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.

Worst meal at someone's home - Part 1

Recommended Posts

"It all started one Saturday night, when my good friend Sandra Lee invited me to a dinner party..."

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Breakfast in Montana at my aunt's house. She was out of milk, so made the waffles with water. No syrup, just her "homemade" jam made out of green tomatoes and raspberry jello. Her tomatoes never ripened in Montana and she thought this was a great way to use them.

Or maybe my mother's Yorkshire Chicken casserole with undercooked, still bloody chicken pieces.

I won't travel any further down this bad memory lane!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was visiting Poland for the first time with the (Polish) lad I had been dating at the time. Meeting the family and all. The relationship didn't meet its demise until after we got back to the States, but I think it was the meal at his folks' house that was the deathknell of our love affair. I was a pretty apologetic vegetarian at the time (snapped out of that one, thank god). Although I hadn't eaten meat in years, I anticipated that this might cause problems while abroad, and I had prepared for this by bringing some of my own food, and agreeing to negotiate if I felt it necessary; my moral code placed courtesy above dietary quirks, and my choices at the time were probably more affectation than conviction.

His parents were already opposed to our union; I was decidedly the very non-Eastern European nightmare that they dreaded would whisk their beloved son away to the Land of the Locust Eaters. Loverboy had mentioned to his parents in advance that I did not eat meat, and though this was not particularly well-taken, it was taken nonetheless. Or so we thought.

To begin with, I had brought my hosts a bottle of good Scotch whiskey (boyfriend's ardent suggestion) and a frangipane and pear galette that I had picked up that same morning in Paris. The mother turned her nose up at both, pushing them back into my arms, leaving her son to translate: "We have no use for such things... dessert is already made... we don't need whiskey, we drink wine and vodka..."...

Getting a bit frosty in Warsaw.

Then, I was walked in on _twice_ while using the facilities. Don't know how; the light under the door should have made it obvious enough that there was someone in there, and with only seven of us present it wasn't as though the company was hard to keep track of.

At the table, everyone was served wine except for me. My boyfriend attempted to save face by leaping up and discreetly switching my empty with his full glass. Nobody intended to acknowledge my presence at the table either. The Boy cast me a few apologetic glances while he engaged in foreign dialogue with his distasteful and ill-mannered family.

The mother caried a tureen of soup into the dining room and ladled several bowls of it out, but did not intend to serve any to me (some kind of winter root veggie stew- and meatless, as it happened to be). Instead, after bickering with her son in Polish, she left the room and came back with a black plastic breakfast bowl with saran wrap over the top. She just left there, underneath my nose; didn't even uncover it. I removed the clingfilm to reveal a highly suspect and nauseating mess of cold boiled macaroni in milk. Leftovers from breakfast, and what leftovers they were.

After the plates were cleared, everyone at the table was handed an steaming plate from the kitchen: mashed potatoes with cheese and onions topped with some kielbasa and a sauce made of ground meats; sort of stew-like, very fragrant and delicious-smelling. Pierogies on the side. I would have eaten anything at that point. I felt insecure, irritated and lonely, but my sense of humor was building as I fell further into disbelief at what was happening. My plate, when it arrived, contained nothing but a halved red apple that looked like mice had been at it, two empty, unfilled pierogie shells, and a totally offensive pool of - I kid you not- melted lard mixed with the raw blood from the ground meat, and a single raw egg yolk in an accompanying saucer, drowning in milk. I started laughing giddily when I realized that a) I had no cutlery, and b) everyone at the table was watching me, bemused. My boyfriend looked half mortified, half like he was kind of enjoying his new role as the Antichrist.

Truly disturbing.

Dessert, apparently, was goat's cheese and some sort of a rustic cake, but I didn't stay to try it. I was well on my way back to my hotel room by then, where I was happy to binge on bison grass vodka and emergency food such as Powerbars, dried figs and chocolate while I packed my suitcase and changed my travel plans.

Nevermind; I hear that the food Poland leaves a lot to be desired. Although I did meet a few very nice people between the nightmare-on-ice-family-escapade and the airport!

Edited by Verjuice (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some of these stories are so bad I almost wept! Particularly the Polish story and the ones involving demential or other apparent mental illness (people living in "garbage houses" and the like.)

