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 an account.

Fat Guy

People who just can't get a meal ready on time

Recommended Posts

What is it with some people, they can spend decades living on this planet preparing meals every day but they still can't perform basic cooking arithmetic. If dinner is scheduled to be served at time X, and the oven needs to preheat for Y minutes, and the food needs to cook for Z minutes, then you need to turn on the oven Y+Z minutes before time X. Am I the only person annoyed by this issue?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Am I the only person annoyed by this issue?

Probably.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Er, maybe. I mean, life can get in the way, even tho' preheating an oven takes 2 seconds worth of effort. If I arrive at someone's house expecting dinner to be served at, I don't know, 7PM but it doesn't land on the table until closer to 8PM, I'm not overly concerned by this. I'm assuming you're referencing a specific incident or maybe a person who does this all the goddamn time, tho'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that some people "get" entertaining and others really don't. There is a, no, there has to be a planned flow from arrival, drinks and pre-dinner socializing to a controlled progression of plates. Until one can handle this, one should serve courses that can be finished before guests arrive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Am I the only person annoyed by this issue?
No, you are not. We have a friend who will invite us for dinner at 7 and invariably still be struggling to get it on the table after 9, by which time we are hungry & grumpy and would rather be home. Now when she invites us over we suggest going out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just because someone prepares meals everyday, doesn't mean they are used to working with a time limit. And anyway, there are all sorts of things that can happen to cause things to become delayed - maybe chopping up and other prep takes longer than expected, part of a dish may go wrong and need to be redone, etc. It's also easy to forget things when you are feeling hassled. In this case the oven thing does seem a bit stupid, but mistakes happen, even stupid ones. My Dad has on occasion forgot to turn the oven on quite enough in advance for cooking, and on another occasion he made a mis-calculation with regards to the cooking time for a joint of meat. We just shrugged it off and poured more wine!

If someone is cooking food professionally, then yes they need to get their act together and be able to serve meals on time. But I'm assuming you are talking about a friend/family member/acquaintance who was hosting some kind of meal that you were invited to. In which case, maybe you just need to learn to be a bit patient. Not everyone is a cooking pro, and if someone has invited you over for a meal it's usually considered good manners to not complain too much! Of course, if this person is consistently late serving food, then it's time for you to make a decision whether you want to continue to attend meals hosted by this person, since the lateness bothers you so much. But a first offense? Let it go. Maybe next time ask if there's anything you can do to help. Or if it's a really good friend who would be open to that kind of thing, maybe you can offer some constructive advice on how to avoid the same problem again.

Life is short, and it's not worth getting wound up over the little things. Next time a meal is delayed, enjoy the extra time for talking and another round of drinks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Offer to bring some cocktail snacks, maybe something like spiced nuts or cheese straws. That way, you can start nibbling immediately when you get there and the timing of the actual dinner becomes less important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Altho' it's also a nice touch, I think, if you're the host and all, to have some charcuterie or pickles or snacks of some description, that way if other people are late/some last minute task becomes a last-30-minute task, then it's not such a big deal. Altho' that, like the capacity to plan ahead, accounting for the time it takes to preheat the oven, plate dishes, etc is something you learn from experience.


Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

. . . . Am I the only person annoyed by this issue?

Nope.

But I'm seldom invited to dinners where a set time is given, and standard practice here is to begin much (or even all) prep. when the guests arrive; more often than not, it's a participatory thing.

On the few occasions that dinner was slated for, say, 20.00, but the charred ruins weren't offered up until close to 23.00, I've simply hoovered up the host's booze (began drinking very late, so I tend to consume things like G&Ts like a toddler drinking lemonade on a hot day, and the effect of alcohol is pleasingly rapid), after which my irritation melted, and I sat there, beaming happily at the profanity issuing form the kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People in general are terrible at estimating time and effort - they estimate based on what they would like to happen rather than what is likely.

Also, don't do like I did last weekend and invite people round, relying on an internet shopping order arriving a couple of hours before. It didn't arrive until about half an hour after I was suppose to be serving!

But on the flip side, I think people do need to relax a little. Unless you have another pressing engagement or issues controlling your blood sugar then waiting a while for dinner shouldn't be the end of the world - an hour or even two without food isn't going to kill you. Or are we all too used to having food right now, whenever we want it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes I think it is because the host is trying a new recipe they've never made before.

This concept (not to hijack the thread) I've never understood; why try to make something you've never attempted before - for company! Test it first! Then you'll know what to do and not have to order a pizza when it goes wrong. Now I've learned to have a snack before I go over there so I'm not ravenous when dinner is delayed....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who's in-laws are famous for late dinners. Her solution was to bring appetizers that were more substantial than cheese & crackers and they usually planned a late lunch before heading over.

It made for a less grumpy night and the family looked forward to her arrival. You just learn to deal with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Delayed meals at dinner parties are a fact of life. Get over it! Unless the do is hosted by a professional (for example, I don't think that what you're describing is ever a problem for ScottyBoy), meals served at Q instead of Z (to use your variables) will almost always occur.

