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Ellen Shapiro

Worst meal at someone's home - Part 1

590 posts in this topic

My worst home cooked meals, unfortunately, have been at the hands of my mother and her mother. A couple of examples:

Grandma – spaghetti cooked in a pressure cooker!!! Not the sauce, but the pasta itself. (She couldn’t understand why kids would turn down spaghetti).

Mom – went through an adventurous period in the 80s, and tried a recipe of chicken breasts cooked in a sauce made primarily of canned peaches and the accompanying syrup. Nauseatingly sweet, with rubbery, flaccid skin. Since we all balked at it the first night, and she had lots of leftovers, the next night she WASHED OFF the peach sauce, added some kind of Italian seasoning and reheated it. Skin still rubbery, with vestige of peach flavor combined with incongruous Italian flavors. Utterly gag inducing.

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My dear mother-in-law, who makes the world's best biscuits, stuffed cabbage and fried eggplant, but who has a tremendous fear of "undercooked" meat.

For the Thanksgiving turkey, she will rise at 3 AM to put the bird in the oven. By the time the poor thing comes out of the oven, it is a dry as shoe leather. One year, the bird IMPLODED it was so dry. :shock:

The jar of gravy could not save it.

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My mother in law insists on cooking when she visits, and she has a good eye for interesting recipes that generally turn out just fine IF she follows things to the letter.

She once, however, did a little freestyle work with a stir-fry that turned out to be basically a bowl of warm soy sauce in which floated chunks of undercooked chicken and charred veggies. Seems that the chicken was cooked while frozen. The veggies had been put in a dry saute pan sprayed with Pam and left, forgotten for a while, on the highest burner setting. The "extra" soy sauce was an effort to rehydrate the crisply blackened veggies. She also had some notion that the acidity of the soy would help finish cooking the chicken (ceviche chicken??).

I knew things would be grim when I heard the smoke detector wailing as I came up the driveway for dinner that night. We had to throw out the cheap-o saute pan as it was pretty much destroyed in the veggie meltdown.

MIL, to her everlasting credit, was the first to declare after a couple of bites that things weren't quite right and quickly seconded the idea of a pizza delivered.

Cheers,

Tom

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I have a friend who shall remain nameless who invited me round for roast chicken.

Put a huge raw chicken in his gas oven at full blast and decided it would be ready when it was brown. I had to almost wrestle him away from the oven as I turned the dial down.

Then he opened a large can of carrots and boiled it for two hours untill the chicken was done.

Ten minutes before the chicken came out of the oven he deiced to boil some potatoes.

The result...

Just cooked chicken (Very close to the bone but ok)

Carrots dissolved in can brine.

Potatoes raw most of the way through.

Then to top it all off the gravey was simply the fat poured over everything.

Now this guys quite sensitive so there was no way I could not eat the meal.

What I couldn't understand was how he ate the meal with such relish! Helping himself to seconds and commenting on how good it was!

That meal was a true test of friendship.

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About ten years ago, we lived in a small apartment complex. The Manager was a young single woman, cute and perky, but a little STRANGE. She wore a white-tie-and-tails ensemble (no pants, just black stockings and Mary Janes) to the Christmas party. She kept a wide smile on her face at all times, speaking in lisps and mumbles, even in the face of reported flooding or fire, including the time she shepherded the EMT's to our neighbor's door after the dear elderly woman had a heart attack.

But the time she took the cake--no, scratch that; there was no dessert--was at the gathering out on the little sports area for the Summerfest, which consisted of a volleyball game (four participants), a frizbee toss (one frizbee, two tossers) and a pig roast. Signs and letters-under-the-door were put out a couple of weeks in advance for Saturday noon, and quite a few of us accepted.

They had hired a professional for the pig cooking part, a nice young man who wheeled up with his big barrel-shaped grill/roaster and set up shop just where the enticing smells would greet us at 5 a.m. Being from the South, and transported to Indiana, we hadn't had really good pit BBQ in quite some time. At noon, we walked down the block, following our noses to the wonderful aromas and beer-inspired laughter and chatter. For the thirty or so of us gathered, the half pig lying atop the grillbars looked quite adequate. As the party progressed, that pig could have joined the loaves and fishes and fed thousands.

The chef started slicing; a line formed. We stood expectantly, inhaling the fumes of rich, smoky porkiness like pilgrims breathing the air of sanctity. We held our plates, watching as the first crusty slices met plate and were carried away to the buffet for the requisite sides of potato salad, coleslaw, and baked beans.

