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feeding friends who don't care about food


JEL
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i was inspired by the forgotten food item thread, and was thinking about all the times i had purchased items for a get together, then didn't serve them because i knew they would go unappreciated....

high quality meats, seafood, cheeses, and bread top my list of things i refuse to squander on people who would be just as happy with a sloppy joe and some chips..

and groups of teenagers, FORGET about it, they'll eat anything, crappier the better for them......give them the bag of oreos, not the homemade cookies...

chocolates, coffee, what do you keep stashed for the folks who actually know what their eating and appreciate it's value???

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Dude: Pizza, a good burger (goat cheese on top optional) and fries, steak frites, omelet and bacon (and frites) -- there are a million simple things which, done well -- can please both the artful and the inartful palate.

Alternately, you can melt some Velveeta and taco sauce together, serve it with Doritos and call it "nachos". This works well if there's a good movie or a football game on. It's also vegetarian.

Save yer cash for when yer alone.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Alternately, you can melt some Velveeta and taco sauce together, serve it with Doritos and call it "nachos".  This works well if there's a good movie or a football game on. It's also vegetarian.

Does it have to be velveeta or will cheez whiz do? Taco sauce sometimes has beef-based products in it, so be wary of those. I think I can get cheez whiz, but not velveeta.

I tend to be less discriminating when I take non-foodie people out for meals (if they're just as happy with Tony Roma's as with a French prix fixe, then that's fine with me!), but just as discriminating when I make meals for them. The only exception I can think of will be with cheeses. If my non-foodie friends can't appreciate a good piece of cheese, then I'm more than happy to buy cheap store-brand medium or mild cheddar for them.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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That is what chilis, jambalayas, good burgers, curries and such are for. You can still eat well but use the more common cuts and such to please everyone and bulk up the heavy eaters so they don't find the good stuff in the fridge.

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Don't just out and out diss teen palates. My high school group was positively gourmet (we preferred Greek and French :wink: ) and we cooked often. One girl had a grandmother who was Slovak and would come down to visit and cook these ethnic feasts. We were all over that - and this was in the soulless '70's! My daughter's HS group contained some very adventuresome eaters, too. One who wavered between the foreign service and the CIA when it came time for college. I lean towards not making assumptions, like fiftydollars said - just because that's what they feed themselves doesn't mean they won't appreciate the good stuff. Of course, if you know already that they can't taste the difference do Busboy's nachos - but if you aren't entertaining vegetarians, add a 1/2 lb. each of cooked hamburger and sausage - trashily fabulous :laugh: (my non-foodie friends actually request this from me all the time :wacko::rolleyes: ).

Kim

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I have a similar issue. I live with my brother who pretty much only enjoys pizza and well-done cheeseburgers with no condiments/lettuce/tomato/onion! a few days ago, I made sous vide short ribs served with a bordelaise sauce and mushroom risotto. It turned out great although he would have been just as happy if not moreso if I just fried some hamburgers and made fries. UGH! I mean I love a good hamburger but come on. It does get frustrating.

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My roommates buy the groceries 80% of the time, because they eat at home much more often. So, when I want to cook something different, I just go and get my own supplies. They appreciate the extra effort, and also the "something different" if I make "good" stuff. In a shared situation, I think it's the best we can hope for.

As for cooking for guests, generally I will make whatever I want, and choose better, although maybe not "best" ingredients, especially if it's for a large group. Many of my friends just want food that tastes good, not haute cuisine. OK by me. Cheaper, too. But for my foodie friends, I always make sure there is something special.

Karen Dar Woon

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I'm a college student (and teenager) and I have to say, most people my age are pretty damn clueless about food. I've seen kids eating things like dry Kraft mac and cheese and Hamburger Helper complete with pre-included freeze dried meat. A kid at my school actually got scurvy...twice..from refusing to eat anything green unless mandated by his mother.

Finding people to go on foodie excursions with me thus becomes a challenge, especially when I take kids to a nice restaurant and find them eating with their hands, yelling obscene words halfway through dinner, and refusing to tip. Fun at drunken parties, not so fun at restaurants with actual adults present.

Still, I do like to take friends out to ethnic restaurants or get them to try something they haven't before...I turned a friend of mine on to Vietnamese food last week, and now we're planning to go rustle up some quality ramen. Maybe there is hope.

