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Follow-up to the thread on catering to in-laws' Midwestern tastes (boy, did I open a can of worms!!!)

I am the OP who posted about my in-laws and their aversion to what they call "exotic" restaurants. Let me clarify a little bit of what is really going on here regarding my son and his birthday dinner. My parents recently celebrated a big anniversary and we weren't able to join them for dinner due to the horrible weather we've been having. So we decided to do a celebratory dinner this coming weekend that would encompass both their anniversary and my son's birthday. My mother-in-law happened to call us last weekend to see if we wanted to join them at Red Lobster for one of their other grandchildrens' birthdays. We had prior plans, so declined. Then MIL asked if we could do it this coming weekend and I mentioned that we already had planned to do a birthday/anniversary dinner with my parents. She asked if they could join us and I said of course. She had to add the "Nothing too exotic" reminder after that, so I said I would book a table at an upscale seafood restaurant that we all like.

Fast forward a day, and the seafood place could not accommodate us. I decided on a new Greek restaurant that is getting rave reviews. I checked the menu and there is something for everyone--fish, chicken, beef, rice, etc. I gave my MIL the news and this was her response. "I guess we can find something to eat there."

My husband told me that when he spoke to her a few days later, she again told him, " I hear we're going to a Greek restaurant. I hope there's something for great-Grandma to eat." He then reminded her that great-Grandma, who was a world traveler in her day, has been to Greece and that she and my FIL have also! She said she hadn't thought of that. Then he asked her if she checked out the restaurant menu online and she said no.

I need to add that whenever she and my FIL invite us out to dinner or over to their house, there is not much thought given to my teenage daughter, who has celiac disease. She has repeatedly asked me to bring food with me when we go there, as though she cannot be troubled to even grab a loaf of GF bread at the supermarket. I have asked her very nicely, more than once, to please just get GF versions of things for my daughter so that she is not made to feel singled out by us hauling her food around. It is very, very easy to find GF versions of things these days, and I have been very specific about brands so she knows what to get. It has made us feel bad that there has been such disregard for my daughter's needs, which is why it pisses me off royally (yes, here is my agenda) that we are expected to cater to their bland tastes during an event to which THEY INVITED THEMSELVES. OK, I'm done venting. I really am not trying to be a total bitch here, but my in-laws' self-centeredness has taken on greater dimensions with each passing year and it is harder and harder for me to cater to them. By the way, they are not old. They still travel plenty and stay active. It is not a matter of them being frail and unhealthy. Thanks, all, for giving me such thoughtful answers to this dilemma. I appreciate it, even though it's sometimes painful to have the finger pointed at me!

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  1. Thank you. It's really helpful to have more of the back story. I can see you are working with a difficult situation.

    1. Even makes me more certain in my answer: One celebration dinner. Location of your son's choosing. In-laws can come or not.

      1. So rather than a lack of graciousness on your son's part, it's a matter of sheet chutzpah from your in-laws. My sympathies.

        1. Thanks for the followup! They just sound like difficult people....selfish and passive aggressive to boot.

          1. So do I tell them how I feel?????

            13 Replies
            1. re: lauriejgs

              I wouldn't, personally, but that's just me. I'd suck it up and go to Red Lobster a few times per year and continue to enjoy more "exotic" restaurants (you know, places with food on sticks) *wink* with your family separately.

              1. re: lauriejgs

                They don't take into account their granddaughter's needs? Either they are the most heartless grandparents to ever walk the planet or there is some more to that part of the back story.

                That said, if they invited themselves to your celebration then they go where you go (or not) and it is your husband's job to set the record straight with his mother. You should probably stay out of it.

                1. re: gourmanda

                  They take into account her needs when it suits them. For instance, they organized a birthday dinner last year and they did it a restaurant they know has GF food and that they like also. But this year they made another party and it was at a place near them that had a party room. It had a buffet and no GF. When I asked my MIL if there was going to be something there for my daughter to eat, she said she didn't know but I could call and ask. It did not occur to her to ask. At times in the past, she has asked on my daughter's behalf, but I think she is just tired of my daughter having celiac and having to make accommodations so she's making less and less effort. She sees that my daughter is alive and well and can't seem to be bothered anymore.

                  1. re: lauriejgs

                    That is really sad to read. They want to be accommodated but cannot do the same for your daughter, who has a legitimate disease.

                    I read the last thread but didn't respond. At this point, I think it would be best for your husband to be the one to respond each and every time the "exotic food" issue comes up or the issue of your daughter's celiac comes up. He can simply say "This is where Little Johnny chose to have his birthday dinner. You're welcome to come along - the menu's online."