Then, after the first dozen or so people had received their servings, there was whispering amongst the chefs, as the several guests remaining in line in front of us started to mutter amongst themselves. We craned forward to see, and our eyes met a disappointing, break-the-heart-of-the-hungry sight: the pig was bleeding. Not just pink-rare juicerunning, but bleed, seeping out between the knifemarks and flowing out onto the huge cutting board. I don't know if the chef was on his first run, or the fire was not regulated correctly, or the timing not calculated correctly. It was AWFUL---the bleeding armadillo cake in Steel Magnolias leapt to mind.

The chefs managed to carve around and snip off pieces which were tender and edible; they did serve everyone who was in line, but after having our lunch manicured off a practically-raw carcass, we were just out of the mood. We took a couple of bites of the crackly skin---tasty, but the UGH was already implanted.

We said our thank-yous and headed home to make a sandwich. But the finale was the buffet---as we stood with the "hostess" saying goodbye, I watched an assistant refilling the three "serving dishes" with pototo salad, slaw, and baked beans straight from grocery-store deli containers. I had to look twice for the actual images to register. The three square yellow containers on the buffet next to the open cellophane packs of buns all had the word "crisper" in script on the little silver margin at the top. Familiar, yes. We had one just like them in the fridge in our apartment!!! :blink:

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this thread continues after how many years? I guess bad meals live on forever.

mine: while in grad school one of my professors invited a small group of his students to his home for dinner every semester, once with me included. Theoretically quite an honor. The home was lovely, the modern art on the walls collectible even to my inexperienced eyes, the furnishings tasteful. A charming British wife. Plied with cocktails and in an appropriately socially forgiving mood his poor, hungry students were brought to table--and invited to help ourselves from two of the slimiest dishes I've ever forced down: an overcooked, underseasoned oyster stew and a steamed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life casserole of brussel sprouts, okra, and breadcrumbs. How to understand that anyone could imagine any one of them on a plate, much less the two together...the challenge was second helpings. one could decline both but politeness required taking a small serving of one. Which would you choose?



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While I have certainly had some bad meals presented by family and friends, they were all trying in reasonably good faith to do something nice. One consistently repeated problem is not understanding the concept that all raw ingredients are NOT created equal!

From this problem comes forth watery shrimp, plastic cheese, gristly meat and dry desserts. But no specific transgression of friends and family will be detailed here out of respect for the perpetrators. So, I'll mention a few particularly awful restaurant meals from places that should have known better. Perhaps this could be a new thread at some point.

1. Steak and eggs in Paris: Just took a flyer with my brother on a breakfast place on a right bank street corner. The toughest meat ever served to a human as consumable. Impossible to cut across the huge grain, it literally bent our silverware. Hacking with the grain eventually produced meaty shards of dental floss. Nearly raw eggs and burnt toast and lousy coffee. I was reminded of Rodney Dangerfield, "this steak still has marks where the jockey was hitting it!".

2. Cassoulet in a fashionable (and pricey) Upper East side Manhattan hotel: Greasy, salty mess with a mass of WAY undercooked beans. I dubbed it greasy gravel. Utterly inedible. On top of that, the service was uppity and obnoxious.

3. Paella at a well respected restaurant in Key West: $30 entree that had obviously been reheated from lunch, or last night's dinner, or the jurrasic age. Dry crunchy rice with hideously dry seafood. So overcooked the dark meat chicken was dry and chewy. Shameless. I mean, if you're gonna serve reheated rice for $30, at least throw a newish shrimp on top!

Didn't send any of these abominations back because:

1. Wasn't that hungry anyway, and who orders steak and eggs in Paris?

2. Mother in Law treating, already enough of a scene underway!

3. Taken to restaurant by good friends, one of their favorites. Would have broken her heart if I told her how rotten it was.

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[i wrote this a few years ago, immediately on returning home from the dinner in question.]

Dinner at C.'s

"Sorry but I have this deadline looming."

"If only you'd called a half an hour earlier. I just accepted another invitation."

"I think I feel a cold coming on."

"Thanks but it's been one of those through-the-wringer weeks and all I want to do is veg out at home."

"I'd love to but I have this lamb steak in the fridge and if I don't make it tonight, I'll have to throw it out."