As regards the Velveeta....I'll probably lose all cred I had (hah) but I love me some Velveeta. Rotel dip on Super Bowl Sunday...yum.

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Don't just out and out diss teen palates.  My high school group was positively gourmet (we preferred Greek and French :wink: ) and we cooked often.  One girl had a grandmother who was Slovak and would come down to visit and cook these ethnic feasts.  We were all over that - and this was in the soulless '70's!  My daughter's HS group contained some very adventuresome eaters, too.  One who wavered between the foreign service and the CIA when it came time for college.  I lean towards not making assumptions, like fiftydollars said - just because that's what they feed themselves doesn't mean they won't appreciate the good stuff.  Of course, if you know already that they can't taste the difference do Busboy's nachos - but if you aren't entertaining vegetarians, add a 1/2 lb. each of cooked hamburger and sausage - trashily fabulous  :laugh: (my non-foodie friends actually request this from me all the time  :wacko:  :rolleyes: ).

Kim

Agreed. My son's friends love coming here because as one of them put it, "you actually cook real food". :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Kind of hard to cook more imaginative items for certain people...I have some relatives (husband's side, of course...) that poke suspiciously at everything they don't recognize. Had one of them poke, ask what it was, take a small bite, and SPIT IT OUT onto the plate. This was an adult. Kind of takes the pleasure out of trying to make something other than the usual slop they eat.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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I think it comes down to who are you cooking for and why. Sometimes, even when I am feeding more challenged palates, I am cooking for me. I want to try something new or different. perhaps a bit selfish, but maybe it will enlighten.

And sometimes I cook for the masses- fajitas, anyone? Certainly, I want to please my guests but for me, sometimes, cooking is about unleashing the creative culinary beast and trying something different. I think this is ok as long as you are honest about it and are willing to accept that people may want to eat only the familiar (just make sure there is plenty of familiar, too!). Really, at the end of the day when you have worked hard sometimes you want it to be about everyone else's pleasure and sometimes it is about you. I think we all deserve a cadre of friends who understand and are occasionally willing to indulge that.

Goldie

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My husband doesn't care about food, but when I make something really good sometimes he gets it. He'd be just as happy with the same three or four things, but I'd like to expand his culinary horizons just a little.

Now, my first husband LOVED food; he loved it to death, unfortunately. I was young, and trying to learn to make better food than what I grew up with. One day I labored for hours making something like chicken Kiev and Duchess potatoes, and he bolted it down and said, "Hey, that was really good! It tasted like Chicken McNuggets!"

:angry:

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I pretty much know my audience. Sure I have a few who get this pinched look on their faces and kinda poke at the food while asking in a pained voice "what is in this?!?) But for the most part I have adventurous eaters so I will try out new things, but not necessarily costly things. The super stuff I save for those I know will be moaning with delight along with me.

As to teenagers, I have to say that although they will eat anything (all guys), they really scarf down things like potstickers (frozen but good from an Asian market), and the other day I saw a big platter of baked spicy minced pork in phyllo triangles disappear before my eyes. They were really respectful and with wide eyes asked "is this for us?" I really enjoyed their delight.

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When I have non-foodie friends over, we do non-foodie things. If I have to feed them, they get big batches of whatever I have handy that's simple and good. I always keep a meal's worth of Marcella Hazan's Bolognese in the freezer.

When my one seriously foodie friend comes over, we have whole cooking weekends. Usually, we've been talking about whatever's grabbed our attention and cook small batches it a bunch of different ways hoping to get it "perfect". The food becomes our entertainment. We've done breads, pizzas, spaghetti sauces, there was one weekend we did nothing but french fries. Pho was hot for a while.

I've tried getting non-foodies to get excited about my meals and while most of them play along because they are nice people, in reality I could give them fried bat wings and goober sauce and they'd chow down. :rolleyes:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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Maybe I'm just lucky that the people I am friends with people can appreciate food. :blink: I've never felt it necessary to "save the good stuff" for myself. Then again, I would probably aim for around the same price point as they would be spending on me, unless they really didn't seem to be trying very hard. Then that would just be rude on their part. There are exceptions... but really just for things that are incredibly (like, "Honey, we now have no money for heat for the next month..") expensive and incredibly (like, "I just traded someone a 2004 Three Floyds Dark Lord for this 9 ounce nip of beer") rare. Food is more than just nourishment - there are all sorts of cultural meanings around what we eat and drink, and what we feed others with.

