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Worst meal at someone's home - Part 1


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The worst was a meal my sister-in-law prepared - shrimp alfredo. She boiled the heck out of dry fettuccine until it was complete mush (falling into pieces). Into that she mixed a package of dry alfredo mix (just the unprepared powder), a can of asparagus (liquid and all) and FROZEN shrimp. When I say frozen shrimp, I mean it. The shrimp (shells and tails included) was still frozen and mixed right into the mush. My gag reflex was in full force that meal.

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I was once at a dinner party that was catered so the meal itself was good. The hostess, however, made the dessert. It was a beautiful fluffy pink cake made with champagne icing. When she brought it to the table I immediately sensed something was wrong. It smelled like Fingernail polish remover (acetone). I excused myself to go to the restroom and when I returned the acetone smell was overpowering. At that very moment most of the guests were taking their first bite of the cake and almost simultaneously those first bites were spit back out on their plates. Since I used to be a chef all eyes turned to me, including the hostess who begged me to taste it and tell me what was wrong. I took the tiniest of bites and it was god-awful. I asked her how she made the icing and it was your typical confectioners suger dreck but with champagne as the liquid. I knew then that that awful smell and taste was champagne that had turned. Who knew that bad champagne smells like acetone? Well, it does! And for the life of me I don't know why the hostess preceded to make the icing with what amounts to poison!

But it sure was a beautiful cake!

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Tana and Jules, I love those websites- whenever my husband or I need a good laugh we browse the recipes. :laugh:

OPJK, I have some family members who wash their lettuce in dish soap too. It's supposed to remove the pesticides. :shock:

I can't even compete with some of these posts and I grew up in the midwest (well, Great Lakes). Mostly I've been served a lot of over cooked to death meat with no seasonings and canned vegetables, which is pretty hard to choke down, but not too mysterious. I'm seriously thinking of buying some spices and a pepper grinder as christmas gifts for them.

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What a great thread! I haven't laughed this much in a while.

My worst meal was cooked by my brother-in-law 20 years ago, right before he and my sister got married. He invited my sister and members of the wedding party over to his apartment and promised to surprise us all with a memorable dinner (and boy did he deliver on his promise).

He announced that our first course would be French onion soup. When he placed the soup bowl in front of me, I thought it odd that there was no cheese on top. And that there was no bread in the soup. And that the whole white-ish mass smelled strongly of freshly chopped onions. It looked quite unappealing, but not wanting to offend our host (and soon-to-be new family member), we all took a first spoonful from our soup bowls. I had to keep my head down, staring at the bowl, so that he and the other guests wouldn't see me stuggling to choke down the disgusting stuff. When I looked up, my sister was staring at him in shock and confusion. I vividly remember her wailing: "Honey! What did you DO???". He explained that he didn't have a cookbook (and of course this was before home computers and the Internet), so he made up his own recipe for the soup: he had chopped some onions, pureed them in the blender, poured the whole thing in a pan and simply warmed it up. Ugh! My sister gently explained to him the more conventional way to make French onion soup, and then told the rest of us not to feel bad if we didn't eat any more of it. We were all relieved as we pushed the bowls aside, cautiously anticipating the next course.

Next he brought out a platter of what he called chicken a l'orange. It was whole chicken, covered with a sandy orange substance that had bled onto the chicken, creating splotches of neon orange across the skin. Still reeling from the soup fiasco, and feeling more relaxed by lots of wine, we all eyed the chicken and grilled him on how it was prepared. He proudly explained that he had simply spread a package of orange Kool-Aid mix over the chicken, covered it tightly with foil, and baked it. He added, with a note of concern, that the Kool-Aid mix had "eaten" through the foil in spots (no doubt the reaction of the acid with the aluminum), but that he had managed to get all the bits of foil off of the bird before serving it. My sister just slumped in her chair and sighed. We were all starving at this point, so we dissected the bird, pulled off the skin and any lingering bits of Kool-Aid, and ate.

I don't remember anything about the meal after that --- I think it's one of those post-traumatic stress things.

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This was at a wedding shower for a distant relative when I was in high school- my sister and I were the only ones under 40 (including the bride). In St. Cloud, MN. I guess you'd call this a "salad." On a bed of iceberg lettuce sat a block of lemon jello, made with something creamy so it wasn't clear. Had green olives w/ pimientos in it. On top of the whole thing was some sort of cream sauce that had tiny shrimp in it! My sister (about 12 at the time) took one look and asked for the fruit. I ate about 2 bites to be polite and tasted the damn thing for days afterward. Undeniably the worst thing that has ever been in my mouth.