"You know, I'm really in the mood to cook. Why don't you come over here instead?"

I'd been avoiding it for months. Tonight C. put her foot down: I was having dinner at her place, no ifs, ands or buts.

Ah, C. One of the first people I met on arriving in Montreal in '73. An honours English classmate at McGill—her first paper, "Vaginal Versus Clitoral Orgasm in Women in Love," was written before she had personal knowledge of the subject and earned her a private interview with the lecherous prof. Later she travelled the world as an ESL teacher—Greece, Japan, Egypt, China, France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, India. A chain smoker who's tried quitting a total of two weeks in the last 30 years. These days something of a boulevardière, hanging out in the cafés and bistros on rue Bernard. A lover of beer and guzzler of cheap wine. Dismissive of wine appreciation ("Well, it tastes like wine to me," she announced after sitting through my encomium to Juge's 1990 Cornas Cuvée C). Appreciative of fine food, though. Appreciative of bad food, too.

Always begins eating as soon as the food is set before her. Always grunts softly as she wolfs it down. Doesn't talk while there's anything on her plate. Has to have a smoke the instant she finishes eating, even if getting one means cutting you off in mid-sentence.

Probably the worst cook I know. Her cookbook collection consists of a single unconsulted volume, Diet for a Small Planet, which was already gathering dust on top of her fridge when I first met her.

"Well, can I help with dinner?" I ask.

"No."

"Let me bring a bottle at least."

"You're always opening wine for me. Just bring yourself. It's my treat."

I arrive at the appointed hour. As usual, C. greets me like a long-lost friend. She dashes into the kitchen and returns with two Molson Dry Ices.

"Here," she says, handing me a bottle. "I know you like that microbrewery stuff but this was on special."

She lights a cigarette and we chat for a while.

"Let's move into the kitchen," she says. "I'm making a pasta dish of my own invention."

"Anything I can do?"

"Don't you lift a finger. Everything's under control. I just have to boil some water for the spaghetti."

She grabs a two-quart saucepan and fills it half full.

"You might want to use a bigger pan and more water," I suggest.

"I don't have one," she replies. "And if I put more water in, it'll boil over."

I go back to nursing my beer.

"Now for the sauce," she says.

A practical person, C. never refrigerates her margarine ("It's so much easier to spread"). This evening, she takes a mighty spoonful from the orange oleaginous blob on the counter and plops it into a skillet. When it's sizzling, she reaches in the fridge and pulls out a white plastic container.

"I got some of those lovely little Matane shrimps," she says, adding them to the skillet. (Matane, a village on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is known for its tiny crustaceans, sometimes called salad shrimp and always sold shelled and pre-cooked.) While the shrimp are frying, C. checks the pasta water. "Well, you know what they say about watched pots. Really, I must get this stove fixed. Only two burners work and not very well at that."

The shrimp continue to fry. After five minutes, C. takes a container of whipping cream out of the fridge, pours it in the skillet and brings it to a simmer.

At last the water boils. C. adds the spaghetti and salt and pours in some Crisco oil. The shrimp bubble away.

C. sits down for a cig. And another. She goes to the stove, stirs the spaghetti, stirs the sauce, comes back for another cig. The pasta has been cooking for 15 minutes, the pre-cooked shrimp for 25.

She stubs out her cigarette. "Well, back to work!" She opens the fridge, rummages around and emerges with three green canisters of Kraft Parmesan. "Don't know how long these have been in here. Probably a couple of years. We'll finish them off tonight though!"

She shakes the cheese into the sauce, stirs it and turns off the heat. She dumps the pasta in a mesh strainer, looks at me and says, "It always seems to stick together. Should I run some tap water over it?" She does so before I can reply. The spaghetti goes in a bowl and is tossed with the sauce.

She hands me a baguette and a knife. "Here. Cut this, would you?"

The bread collapses under the blade.

"A bit mushy, isn't it?" C. says. "But if you go just before they close, you get two for the price of one. Care for some margarine for your bread?"

We sit at the table.

"I had a late lunch," I say. "Don't give me too big a serving. ‘Small firsts, happy seconds,' har har."

C. stops talking and starts chowing. Suddenly she looks up. "Oh, the wine!" She runs to the kitchen and returns with a bottle of Chilean cabernet from the convenience store.

We eat and drink, the silence broken only by the occasional soft grunt.

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[i wrote this a few years ago, immediately on returning home from the dinner in question.]

