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Worst meal at someone's home - Part 2


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I’ve probably told this story somewhere.  Not the worst meal I’ve ever had at someone’s house, but the place where most of our worst meals have been encountered.  I actually brought the meal.  And it started out really, really good.  I brought a whole platter of banh mi.  Gorgeous pork that I roasted, all the right vegetable components – I even got the bread at a Vietnamese bakery.  The only thing that I left off was the pate.  These are NOT pate people.  While I was out of the room, the wife of the couple slipped slices of American cheese into the sandwiches and then MICROWAVED them.  She even teased me about ‘forgetting’ the cheese. :rolleyes:

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This isn't exactly about a bad meal: Husband and I and a friend were at a vacation home on the lake one summer. We invited dear old friends who lived nearby to come for dinner with us. The wife, a woman in her late fifties at the time, asked friend and I what she could do to help us with the dinner prep.

We asked her to chop up some garlic cloves. He response was, "Huh? I don't know how to do that."

She wasn't kidding, she had never prepared garlic. We also gave them a whole, fresh chicken to take home with them because we weren't going to be able to use it before we left. Husband says,

"What's she going to do with it?, she doesn't know how to cook a chicken." He wasn't kidding, she'd never roasted a chicken - they buy take-out chicken instead. I can't believe they're both still alive what with the kind of diet they have.

 

Lindag?

You know Im gonna just be blunt...

 

OMG in this day and age to be so culinarily deficient and dumb really gets on my nerves.

I really dont get after all the cooking shows, all the videos on the net, all the cookbooks published and recipes on the net HOW

someone cannot know how to cook simple things like chicken.

OMG the older I get the more I hate people!

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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I’ve probably told this story somewhere.  Not the worst meal I’ve ever had at someone’s house, but the place where most of our worst meals have been encountered.  I actually brought the meal.  And it started out really, really good.  I brought a whole platter of banh mi.  Gorgeous pork that I roasted, all the right vegetable components – I even got the bread at a Vietnamese bakery.  The only thing that I left off was the pate.  These are NOT pate people.  While I was out of the room, the wife of the couple slipped slices of American cheese into the sandwiches and then MICROWAVED them.  She even teased me about ‘forgetting’ the cheese. :rolleyes:

 

Theres another thread on eGullet where I stated that my sons baseball team and parents group get together every summer and have a bbq for 7 years, and I took home made Thai Shrimp salad, and shrimp spring rolls and a few more things and NO ONE toughed them or knew what they were. One parent tried to unwrap the spring rolls! I live in the Philly Burbs!

Last year I made a California Roll Salad and a Sandwich Cake and NO ONE TOUCHED it!

But again they ate the hell outta that sour cream onion dip and other fatty heavy fare.

Im done! Ive just had enough of the (I hate to say it) IGNORANCE!

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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It isn't that I've never eaten terrible food cooked in a home kitchen--we all have. But this thread is kinda mean. Agreed, it is sad that so many people have never had the opportunity to pick up basic cooking techniques, but frankly I don't think most of the cooking or food shows that have multiplied like mice on the food network or elsewhere are even really trying to help anyone learn anything. You have to assume that those people who are poor cooks and yet still invite friends over are either very brave or really so used to their own cooking that making changes is simply not on the horizon and they are comfortable with what they know. So it goes. You just hope that if you invite them over to your place they enjoy the food and have a good time.

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It isn't that I've never eaten terrible food cooked in a home kitchen--we all have. But this thread is kinda mean. Agreed, it is sad that so many people have never had the opportunity to pick up basic cooking techniques, but frankly I don't think most of the cooking or food shows that have multiplied like mice on the food network or elsewhere are even really trying to help anyone learn anything. You have to assume that those people who are poor cooks and yet still invite friends over are either very brave or really so used to their own cooking that making changes is simply not on the horizon and they are comfortable with what they know. So it goes. You just hope that if you invite them over to your place they enjoy the food and have a good time.