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He proudly explained that he had simply spread a package of orange Kool-Aid mix over the chicken,

I HOWLED when I read this. Makes you want to hit yourself in the head with a shoe. Or him. Or.. yah. Sadly, the person whom I'm going to write about as a contributor to my 'worst' memories, when hearing that partic. story, tilted her head to the side, looked intrigued, and said 'So..., what's wrong with that ?'. *sigh*

Mom. She really starts off with the best intentions. I think. Hmmm...

Anyway. She has this really strange fetish with boiled chicken. On grander occasions, she tries to make it and call it 'poached'. Sure. Whatever.

There are some dim memories from childhood:

The fresh boiled chicken, still in it's stock, in the pot, which was turned into a Chicken Mole, by a huge scoop of chunky peanut butter added, and quick 1-2-3 stir.

The can of tomato soup, which was magically made into a 'yummy' cornmeal mush, but dumping it, and enough yellow cornmeal to thicken it, into a pot and heating for 3 minutes.

More poached chicken, served sans salt or any other seasoning, with the pale flappy skin still attached, on a piece of whole wheat bread, and a ladle full of a raw-flour and grease tasting ice-cold congealed gravy.

Fruit/Ambrosia salad, Mom-style: Cut up fruits, (including apples, canned pineapple, mandarin oranges), pecans and/or walnuts, sour cream, whipped cream, and as many dog hairs as she could 'accidentally' sneak in. It was Thanksgiving one year she brought this to a family gathering. I dug the spoon in, and uncovered a 'hair patch'. I left said 'hair patch' visible, so that my brother, who was in line behind me, could see what I was pointing to as he made a quickly aborted attempt to 'scoop.

Oh. In her later years (the past 10 or so), she's discovered she likes dogs. She has 4 of them. 2 big. 2 small. All hairy.

When it's shedding time, you can break apart her wonderful smelling fresh baked bread, and see lots of 'fiber' strewn throughout.

The one incident (although there has been worse tasting I'm sure) that really really ticked me off, was another Thanksgiving. My oven wasn't working, and I had a gawd-awful craving for cornbread dressing that year. She had a working oven. Although I did try to offer some damage control, I should have known better. Really. I went and bought all the ingredients, AND put all together, WITH A RECIPE. I explained to her, exactly what I wanted..... I made her repeat it to me, to make sure she heard. *sigh*

What I ended up getting, was a big pot of mushy white bread glunk, which hadn't been baked at all. It had celery, and some onion, and raisins, and about 29 whole garlic cloves, which she had 'forgotten'? to peel. I don't know about any seasoning,...I didn't eat it.

She has never made anything for my personal household, for any major holiday, since.

Marlene

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Fruit/Ambrosia salad, Mom-style:  Cut up fruits, (including apples, canned pineapple, mandarin oranges), pecans and/or walnuts,  sour cream, whipped cream, and as many dog hairs as she could 'accidentally' sneak in. It was Thanksgiving one year she brought this to a family gathering.  I dug the spoon in, and uncovered a 'hair patch'. I left said 'hair patch' visible, so that my brother, who was in line behind me, could see what I was pointing to as he made a quickly aborted attempt to 'scoop.

Hair patch! LOL! But, seriously, how many of you have found pet or human hairs in your food when eating at someone else's house?

I live in fear of my hair getting into what I cook, so I wear a hair-net, but I wonder all the time whether guests are finding my hair in their food and politely not saying anything!

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I was at a Chinese friend's house. Since I was not a member of the family, I had the honor of being served by the hostess and getting all choice morsels. I only remember two things from that night.

1.) The coveted squab drumstick with the claws still attached poking out from my rice bowl. Brrr.

2.) Six pieces of shrimp peeled by the hostess herself with her bare hands and plopped into my bowl. Only minutes before did I watch her pick her nose and not wash those same fingers. As she watched my hesitation, she assumed that I did not like shrimp. My friend declared that I love seafood, thus condemning me to consume the lot, or risk insulting the hostess. I ate all six shrimp and still gag from the memory.

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This was at a wedding shower for a distant relative when I was in high school- my sister and I were the only ones under 40 (including the bride).  In St. Cloud, MN.  I guess you'd call this a "salad."  On a bed of iceberg lettuce sat a block of lemon jello, made with something creamy so it wasn't clear.  Had green olives w/ pimientos in it.  On top of the whole thing was some sort of cream sauce that had tiny shrimp in it!  My sister (about 12 at the time) took one look and asked for the fruit.  I ate about 2 bites to be polite and tasted the damn thing for days afterward.  Undeniably the worst thing that has ever been in my mouth.