Dinner at C.'s

"Sorry but I have this deadline looming."

"If only you'd called a half an hour earlier. I just accepted another invitation."

"I think I feel a cold coming on."

"Thanks but it's been one of those through-the-wringer weeks and all I want to do is veg out at home."

"I'd love to but I have this lamb steak in the fridge and if I don't make it tonight, I'll have to throw it out."

"You know, I'm really in the mood to cook. Why don't you come over here instead?"

I'd been avoiding it for months. Tonight C. put her foot down: I was having dinner at her place, no ifs, ands or buts.

Ah, C. One of the first people I met on arriving in Montreal in '73. An honours English classmate at McGill—her first paper, "Vaginal Versus Clitoral Orgasm in Women in Love," was written before she had personal knowledge of the subject and earned her a private interview with the lecherous prof. Later she travelled the world as an ESL teacher—Greece, Japan, Egypt, China, France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, India. A chain smoker who's tried quitting a total of two weeks in the last 30 years. These days something of a boulevardière, hanging out in the cafés and bistros on rue Bernard. A lover of beer and guzzler of cheap wine. Dismissive of wine appreciation ("Well, it tastes like wine to me," she announced after sitting through my encomium to Juge's 1990 Cornas Cuvée C). Appreciative of fine food, though. Appreciative of bad food, too.

Always begins eating as soon as the food is set before her. Always grunts softly as she wolfs it down. Doesn't talk while there's anything on her plate. Has to have a smoke the instant she finishes eating, even if getting one means cutting you off in mid-sentence.

Probably the worst cook I know. Her cookbook collection consists of a single unconsulted volume, Diet for a Small Planet, which was already gathering dust on top of her fridge when I first met her.

"Well, can I help with dinner?" I ask.

"No."

"Let me bring a bottle at least."

"You're always opening wine for me. Just bring yourself. It's my treat."

I arrive at the appointed hour. As usual, C. greets me like a long-lost friend. She dashes into the kitchen and returns with two Molson Dry Ices.

"Here," she says, handing me a bottle. "I know you like that microbrewery stuff but this was on special."

She lights a cigarette and we chat for a while.

"Let's move into the kitchen," she says. "I'm making a pasta dish of my own invention."

"Anything I can do?"

"Don't you lift a finger. Everything's under control. I just have to boil some water for the spaghetti."

She grabs a two-quart saucepan and fills it half full.

"You might want to use a bigger pan and more water," I suggest.

"I don't have one," she replies. "And if I put more water in, it'll boil over."

I go back to nursing my beer.

"Now for the sauce," she says.

A practical person, C. never refrigerates her margarine ("It's so much easier to spread"). This evening, she takes a mighty spoonful from the orange oleaginous blob on the counter and plops it into a skillet. When it's sizzling, she reaches in the fridge and pulls out a white plastic container.

"I got some of those lovely little Matane shrimps," she says, adding them to the skillet. (Matane, a village on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is known for its tiny crustaceans, sometimes called salad shrimp and always sold shelled and pre-cooked.) While the shrimp are frying, C. checks the pasta water. "Well, you know what they say about watched pots. Really, I must get this stove fixed. Only two burners work and not very well at that."

The shrimp continue to fry. After five minutes, C. takes a container of whipping cream out of the fridge, pours it in the skillet and brings it to a simmer.

At last the water boils. C. adds the spaghetti and salt and pours in some Crisco oil. The shrimp bubble away.

C. sits down for a cig. And another. She goes to the stove, stirs the spaghetti, stirs the sauce, comes back for another cig. The pasta has been cooking for 15 minutes, the pre-cooked shrimp for 25.

She stubs out her cigarette. "Well, back to work!" She opens the fridge, rummages around and emerges with three green canisters of Kraft Parmesan. "Don't know how long these have been in here. Probably a couple of years. We'll finish them off tonight though!"

She shakes the cheese into the sauce, stirs it and turns off the heat. She dumps the pasta in a mesh strainer, looks at me and says, "It always seems to stick together. Should I run some tap water over it?" She does so before I can reply. The spaghetti goes in a bowl and is tossed with the sauce.

She hands me a baguette and a knife. "Here. Cut this, would you?"

The bread collapses under the blade.

"A bit mushy, isn't it?" C. says. "But if you go just before they close, you get two for the price of one. Care for some margarine for your bread?"

