Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Ellen Shapiro

Worst meal at someone's home - Part 1

Recommended Posts

Not so much as a meal but a kids birthday party, when the rice krispie cakes were handed out much to the young ones glee, my 8 year old took 1 bite, tried to swallow and chucked up all over the living room carpet.

she had made a basic ganache about a week before and stored it in a cupboard, rank beyond belief. not the brightest bulb in the box and certainley a house we won't be re-visiting.


after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One 4th of July I visited friends in PA and they were going to have a barbecue. They had lots of chicken - it was defrosting -sitting out in their un-air conditioned kitchen...for 2 days!

It wasn't even cold - I suggested they put it in the fridge, but they said there was no room, and not to worry.

Needless to say, even tho the final product - beautifully barbecued chicken - *looked* good, I was afraid to eat it. I wanted to warn the other people who came for the bbq - but didn't know how do tactfully do that.

No one got sick (that I know of), which of course just confirmed to my friends that I was neurotic about the chicken being left out too long. I guess I wouldn't go so far as to wish someone had at least gotten an upset tummy, but at least then they would have been more aware of "chicken safety" going forward.


Edited by Randi (log)

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One 4th of July I visited friends in PA and they were going to have a barbecue.  They had lots of chicken - it was defrosting -sitting out in their un-air conditioned kitchen...for 2 days!

It wasn't even cold - I suggested they put it in the fridge, but they said there was no room, and not to worry.

I thought it was common knowledge that you shouldn't leave poultry to defrost out on a counter, but when my mother-in-law was staying with us, while I was pregnant no less, she would cook dinner for us sometimes and she would always take whatever meat she wanted out of the freezer in the morning and leave it to defrost at room temperature all day. This was also the middle of the summer, though I would have found that vile summer or winter. I did get frequent mild stomach upsets after eating her cooking, but I didn't want to insult her since she was there to take care of future first grandchild by taking care of me (I was on bedrest). Kind of makes me wonder about the Thanksgiving turkey I'll be eating at her house in a few days...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have another meal to add to the list.

One of my friends from work invited me to his house tonight, and said he was going to cook something from home (Indonesia). I eagerly accepted.

I was served a rice-noodle dish (good), a curry-flavored version of tater tot casserole (not so good) and some sort of cake that managed to be salty, rubbery, yeasty and sweet at the same time. I choked down a bit and attempted to tell him it was good, but I think my expression gave me away!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My sister and niece leave meat out to defrost on the counter all day as a matter of course. My sister takes the turkey out the night before and leaves it to thaw on the counter before cooking it the next day. I've never gotten sick, but there's always that chance.

She laughed at me when I was having a fit trying to get our Christmas turkey to thaw in time using the cold-water method because at that time I didn't have a second fridge to thaw it in.

They're also not so good about chilling leftovers after dinner and think nothing of leaving turkey, dressing and the like in containers for a few hours before taking them home for the next day.

I'm practically paranoid about food safety in my house, and this just freaks me out. Stomach ailments are a rarity in our family, and it's usually the kids who end up catching something from the kids at school or daycare.


I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In college I didn't have a car and often bummed rides to the grocery store so I wouldn't have to ride the bus. When I did mooch, I offered to cook my driver a thank you dinner. I also taught a few of my dormmates and classmates some basic recipes. Even though these were "thank you" dinners, my friends started to get it into their heads that they owed me dinners junior year when we all moved into our own apartments. Let me just say that this led to the worst series of dinners I've ever experienced. Overcooked macaroni by the bucketful, flavorless tacos with mounds of sour cream and velveeta, more frozen dinners than you can shake a stick at, and lots of rubbery chicken breasts baked in Italian dressing. One friend's favorite party to throw was to use her Fry Daddy to deep fry ANYTHING anyone brought to a pot luck. (One drunken night she deep fried jello. Or tried to. Honest.)

One guy I was vaguely dating invited me over because, "baby, you cook me dinner all the time; let me pamper you for once." Well he was in ROTC and his physical test was coming up and he got it into his head he needed to cut weight. His "diet plan" was to make one huge pot of spaghetti on Sunday and heat it up the rest of the week with canned sauce in the microwave. For. Every. Meal...Our date was Saturday night. You can see where I'm going, can't you? That's right. He sliced the last chunk of spaghetti into two portions, spooned the sauce over the top, and because it was a "special occassion" he tossed a bit of dried Italian seasoning on the top (I think the jar was one his mom sent with him freshman year). All of this he nuked for FIVE MINUTES!!! So we spent a "romantic" evening cutting off chunks of spaghetti ball. No cheese (Too fattening), no wine (he gave it up for Lent), no side dishes. :blink: If only he didn't look so cute in those uniform pants :wub:

Plus, I lived wtih a very lovely girl who had the worst taste ever. Senior year my roommate and I were on pretty opposite schedules, so we rarely ate together. When we did, I usually cooked. She was always appreciative, but I eventually got lists of things to "please not make." Anything with curry ("it makes the apartment smell like my dog puked"). Any thing with chunks of tomato ("they feel like eels in my mouth"). She also apparently didn't like fresh vegetables. "Why are these green beans so crunchy?" I suppose she had reason; her mom had MS and NEVER cooked for her family. They went out or defrosted every meal. Seriously, she said that she only remembers her mom actually "cooking" one dish her entire life - cole slaw. When dear old roomie cooked it was all convenience food. More frozen pizzas. Hambruger helper. Spaghetti with jarred sauce (with every chunk of tomato taken out one by one with a fork tap, tap, tapped on the side of the pan. A process that took longer than it took the pasta to cook. I almost committed murder during finals week thanks to this dish.) And the piece de resistance...Fettuccine Alfredo flavored Tuna Helper. *blech* Personally, I thought this dish smelled like crotch but never left her a note.

I finally just found excuses to avoid almost all dinners until I knew how people could cook.


"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, the stories. The Stories!!!

Reminds me of our summer trips to the beach. Seven people go for seven nights, meaning that each person cooks one night. Makes since right?

Until you get the girl in love with Velvetta. Made Enchiladas with an entire block of the orange stuff and a salad with an entire bottle of French dressing already mixed. I don't think I've ever had to force down that much orange food. The congealed orange goo ontop of rather good chicken enchiladas was too much for me, until she said that her mom usually makes it with two blocks.... :shock:

Then this past year the vegan came. Everyone made an effort to include food in their meals that she could eat. She was very gracious about our questions about what she could and could not eat. Then she cooked dinner. Congealed soba with maybe one wilted diced green onion mixed in for soba to feed seven. "Banana Pudding" made by smushing 2 brown bananas with some water and walnut oil and green beans "steamed" into oblivion. All we could do, the non-vegans, was look at the spread in dismay.

It made me want to scream and show her Tony Bordain's chapter about the vegan potluck in San Fransisco. Why oh why do vegans stereotypically have to eat the most disgusting food? No seasoning, no fat, over cooked, etc.

After she went to bed, we stayed up playing poker and mowed down on some good cheese and crackers that I had picked up.

The funniest thing, was all these people cooking their one meal for the week, breakfasts and lunches were on your own, my mom and I cleaned the kitchen everyday, put stuff away, loaded and emptied the dishwasher (have you ever had to pull mushed up soba out of a sink drain) and cleaned up after these people, so when it was our turns to cook, they go all upset with us that we were going to take it easy for our meals and not make everything they loved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the thing about the common perception of vegan cooking is this; think about how many normal people cook in relation to the general population. Would you dare give a percent of people who can actually cook well?

Now think about that ratio and apply it to vegans. Take into consideration the fact that less than one percent of the population is vegan. The likelihood of one meeting several is highly unlikely.

So of course when one meets a vegan, they are curious about the types of things they normally eat. This is the equivalent of just going up to anyone and asking what they normally eat. Then you ask them to cook?

I highly doubt that most people can turn out a truly good meal, this applies to most vegans as well. Not because they're vegan, but because they're pretty much like everyone else, and that culinary enthusiasm just isn't there.

Vegan food isn't a type of cuisine, it's an ingredient restriction. I've had some absolutely amazing vegan Thai curries, at Thai restaurants, that just happened to be vegan. I've had my mom's incredible dressing on thanksgiving, which just so happens to be vegan, who'd of thought?

The point is, it's not fair to stereotype that all vegans have no cooking ability because, well, neither do most people.

By the way, if you ever make it to Atlanta, take a trip to Cafe Sunflower and order a slice of the vegan chocolate raspberry mousse cake, it makes one actually consider that choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about bacon soup which consisted of chunks of raw bacon boiled in water with whole canned tomatoes added at the end of the three hour boiling process. This was accompanied by a salad which was actually shreds of iceberg lettuce and chopped up tomatoes marinated ALL DAy in an entire bottle thousand island salad dressing. This was served in a bowl with a spoon so as not to "waste" the dressing.