                2. re: lauriejgs

                  Do you really think they give a damn about how you feel?

                    1. re: lauriejgs

                      In that case, only tell them how you feel if it'd make you feel better. In my experience, however, it won't. In fact, it may make you feel worse.

                  1. re: lauriejgs

                    I wouldn't unless by telling them it'd make you feel better for doing so. They won't hear you, most likely.

                    I would just, with commitment, tell them your son has chosen a restaurant of his choice, what the selected time of arrival is and let them choose whether or not they're coming.
                    My guess is that they'll come. However, they'll make it very clear what their discomfort level is, most likely.
                    They love attention.

                    1. re: latindancer

                      My response would be "You didn't have to come."

                      I wonder why I don't get along with my in-laws and step-father.... ;)

                    2. re: lauriejgs

                      Right now, focus on your son and your parents' celebration - do not let the in-laws take your joy.

                      From what you have written I don't know that telling them how you feel will get through to them - I mean, that whole thing with dismissing your daughter's celiac disease? That's just wrong.

                      I just really feel for you.

                      1. re: lauriejgs

                        Yours is the sort of situation that makes me long for vindication, but it's not going to happen. If your in-laws can't objectively see how selfish they are, you won't make them see. Also, there's a lot of truth in the old saying that blood is thicker than water, I.e., don't count on support from your husband

                        1. re: lauriejgs

                          Imagine the fallout if you do. So, I say don't. It isn't worth it.

                          Try to let it go.

                          Let birthday boy choose the restaurant.

                          It sounds to me as if your MIL has a lot of anxiety about strange food. For some reason this is a problem for her.

                          At some point you might point out nicely that your daughter and she have similar problems. There is a lot of food neither can/will eat. Then ask again if she won't accommodate your daughter.

                        2. Ok, these additional facts change my views. As I understand it, the main impetus for this event is to celebrate a special anniversary for your parents; you are tacking on your son's birthday celebration to that event. (Unclear from your description whether your parents live out of town or are local. If out of town, that weighs even more heavily in terms of selecting a resto that would please them.) Your inlaws invited themselves. Pick a place that pleases your parents and son. Explain to your inlaws that you don't want to "impose" on them by taking them to a restaurant that they will not like, so you will celebrate sonny's birthday with them some other time -- brunch, an at home cake & ice cream get together, whatever.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: masha

                            Yes, the additional facts change my views as well. I agree with you here.

                              1. re: masha

                                Me three. Normally, I would place grandparents above grandson in the "who gets to chose" hierarchy but there's a huge difference here, that being that the celebration is as much for the other set of grandparents who should, under normal circumstances, have equal status with your IL's. That the celebration is also for the other grandparents, IMO their desires trump all others, including the birthday boy and most certainly their peers (the other set of grandparents). In this instant, the IL's have to take a back seat for sure. This is further reinforced by the IL's inviting themselves to what is ostensibly the other grandparents party. Because of that I now believe they have little to no standing as far as input into any part of the party is concerned.

                                As far as talking with your MIL, that depends on the strength of the relationship. From what I read, you could be treading on very thin ice. Generally speaking, your husband should be the one talking to his mother about such issues as the one with your daughter's dietary needs. When issues with my MIL and me would reach a certain point, I would have to have my wife deal with it. It was usually the smartest (safest) thing to do.

                                Thanks for the clarification. It's been a fun thread (the other one)!

                              2. FWIW, I'd not tell MIL what you think of her. She probably already knows and she sounds like a nut.... no good can come of it.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sal_acid

                                  I think she's actually oblivious. I will just have to grit my teeth and smile. Thanks for the wisdom.

                                  1. re: lauriejgs

                                    My lovely southern grandmother taught me "never get into a pissing contest with a skunk" and it has been a great piece of advice throughout the years.

                                2. You are not going to change them or their minds or opinions or anything about them. They are who they are and they are your husband's parents.

                                  Greek seems like a safe bet, there is always grilled fish on the menu. If they want to go with you, fine. If not, it's their loss.

                                  But telling them how you really feel? Probably not a great idea. They may be fools, but they are still your husband's parents.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: valerie

                                    Valerie - yes and how in the world can you go wrong with Greek unless it's a dingy gyro counter at 2 AM? (but in that case you'd be a few sheets to the wind anyway)

                                    1. I'm wondering what kind of relationship you have with your MIL. Could you have a heartfelt discussion with your concerns in a loving way ? Or perhaps your husband could have that discussion with his mom.