We sit at the table.

"I had a late lunch," I say. "Don't give me too big a serving. ‘Small firsts, happy seconds,' har har."

C. stops talking and starts chowing. Suddenly she looks up. "Oh, the wine!" She runs to the kitchen and returns with a bottle of Chilean cabernet from the convenience store.

We eat and drink, the silence broken only by the occasional soft grunt.

Been there , done that . But it was a prospective romantic partner. Run and hide 4 times over. :raz::raz:


Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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While at college in London, a friend invited a bunch us over to her room in the hall of residence for supper. She was a lovely girl, a great singer and artist, and came from Jewish/Indian stock, so we had great hopes for an interesting meal. Oh dear.

The menu comprised canned Westler's hamburgers, canned processed marrowfat peas and canned new potatoes. And in order to lose none of that natural yummy goodness, she didn't drain anything. At all. Just plated up the meal so that the solids floated (or sank) in an Impressionistic soup of watery greys, greens and browns.

My girlfriend and I ran into her again a couple of years after leaving college, and she invited us back to her new flat in St John's Wood. She pottered about in the kitchen, and we drank wine, and a really pleasant smell began to emerge. I smiled and raised my eyebrows at the GF. She pointed to a row of recipe books in the bookcase. Maybe we were in for a treat. Our hostess announced the dish of the day: Lemon chicken!

Now, when you see in a recipe: "take the grated rind of half a lemon, plus the juice of two lemons", do you: a. use your expensively gained school and college education to do what the recipe says; or b. grab about 5 whole lemons, chop them finely and bung them in, peel, pith, flesh, juice & pips?

Sadly, she chose the latter option.

On a happier note, she has since emigrated to Florida. One little bit of Brit revenge for the Boston Tea Party.

- Tony -

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Yep, I'm sure I've inflicted pain on the victims of my hospitality in the past, and may live to regret meals that I have yet to cook...

However, the worst meal yet has to go to my new-ish MIL. FIL married her in an unheroic attempt to provide himself with life-time live-in help, but she's further down the slippery slope than he is. I've banned the kids from eating anything at their house after a memorable meal of strangely chemically tasting semi-preserved vegetables and ROTTEN RICE. I ate mine because husband was eating his without comment, but it turned out that he was eating his because I was...and the resulting food poisoning was just too high a price to pay for politeness! I've tried to talk to her since about the unwisdom of leaving rice on "keep warm" for days on end, but there's always yellowish rice in the rice cooker when we call around. :wacko:

As for mental suffering, that prize goes to a friend's birthday party long ago when we were both about 6 or 7. Everybody fell upon the icecream, the cake, the jellies, and the cookies...and nobody touched the healthy lettuce salad with vinegary, sweet, condensed milk "mayonnaise" dressing. The mother who had brought the salad asked sadly if anybody wanted any, so I bravely volunteered. I sat and tried to choke the hated lettuce and teeth-stripping mayonnaise down, overhearing the mothers whisper about what a GREEDY kid I was to be still eating while everybody else had gone to play. I still have a vivid memory of tears running down my cheeks and onto the fork stuck in my mouth as I tried to sob and chew at the same time! :cool:

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Thirty odd years ago I was my own worst enemy in the kitchen and the dining table.

My mother had never really let in the kitchen to cook so when when I was on my own...

I've never had worse food than what I made for myself (and others!) during those days of darkest infamy.

If I could travel back in time I would kill my twenty year old self before she made that horrific chicken that still haunts me. How could she not have known that smell means it's basically rotting? And "poultry seasoning"? What is that stuff anyway? And why so much? And the boiled potatoes are not "done" when they dissolve when pierced with a fork. They're garbage.

Egad.

:sad:


Edited by Jinmyo (log)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The worst has to be both of the times I tried to prepare Quiche. I almost puked. For some reason I just can NOT make a quiche. Such is my burden.

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Years ago, a recipe went round the South for chicken, marinated in Wishbone Italian, rolled in crushed cornflakes, baked til tender and golden. It turned up at church suppers, funeral feasts, potlucks, pitch-ins, and Tupperware gatherings.

