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Worst meal at someone's home - Part 1


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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.

:laugh:

that's awesome.

"There is no worse taste in the mouth than chocolate and cigarettes. Second would be tuna and peppermint. I've combined everything, so I know."

--Augusten Burroughs

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A great friend of mine - the gentlest soul in the world - is constantly tampering with her diet. She's stick thin, and has wavered between vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian (sp?) for all the years I've known her. Everybody has their talents, but cooking is not among hers. So I avoided all her invitations until I couldn't find any more good reasons, and went round to her flat for supper while she was in a vegan phase.

She boiled up some wholemeal fusilli until it was soggy (with no salt in the water), mashed some parsnips without butter (animal fat - BAD) or seasoning, and mixed the two together, poured the slimy beige slop into a baking tin, dotted feta cheese on the top and stuck it in the oven for about half an hour. Which meant that I had 30 minutes to anticipate the horror of eating that creation. Vile.

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Several years ago I was on a Co-op work term along with a university friend who lived nearby. Having met in residence I was already familiar with his decidedly Northern Ontario drinking habits, but was about to meet his Northern Ontario eating habits too (which don't present themselves when eating cafeteria food prepared by someone else).

I was invited over to the new apartment for a dinner one night, which I imagined would be meat heavy with some sort of francophone flair (i.e. French Quebec) since that was his origin.

Item number one was "cucumber salad", and yes I'd be happy to share the recipe with you. Slice a cucmber, add one cup of white vinegar, salt like crazy and serve. It was edible if you let all the vinegar drip off....sort of thai cucumber salad gone haywire...but also great for cleaning any wounds.

The main course was a patented special recipe that I wasn't allowed to share. Since you're all trustworthy I guess I can let you in on the secret. First, brown one pound of beef. Next, add 1 cup of soy sauce. Boil noodles until they are soft, MASH THEM A BIT WITH A FORK, then toss with meat and soy sauce. I never did figure out the pasta mashing part, and to be fair if the amount of soy sauce had been quartered it might have just been bland rather than saltier than all get-out. Oh, if you choose to make this recipe please use grocery store soy sauce that tastes like motor oil, anything else would betray the dish's roots.

Since that terrible meal I have witnessed several other fascinating and very cost-effective recipes such as tomato juice spaghetti and the "poundf of bacon" breakfast.

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I love this thread!

The first time I went to visit my husband's family, before we were engaged, his mother made creamed chipped beef on toast for breakfast, put it in an electric skillet at something like 5:30 a.m., and let it sit there for a few hours so everyone could serve themselves. It was pretty awful. SOS.

A few years ago were invited to someone's home for dinner; a really lovely person whose friends described her as The Martha Stewart of (insert suburban neighborhood here: ___). Fabulous cook, fabulous hostess, really cutting-edge stuff. Dinner was chicken in a sauce of canned cranberry sauce, canned pineapple, and a bottle of orange French dressing. I can still taste it.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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While all the people who've invited me to their houses are awesome cooks (I'm very lucky) - there have been a few dishes that were just terrible - but thankfully, there were many other dishes to eat.

One was this sea-weed salad. I'm a vegetarian and never liked fish before, so - well, this made me gag. It smelled and tasted like raw fish.

Another was this egg plant dish- the sauce was delicious but the eggplants were cut to around an inch thick and were not cooked at all. Itchy. Deezguzting... and another one was this spinach soup that my mom made for us- it was puky green and extremely bitter- but other wise, tha'ts it.

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When young and single, I was invited to have Christmas dinner with a young couple, and one other person.

The basement apartment filled with smoke as we waited, and waited, for the meal to begin.

When it finally arrived, it consisted of turkey breast, peas, and corn, all previously frozen, and brought forth from the microwave oven. The meat was tough, the vegs were unevenly cooked, and we all pieced at the meal without complaining. But I never went back to that house.

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My college roommate used to make "mushroom supreme," which consisted of the following:

- Dump a can of mushrooms into an ovenproof dish

- Add a can of (undiluted) cream of mushroom soup

- Bake.

- Eat with toast.

BLEEH!!! (And why bake it? Baking doesn't add anything to an atrocity like that!)

Here's his version of chili:

- Fry a pound of ground beef.

- Dump in a can of cream of tomato soup.

- Throw in a can of kidney beans.