                                      Also, when your MIL invited herself to tag along she gave the caveat to you "nothing too exotic". She essentially dictated the cuisine at an event that wasn't her celebration! I say you tell her where dinner will be and she can choose to go or not go. I wouldn't make special accommodations at an occasion that isn't hers. It's not about her. It's about your parents anniversary and your son's birthday.

                                      1. That's where you have to be careful asking questions like you did on an anonymous website. People will bring their own baggage to your party. You're not going to get a balanced view other than if you view balance as being a divergence of views. For whatever it's worth, I think you whatever you do will will be the right thing for your situation as you seem to be reacting very reasonably to all the assumptions people have made.

                                        1. I'd ignore the comment about " I guess we can find something to eat there". That's right, they can find something. I just wouldn't even take that bait.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: rasputina

                                            "... I just wouldn't even take that bait."

                                            I think this is good advice on lots of levels. I think you need to stop trying to reason with your MIL -- stop trying to convince your MIL -- stop trying to have a rational conversation with your MIL.

                                            Based on details like forgetting they've traveled in Greece without dying of starvation... like the fact that the grandmother can't be consistently attentive to her grand-daughter's dietary needs... you aren't going to make any headway in the hearts and minds department. Now I wouldn't follow the advice the Green Berets offered in the wake of LBJ's "hearts and minds" speech. But I sure would stop having so many conversations on each occasion. They're clearly not accomplishing anything.

                                            Just pick a more consistent course and stick to it. If you decide your children each get to pick his/her favorite birthday restaurant without being controlled by grandma, then calmly tell her "We'll be eating at X. You're welcome to join us." But don't engage in a longer conversation when MIL answers with her inevitable complaint/warning. Just repeat your invitation and change the subject!

                                            Bring your daughter's food where ever you go because her health is more important than who provides it. You want to wrest control from your MIL which is what you give her when you ask her to remember your daughter's needs. MIL "wins" when she decides whether to accept responsibility for her grand-daughter's health. Extending this argument, it is your daughter who often loses when grandmother ignores her responsibility. Most important, whether you win or lose is irrelevant. It's your daughter's food needs that need to be met each and every meal.

                                            Just chart your own course. Be gracious but unwavering on what is best for you and your immediate family.

                                            Link to the LBJ and Green Beret quotes:

                                              1. re: Indy 67

                                                Indy67 - another wise person. did you study under Miss Manners?? Her explanation of these interactions - like
                                                yours - helped me enormously. Your insight and suggestions are on-point: "gracious, but unwavering".

                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                  <Bring your daughter's food where ever you go because her health is more important than who provides it.>

                                              2. Not sure what the confusion was with posters who were hedging on what to do…
                                                Your post made it sound pretty clear as to what was going on.

                                                My original response(s) still stand. Must be that I've been through several scenarios like you described and pegged it from the beginning.
                                                They're attention seekers with control issues.

                                                1. if it's anything like the "Greek" restaurants around me, I'd rather go to Red Lobster...

                                                  and... it's you and your daughters responsibility to assure her needs are met, not anyone else's.

                                                  I agreed on your prior post to screw the IL's and go anywhere your son decides, no matter the crap you get from the old folks. in fact better tell them to fuck off and not come along if they want "not too exotic". no one has time for that kind of shit in their lives.

                                                  next time at the Red Lobster or worse, the diner, make it difficult for everyone. you know how. don't be difficult yourself, just make it difficult for them ;-)

                                                  26 Replies
                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                    Gastronomos - I've gained a hunch over time you have family members who are Greek, a friend with similar heritage once declared she would "never go to a Greek restaurant" as it was never anything like her Nana's cooking. OK so what about the rest of us? inviting us over anytime soon or are we left on the porch munching on dog kibble? given the raw materials, I can make Red Lobster, Greek I can only approach.

                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                      I'd say give the Greek recipe you like a try. You might surprise yourself ;-)

                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                        hmm these days my taste in herbs and accents runs toward garlic, lemon and rosemary... there's a website a friend turned me on to that is a compendium that I need to look at more. I'd rather have mediocre Greek than RL.

                                                        back on topic, I echo the sentiment "screw the IL's and go anywhere your son decides" unless they're footing the bill they get no say.

                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                          Greek cuisine is vast. it's more than mousaka, pastitsio and gyros. give it a try at home.

                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                            yes it is - hence my comment "how can you possibly go wrong with Greek?"

                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                              <a friend with similar heritage once declared she would "never go to a Greek restaurant" as it was never anything like her Nana's cooking.>

                                                              you wrote that above. I have friends of Italian heritage that say the same for Italian restaurants. "the sauce isn't good.", " it's not like my moms", etc.