We were invited to the home of friends for dinner (we knew the husband well, as he and my hubby were members of several organizations and both were farmers. Had met the wife briefly on occasion). Living-room-served Appetizer was rumaki, but not bacon-wrapped. The livers had been marinated in the soy mixture, dumped in a baking dish, marinade and all, topped with slices of bacon, and baked til the bacon was brown around the edges. The whole panful was poured into a glass dish, which then resembled some science experiment gone awry---graybrown chunks of boiled liver, long ecru flappy strands of boiled bacon, the whole floating in a brownish fluid flecked with liver crumbs and congealed lumps of blood. We were given toothpicks and told how much easier this recipe was than wrapping all those yucky, bloody livers. And you know, if you could get past appearances, they weren't so bad; whole water chestnuts had taken on the hue of the sauce as well, so you weren't sure which you might be putting into your mouth.

Then the main course: the famed Cornflake Chicken. But they were out of cornflakes, it seems, so the hostess made do with the next best thing in the cereal cupboard: Grapenuts.

After the first bite, we cut and scraped and managed to eat the INSIDE of the chicken pieces---the outsides resembled wallpaper flocked with BB's. Seeking to avoid a sure trip to the dentist for repair work, we did some meticulous carving and managed to carry on a conversation, all at the same time.

Side dish was a lovely platter of baked sweet potato surprise. The recipe included mashing the potatoes, then forming them into a ball around a marshmallow, then rolling the balls in: (developing a theme here) TADAAAAAAAA!!! Cornflakes. Repeat chicken chorus ad lib.

How anyone could have thought TWO dishes rolled in cereal would make a balanced meal is beyond me, but the Grapenuts carried both recipes to heights undreamed of by the original cooks.

They are lovely people, but this was quite an unforgettable meal. (And then later there was the time she was out in the garden gathering turnip greens, in her shortie nightgown...a story for another time).

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Without a doubt, my ghastliest tale took place in the kitchen of my ex's grandmother. She asked me what I wanted for breakfast, to which I innocently replied, "Fried eggs would be fine." MISTAKE!! She proceeded to fill a deep saucepan with roughly **2 inches*** of vegetable oil (I'm not kidding), brought it to a good high heat, and threw the eggs in. The net result was a gloppy globule of glistening eggstuff, possibly weighing more than the brass doorknob that I kept eyeing throughout the meal in hopes of making a smooth escape. Thankfully, she owned a cat. A very hungry, very desperate cat...


Edited by AppleBrownBetty (log)

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[i wrote this a few years ago, immediately on returning home from the dinner in question.]

Dinner at C.'s

"Sorry but I have this deadline looming."

"If only you'd called a half an hour earlier. I just accepted another invitation."

"I think I feel a cold coming on."

"Thanks but it's been one of those through-the-wringer weeks and all I want to do is veg out at home."

"I'd love to but I have this lamb steak in the fridge and if I don't make it tonight, I'll have to throw it out."

"You know, I'm really in the mood to cook. Why don't you come over here instead?"

I'd been avoiding it for months. Tonight C. put her foot down: I was having dinner at her place, no ifs, ands or buts.

Ah, C. One of the first people I met on arriving in Montreal in '73. An honours English classmate at McGill—her first paper, "Vaginal Versus Clitoral Orgasm in Women in Love," was written before she had personal knowledge of the subject and earned her a private interview with the lecherous prof. Later she travelled the world as an ESL teacher—Greece, Japan, Egypt, China, France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, India. A chain smoker who's tried quitting a total of two weeks in the last 30 years. These days something of a boulevardière, hanging out in the cafés and bistros on rue Bernard. A lover of beer and guzzler of cheap wine. Dismissive of wine appreciation ("Well, it tastes like wine to me," she announced after sitting through my encomium to Juge's 1990 Cornas Cuvée C). Appreciative of fine food, though. Appreciative of bad food, too.

Always begins eating as soon as the food is set before her. Always grunts softly as she wolfs it down. Doesn't talk while there's anything on her plate. Has to have a smoke the instant she finishes eating, even if getting one means cutting you off in mid-sentence.

Probably the worst cook I know. Her cookbook collection consists of a single unconsulted volume, Diet for a Small Planet, which was already gathering dust on top of her fridge when I first met her.

"Well, can I help with dinner?" I ask.

"No."

"Let me bring a bottle at least."

"You're always opening wine for me. Just bring yourself. It's my treat."

I arrive at the appointed hour. As usual, C. greets me like a long-lost friend. She dashes into the kitchen and returns with two Molson Dry Ices.

"Here," she says, handing me a bottle. "I know you like that microbrewery stuff but this was on special."