I had a real doozie of a bad meal Xmas eve... my mother insisted on cooking the traditional Polish Christmas Eve Dinner herself, despite the fact she had been recovering from a head injury and (apparetly) was coming down with the flu... borscht, pierogis, fried cod, bechamel sauce, kapusta (sauerkraut), mashed potatoes, and a wreath cake for dessert.

Well, the evening consisted of me doing all the food shopping, then coming home and helping out as much with the cooking as she'd let me. Basically it was me frantically trying to fix/prevent her mistakes.

I'd only been partially successful... the borscht had whole (albeit small) beets in a runny broth instead of the slices of fresh-roasted beets we love, the pierogis were partially burned (she'd left a pan of them burning on the stove, and I had to run in when I saw the smoke). The potatoes were rescued from overcooking, only to be killed with far too much milk and butter, to make a runny, lumpy gluey mess. The bechamel was missing all the flavor compotents (mustard, beef broth) so it was tasteless, and she let it boil over twice so it was now a curdled mess.

The cod turned out very good, but then again, I was frying that. Thank god she didn't get near the fryer!

The wreath cake was a flat bundt cake. Unfrosted. She'd given up on it, and told me to serve something else (thank god I brought a lot of cookies).

After Xmas dinner she was too weak to do anything else, and we found out she had the flu. She was bedridden and feverish until yesterday. So yes, I had to do Xmas dinner alone... but it DID come out well. Rack of lamb, sauteed crimini mushrooms in garlic, brandy and vermouth, polenta with garlic and olive oil.

Last Thanksgiving, my mom had another doozie when she didn't let the turkey defrost enough, but tossed it in semithawed anyway. Undercooked in parts, and a soggy inedible mess in the center from all the melted ice crystals, so the stuffing in the bird was unusable.

Edited by laurenmilan (log)

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites


please, call me a food snob, but

my entire family is italian - all of them off the boat - all of them great cooks

my husband's side - a completely different story

my sister-in-law put live lobster into tomato sauce 6 years ago and served us 10 mins later - i haven't eaten lobster since

my mother-in-law served a salad straight out of the lettuce bag - coupons and all

yummy! made me wonder about the care she took with the prime rib - hmmm?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's been so much vivid prose on this thread I thought I'd try something different and post a few worst meal haiku:

If mozzarella

sprinkled on pasta is good

Why not melt in sauce?

Our goals differ

I look for flavor while you

seek "complete protein"

Meeting her parents

young man finds his nemesis

The Mayonnaise Cake

I will not argue

I insist: a Reuben has

no Russian Dressing

The first instruction

You seem to have forgotten

must rinse the leeks well

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Parisienne friend's 18 year old daughter was an au pair just outside London last summer, to improve her English. She was treated to packet mash potato, cooked up in huge quantities on the Sunday evening, and frozen into daily servings to be defrosted and eaten on the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings......... it was served with cold sliced supermarket roast pork, chicken, turkey or beef, topped off with lashings of packet gravy. Mmmm. :raz:

BTW, Saturday night was party night -oven chips and fried eggs (done in the oven with the chips).

She lasted 3 weeks and then came home to Maman.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"must rinse leeks well" got me. :laugh:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know John Braise doesn't want to hear this, but it will take me an eternity to erase the memory of the turkey gravy his father served last week. It looked good in the gravy boat, but tasted like a spoonful of sugar! Apparently, he used the juices from the turkey from when he smoked it (and please, don't ask me what juices those are!), and reduced them with some apple cider. And I believe there was some soy sauce in there for "color". Talk about mashed potato abuse! Thankfully, I didn't put on my meat! :shock:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The absolute worst meal I've ever had looked so strange that I had to ask what is was. The reply, ground bologna and pickles! She actually got out a meat grinder and ground together sweet pickles and oscar mayer bologna. It was then placed on cheep hamburger buns, topped off with cheese whiz, and heated under the broiler. I can't begin to describe the taste.

Over the years I've had many bad meals at the home of others including some posted here. Though (fortunately) I've never had it, this dish really intrigued me.

So..... On Christmas eve I decided to prepare it as one of the dishes at the annual get together buffet for my wifes 25-30 relatives (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc.). In addition to a smoked turkey ("This tastes burnt"), ham ("Where are the pineapple rings-my favorite part"), I prepared many appetizers-caviar, sturgeon, oysters, and so forth right down to the bottom of the food chain. I included this recipe as my special offering for 2003. My only alterations were day (week) old Wonder bread (cut into quarters) instead of hamburger buns and, in a festive holiday mood, green and red "Sprinkles" applied following the broiler stage.