                                                              it's even worse with Greek food in the US. there may be exceptions, so, please, do not crucify me. at least while growing up my neighbors of Italian decent admitted that my Greek born mom's lasagna al forno was "the best they've ever had". So...it's doable. It's just that no one is doing it. and...please, spare me the plain grilled fish. and let's make something worth the effort. Go Greek and let's get your Greek on ! LOL

                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                I never crucify anybody (as we can use the wood).

                                                                while I have to admit sometimes I like the same-old fare, I'm game for raising the bar!

                                                      2. re: hill food

                                                        "given the raw materials, I can make Red Lobster"

                                                        I dunno about that.
                                                        I had a bartender acquaintance (not quite a friend, but we got along nicely) a few years back who worked in a Red Lobster (albeit a defunct Canadian franchise).
                                                        Apparently they're big on room-temperature, shelf-stable "sauces" whose raw materials sound more like an alien periodic table than an ingredient list.
                                                        Maybe you're a chemist hill?

                                                        1. re: porker

                                                          Porker - you're right maybe I don't give myself enough credit (smirk)

                                                          Gastronomos: the link I mentioned is cited by a lot of folks over in Home Cooking, so I will dive into the less obvious items.

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            care to share here? i'm always interested :-)

                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                              I don't want to derail this into something about the food when the issue was P/A behavior regarding food but the link is:

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                thanks. Peter Minaki 's blog is one of the best.

                                                      3. re: Gastronomos

                                                        You seem like a fun poster most of the time but would you actually tell an IL to "fuck off"? How old are you?

                                                        I'm almost 60 btw and would never think of saying that to an elder no matter what I thought of them.

                                                        1. re: miss_belle

                                                          <60 btw and would never think of saying that to an elder no matter what I thought of them>

                                                          It's great your life is working so well…

                                                          Sometimes people, no matter what their age, if they're causing turmoil and chaos and drama when it's not wanted then it feels kind of good (it feels really good) to give them a good ol' F off.
                                                          Kind of calms things down a bit.

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            I was just about to report my post when you replied. To late now I guess:-)

                                                            1. re: miss_belle

                                                              such things can be communicated in not so many words. in this case if it truly had become an issue a simple "oh well, I'm so sorry you won't be able to join us this time" works out about the same.

                                                        2. re: Gastronomos

                                                          I don't know where you live Gastronomos but there are some really good Greek restaurants where I live. And I never order the 3 you listed previously - although I do love moussaka.

                                                          1. re: Jeanne

                                                            I'm in the suburbs of NYC on Long Island. NYC has "Greek" restaurants, for sure, and all of them specialize in the same thing, grilled fish. (ZZZZZ)

                                                            And out here in the 'burbs there is your typical souvlaki joints and some gyro joints. Some try and make a dish or two from the vast cuisine that is labeled Greek, but that is usually scary stuff.

                                                            I will mention that Astoria in NYC does have Greek restaurants, but they are more like diners as I haven't had seasoned food in any of them. They cook for the masses, so the food is lacking. Lacking seasoning. And that is beyond salt.

                                                            I see you're in the southeast. What do you like and where? I'd love to know and put it on my calendar. ;-)

                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                              In Iowa, a good number of modestly priced steakhouses/cafes are run by proprietors originally from Greece ... and they do cook for the masses. Interestingly, one of the two Greek restaurants in the college town I live in actually warn those that order one of the ten items of "Greek food" on the menu that one cannot return an item if they do not like the spices.

                                                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                that's why so many of these places serve unseasoned "Greek" food and many people think that's what it really is, or worse, still think that it is 'exotic'.

                                                                i like the warning. it should be on every menu. everywhere. buyer beware.

                                                                ...and... please pass the salt & pepper...

                                                              2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                Come to Washington DC and try both Zaytinya and Kapnos. These bear no relation to the indifferent places you've described or the souvlaki/gyros joints. Delicious!

                                                                Here are the links:



                                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                                  thank you. my friends in that area tell me about the DC dining scene. my last visit there wasn't anything Greek, but everything we tried was awesome. especially the Lebanese.

                                                                  kapnos items I'd be interested in:
                                                                  friday- stifado 14
                                                                  saturday- kapama 14
                                                                  sunday- souzoukakia 12

                                                                  and for zaytinya, i really like José Andrés.
                                                                  this place mixes up stuff that really shoudn't be, but for the non-Greek, the non-turk, and the non-turk/balkan, it is a very interesting menu. only because it's José Andrés i will add this to my list.

