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Jan 1, 2014 09:52 AM

You KNOW it sucked

You're generally a good cook.
You have people over.
Somewhere along the line, things go to he!! in a handbasket and your meal doesn't turn out anywhere close to what you expected.
You KNOW it sucked.
Your guests thank you for a wonderful meal.
What do you say? Thank you and move on?

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  1. In the situation you describe, "oh, you are most welcome. It was so great to have you over this evening."

    1. The classic advise comes from Julia Child herself: No apologies! No excuses!

      I'm sure she was right. It's just so hard when you want to offer your best but come up short. OTOH, there's more to social relationships than food. And permission for your friends to make mistakes may be permission for us to make mistakes too… And vice versa. ;> Focusing on what's wrong rather than what's right may not be doing them a favor either.

      Maybe that's something to think about for a new start in a New Year. Happy New Year, everyone!

      5 Replies
      1. re: rainey

        You mention Julia Child, and what a good example she sets for us in accepting calamity. I remember once when she made Apple Charlotte, where you build a wall with bread slices around the outside of a dish, fill it with more bread and lots of fruit, let it "jell" in the refrigerator, and then turn it out to applause. Well, when she turned hers out, it all fell apart and I think some of it even went on the floor and she just calmly said, "Oh, hell".

        1. re: Querencia

          I remember the old JC shows from Boston and I saw that.

          LOVE that woman and never more than when I read "As Always, Julia" and "My Life in France". What a genuine person!

        2. re: rainey

          Interesting how people find Julia Child admirable

          Personally, she has huge airs about her of the old-school, distasteful 'colonialist' mindset

          I'm not saying I'm surprised, though, as people hold Winston Churchill, of all people, in such high esteem as well

          Being sour and stodgy ≠ admirable personality, outlook on life

          1. re: ameotoko

            Are you serious?

            I'm thinking you never saw a lot of "The French Chef" episodes. She was about as real as you can get. And if you read the books that contain her correspondence you just get that confirmed.

            She grew up in a pretty affluent pre-WWII family so there are probably traces of formality that don't translate well to a more contemporary and relaxed way of living, but read the books with an open mind and I think you'll see something very different.

            1. re: rainey

              Yeah, I'm serious

              It's nothing to do with formality a more 'relaxed way of living'. I refer to the old colonial vestiges of stodgy, blunt behaviour often taken as 'real' found in people of such a a place and time

              Like I said, she commands undeserved respect for this 'realness' - to me, ugliness - as does Winston Churchill

              I'm glad I neither come from a background that sees value in such personalities/behaviour, nor from the unfortunate time that made such people proud for being so...unpalatable

        3. Depends on the guests.

          I have a number of friends who I could easily say "ugh! This awful. What do you say I call for pizza?" And we would all laugh.

          However in cases with people I don't know well I would say thank you and move on. My dad always said "never apologize, never explain" for cases such as the one you described. It just makes the situation worst.

          The only exception would be if I felt the food was indelible as opposed to just not meeting my expectations. It one of the reasons I only make tried and true dishes for people I don't know well. That is not the time for me try out a complicated new dish!

          1. Assuming you want them to accept future invitations, proactively announce and apologize that the dish came out poorly, so they know you know. If they think you think your lousy dinner was good, they won't be keen to dine at your home again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              Agreed. You don't have to wheedle or anything, but if you know them well enough to have them at your house, surely you know them well enough to acknowledge an error. It shows that you are a considerate host. That "never explain, never apologize" stuff applies more to farting on the subway in front of a bunch of strangers you'll leave behind at the next stop.

            2. I regret to say the meal came out less than I had expected....Thanks for coming and I hope you do not decline any future invitations for a similar evening for good company and a meal that will equally suck or be even worse.