Ditto on the teenager things said before.

Now, for the essay:

It really comes down to the kind of food environment that people grew up with. People who grew up being exposed to all kinds of foods will usually be more adventurous (and also have developed their palate). Those who grew up eating mostly prepared foods, foods with little seasoning, or without exposure to things like offal or even seeing a fish whole with its head at the dinner table will usually be less adventurous (of course, they might also be more interested in trying things once they find out how good food can be!)

I don't think it's fair to fault people for how they grew up and learned to eat (unless they try and act like foodies but have no clue... then they're completely open to attack :wink:). Sometimes it's just that their parents both worked and felt they had no time to cook things from scratch. And yes, sometimes they can't actually tell the difference. It's not like they're actually committing some atrocity.. it just might seem like it to those of us with more "discerning" tastes.

It seems to me that the way people taste tends to be similar to sound. Some people just can't tell the difference between bad notes or bad flavors, but those are actually very few and far between. Studies have shown that "perfect pitch," long believed to be inherited in some way, is actually more prevalent in regions of the world where they speak tonal languages; the thought is that exposure from birth to these kinds of sounds -- languages with minute differences that must be distinguished in order to extract meaning -- causes those individuals to develop their "palate" for tones. In my experience, this is often how taste works as well. Exposure from a young age tends to be quite important.

And after all, there are packaged/prepared foods that have their own "je ne sais quoi" that make them tasty or desirable because they evoke some sort of emotion or other kind of appreciation. It's not just about not being able to taste. I'll admit I like packaged instant ramen (yes, yes, as a seperate entity from the "real" stuff). Yeah. I said it. I like packaged instant ramen. It's comfort food for me. What are you going to do about that, huh?? HUH?? :raz:

(edited for emphasis)

Edited by feedmec00kies (log)

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

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I think it comes down to who are you cooking for and why.  Sometimes, even when I am feeding more challenged palates, I am cooking for me.  I want to try something new or different.  perhaps a bit selfish, but maybe it will enlighten.

And sometimes I cook for the masses- fajitas, anyone?  Certainly, I want to please my guests but for me, sometimes, cooking is about unleashing the creative culinary beast and trying something different.  I think this is ok as long as you are honest about it and are willing to accept that people may want to eat only the familiar (just make sure there is plenty of familiar, too!).  Really, at the end of the day when you have worked hard sometimes you want it to be about everyone else's pleasure and sometimes it is about you.  I think we all deserve a cadre of friends who understand and are occasionally willing to indulge that.

Goldie

Not sure why you'd unleash the culinary beast on people who simply don't care for that kind of cooking, unless you're so consistently catering to guests/family/whomever that you don't have any other opportunity. Seems kind of passive-aggressive, simply the flip side of someone who flings dry meatloaf and boiled peas and makes a pious virtue of their homey authenticity. Frustrating all around.

I'm a college student (and teenager) and I have to say, most people my age are pretty damn clueless about food.

It's funny to see the difference between my son's friends here at home in DC and the ones we took to dinner when we visited him at school. At 14, he was a damn picky eater. Then he fell in with a group of sophisto urban yuppie puppies and -- I think this is key -- started trying to impress girls. Over four years his palate expanded massively and in every possible direction. His friends at college -- suburban engineering types -- are much more limited in their likings and, incidentally, substantially less comfortable in a decent restaurant.

It really comes down to the kind of food environment that people grew up with. People who grew up being exposed to all kinds of foods will usually be more adventurous (and also have developed their palate). Those who grew up eating mostly prepared foods, foods with little seasoning, or without exposure to things like offal or even seeing a fish whole with its head at the dinner table will usually be less adventurous (of course, they might also be more interested in trying things once they find out how good food can be!)

I hope you realize that describes 95% of the (white, anyway) Americans born between 1940 and 1970! :wink:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'm a teenager, kinda. I'm also a university student.

Despite the fact I'm a potatoes (and carbs in general) person, I don't understand how people can have fish and chips or bangers and mash every day. Either that or it's rice or pasta out of the packet--and I don't mean pasta with sauce out of the jar either.