- Sprinkle with a very, very small amount of chili powder.

Talk about bland! Not downright disgusting, but so damn "trailer park." Compare that to this, a shameless plug for my own chili:

http://blork.typepad.com/blorkblog/2005/02...chili_the_.html

e

d

++++++++++++++++++++++

Read More Blog!

http://blork.typepad.com

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Recently was offered the recipe for "a great chicken dish." I declined. Ingredients? Chicken (raw, cut up, OK). Apricot jam (OK, on it's own). Thousand Island Dressing (not my thing). All mixed together. Baked. I'm not sure if it was covered with foil while baking. Suddenly, when the ingredient list was mentioned, my pen ran out of ink. Funny how that happens.

Edited by snowangel (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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It's taken me a long time to remember this.... must have blocked it out!

When I was studying Italian, a woman in my class invited me to lunch at her place. I asked if I could bring the wine and she said she didn't drink, so I stopped by a great bakery and picked up a half-dozen fresh croissants (this was back in the early '70s when croissants were trendy).

I got to her apartment and... first of all... there was no furniture. Just a mattress (no box spring) on the living room floor. After a few minutes, she excused herself to finish making lunch. A seemingly endless time later, she called me into the kitchen to eat, seated on one of two kitchen chairs at a tiny table, and served.... are you ready?......

an open-faced tuna melt (tuna & mayonnaise, topped with a slice of American cheese) on white toast

No croissants, no dessert. I don't remember what we had to drink, but it was something like Kool-Aid.

Now, I can understand a lunch and lifestyle like this if someone is on a very tight budget (and has no taste!), but here she was taking Italian lessons at an expensive private school and... well, it just didn't fit together.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Recently was offered the recipe for "a great chicken dish."  I declined.  Ingredients?  Chicken (raw, cut up, OK).  Apricot jam (OK, on it's own).  Thousand Island Dressing (not my thing).  All mixed together.  Baked.  I'm not sure if it was covered with foil while baking.  Suddenly, when the ingredient list was mentioned, my pen ran out of ink.  Funny how that happens.

Holy apenuts- my grandmother use to make this "special" dish for us every time we went down to visit her (in Florida). .. with chicken breast and store bought jam.

Scary.

she also fed us canned asparagus.

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she also fed us canned asparagus.

I made the mistake of telling my ex-mother-in-law that I like asparagus (fresh & steamed, but did not clarify this for her). Every meal at her house after that I'd get my own "specially prepared" green salad topped with many many spears of limp, mushy, grey canned asparagus! Eyuck. What kind of dressing do you put on that?? I never batted an eyelid though, as she did think she was feeding me something I liked. :huh:

"What, after all, is more seductive than the prospect of sinning in libraries?"

Michael Dirda, An Open Book

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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:

Lasagna is one of those dishes where everyone thinks they have the best recipe…

I earned my reputation as a foodie and good cook having worked in restaurants during college (I know, not always a direct correlation). As such, women were always asking me to cook for them and occasionally they would want to return the favor.

Julie and Jackie wanted to come over a fix a wonderful lasagna dinner for me and my housemate, Jon. Julie assured me she had the best lasagna recipe in the world. Armed with a key, Julie and Jackie let themselves into our house the next afternoon to begin dinner preparations.

A nicely dressed table, candles and all, greeted Jon and me when we arrived home around 6:00. The lasagna was on the table, cheese melted and slightly browned on top, tossed salad, garlic bread, and wine poured. The girls were glowing. I was hopeful.

Not sure why I went in the kitchen… it was a disaster, but what caught my eye were the empty cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, an empty cottage cheese container, an industrial size green cylinder of parmesan cheese, and two large bottles of “Spañada” – one opened, one empty. With my doubts, I headed back to the table.

At the table, the salad was served and Julie was just putting the knife to the lasagna. The force of the knife pushed the top skin of melted cheese to the bottom of the pan displacing several cups of red lava onto the tablecloth. It seems that they managed to construct and bake a “lasagna” totally forgetting the requisite layers of noodles. I could almost (but not really) grasp that one person could forget the noodles, but two? Blame the Spañada?

Anyway, we laughed until it hurt, used the bread to dip into the tomato soup and cheese “fondue”, ate the salad, drank more wine, and ended up having a good time. Worst meal ever, probably not… but I did convince Julie to throw away her lasagna recipe and swear never to try and make it again.

Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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Recently was offered the recipe for "a great chicken dish."  I declined.  Ingredients?  Chicken (raw, cut up, OK).  Apricot jam (OK, on it's own).  Thousand Island Dressing (not my thing).  All mixed together.  Baked.  I'm not sure if it was covered with foil while baking.  Suddenly, when the ingredient list was mentioned, my pen ran out of ink.  Funny how that happens.

Holy apenuts- my grandmother use to make this "special" dish for us every time we went down to visit her (in Florida). .. with chicken breast and store bought jam.

Scary.

she also fed us canned asparagus.

Well, this was a famous "recipe" in the late 70's, and as I knew it, was made with chicken, a bottle of "Milano 1890's French Dressing", a jar of apricot jam, and an envelope of Lipton Onion Soup mix!

My introduction to it was at a rather fancy party at a sprawling estate (mansion, swimming pool, etc.) in Pennsylvania. The host was clearly well-to-do, and I was told in advance that he was a 'gourmet chef' who would be cooking the food himself and that it would be a treat. The main dish turned out to be this Apricot Chicken, as he called it, for about a hundred people. Somebody of course commented on how delicious it was, and he took everybody to see his kitchen, and of course, it was industrial size, big enough for a dozen people to cook in, and in fact, if you loved to cook, was the kitchen of your dreams! Islands. Professional stoves. Everything you ever wanted.

Then he revealed the recipe to us. Then, he threw open the cupboards. One entire cupboard was stocked with a supermarket's worth of Milano 1890's Dressing, one with a matching quantity of Apricot Jam, and one with the Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Well, he loved to "entertain" and this was his favorite party recipe.

This wasn't the worst meal I ever had in somebody's home, just one of the strangest.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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The worst meal I can remember was at my house many, many moons ago. One day, Mom decided to get creative and made something she called 'Reuben Bundles', which consisted of corn beef, sauerkraut and Russian dressing bundled in pastry dough and baked. It was a drippy, soggy mess.

To this day, Mom has not lived down that culinary snafu.

:smile:

Erica

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This is an enchanting thread. I have been wracking my brain to make a contribution, but i keep coming up with the worst meal--not counting my mothers many--being my very own. one of the first things i tried to make was a soupe de poisson as i had eaten it in nice, cote d'azur.

i found a recipe, and when it came to the shells, and pressing them through a sieve etc i decided to just skip over that step and puree the shells instead. i didn't even strain it. i thought the texture was interesting,but even now, several decades later, my guest will mention it every so often as the vilest thing she was ever served. (i've made up for it since, though).

then there was the apricot ice cream in which i kept adding gelatiin in the misguided notion that more would be better and make the ice cream ready sooner. we called it rubber tire ice cream it was so chewy. and i was requested to never, ever, go near the gelatin again unless accompanied by a third party who could talk some sense into my head in case i started getting creative.

x m

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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The worst meal I can remember was at my house many, many moons ago.  One day, Mom decided to get creative and made something she called 'Reuben Bundles', which consisted of corn beef, sauerkraut and Russian dressing bundled in pastry dough and baked.  It was a drippy, soggy mess.

To this day, Mom has not lived down that culinary snafu.

:smile:

Erica

This sounds like a fantastic idea gone terribly wrong. Might be worth it to try something similar without the soggy mess though.

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The BEAN BUNDLES!!! I had totally forgotten the bean bundles!!!

The reference to the 1890 French dressing brought back the whole redneck debacle, the era of fifteen casserole dishes, lined up in regiments at every church supper for the entire decade, each holding prim little shocks of whole canned green beans, marinated in the "eighteen NINE-y French." They were distinguished only by the doneness of the bacon wrapped around the bundles, and the sauce, greedily spooned up and over mashed potatoes, rice, etc., by the congregants, was a slightly-reduced residue of the dressing with great floatings of bacon grease.

I do confess my allegiance to and descent from that group of hardy, plain cooks whose repertoires were enhanced by any new use for mushroom soup or Kool Whip.

Were I to include that recipe in the worst meal, etc., of my dining-out history, I could blather on all night, including also cheesy potatoes, four-layer deelight and sawdust salad--they all were bits and pieces of culinary evolution where I come from, and were staples on the feed-the-preacher circuit. Those cooks had at least the excuse of lack of exposure, of a sort. These people you're writing about profess experience, taste and knowledge unheard of in the cooking of my roots.