Bottom line - this dish disappeared in 20 minutes and I've had numerous requests for the recipe.

Thank you Elizabeth Ann. I think that my wife's family has finally accepted me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...
I was a young lad, very recently in the US, in my first year of college, when an article I wrote for the college newspaper attracted the attention of a professor. The article had something to do with my experiences in the erstwhile USSR, and this professor found me one day at the newspaper office, and invited me to dinner at his home. He said he was fascinated by my experiences, and wanted to hear all about them.

I'm tempted at this point to write that the professor turned out to be a cannibal, and I was slotted as the main course -- or better yet, a side dish -- but that would be a lie. It was actually far worse.

His house was cavernous, sternly decorated with a degree of neatness that can only be achieved through a lack of things to strew about. The rooms were dark and gloomy, and echoed slightly. Nothing looked sat-on. The man himself was tall and wan, with a slight quaver in his voice. His wife was the same, as I recall. Their daughter was pretty, and her unexpected presence made me severely self-conscious. I don't recall sitting down anywhere but at the dining table.

As we ate, we took turns speaking. There was much throat-clearing and coughing. There were protracted silences during which I could hear food being chewed. About half-way through the meal, there was a deciding moment, after which the evening coalesced into an unmitigated disaster. That moment occurred after the professor revealed the true purpose behind his invitation: he was hoping to recruit me as a speaker at some upcoming Amnesty International meetings.

I had to ask him to explain what Amnesty International was -- as I mentioned, I was pretty fresh off the old boat, and AI was not exactly on every Soviet's lips back then. He explained, adding, "We're particularly interested in any insight you may have, as a first-hand observer, into the Soviets' use of torture to intimidate incarcerated dissidents," or something to that effect.

I looked at him uncomprehendingly, and said, "We don't jail or torture dissidents. That's Western propaganda."

That was the deciding moment I spoke of earlier.

Anyway, when we sat down at the table (a large black polished slab more suitable for a board room), before each of us was a small heap of iceberg lettuce leaves on plates. Bottled dressing was passed. After the salad was dispensed with, "Daddy" excused himself to "cook the steaks". Some time later, the "steaks" arrived. They were thin and cooked to the point of curling into small leathery bowls. There was nothing else on the plate. Evidently, the potato or pea had not been born that was worthy of sharing the limelight with "Daddy's" "steaks".

My politics have become more informed since those days, and I concede I may have been a tad inaccurate on that "we don't jail or torture dissidents" bit, but my assessment of that meal has not changed. It sucked bad.

Wow. :cool:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My worst meal served was one I'd made for my family. I was 10. My mother had asked me to make supper for the family (she had recently taken a part-time job). I was delighted, and full of confidence. The recipe for meatloaf was straightforward enough, and I'd seen her make it. I was so proud of myself when it came out of the oven browned and fragrant............and then silence fell over the table when we started eating. The texture was fine; the flavor inedible.

I'd interpreted the directions, "2 tsp. each salt and pepper" as, "two tablespoons".

I was so ashamed, I didn't try to cook for another five years!

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


our friends dont cook for me except at massacrees uh I mean BBQs because they all know I can cook or maybe they just dont like us enough to invite inside the house...hmmm

but the worst meal I ever had was in Iceland, yes I went to Iceland... had some great food too but... At a touristy "theme" restaurant they served traditional Icelandic cuisine as the appetizer course...smoked salmon, pickled herring, dried fish, buttered flat bread....Ok so far right the juice from the herring got onto the bread, dried fish is well fish jerky, i dont happen to like smoked salmon.... But I digress the rest of the platter contained putrid shark(the national dish) and lambs testicals....the waitress said " you call them Balls?" OK they were the only edible thing on the plate.....all of which was followed by the best roast loin of lamb in the entire free world, baked potaoes with a pinkish sauce that i asked for more of adn dessert of wild blueberries with yoghurt sauce. the restaurant felt our dining room was too quiet for the theme restaurant purpose so they moved a bachlorette party in with us and we all got drunk on carroway schnaaps AKA Brennivan AKA black death

going back to Iceland next year if Vietnam falls through

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers


Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My worst meal served was one I'd made for my family.  I was 10.  My mother had asked me to make supper for the family (she had recently taken a part-time job).  I was delighted, and full of confidence.  The recipe for meatloaf was straightforward enough, and I'd seen her make it.  I was so proud of myself when it came out of the oven browned and fragrant............and then silence fell over the table when we started eating.  The texture was fine; the flavor inedible.