This was a common meal during my grandmother's 'creative cooking stage'. It was a nice change though, I suppose from the meal we used to eat on mondays, wednesdays and fridays: overboiled cod fish , lumpy mashed potoatoes, cottage cheese, stale white bread served on a white plate with a glass of white milk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One friend's favorite party to throw was to use her Fry Daddy to deep fry ANYTHING anyone brought to a pot luck. (One drunken night she deep fried jello. Or tried to. Honest.)

OK, is it just me, or is that kind of cool? I mean, nasty, but cool.

And the piece de resistance...Fettuccine Alfredo flavored Tuna Helper. *blech* Personally, I thought this dish smelled like crotch but never left her a note.

Oh. My. God. :laugh:


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my, that last post was truly awful :blink:

Several years ago, my soon to be SIL and her boyfriend decided they wanted to have a Grey Cup party(the Canadian equivalent to the Superbowl) so she invited several of us to come watch the game and have dinner. The menu was roast beef, roasted carrots and potatoes, and gravy. Sounds OK, right? Seems pretty basic. Well as we have since found out, her attention span is that of a gnat, and her patience and attention to detail are sadly lacking. She put the roast in at 400F because she changed her mind about the timing for dinner, and decided to throw the carrots and potatoes in with the roast to save time. Two hours later she informs the gathering that she has decided to go out, because she doesn't like football, and we should take the roast out of the oven in an hour and a half and go ahead and eat. She never mentioned that she had turned the oven up.

So when the boyfriend opens the oven to take out the roast it looks like an old boot, and the carrots have disappeared,and the potatoes are hollow. Crispy skin, with nothin' inside. We tried to eat the meat, but it was impossible to chew. So the boyfriend says, well we have chocolate cake for dessert. So we cut up the cake and bite into it, and it is overcooked, dried out and tastes like cardboard. The guys resorted to licking the icing off and tossing the cake. We opened some potato chips and that was dinner.

She has now been my SIL for fifteen years and while her culinary skills have somewhat improved, dinner at their house is still pretty hit and miss, depending on her attention span that day. We usually eat a large, late lunch, and then if the offering is inedible we aren't starving for hours.


Dawn aka shrek

Let the eating begin!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One friend's favorite party to throw was to use her Fry Daddy to deep fry ANYTHING anyone brought to a pot luck. (One drunken night she deep fried jello. Or tried to. Honest.)

OK, is it just me, or is that kind of cool? I mean, nasty, but cool.

And the piece de resistance...Fettuccine Alfredo flavored Tuna Helper. *blech* Personally, I thought this dish smelled like crotch but never left her a note.

Oh. My. God. :laugh:

I think it was really cool at the time, but like I said...very drunken night. Mostly the jell-o just melted then splattered across the kitchen making a weird stick/oily mess on the walls.

Of course, this was where I also had deep fried macaroni and cheese. Sounds gross I know, but it's my favorite drunk/hangover food of all time.


"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They're also not so good about chilling leftovers after dinner and think nothing of leaving turkey, dressing and the like in containers for a few hours before taking them home for the next day.

That reminds me - the same couple who left the chicken out to defrost for 2 days also would leave pizza (with meat toppings) out overnight and eat it the next day at room temperature.

*gag*


"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the worst meal we ever served was the first year we moved to New Hampshire from New York City. We had some people from the office over for dinner and served them a "napoleon" of asparagus--layers of puff pastry with a lemon sauce, followed by chicken breast in parchment. Everybody poked at the asparagus and didn't know what to do with the parchment. We went through a lot of bread though. Later, one of our guests told us they had never eaten asparagus before, and that her husband makes her strain bottled Ragu spaghetti sauce to get rid of the chunks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a spell during the late 70s where vegetarian cuisine (can one call it that?) was comprised of various common dishes in which the cooks took every blessed ingredient and substituted them out for something "healthier." Even the vegetables were subject to this - why use lettuce in a recipe if you could use alfalfa sprouts instead? The end results were monstrosities that Victor Frankenstein himself could not have imagined.

One night we were invited to a vegetarian dinner, in which the main course was tofu broccoli lasagna made with whole wheat noodles. Whether or not the lasagna tasted good was impossible to determine, as the chef had, in a moment of culinary daring, gone wild with cayenne pepper. I sensed, rather than tasted, that dish. So did everyone else - we wept as we ate.

But it was the dessert which, after all these years, still sticks in my mind. Homemade vegetarian oreo cookies. With carob instead of chocolate. With honey and tofu instead of whatever concoction of sugar and fat it is that Nabisco uses.

Beyond being indescribably bad (which it was), for me it still begs the eternal question: why???

:blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

great topic, lmao!

Some years ago my friend invited me over for a cookout. Now, I should have known better, she use to BRAG that she didn't cook or clean.. but whatever, I'm thinking how can you screw up a cookout of burgers and potato salad?