Though, at home I made my own macarons (not always successful, but hey, I tried!) and now at school, I make my own stock--I did try to use stock granules, but I can't abide the taste, because at home, my mother makes her own stock every single week.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Excuse my bluntness here, but I feel like this "dumbing down" thing (which I think is more where the post was originally going) is a little harsh. I never feel like it's my place to decide what quality of food a person is "deserving" of. Plus, I don't think we're talking about feeding these "non-foodies" something like Korean hot-pot with tripe and goat intestines (sidenote: Mmm). The kinds of meats and cheeses that one entertains with are usually in the more "accessible" range, no? Isn't that more the food that the OP was referring to, anyway?

Let me put it this way. My boyfriend, as the "beer geek" in his family, bought 5 or so bombers and 750s to bring for Thanksgiving at his mom's house. He bought what he saw at the store that would be good - ignoring the price. Everyone who tried the beer enjoyed it (almost everyone had a sip or two at least), even people who would probably have been happy enough without the Unibroue 10, Goulden Carolus, etc.

Was the beer "wasted" on them because they couldn't quite put their finger on what was good about it, or because they would have drank a macrobrew? Neither of us think so.

Edited by feedmec00kies (log)

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

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I hope I dont sound uncaring or bigoted against ALL poor people (cause Im not) but one Christmas I bought my, how shall I say, Welfare Abusing Drama Queen, "I have Expensive Tastes" ex sister in law and her hubby, a nice bottle of Gourmet Balsamic Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for $50.00. Only to have her "forget" who gave it to her 6 months later and tell me (while sitting on my couch) "Last Christmas someone gave us vinegar and oil and we tasted the oil and it was rancid already in the bottle, we threw it out!"

I doubt HIGHLY, that Williams Sonoma would sell already rancid oil...

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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i'll try to be more specific...

grilled burgers for food appreciating friends/family.....

home ground burger, pork and beef, great rolls from the bakery, blue cheese, gruyere, best tomatoes available, deck it all out with awesome condiments, pickles, all the coolest stuff you can find..have a blast...

grilled burgers for others....

hamburger from the store, shitty buns, kraft cheese slices, vlasic pickles, chips, canned beans(no bacon)......can still have a good time, just didn't worry about feeding these folks well, because multiple efforts in the past have taught me not to bother....

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I have done simpler food for people who I know don't care too much or wouldn't know the difference between good gruyere and Alpine Lace, but I don't serve lousy stuff, ever, even to my kids' friends. I'm remembering the friend of my oldest son who was amazed that waffles didn't come from the microwave, and thought maybe there was something wrong with the syrup because it was so thin. I think his mother never spoke to me after that :smile:

However, I recall a neighbor who took a really good bottle of wine that we'd brought to her dinner,poured herself a glass, plunked in some ice cubes and declared it "good stuff!" I cringed. So maybe I don't pull out the great wine for people whose taste in wine runs to something pink.

Anyway. The burger example you give? Eh, I just couldn't do it. I may have simpler cheeses or yellow mustard and ketchup out, but I don't think I could ever just serve stuff that I thought was not great.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I have done simpler food for people who I know don't care too much or wouldn't know the difference between good gruyere and Alpine Lace, but I don't serve lousy stuff, ever, even to my kids' friends.  I'm remembering the friend of my oldest son who was amazed that waffles didn't come from the microwave, and thought maybe there was something wrong with the syrup because it was so thin.  I think his mother never spoke to me after that  :smile:

However, I recall a neighbor who took a really good bottle of wine that we'd brought to her dinner,poured herself a glass, plunked in some ice cubes and declared it "good stuff!" I cringed.  So maybe I don't pull out the great wine for people whose taste in wine runs to something pink. 

Anyway.  The burger example you give?  Eh, I just couldn't do it.  I may have simpler cheeses or yellow mustard and ketchup out, but I don't think I could ever just serve stuff that I thought was not great.

so, you draw the line @ wine........

everyone has a stopping point........

burgers are an illustration......

what we're after is the truth..........

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i'll try to be more specific...

grilled burgers for food appreciating friends/family.....

home ground burger, pork and beef, great rolls from the bakery, blue cheese, gruyere, best tomatoes available, deck it all out with awesome condiments, pickles, all the coolest stuff you can find..have a blast...

grilled burgers for others....

hamburger from the store, shitty buns, kraft cheese slices, vlasic pickles, chips, canned beans(no bacon)......can still have a good time, just didn't worry about feeding these folks well, because multiple efforts in the past have taught me not to bother....

The first option, even for friends who don't know the difference. I probably wouldn't buy truffles for them, but I feel compelled to do the best I can for all of my friends, regardless of whether they notice.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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