dec 9, 2013 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                    Like many here, I tend to be more critical of my own cooking than anyone I cook for.

                                                                                                                    I've taught my man to be super-honest, and so he is. I am happy about that in theory, but there are times I don't take it so well.

                                                                                                                    I guess it depends on my particular mood or how happy *I* am with the dish. If I'm happy with it, I usually brush off his criticism as unfounded and downright crazy :-D

                                                                                                                    That said, none of even our closest friends would ever dare to make a critical comment. A great example is a recent smoked ribs feast I hosted. I had made a couple of racks for just the two of us a week prior, and they were absolutely fantastic: smoky, moist, tender.... all you want them to be.

                                                                                                                    At the feast, I made 4 racks for a larger group of friends, and -- while they were quite flavorful -- the texture was way too chewy for my taste, and I was pretty upset about it. My friends, of course, all *loved* them and thought I was nuts.

                                                                                                                    They were being polite, and I was being narcissistic. Sometimes, it's better to suck up one's idea of perfection, STFU and let people enjoy a perfectly fine meal.

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                                                                                                                      NanH RE: i_am_Lois Dec 9, 2013 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                      I am also more critical. HOWEVER, my husband was in the Army for 20 years (prior to our marriage). My home made soup? 'That was okay.' Campbells Chunky Cheeseburger Soup. He raved for days, offered me some, bought a dozen cans.

                                                                                                                      Anything processed is superior to anything home made. <sigh> It has almost sucked the joy of cooking out of me.

                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: NanH
                                                                                                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: NanH Dec 9, 2013 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                        Much to learn from Campbells then. :)

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                                                                                                                          NanH RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2013 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                          Oh I know what Campbell's can teach me!

                                                                                                                          Sodium:890 mg per serving

                                                                                                                          1. re: NanH
                                                                                                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: NanH Dec 9, 2013 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                            Not bad. I was actually thinking that (salt) as the primary reason too. :)

                                                                                                                        2. re: NanH
                                                                                                                          LaureltQ RE: NanH Dec 9, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                          My husband often prefers takeout food. I'm not sure if he actually likes it more, or if it is a comfort food to him (his mom's not much of a cook).

                                                                                                                          1. re: LaureltQ
                                                                                                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: LaureltQ Dec 9, 2013 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                            What kind of takeout food? Pizza? Chinese? Sushi? Or any kind will do for your husband?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                              LaureltQ RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2013 02:52 PM

                                                                                                                              Pretty much any kind. We're in the Seattle area, so teriyaki is a regional specialty. Generally, there are a few places within 1/2 mile of our house, so burritos, tortas, teriyaki, chinese, indian, pho, bahn mi, pizza, and if he can get it, sushi.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LaureltQ
                                                                                                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: LaureltQ Dec 9, 2013 04:42 PM

                                                                                                                                I see. Does your husband care for high-end or low end takeout? Or he is pretty happy with takes-out in general?

                                                                                                                                I like restaurant foods from time to time too. It is nice to eat something I don't usually cook, you know.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                  LaureltQ RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2013 02:31 PM

                                                                                                                                  He is fine with most things. He doesn't like getting takeout from place like Applebees, but if it's ethnic and I don't usually cook it, he's in.

                                                                                                                                  I do enjoy takeout as well, and not having to take the time to cook and clean up after dinner frees me up to experiment with other stuff.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LaureltQ
                                                                                                                                    monavano RE: LaureltQ Dec 10, 2013 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                                    Same here. Take out ethnic- yes! and thank you!
                                                                                                                                    There's something about ethnic take out especially that makes me enjoy it so.
                                                                                                                                    We do take out Italian/pizza/wings on occasion, but knowing I could make it leaves me feeling a bit lazy and a tad guilty for spending the $$.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano
                                                                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: monavano Dec 10, 2013 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                                      <but if it's ethnic and I don't usually cook it, he's in. >
                                                                                                                                      LaureltQ

                                                                                                                                      <There's something about ethnic take out especially that makes me enjoy it so.>
                                                                                                                                      monavano

                                                                                                                                      I think that is just because we don't see them often.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                        monavano RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 10, 2013 05:01 PM

                                                                                                                                        Do you have good ethnic (Thai, Chinese, Indian etc)?
                                                                                                                                        We've got some good options where I live-- surprised I don't take out more!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano
                                                                                                                                          LaureltQ RE: monavano Dec 11, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                          We have some GREAT takeout in our neck of the woods. Sometimes when I go through a spell of not wanting to make dinner, we just do takeout for 3 or so nights a week. It's nice to get some variation, and then settle back into the french/italian style that I am so comfortable tossing together without recipes.

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                                                                                                                          atomicpurple RE: i_am_Lois Dec 9, 2013 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                          No.

                                                                                                                          1. rmarisco RE: i_am_Lois Dec 9, 2013 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                            no.
                                                                                                                            i do not enjoy criticism of my cooking.
                                                                                                                            nothing more need be said.

                                                                                                                            1. Will Owen RE: i_am_Lois Dec 9, 2013 06:05 PM

                                                                                                                              Of course I do. And if I'm feeding someone whose taste and breadth of knowledge I admire I appreciate it all the more, especially if it presents an opportunity to discuss the whys and wherefores while Mrs. O rolls her eyes in boredom ;-)

                                                                                                                              I made a cassoulet for a potluck my weight-training class (I'm in it, not the teacher!) had today. There's a woman in the class who's an avid cook, has been professional and worked as a chef just long enough to decide she didn't want to, whose opinion I really wanted. I know she's Jewish, but didn't know how observant, so I made one pot with lamb shoulder, duck leg meat and Toulouse sausages, another without the sausages, and made an explanatory placard. As things were winding down she came over to the table where I was sitting and told me how much she enjoyed the dish and how pleased she was that I'd brought it … but had she told me she'd found it a bit bland or salty, or suggested something I might try next time, I'd have appreciated that as well.

                                                                                                                              1. tcamp RE: i_am_Lois Dec 11, 2013 08:35 AM

                                                                                                                                I don't mind constructive criticism, especially from people who I know are competent cooks. I don't even mind family members' comments as long as they contain a bit of positive feedback: "mom, this meatloaf is OK but I like the one with carrots better."

                                                                                                                                Not thrilled with any comment that includes "yuk" or "WHAT is that" or "something smells bad."

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                                                                                                                                1. re: tcamp
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                                                                                                                                  acssss RE: tcamp Dec 11, 2013 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                                  lol tcamp! I always welcome feedback from my kids and husband (in fact, I have to pull teeth to get them to say something negative).
                                                                                                                                  If my kids or husband had **ever** said "yuk" or "WHAT is that?!" or even close, that would be the last time they ever ate my food.

                                                                                                                                2. scubadoo97 RE: i_am_Lois Dec 11, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                  I'm my biggest critic

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