                                                                  i've heard about all the Cava locations being good. including the fast food concept they have.

                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                    I'm a fan of the dips/mezze spreads that Cava sells in some grocery stores around the DC area. Lacking a Greek grandmother, I think their tzatziki sets the standard and I really, really like their combination hummus options. However, we had a bizarre incident at their Clarendon Restaurant, and I've never dined in any branch since.

                                                                    For the curious, the patrons sitting at the next table were drunk and began their meal by spilling their drinks which splashed all over us. When we turned in the direction of the splash, the drunks became very abusive. Management didn't handle the situation well. They mopped up the spill on the floor and the other table but didn't offer to re-seat either of us. When we complained they offered to buy us a free dessert. We simply wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. With the offer of free dessert refused, management never offered a chit for dry cleaning or anything off the bill.

                                                                    I've happily ordered any of Zaytinya's lamb specials. You must order their apricot and yogurt dessert. Do not consider any others until you've at least tried that dessert. (The tiny size option is wonderful when I want fours bites of something sweet.))

                                                                    There's a pedigree between Zaytinya and Kapnos. The chef/owner of Kapnos (and Graffiato) opened Zaytinya for Jose Andres.

                                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                                      <The chef/owner of Kapnos (and Graffiato) opened Zaytinya for Jose Andres.>

                                                                      thank you for that info. it is important to know that.

                                                                2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                  I'm in Durham, NC. My favorite Greek restaurant in Durham closed unfortunately - I think the owner - from Greece retired after he took over his restaurant in Cary and his brother took over Niko's in Durham - both closed a little later. I always got the same thing (boring to some maybe but my very favorite on the menu - for lunch or dinner. Always avgolemono for starters and then their mountain salad. A large plate with a lot of fried calamari (the best I've ever had), sauteed greens, feta and a tomato salad. Some I also go dolmas but that would really be too much food. I miss that place so badly!

                                                                  Also in Durham is Papa's Grill - renovated and renamed Bleu Olive Bistro. Good but pricy - although I've read it's more reasonable now. Haven't been since they've reopened but will soon hopefully. I've looked at their menu and see a lot I would like - similar to what it was.

                                                                  A new restaurant in Chapel Hill is Kipos. Owned and operated by a chef/restaurateur in the area who owns (and has owned) many restaurants in the area - Georgios Bakatsias. George is from Greece. His sister is running the bakery associated with the restaurant. This place is getting rave reviews in the area and George was just nominated for a James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurateur. He's been in business in the area for a good thirty years and I believe this is his first Beard nomination. Will be going if Spring ever comes - a friend and I have been waiting for spring because he loves to sit outside (me too!).

                                                                  We also have some not so good Greek places but I don't go to those. So - as I said my very favorite closed but am really looking forward to trying Kipo's - I've really liked George's other restaurants and from what I hear this place is near and dear to his heart.

                                                                  1. re: Jeanne

                                                                    I peeked at the online menu for Kipos and would be interested in the blackboard specials called "MOTHER’S SLOW COOKING"

                                                            2. I think it's nifty that he cares enough about food that he has an opinion as to where he wants to dine for his birthday,

                                                              1. Yeah, I've changed my mind too. Your parents belated anniversary and son's birthday plans come first. It's the little details that matter on these threads:-)

                                                                So just out of curiosity. What do your parents think of your In-laws?

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: miss_belle

                                                                  They like them well enough but have noted that they can be rather selfish at times.

                                                                2. I wouldn't tell them how you feel in words, because I don't think it would help.

                                                                  I would show them how you feel by actions.

                                                                  So for something like your son's birthday, you can say "Son has picked the new Thai place for his birthday. You're welcome to join us, but if you can't make it we'll understand".

                                                                  When they book a meal at a restaurant where your daughter literally can't eat anything you can say "Oh, daughter can't eat anything there - we'll pass this time." (Particularly given that most restaurants won't let you bring your own meal with you).

                                                                  If you're inviting them specifically for a dinner with them and you, you pick a reasonable place (not necessarily Red Lobster, but something that has decent plain options). But if it's a group event - with friends, say - you pick a place based on the rest of the group's preferences, and if they complain, you say "Oh, don't worry, they have plain rice if you don't like anything else."

                                                                  I personally have very little patience with people who demand that everyone else cater to their smallest whim or preference, but ignore the legitimately serious needs of others in favour of their own comfort.

                                                                  1. If they were reluctant to eat at a Greek restaurant, I would seriously doubt that offering a can of worms would go over very well.
                                                                    Me? I would just suck it up and put up with them. Not worth the drama that's sure to happen if you tell 'em off.