She lights a cigarette and we chat for a while.

"Let's move into the kitchen," she says. "I'm making a pasta dish of my own invention."

"Anything I can do?"

"Don't you lift a finger. Everything's under control. I just have to boil some water for the spaghetti."

She grabs a two-quart saucepan and fills it half full.

"You might want to use a bigger pan and more water," I suggest.

"I don't have one," she replies. "And if I put more water in, it'll boil over."

I go back to nursing my beer.

"Now for the sauce," she says.

A practical person, C. never refrigerates her margarine ("It's so much easier to spread"). This evening, she takes a mighty spoonful from the orange oleaginous blob on the counter and plops it into a skillet. When it's sizzling, she reaches in the fridge and pulls out a white plastic container.

"I got some of those lovely little Matane shrimps," she says, adding them to the skillet. (Matane, a village on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is known for its tiny crustaceans, sometimes called salad shrimp and always sold shelled and pre-cooked.) While the shrimp are frying, C. checks the pasta water. "Well, you know what they say about watched pots. Really, I must get this stove fixed. Only two burners work and not very well at that."

The shrimp continue to fry. After five minutes, C. takes a container of whipping cream out of the fridge, pours it in the skillet and brings it to a simmer.

At last the water boils. C. adds the spaghetti and salt and pours in some Crisco oil. The shrimp bubble away.

C. sits down for a cig. And another. She goes to the stove, stirs the spaghetti, stirs the sauce, comes back for another cig. The pasta has been cooking for 15 minutes, the pre-cooked shrimp for 25.

She stubs out her cigarette. "Well, back to work!" She opens the fridge, rummages around and emerges with three green canisters of Kraft Parmesan. "Don't know how long these have been in here. Probably a couple of years. We'll finish them off tonight though!"

She shakes the cheese into the sauce, stirs it and turns off the heat. She dumps the pasta in a mesh strainer, looks at me and says, "It always seems to stick together. Should I run some tap water over it?" She does so before I can reply. The spaghetti goes in a bowl and is tossed with the sauce.

She hands me a baguette and a knife. "Here. Cut this, would you?"

The bread collapses under the blade.

"A bit mushy, isn't it?" C. says. "But if you go just before they close, you get two for the price of one. Care for some margarine for your bread?"

We sit at the table.

"I had a late lunch," I say. "Don't give me too big a serving. ‘Small firsts, happy seconds,' har har."

C. stops talking and starts chowing. Suddenly she looks up. "Oh, the wine!" She runs to the kitchen and returns with a bottle of Chilean cabernet from the convenience store.

We eat and drink, the silence broken only by the occasional soft grunt.

Been there , done that . But it was a prospective romantic partner. Run and hide 4 times over. :raz::raz:

LOL! :laugh::laugh::laugh::raz::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Great writing too.


Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

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At one Christmas dinner the well meaning mother of my first cousin made lasagna. The rest of the family agreed later ( after she had gone ) that apparently she had used no spices at all to season the sauce and better still she had used cottage cheese instead of ricotta. :blink:


I'm sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not, and I'm sick and tired of being told that I am!

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Spagetti with a ketchup as a sauce with chunks of cheddar cheese as a topping.

Christy

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In my friend's defense, he was high when he made this, but I was over at his house and he asked me if I wanted some seafood alfredo. I said, "sure." He started to look in his cabinets and stuff and he was like, "oh, I don't have all the ingredients, but I've got this bottle of alfredo sauce, it's not the best, but it will be alright. He then grabs an onion, dices it, and throws it in a skillet. I was thinking, "well, okay." So he starts cooking the pasta; after about 10 minutes of not stirring the onions on high heat they were half caramelized and half blackened. Trying to be tactful, I asked, "are those onions done "caramelizing" and he looked over and said, "Yeah, they're getting there" at which point he stirred them a little and left them until they were 100% black. He then deglazed the pan with the bottle of grocery store alfredo sauce, which when combined with the blackened onions somehow turned a bright orange. Then he added some white wine vinegar (because he didn't have any wine..... ??), and stirred in a stick of butter, because, apparently the jar from the store isn't rich enough. It was finished off with some imitation crab chunks.

It really wasn't all that bad in the end, not disgusting like some of the abominations posted on the thread already, but it was definitely a strange interpretation of alfredo.