Well, you sure as hell can. :laugh:

She fired up her gas grill , set the flame to high and laid these tiny meat patties on the cooking suface.. she kept saying"Now I don't want anyone sick from undercooked meat."

she had no fear, when she finally took them off, they were the exact color and size of a charcol briscuit. exactly! I took mine, smothered it in mustard, and pretending to eat it, whilst really just chewing on the bun. Even her dog wasn't having it, god knows I tried. Then she brought out the potato salad, a dish that I'm known for making great, and I'm picky about it.

Her potato salad recipe? Potatos. mayo. a hard boiled egg. salt.

I couldn't touch it, not even to be nice. To this day she probably wonders how I managed to fill up eating part of a hamburger bun! :laugh:


---------------------------------------

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My ex decided to surprise me and friends with a roast turkey and all the fixins type meal. First time ever even attempting in the kitchen. Found a recipe for mashed potato that included orange zest. Well, not knowing what it was, in went the whole peel, pith and all. Must have brushed my teeth for 2 hours to get that sour taste out of my mouth. Luckily(?) i was the first to go after the potatoes so no one else shared the misery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope this topic isnt completely closed yet. Reading through this thread made me realize how much I love my mother how much she really encouraged me when I was younger, regardless of how much it hurt her teeth or stomach.

When I was about 9, I heard about this thing called "fried rice". I believe I had actaully seen it on TV too, but not having any real exposure to chinese food (or any type of Asian cuisine), really had no idea what I was doing. Soooo, in my rapidly expanding mind with a not so expanding repetoire, I set out to make stir fry and fried rice. I had an old cookbood with a recipe for it, so I was all set (or so I thought). The stir fry wasn't "bad", but even then I knew it couldn't be right. The fried rice on the other hand....well, lets just say that they should specify that the 1 cup "uncooked rice" needs to be cooked PRIOR to frying.

Now we get to the part of me loving my mother. SHE ATE EVERY BITE OF RAW, UNCOOKED, GREASY RICE. And said it was DELICIOUS. God, I love that woman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always imagined what it would be like to read one of the posts in this thread and realize the writer was referring to you.

That could prove interesting.


Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bubblehead Chef, you brought back a fond memory of my father.

When I was a kid, my mother volunteered for a lot of things, so many times my Dad and I were left to fend for ourselves at suppertime. I must have been about 10 years old or so, and I wanted to make rice for supper. I don't know what I did, but that rice came out as hard as rocks.

My dad gamely made his way through his meal and told me it was very good. It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I realized what had happened. Bless your heart, Dad, for not making me feel bad.

He pulled a few good ones himself. He was not a cook, like many older men were 35 years ago. But when mom and I were off at various activities, he did try to make supper for us. One time he tried to fry wieners, and they were the kind that needed the plastic wrapping peeled off first. He didn't do this of course, and ended up fusing the wieners to our frying pan. He also thought on another occasion that some mushed up pie dough in a container was leftover mashed potatoes and tried to warm them up in a frying pan (no microwaves back then). It took my mom a long time to clean up all of the grease spatters.

I have to give him credit for trying, though. :wub:


I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love to cook dinner for my friends, and sometimes they get it into their heads to reciprocate. I try to avoid this ("let's just go out, that way we don't have to clean up!") because I'm kind of wary off other peoples' cooking, especially those wjo aren't real clear on the rules of meat storage and hand washing, etc.

Anyway, one of my good friends is a vegatarian, so dinner parties where she's invited usually involve pasta. One memorable one was some gluey ricotta and roasted pepper sauce on overcooked fettucini. This was served with a portabello mushroom- gills intact- stuffed with canned Italian bread crumbs and little else. That was the hardest meal I've ever had to swallow- luckily I had filled up earlier on the brie en croute I brought for a starter. :blink:

That same vegetarian friend once had me over for grilled cheese and tomato soup, one of my favorites. Except the grilled cheese- low fat cheese with chopped mealy tomatoes and onions- was cooked with fat-free margarine on a George Foreman grill until it was nicely warmed and soggy. Ugh. And my friends are so thankful that I'm always willing to make dinner- if they only knew. :wink:


"It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you."

-Nigel Slater

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Adventures in Eating" board has become my new favorite, ever.

Longtime lurker, I had to register, and participate.