I'm with mjx, actually - most dinner parties here, the host/ess doesn't even start prepping until the guests are there, and it's a collaborative thing to produce the food. I have had some of the best meals of my life in these loosely-planned / relaxed atmospheres, when I removed the stick from my butt and just went with the flow. I'm as notorious for it as other people. I can get baking done on time, no problems, but with salt cookery I might hope for 6 pm and serve at 7. However, since I'm aware that if I think it's X it's actually Y, I'll tell guests Y when they ask.

What annoys me more, are guests who say "we'll be there at 7" and who don't show up until 10, when the meal has truly gone off the rails and is a complete wreck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend and a mother-in-law who could not time their way out of a paper bag. We know to eat well before going over and bring snacks because food that should have been ready at 7 is not even started until 9. The MIL is a really good cook on some things -- her Greek stifados, spanakopita, avgolemono, etc. are truly delicious. But after 40 years of cooking for a family she will still start cooking the broccoli before she even peels the potatoes. Then she'll realize that the main course is a leg of lamb roast that takes 2 hours and oops she meant to marinate it first....

My friend once invited me to come over for lunch which was just going to be simple sandwiches and some fruit. She started working on it at 12:30 and didn't manage to get the tuna sandwiches on the table until about 4. While preparing the sandwiches she had managed to rearrange her cabinets, clean out her fridge, get her son's school project in order and do some weeding. She didn't mean to do all those other things while "making lunch", she just did. Now when I go to her house for a meal I eat first...

Some people just aren't good at timing things or prioritizing and "punishing" them for it isn't going to help. They won't "learn." You just have to roll with the punches and deal with it, one way or another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a layer of body fat I can draw upon during lengthy meal delays. But a lot of people, especially children, don't. There's also the question of paying the babysitter.

Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know if its my locale (San Francisco) or group of friends, but food is taken rather seriously, as is a dinner invitation. We're not talking casual, flip-flop and shorts backyard barbeques. Arriving "socially late" is no longer done nor is plying one's guests with booze while sorting out the meal prep. I can't remember being held captive waiting more than a half hour for dinner in modern times.

Sometimes a course will take more kitchen time than others and guests will wait maybe 10 minutes at table, but with conversation and wine that is not a problem and is sometimes necessary in cases of something like a dessert souffle or such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sh*t happens.

We had a dinner party last night. Dinner was planned to be on the table at 630pm but didn't make it there till 715 or so. When you're busy opening the door for guest, answering the phone, pouring drinks, getting ice from the freezer, passing out the nibbles, finding extra water glasses, slicing up the bread, chatting & being social with your guests, waiting for the one late couple, dealing with a cooking mishap and being generally slow because I sliced open my hand - sometimes the meal gets held up. That's just the way things roll.

Which is why I have piles of nibbles, snacks & drinks out to stall for time, because inevitably, I'll need that extra cushion when the sh*t happens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My stepmother is a notoriously slow and bad cook who takes great offense at the slightest hint she's slow or her food is bland. She doesn't use any salt or any heat. I would venture to say any any flavor. We'd be invited over for 6 and rarely eat before 10. Now that there are grandchildren in the family, we can usually get something by 7-7:30 for the kids, but the grown ups are still waiting until at least 9. She also refuses any help and rarely allows us to bring a dish. We've all learned to stop and eat on the way to their house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having people over is about hospitality and generosity, not showcasing food talent. Sure, timing issues can be a drag, but the best is to make sure you have the best possible time and enjoy your friends to the fullest, even if that means imperfect food or timing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't mind if the invitation is for 7, meaning we'll be sitting down to the table by about 8-8:15 or so. That's not what I would consider a delay but for my mother, who is managing diabetes, she needs to eat at specific intervals so that would mean she'll take a snack or plan to eat something accordingly.

I think there's an "invitation to dinner" where there's a more formal expectation of when you'd be eating, and a "come on over around 7 and we'll do something for dinner" which is way more casual and prone to the whims of the distracted cook syndrome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always eat before going to the home of a "habitually late" cook. That way, it doesn't matter when the meal comes out!!

Be happy, not hungry!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

......

I think there's an "invitation to dinner" where there's a more formal expectation of when you'd be eating, and a "come on over around 7 and we'll do something for dinner" which is way more casual and prone to the whims of the distracted cook syndrome.

Thank you! That is what I was trying to say but couldn't quite get out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had an ex mother in law that was always super slow with the food. Yes I had a small child but he was easy -that was not the issue. It was just irritating to go over and then everyone is looking at each other, probably hoping to have allotted just 2 hours for this ordeal and realizing it would be much longer. She was a sweet woman and I tried to help but if she did not have the stuff prepped or even know the next step it was hard to help. We changed our expectations and kept the acceptances to a minimum and did the best we could to bring something or help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The same person I mentioned on the late arrival topic you started cannot get a meal together. She does one thing at a time. Nothing seems to be in progress when people arrive. She wonders at how I get everything, hot and finished simultaneously, on the table at once. It is painful to eat at her house. But I go because I love her. We each have our strengths. She sets a beautiful table!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been to many friends houses where they'll invite me over for dinner at 7, and not only is dinner not made / not even close to being ready, but there are no snacks / appetizers to tide people over. Even for a casual invite that seems like bad manners to me. GRRRR. Drives me crazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×