This "salad" phenomenon must be a MINNESOTA THING! I have never in my life heard of a "salad" made with Snicker's Candy Bars, fudge striped cookies, sour cream and mandarin oranges until I started dating my boyfriend, the Minnesotan. I think they consider anything mixed all together in a big bowl salad!

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My ex-father-in-law had pesto sauce for the first time at some restaurant. Enamored with it, he tried to recreate it for us one night at his home. If I remember correctly he served it over some baked dry chicken tenders over spaghetti. I noticed that the pesto was unusually brown looking as I brought it to my mouth. It had an incredibly strong grassy/earthy/cardboardy taste.

Instead of two packed cups of fresh basil, astoundingly he used dried basil. There were a couple dozen of those little McCormick's bottles strewn around the kitchen. Must have been the worst yet most expensive pesto I ever had.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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This "salad" phenomenon must be a MINNESOTA THING!  I have never in my life heard of a "salad" made with Snicker's Candy Bars, fudge striped cookies, sour cream and mandarin oranges until I started dating my boyfriend, the Minnesotan.  I think they consider anything mixed all together in a big bowl salad!

Ok, I didn't think anyone could make a Snickers sound bad...but that...there are no words. :blink:

My southwest Kansas nightmare is my ex-mother-in-law's savory jello salad. Who the hell puts avocado in a jello salad? Who the hell eats that stuff in the first place? I realize there's always room for jello, but a big bundt-pan shaped jello mold the color of those 70's avocado green appliances always showed up at her (otherwise pretty good) Thanksgiving dinners, and we ALL had to have some or she got insulted and sulked the rest of the day.

I don't know what else was in it, but it was kinda salty. It DID have mandarin oranges, too.

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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my ex-M-I-L made jello "salads" too--usually orange jello with shredded carrots. I think at some point in history, jello salad was considered to be slimming. Another delightful salad at her house was a wedge of iceberg lettuce with about a cupful of Miracle Whip globbed on top.

Holidays called for turkey, of course. They would get up at 4 am to put the turkey in the oven, it would be done by 9 am, and then it would sit on the counter til 2, when dinner was served. After dinner, it sat out til bedtime, so people could make their own turkey sandwiches. It is a good thing my kids had strong immune systems.

Dessert was always something with cool whip, some flavor of instant pudding and graham crackers.

I do miss her Waldorf salad. And her sugar cookies.

sparrowgrass
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my ex-M-I-L made jello "salads" too--usually orange jello with shredded carrots.

Unfortunately, I've had that orange jello "salad" with carrots....eek!

My mother made that salad with lemon jello for thanksgiving every year. I'm rather fond of it, but it's better made from scratch with lemon juice and gelatin.

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But can any Jell-O nightmare story beat my grandmother's Chicken Salad Jell-O? Boiled chicken, canned chicken broth, plain gelatin, and celery--set in a jello mold--with a generous dollop of Miracle Whip on top? A more foul substance has never passed my lips (I had to try "just one bite").

Edited because "foul" and "foal" are very different words.

Edited by mayapple (log)
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Not the worst meal - but definitely the worst smell:

In Navy boot camp circa 1978. North Chicago, Illinois. During the January blizzard and after. C'mon - it's like 10 below out, we're smashed nut-to-butt (boot-camp instructor term) to keep warm, the wind's blowing 25mph.....how did they get THAT smell to stick around? It was enough to take the edge off.......every morning.

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Not the worst meal - but definitely the worst smell:

In Navy boot camp circa 1978.  North Chicago, Illinois.  During the January blizzard and after.  C'mon - it's like 10 below out, we're smashed nut-to-butt (boot-camp instructor term) to keep warm, the wind's blowing 25mph.....how did they get THAT smell to stick around?  It was enough to take the edge off.......every morning.

What smell are you talking about? I don't get it, and I'm not so sure I want to! :unsure:

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But can any Jell-O nightmare story beat my grandmother's Chicken Salad Jell-O?  Boiled chicken, canned chicken broth, plain gelatin, and celery--set in a jello mold--with a generous dollop  of Miracle Whip on top?  A more foul substance has never passed my lips (I had to try "just one bite").

Edited because "foul" and "foal" are very different words.

My grade school used to serve this for lunch a couple of times a month. :sad:

They were also the same crew that gave you peanut butter and jelly and bologna and mayo. Well, one half of each, but the two halves were squashed together so the border had all four ingredients mixed together. I always skipped sandwich day.

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  • 1 month later...
Jin... You gotta get a new circle of frends!

Those folk are all miles and many years away. I'm safe.

Soba, I always make an exception for your skinless boneless chicken breasts in my otherwise total condemnation of them as bland and worthless objects of fetishism for the Scared of Food.