My mother couldn't cook, so add me to the group of people that are "good food obsessed" as an adult. I lived for years on plain boiled potatoes, 1/4" thick greasy fried pork chops, the cheapest the grocery store could offer, and boiled-to-paste cauliflower or broccoli. Friday night, it was pizza night, where she would spring for a medium plain pie from a well known franchise, as a child, I LIVED for Friday evenings. Nowadays I can't even hear the commercials without cringing. God. Awful. This isn't about horror stories from home cooking, but I could write volumes. I learned to cook full, complete meals by age 11, out of necessity.

You'd think I'd be calloused to lousy food. These are some of the worst meals I can call to memory...the ones that live on as the legendary stories.

Beware bachelors:

An old friend moved into his first apartment, when he was 21. He wanted to have my husband and I, over, for his first 'real dinner guests' We brought a salad, and some home made brownies for dessert. He dissapeared into the kitchen, and I followed, prematurely praising him for his hospitality. He was another that fancied himself a great cook, and liked to tell people "I start with the basics, and like to add this and that, to my own tastes." Well, in this case "The basics" was a box of macaroni and cheese, doctored with a can of cream of chicken, a can of string beans, worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, and about fifteen random seasonings. I think some cajun stuff, and maybe some oregano. No milk...no butter. I was too busy staring in abject horror. Luckily, one box of mac 'n cheese doesn't go far, between 4 people. Luckily, I thought ahead and made some salad dressing, since he didn't have any. I should have thought ahead and brought something to drink too, or maybe some ice cubes, because tap water didn't do enough to wash down the spicy glue we ate for dinner.

Beware hosts that you've never met:

My stepmother was attending a convention in Baltimore for a week, staying with old college friends of hers, and invited us down for a visit. Lovely people...but strange. Nice. Strange.

We arrived after a rough five hour drive, about a half hour before dinner. Their beautiful house was already filled with yummy smells, we were excited. After getting settled, the hostess called us to dinner, which started with a giant tureen of vegetable soup. Bland, but filled with fresh veggies, and tasty. There was storebought cornbread, too, but it was forgettable. After one bowl she hopped up and cleared the soup away, oh man, I couldn't wait for the entree, we were starved at this point! The hostess returns 10 minutes later with some home made gingerbread, and lemon sauce. The soup was dinner. My husband, stepmother, and I exchanged looks...

The next night, we had leftover soup, leftover bread, and the hostess made her "most favorite dish" for dinner! Eggplant casserole, she squealed. I love me some eggplant. This was cubed eggplant, boiled till it was grey paste. No discernable seasonings. It was literally painful to eat.

The night after that, leftover eggplant, storebought macaroni and potato salads, and the gingerbread made a reappearance, reheated, for some reason. It was gingerbricks.

More of the same for the whole week. We were under the assumption that they were vegetarians, till the last night, when they REALLY put on a spread. Half a pound of sliced ham, and Kraft singles, for sammiches, on white bread. Mayo, yellow mustard, leftover storebought salads. *weep*

After that first night, one of our first stops the next day was the local grocery store, where we bought pounds of cheese, and various cured sausages, crackers, and other snackies. We'd run out to the car, every night, and feast out of the trunk, like fugitives. We even invited my stepmom out there for a late-night picnic. (it was early December, so we were lucky, that way)

Breakfasts were shredded wheat and skim milk. Lunches we ate out (and WOW did we eat...I ate STEAKS for lunch.) Other highlights from that trip included the cloth napkins that they had at every meal...She cleared away and put in a basket to the next meal. Reused cloth napkins. I got one with someone else's lipstick on it once. There was no TV, or any other forms of entertainment in the house (and did I mention? The house was GORGEOUS) besides a fireplace. We read a lot, that week. The hosts retired upstairs about 10 mintues after dinner, so we had HOURS to sit around and...read. We slept on a futon, that only unfolded partway, in the office.

Very nice people. Very strange.

Beware inlaws that hate you:

Every meal with the inlaws was a challenge. The food was always terrible, and they would always insist that we visit on holidays. They also always ate dinner around 1 pm, so it was not a huge problem to stop in there and pretend to eat, hang around for a half hour, and bail, off to the good relatives' houses, for real food. They ALWAYS told us what time to come, and we would show up around that time, to a half empty table, served semi-buffet style. Stepmother always told HER 5 kids to come a half hour early. We got to pick from the remains. Once, she made roasted chickens, boiled veggies, and instant mashed potatoes. I dumped some 'gravy' on my plate...or I thought it was. It was in a gravy boat. It was clear. Crystal clear, pale yellow, and thick. It shined up the potatoes like laquer, and ran off my plate in thick mucusy strings. We stopped eating with them.

My paternal grandmother's dinners were only slightly better. Maybe I'll tell about them another time.


Edited by Lilija (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...