                                                                    1. OP here. I e-mailed my MIL tonight to let her know the time of the dinner and she said she had checked the menu and it looked good. I'm sure there will be some grumbling at the restaurant, but I will try to seat myself at the other end. I think I will point out to any grumblers that my daughter always manages to find something she can eat and hope they take the hint. My husband doesn't get nearly as annoyed by this stuff as I do, although he did speak to them about the need to make a little more effort when feeding my daughter. I guess it's because my parents are easy and he's just used to them.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: lauriejgs

                                                                        Put your husband next to his parents to deal with any "issues" and enjoy yourself with your parents.

                                                                        1. re: lauriejgs

                                                                          I strongly encourage you to avoid pointing out that your daughter manages to find something to eat whereas they often claim they can't. Your in-laws behavior has little to do with reality.

                                                                          I recommend you talk to your MIL about things that are not so layered with tension and a history. If you reveal just how much their behavior annoys you, you've only given them a road map for the best way to get to you the next time they have the need to do so.

                                                                          As you've proposed, seat yourself at the other end of the table and don't take the bait when your paths cross and MIL makes a dig about the food.

                                                                        2. I have family members who don't like exotic food either. For them, I always pick a good Indian restaurant (they're Indian) or a Vegan restaurant so that they can order anything off the menu. We have someone with celiac in the office and have no problems accommodating her needs everytime w e go out to eat. Are there times when this gets frustrating? sure! But, if this is the only problem you have with your MIL, you are doing very well.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Kalivs

                                                                            In your specific case, would Red Lobster be considered 'exotic'?

                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                              To my MiL and FiL, Red Lobster would be considered "exotic", or at least not to their liking as they are not familiar with seafood beyond the diner and the broiled filet of frozen flounder or whatever.

                                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                it's sad when others toss one's view of the possibilities into the dryer w/o asking. the shrinkage is claustrophobic. I was at RL once with my aunt and discovered she'd never had crab legs (yeah it was some frozen crab 'feast') I had to order some, figuring as she'd never had them fresh, these wouldn't disappoint.

                                                                              2. re: ricepad

                                                                                Red lobster would be so exotic that I wouldn't even mention the sign, let alone suggest the restaurant.

                                                                              3. re: Kalivs

                                                                                Now, a lot of my family don't eat "exotic" either and by that I mean my mother would be okay at Applebee's or Red Lobster but she would starve at a Indian or Vegan restaurant...

                                                                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                  Exactly. I really want to try Saddle Peak Lodge for lunch, but I've heard it has stuffed animals as decor. That's not going to work with my family even if they have veg options!

                                                                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                    My parents are not very adventurous eaters, and I've managed to get away with getting them to eat at places they never would have otherwise considered by ordering for them, and explaining why I thought they'd like that.

                                                                                    So, they love Spagetti, and if I can spin Pad Thai as similar to spagetti, but instead of meatballs it's grilled chicken (so far, spagetti and grilled chicken are familiar), and the sauce is peanut based instead of tomato based, so that's new, but there's a lot of basil... the only new thing is a peanut sauce. And they know what peanuts are.

                                                                                    I've been able to broaden their horizons using this, and ordering family style and being willing to switch plates with them if they don't like it.

                                                                                    I also had a child who was a picky eater, and I made a deal with them as such, when we went to a very nice Ethiopian place- I explained that we were going there to celebrate my birthday, and while he didn't have to like anything, he had to at least try everything and not complain, and if he didn't like it, I'd make mac and cheese when we got home. Since this was for a birthday, he wasn't allowed to be a pill and ruin my birthday dinner.

                                                                                    Kid ended up stuffing himself with lentils (which he'd never tried before) and a bunch of other things, till he looked like he'd pop.

                                                                                    If I was stuck in the same situation with my parents, I'd say the same thing, but offer to swing by a burger joint on the way back out and treat them to something if they didn't like the food there, as long as they were up for trying it and being social with everyone else.

                                                                                    Not sure if that would work in your situation, OP, but that might help someone else.

                                                                                    1. re: MadPirateBippy

                                                                                      Bippy - you bet (get it? heh) ahem.

                                                                                      I tried that once. but convincing my mom that Thai larb gai was like a chicken salad didn't go over very well (this place was very fond of fish sauce as well which didn't help things much)

                                                                                      1. re: MadPirateBippy

                                                                                        MPB, not sure if you saw the original thread. Here is the link, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/967303
                                                                                        From the OP's description of how her Inlaws freaked out about the skewer with the grilled chicken at the Persian resto, I don't sense that they would be open-minded enough to give your approach a fair try. Great idea for people who are at least willing to entertain the possibility that they might find something palatable at an "exotic" resto.