I'd interpreted the directions, "2 tsp. each salt and pepper" as, "two tablespoons".

I was so ashamed, I didn't try to cook for another five years!

At least you were only 10! I did this same thing a few months back when I finally found my mom's meatloaf recipe and was really happy to make it for my husband. Then we ate it, and had to drink about a liter of water because of the salt!!! :sad:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Just bring yourselves!" they said. Of course we always take more than that.

Christmas eve outside Little Rock AR, snowing, icy roads, we had eaten along the way as we crossed the state. The weather was very bad and we knew we'd be in too late to ask them to wait on us. We arrived at my mr's two oldest friends' house about 8:30PM. Nice people, lovely home, big warm welcome, we had plans to stay for four days, three days less than the week they had asked of us originally. All was looking rosy and bright. I had met them before we got married, and they stayed and ate big time with us for our wedding party, but it was my first visit to their house.

Christmas day dinner, first meal of our stay, 6:00PM. It wasn't that the meal was so very bad to start with . . . what there was of it. A single slice of roast turkey ("White or dark?"), two (count them two) small leaves of cauliflower, steamed (where's the head?), sweet potatoes mashed with peanut butter, and a spoonful of very good cornbread dressing. Cheesecakey something for dessert. Meal was plated and all the rest of the food was put away immediately. OK, that was a little strange. And the food was cold by then. :hmmm:

So not too bad, just very little food for Christmas dinner after waiting all. day. long. We were then served this exact same meal for the next three nights we were there. It did not improve with age. No bread, no fruit, no anything offered all day long except coffee and cokes. We had brought a big box of food with us, homemade goodies to share, and home canned gift foods for them. They looked at it all that morning and it disappeared somewhere within minutes. :blink: We offered everyday to take them to lunch and out to dinner one night. "No we don't really need to eat, let's play cards (or watch a movie or go for a walk, etc.)." Oldest friends and my mr wasn't about to take off without them to do something . . . like eat!

By the time we left on the fourth day I had lost 6 lbs, and I'm already skinny! :shock::laugh: We ate four times on the way home from Little Rock to Austin -- that's normally an eight hour drive! And every damned hiway diner biscuit and fish fillet and french fry tasted like the best thing I'd ever had!

When they came to our house the next year we stuffed them with roast pheasant for Christmas eve, and leg of lamb for Christmas day! I cooked three meals a day and sent them home with a boxful of goodies. And they never turned down one bite. :rolleyes:

Then I could go into boiled hamburger from the ex MIL, but I'll spare you and me both that horrendous memory!

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't want to go into this in such a public forum, however, I recently experienced the worst meal situation at our thanksgiving back in October.

We went to my in-laws as they were hosting the meal prior to leaving for the warmer climes of the southern US for the winter. They had invited my brother in law's, in-laws, an immigrant couple from Italy who tended a perfect garden and had never, ever purchased anything packaged or prepared. Due to an injury to the cook, I had offered to help prepping but the meal was to be my MILs.

After a day of prep work, the guests arrived and I assited in the host discussion with my newly met extended relatives. The cocktails were served and a lively discussion on the way "things used to be in the old country ensued". I went into the kitchen periodically to help my MIL and noticed that she was not herself - I assumed that since she's not all that comfortable socially that she was just nervous of not impressing her son's in-laws.

It was about an hour later that I smelled someting acrid. I entered the kitchen to find my MIL completely wasted, stirring the gravy which had by now burned to a pungent horrible state. I offered to help but it was like talking to Dudley Moore's intoxicated Arthur character. I managed to get her seated with the help of the other, sober mother-in-law and proceeded to carry out the meal and carve the bird at the table.

Long story short, about 30 minutes into it, I look over and my MIL is so fried that she's got both elbows in her plate eating a turkey leg like it's the last peice of food she's ever going to eat. Covered in acrid gravy from elbow to cheek - she ate oblivious to her state. No one had touched the gravy and there's no butter or milk in the mashed potatoes.

I was the first up along with my spouse, my brother in-law and his wife to clean the dishes and get away from the train wreck at the table. I must say we laughed our asses off in the kitchen afterwards.