I just bless 'em all, those alchemists of Campbell's mushroom, and am glad to be of and from the clan. But those BEAN BUNDLES!!!

rachel

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Probably about 1985, my roommate's ex next door neighbor started talking at work about the clams he made. Over and over about the clams. best you'll ever have. Not my favorite person, but rooms wanted to go. The guy asks "How many clams can you eat?" He was talking about grilling them somehow. I said, "maybe a dozen or so".

So, we get there and this guy has the biggest, gnarliest, chowder clams you've ever seen. They're on a hot charcoal grill. He hadn't washed them and way overcooked them on dry firy heat. The result was gritty, dried up smoked Goodyear tire rubber with a touch of lighter fluid. No sauce, butter, or anything to taint that pure clam goodness.

He got mad when I didn't eat my dozen.

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My wife reminds me that we have been invited over one of her coworkers house for Friday evening dinner. I plead with her that the Michigan-Minnesota football game is on but she claims she told me about this 'event' a few weeks ago. I give in since Michigan is already losing at halftime 14-0...Big Mistake..

We show up promptly at 7pm where we are bombardered with Mormon Tabernacle photos, awards, pictures and 3 screaming children all under the age of 5 snoting all over us. After a serious attempt for recuitment into the church, the husband begins to accept that maybe I am the antichrist. He gives up.

The lack of any kitchen activity gets me concerned. When we asked if we could bring anything over, we were politely told no. Asked if we should bring a bottle of wine, the answer was no..this was pre-mormon knowledge.

7:30pm Another couple shows up. The husband of newly arrrived glances at me with a confused and frighten look. I ask him if he knows the score of the Michigan game..he doesnt. I ask if there is a TV where I could catch a score to the game. No TVs allowed in household.

7:45pm asked if we wanted something to drink..They are offering watered down Costco Tang substitute.... Warm.

8:00pm My stomach is growling. I whisper to my wife that I dont think they are offering dinner. She gives me the look like I am the antichrist.

8:15pm Dinner is served! I can't wait! We are still seated in the living room and the wife brings out a tray with large can of Costco :"European-Style Bonbons" and a bowl of pre-cut watermelon chunks and of course, refillls of warm Tang.

8:17pm My wife acknowledges that I am correct about dinner and we make up some lame excuse about me not 'feeling well'.

8:25pm We are at the local pizza parlor ordering a pizza, drinking beer and laughing.

Michigan mounted the greatest comeback in the schools history to beat Minnesota 38-35

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We were invited, some years ago, to dinner at the home of some new acquaintances, whom we already knew not to be great hosts. When we arrived, we were told by the Mrs. that they had just returned from an all-afternoon cookout at one of their neighbors' houses, and were stuffed beyond belief, and so dinner was cancelled and she was going to send out for a pizza for us if that was okay. I told the truth (as I always do) that I really hated pizza, but also that it was perfectly okay with us to stay and chat for a few minutes and then take our leave and go have dinner. Instead, she begged us to stay and make-do with the pizza, so we did.

Sometime thereafter, a large pie was delivered. She set it out on the table and called her husband and two kids (7 and 11) to "dinner". The husband sat at the head of the table and opened the box and took two slices, then passed the box to his right, whereupon the younger child took two slices, and then the older child took two slices, before passing the box around to the side of the table with the two invited guests and their mother. Of course, the pizza only had 8 slices, and so that left two for the three of us.

At that point, the mother noticed for the first time what had happened (I had seen it in progress) and feigned horror, and looked to see what food she could take back from the kids. But the youngest had already covered her two slices with a genuine quarter-inch layer of garlic salt (pronoucing it 'inedible' - to her, or anybody else). The older child had disappeared from the table, but at that moment re-entered the dining room with two soggy pizza crusts on her plate. The mother asked what happened, and the 11 year-old replied, "Mother, you know I hate tomato sauce! I took the pizza into the kitchen and washed the sauce off under the sink." When the mother asked "what happened to the cheese" the kid replied, "that washed away too."

And so Mom divided the two remaining slices of pizza into three portions, and after being served 2/3 of a slice of pizza each as our dinner, we excused ourselves, and went out for something to eat.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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