                                                                                        1. re: MadPirateBippy

                                                                                          Peanut sauce. There's peanut sauce in your pad thai? Where do you get it? It always made with tamarind where I am. Peanuts might be sprinkled on top but not always. Peanut sauce makes me think more of sesame noodles in a chinese place.

                                                                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                            I was served Pad Thai in Spokane, WA once with peanut sauce [like what you would get with Satay]. It was surprisingly good, albeit not traditional.

                                                                                    2. I was guessing there were other "issues" when I read your initial post. My daughter has food allergies and my SIL has celiacs. My in laws are pretty casual about compliance with these requirements, so we don't eat with them very often. Which leads to some hurt feelings, as they are aware we spend much more time with my family, (who realize I'm not carrying an eli pen around for the fun of it) but don't seem to want to change their ways. SIL won't eat any of their cooking any longer. She will eat mine cause she knows I'm trying my darndest to make it safe for her.

                                                                                      They can join you or not. It's their loss. Congrats on raising such a great kid or 2!

                                                                                      1. My sympathies on having a self absorbed MIL.

                                                                                        In the future choose your venue and let her know that if the menu doesn't interest her you will certainly understand if they choose to just join you later for coffee and dessert. You do hope they will join at some point because family is so important.

                                                                                        Your MIL sounds like she has some control issues.

                                                                                        1. I did not read your original post, but read through this thread.
                                                                                          I'm guessing this Part Deux is mostly a background filler and not really asking if Greek is acceptable or not?

                                                                                          Lotsa people give advice here, some perhaps good, some bad, some unreasonable.

                                                                                          Me? as part of the club (the Dysfunctional Family Guild - don't matter if you're born into it, grow up in it, or marry in, you get your badge), I just wanna say hello and remind you that you're not alone.

                                                                                          Sure, *theoretically*, you can tell the hag to fuck off, you can have a heart to heart over tea and crumpets, you can get wildly drunk and pour out your heart.
                                                                                          But it ain't that cut and dry...nothing is.
                                                                                          Thing is, you gotta cope however you can. Not only with good ole MIL, but your husband (its his mother afterall), his siblings, your daughter, and so on and so on.

                                                                                          I can give you my opinion on the celiac issue: its really just a phase in your young daughter's life. I mean how can you be allergic, especially to something like wheat? Everybody eats that, right? So whats the problem?

                                                                                          Sounds crazy, right? but lotsa people don't understand lotsa things (depression, anxiety, sexual orientation, etc etc). Because they don't understand, they have difficulty appreciating the issues.
                                                                                          Maybe this is part of MIL's problem, perhaps realize this and let it go.
                                                                                          But this is only one facet of the dysfunctional front you're facing.

                                                                                          In closing (I'm getting vertigo on this soapbox), many people go through similar scenarios (on my part, mildly from week to week, HEAVY duty on holidays or special occasions). Try not to let it affect YOUR immediate family, however possible.
                                                                                          Sounds easy, but difficult, I know.

                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                            "... I can give you my opinion on the celiac issue: its really just a phase in your young daughter's life. I mean how can you be allergic, especially to something like wheat? Everybody eats that, right? So whats the problem?"

                                                                                            For someone who has shared a considerable amount of good advice and insights, the section I've copied above sounds spectacularly clueless. People with true allergies have empirical results that document their allergy regardless of your stated opinion.

                                                                                            People with allergies end up in the hospital or dead as the result of eating something to which they are allergic regardless of your stated opinion.

                                                                                            If you'd like people to consider the advice on which you're an expert ("part of the Dysfunctional Family Guild") I'd encourage you to delete your baseless opinions about allergies before the tsunami of outrage descends.

                                                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                              I think Porker was imagining what my MIL is thinking about my daughter's celiac, not telling us what he thinks! Actually, my in-laws do understand that celiac is permanent and serious. They just don't necessarily want to have to deal with it! I'm sure they're thinking, "Better her than us!"

                                                                                              1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                I *think* porker was being facetious re: celiac - giving the "opinion" from the clueless relatives pov.

                                                                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                  I knew people would bristle reading the text...part of the reason for writing it.

                                                                                                  My intent was exactly as laurie points to, imagining what MIL is thinking, specifically, "spectacularly clueless".
                                                                                                  I thought the "Sounds crazy, right?" would have tipped people off, but I guess my message wasn't as clear as intended.