Aggghh dry white rubbery chalky boneless chicken breasts.

I've found that the best thing to do with a boneless skinless chicken breast is to slice it in half, marinate it in something tasty, sautee it, and then stuff it with provolone cheese and spinach, or mango chutney, or duxelles, or prosciutto and sage, or mozzarella, basil and tomato. Roasted red pepper strips, halloumi and a chopped anchovy or two is also very nice.

Those are my two cents, on the other hand, this recipe from Epicurious.com is the best I've tried yet for chicken breasts- with the ribs in. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, a tablespoon of pepperoncini, a handful of chopped marjoram, five or six chopped cloves of garlic, some lemon zest (my addition) and salt and fresh pepper. Rub over two breasts, sprinkle over with halved cherry tomatoes and bake at 450 for 30 min. or until cooked through. MMM. (Sounds very ordinary but somehow makes incredibly tender and delicious chicken with it's own heavenly gravy) :rolleyes:

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Oh yeah, and he doesn't cook with salt, because it's "bad for you." They don't even keep it in the house. ... I cannot tell you how hard I work at avoiding going to these people's house for dinner.

Salt-free cooking seems to be one of the common threads here. Thank god that fad seems to have mostly passed.

Almost all of my nastiest childhood food memories involve dinner at the house of some family friends who had apparently fallen for every moronic "healthy" food fad of the 70s and 80s save for outright Macroneuroticism: no-salt, no-sugar, no-gluten, you name it. I swear to god their 'lasagne' was made primarily with elmer's glue; our mom used to have to cook us actual food when we got back home.

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Hahaha true Universalist style!

Don'tcha know, when there's a fire in their respective churches, the Catholics will save the Bible, the Jewish will save the Koran, and the UU's will save the coffeemaker.

I apologize in advance, and I REALLY don't mean to come across as mean-spirited or jeering, but of this hilarious thread -- this had me absolutely cracking up!

Where are these confused synagogues? Or has there been some mass inter-faith exchange that was not covered in the press? Are there an equal number of mosques where an unfortunate blaze would send congregants diving for their Torah scrolls?

Sorry...couldn't resist! :rolleyes:

Anyway, to compensate, I will reveal my worst blunder when having people over for dinner.

When I first got interested in cooking, I "planned" a very elaborate dinner party for about 8 friends. I bought a middle-eastern cookbook, and diligently shopped for ingredients for the 4 or 5 dishes I chose mostly at random. I then proceeded to do absolutely NOTHING prep-wise. In fact, I had read none of the recipes beyond the ingredient lists before the guests actually arrived at my house.

Um, well, I spent the entire evening in the kitchen, from which individual courses appeared at random intervals over the next 6 hours! My friends all insisted they had a great time (plenty of alcohol was on hand), but the exhaustion and humiliation meant another 4 or 5 years before I could bring myself to even cook anything for anyone other than myself!

Cheers,

Squeat

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Step Great Aunt Jennie's ORANGE salad. There should be an international tribunal to address Jello salads like this.

My father's second wife was from a part of Ohio which might as well have been Mars.

14 years old and feeling very uncomfortable at my first Thanksgiving at their house, I turned to the old lady next to me, and mumbled, "What nice orange salad you've brought."

It was a lie, but after an hour of being stared at I was trying to seem normal somehow. Aunt Jennie beamed and me and dumped a huge mound onto my plate.

The salad was actually an awful Jello concoction, orange jello with mayonnaise or angel whip, pineapple bits and some lumpy, poorly incorporated dairy product.

Somehow, I managed to fork it down. It was like a lesson for your tastebuds about why it is wrong to tell a lie.

Aunt Jennie was so delighted she brought the same thing next year, and all the years after... Like the beating of the telltale heart, the orange salad kept coming back for Thanksgiving dinner.

When Aunt Jennie started sending the electricity bill to a televangelist, she was put in an assisted living home and my stepmother's sister moved into Aunt Jennie's house. I breathed a sigh of relief. Goodbye to the orange salad (my step-aunt's signature dish was a sausage roll made with rolled out canned biscuit dough).

That year for Thanksgiving, my stepmother's sister brought.... THE ORANGE SALAD.

Deciding that now Aunt Jennie was gone I might gracefully free myself from the Jello curse, I decided to ask my step-aunt what the awful lumpy stuff in the orange salad was. I'd always assumed it was half-melted cottage cheese or something.

"It's grated VELVEETA! It's got orange cheese in it, that's why it's orange salad!" She looked amazed anyone would have to ask.

Petroleum and gelatine product abuse in the third degree.

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