The next day we all behaved as if nothing had ever happened. Just another disfunctional family gathering.

Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Ham?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Pork chops?

Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.

Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal. (The Simpsons)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely a fun thread. Worst meal in someone's home was when we were invited to my ex's best friends house for dinner. Now, I'd met the couple before, and he was great. She, however, was what one might call a harpy *itch. (They are no longer married. :biggrin: ) However, we showed up dertermined to have a nice meal and make the best of the evening. Not possible.......

Upon arrival the wife greeted us with the comment that she had bought steak in honour of our visit and because the guys loved it. (Note: money was not an issue in this household.) Okay, Im thinking, at least she made an effort. I asked if I could help and handed her the wine we had brought (both white and red). "No" she said, "although I've heard you think you can cook." :unsure: Getting a bit worried now. She sent us off to the other room to have a drink and called us an hour later when dinner was ready. While we were chatting I was sure I could smell something burning, but I wasn't about to question it unless I could see smoke. :raz:

We proceeded to the dining room as she brought in the dinner. Minute steaks that had been bbq'd for at least an hour and cracked when you tried to cut them (Oh so that's what the burning smell was. :wacko: ) Ceasar salad that was some wet romaine lettuce, stale bread and something approaching dressing. It had been sitting so long it had the consistency of steamed spinach and macaroni salad which she proudly told us was her own recipe. Overcooked macaroni topped with Miracle Whip and grated plastic cheddar cheese. :shock:

Now I always try to be polite and eat some of everything I am served, but there was just no way to choke this down even with a lot of wine. Even her husband had trouble. The evening ended with her commenting that obviously I have some sort of eating disorder since I don't eat. (I am slender, but no eating disorder when the food is edible! :laugh: )

We left as soon as politeness allowed and immediately went out for a bite on the way home. Thankfully they split up soon after and we never had to repeat the experience. :rolleyes:

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been reading through this great thread, and have been trying to come up with something to add, but have come up empty. On the other hand, ever since I was fairly young, I have approached eating at peoples houses with abject terror. Something must have happened....I know not what.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She actually got out a meat grinder and ground together sweet pickles and oscar mayer bologna. It was then placed on cheep hamburger buns, topped off with cheese whiz,

The wierd thing is, Marcella Hazan has a recipe for canapes of mortadella and gherkins, processed together into a paste. I don't think Marcella knows about cheez whiz though...

These sound as bad as the "cowboy sandwiches" we were served at a friend's house (the same friend who makes terrific tapenade; go figure?). Velveeta and spam, ground up, smeared on hamburger buns and broiled. Served open-faced. The dog wouldn't even eat them.

My husband was just telling me that his mom use to make this and he loved it! He said there needs to be mayonaisse mixed in after the bologna and

pickles are ground up.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

okay. i've got a dirty little secret.

my worst meal is at my home, when my roommate cooks. she used to be a sous chef, so you would think it wouldn't be nasty, but it is. but then again, she was sous chef at Aramark so maybe i shouldn't be surprised.

underseasoned, always stinking of wine, just bad food. and i'm expected to eat it because she thinks it's good, and i'm trying to be polite.

save me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had one or two bad meals before but this was the worse considering that my mil is an excellent cook.

This was a couple of years ago on Christmas day. My husband and I spent a couple of days with her for the holiday so she wouldn't be so lonely. Since she wasn't expecting anyone to come over other than her mother and us, we decided that dinner would be a casual affair of leftovers from the Christmas Eve dinner.

Well, this all went to hell when mil's brother calls her to say that he was bringing the family over and his mil for dinner. Instead of telling him that she had no intentions of cooking, she told him it wasn't a problem.

She's in a frenzy making rice and beans and frying up chicken since it was the only available thing on hand until she went grocery shopping. For such a simple meal, it was the worst thing I've ever eaten. The rice was half cooked, tasted hard and chalky, beans were bland and watery and you can forget about the chicken. The stuff was fried into a salty, yucky mess, overcooked in some parts and burned in the others. My husband was amazed that she could serve such a crappy meal. Considering how outspoken my hubby's grandmother is, even she kept her mouth shut in front of everyone. She didn't want to make a scene in front of her son's mil who is notoriously a bad cook and whom my mil had made comments of her cooking before. The only redeeming part of the meal was dessert. I loaded up on the black forest cake and endless helpings of ice cream to forget the worst meal of my life.

Edited by TotallyNutz (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...