                                                                                                  In other words, the section you copied is not *my* opinion, but I imagine it to be the opinion of many, clueless people.

                                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                                    Glad we've cleared up that pesky first-person pronoun "I".

                                                                                                    But Grandma doesn't sound clueless. Sometimes she is pro-active about meeting grand-daughter's needs; sometimes she is casual. That's far from clueless.

                                                                                                    Nevertheless, whatever the reason MIL acts the way she acts, the OP has gotten lots of good advice to abandon the attempts to educate/change the MIL and to focus on meeting her immediate family's needs.

                                                                                                2. re: porker

                                                                                                  Hey, Porker, I really appreciate the wisdom from you and everyone who weighed in. I had no idea it would generate such discussion, but it's made me realize I am not alone and it really could be a lot worse. My in-laws are great in other ways, so maybe this is more of my own problem and I should just let....it....go.

                                                                                                  1. re: lauriejgs

                                                                                                    As Robin Williams says to Matt Dillon in Good Will Hunting, "Its not your fault".

                                                                                                    1. re: lauriejgs

                                                                                                      you and your daughter are NOT alone. those of us with food allergies/sensitivities/celiac etc deal with this type of insensitivity all the time! we get "pick around it" or "a little won't hurt ya" or "OOOOH NOOO... there isn't any X Ingredient in there" from friends, family, and complete strangers. People think I'm nosy or bossy because I ask all the time "what's in it" because I dont' want to suffer the consequences. be strong, help your daughter learn to be her own food advocate.

                                                                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                        Juju, a very good friend of mine developed a severe shellfish allergy late in life. By "severe", I mean life threatening. She recently dined a a very well-respected local restaurant and had a delicious meal which, of course, did not contain shellfish. She became quite ill after the meal, and it turned out that somehow her food had come in contact with shellfish, either by handling or by proximity. She is fine, the restaurant handled it very well and appropriately, but there is a lesson here.

                                                                                                  2. I guess I am from the part of the Midwest [Central Iowa] where Greek fare is pretty low on the scale of exotic. The best way to handle a passive-aggressive in-law is to remind them you picked the restaurant in the first place with everyone in mind.

                                                                                                    1. I think I would be more concerned about their approach to your daughter's celiac. I'd look for an opportunity to educate them and impress n them that this is a REAL medical issue with very real and painful consequences if a GF diet is not followed. Would they knowingly disregard a good friend's/relative's diabetes? I think you also need to tell them that, even though they would never knowingly hurt your daughter, they are making her feel like an outcast or as though her medical issues are of no consequence.

                                                                                                      1. This sounds like a project for a family therapist!!

                                                                                                        In the current situation telling her "how you feel" will likely end poorly since she seems to have selective hearing/ her own interpretation when it comes to what you are actually saying. (I.e. Selective disregard for your daughters medical needs). This is a bigger picture issue of communication within the family and you only have control over your part.

                                                                                                        Clearly state your plans, do not participate in further discussions or negotiations, and repeat yourself as needed. (This restaurant, this time, their menu is online)

                                                                                                        The MIL does not deserve this level of attention and stress that she is adding to your life.

                                                                                                        1. My advice to you, is to stop thinking about this as a food related issue.
                                                                                                          Sometimes the food doesn't come first. Sometimes manners don't play into family dynamics.
                                                                                                          Sometimes you have to figure out what is really important. Then go with it.
                                                                                                          It is only one day. Maybe it is a live and learn kind of deal. It sounds like all these people will be a part of your life in the future and you need to figure out what part they will play.

                                                                                                          Maybe next time...just invite them over for fried chicken and mashed potatoes...have a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.... and call it good! Who doesn't like that? Lol. Lots of wine for the hostess :)

                                                                                                          Good luck!

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                            We can start a new thread; "Is fried chicken and mashed potatoes 'exotic' to you?"

                                                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                                                              Two initial thoughts. First, "exotic" is eupahmistic. Second, people frequently are less than honest when asked to self report.

                                                                                                              Consequently, expand the question slightly, and ask, "Is fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and collards something your neighbors would think was 'exotic'" and you'll get a more truthful answer set.

                                                                                                          2. Is there any particular reason that the fact that they are rude, and unadventurous eaters that requires their tastes to be labeled as "Midwestern" tastes. I have a relative in L.A. that would be happy to eat nothing but hamburgers the rest of his life. I don't think I'd write a post about his West Coast tastes.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                              When in doubt, pick on those in the Flyover Zone ...

                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                Did you read the post from which the internal reference came? Personally, I wouldda referred to it as "Fox News" tastes, but it really doesn't matter if folks are going to . . . .