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I was 7 or 8 years old. The kid I played with next door invited me to eat dinner at her house. Sure, ok. I asked my mom, sure, ok. So, I go over and sit down in their kitchen at the round faux wood table with those tall swivel chairs that were so popular in the 70's. A CB radio (no lie) was playing and chili was being served. So far, so good. I liked my mom's chili so I was ready. Bring it on. I looked at the pile of ground beef and beans in my bowl and thought...hmmm, this looks different. I tasted it and I quickly realized something for the first time in my life--my mom is a good cook! That was quickly followed by telling myself that it probably isn't a good idea to ever eat anything away from home again. I had no idea that food could be so bad. The chili was a nasty pile of lukewarm ground beef with kidney beans and a few tomatoes. It was dry and had no seasoning that I could detect. My coping mechanism was to eat lots and lots of saltines with it and then claim to be full. It was a long time before I agreed to eat at a friend's house again.

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I have a dear friend, who also happens to be a vegetarian, and also, to be perfectly frank, not a very good cook, but who really wanted to cook a birthday dinner for me, her most decidedly carnivorous and food-geeky best friend. I don't know how I wound up suggesting she try making me beef stroganoff--some random craving I had at that moment? Some misplaced idea that stroganoff was hard to screw up? Well, never did I dream that someone--namely my friend--would endeavor to make beef stroganoff with el random cut of tough stewing meat, "sauted" just long enough to turn gray (!), and then simmered *very* thoroughly in a container's-worth of store-bought alfredo sauce. Can you say "pieces of vaguely beef-flavored rubber-band in chalky cheese sauce"? I knew you could. Touched by her devotion, if not her culinary prowess, I managed to get a respectable serving of it down. In subsequent years I suggested that we go to a nice restaurant that carried both vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings, ostensibly so that she could also dine on something she enjoyed. Thankfully, she has never divined the true reason behind that suggestion.


Edited by mizducky (log)

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Back in the 60s when working in New Haven Connecticut my best friend was a co-worker with a serious drinking problem. He'd even drink vanilla extract if nothing else was available. A lot of times I'd cook dinner for the two of us before he took off for his nightly bar crawl. One day at work, he announced to me that after all the meals I'd cooked for him, he wanted to make dinner for me, and it would be a really great recipe he'd recently come across.

So that night , around 7:00 he comes by with a sack full of stuff, and asks me to get out my blender while he unpacks the ingredients for our dinner. He also asked me to get out my bottles of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce and put them on the counter along with the ice cube tray from the fridge. He then unpacked the bag, the contents of which were a can of beef broth and a bottle of vodka. He put the ice cubes into the blender, the can of beef broth, most of the bottle of vodka, and a dash or two of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. He then processed them on high, poured them into glasses and said "Isn't this great! You can get a complete meal and a buzz at the same time".

Sometimes, I wonder what ever became of him. Sometimes I miss the burgers at Louis' Lunch. Most of the time I try not to think about Connecticut.


"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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The mother of a friend of mine once made a meal for a bunch of us to celebrate my friend's birthday. One of the dishes was a tomato aspic with bay shrimp and celery. His mother was first generation Italian (well, she was foreign, anyway) and looking back on it I probably should have enjoyed it. I think the problem was that everyone at the party was my age, maybe six or seven. A few might have been as old as eight. I remember throwing up, then looking at all of the little pink and green shards in a pool of red, and throwing up more. My mouth is watering now.

A friend of mine who's a chef went to dinner a couple of weeks ago at the apartment of a couple she is friends with. The boyfriend cooked and unfortunately my friend wasn't drinking at the time so they had the ensuing meal with water. Some sort of meat (and just by the fact that someone who has been through cooking school can't discern what kind of meat is bad) filled with breadcrumb stuffing, then breaded and baked. Well, almost baked. Apparently the stuffing was still cold and the meat right around the center wasn't cooked. Served with still-crunchy plain steamed broccoli and a large pile of raspberries. Now, we sat around for awhile trying to figure out what would make a person put an entire pint of raspberries on each plate with meat and broccoli. In February. Never came up with anything.

A week or so after that my friend made dinner for them at their place. She described what she made as crispy, dark-skinned, salty, juicy roasted chicken with buttery mashed potatoes, artichokes, and gravy. She said that they seemed happy with it, but just pushed it around their plates for awhile before chucking it. Maybe they'll forever remember that meal as 'the time when that woman came over and used all of that butter and cream'.


If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?

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