 

There are also certainly people who have never used garlic or cooked entire chickens.  They may use other seasonings, or cook chicken parts - or, yes, buy cooked chicken or meats and packaged salads and things like that, and may even patronize fast food places.  Quite a lot of people, I venture to guess, and they are probably none too much the worse for it.  For all one knows (I'm guessing here) TV cooking shows also may not be programs some folks have much inclination to watch.

 

I also remember an episode of Top Chef Masters (while we're talking about TV shows) where roast chicken was made by Jonathan Waxman and all the chefs commented that it was easy to put a chicken in the oven and render it "cooked" but actually difficult to make really good roast chicken, which Waxman was acknowledged by them to be capable of doing.

 

Years ago when I had my house-warming get-together one of the things I placed out was sautéed filet beans. They were basically untouched, and I heard later that folks didn't know what they were since they didn't look like the "normal" (much larger) green beans.  The sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese was popular.  The daikon and beef short ribs braise was loved by some, untouched by others.  Of the cheeses on the cheese plate, the cheddar and similar went fast while the "more esoteric ones" like camembert and blue cheeses were barely touched.  And so it went.

(p.s. my guests then were my new neighbors (of unknown food preferences) and folks from work, not "foodies" - or eGulleteers) (Oh, BTW, the folks who sampled the more "esoteric things" tended to be folks I relocated with from NJ, or someone with a non-white spouse. :-) )

Edited by huiray (log)
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As Robert Heinlein put it so well many years ago "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."  I have that on my Monday coffee mug.  If your taking food to a group that you know likes fatty foods, why waste your time on something elaborate or healthy, a container of sour cream, a giant bag of chips, and a packet of french onion soup powder, and you're set.  Just to keep a clear conscence you could throw in a plate of raw vegetables and yoghurt dill dip.  My sister-in-law is a very good cook, but in poor health.  My neice is a good cook when directly under my sister-in-law's directions.  Neither of them felt like cooking last Christmas, so Christmas dinner was chilli, a salad, a few snack type things and for people who don't eat chilli ( such as me) a reheated rotisserie chicken.  The drive to their town is a 4 1/2 hour round trip. Fortunately the WaWa in my home town is open 24/7 even on holidays because I was still hungry by the time I got home.

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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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Lindag?

You know Im gonna just be blunt...

 

OMG in this day and age to be so culinarily deficient and dumb really gets on my nerves.

I really dont get after all the cooking shows, all the videos on the net, all the cookbooks published and recipes on the net HOW

someone cannot know how to cook simple things like chicken.

OMG the older I get the more I hate people!

I'm not kidding here, these people eat doughnuts and pastries for breakfast and have a lot of take-out or TV dinners. The last time we were invited to their house we had to bring the main dish (salmon) and we also had to cook it!!! Neither of them like to cook (obviously) so they almost never invite others for meals.

This positively the most wonderful thread! I adore these stories.

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I'm not kidding here, these people eat doughnuts and pastries for breakfast and have a lot of take-out or TV dinners. The last time we were invited to their house we had to bring the main dish (salmon) and we also had to cook it!!! Neither of them like to cook (obviously) so they almost never invite others for meals.

 

We have very good friends  who don't cook, either one of them.  When we're invited for dinner, it's always take out from a local restaurant.  Fortunately, they have good local restaurants! 

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We have very good friends  who don't cook, either one of them.  When we're invited for dinner, it's always take out from a local restaurant.  Fortunately, they have good local restaurants!

Isn't breaking bread together about so much more than who cooks? I cook and love to do it but feel no shame if I offer guests puchased bread, charcuterie, cheese and condiments. Nor would I hesitate to send out for Chinese or Indian or whatever if it meant spending time with friends. But if the cupboards were bare and time limited then beer and wings at the local pub would suffice. We need to ask ourselves if we are offering hospitality or craving an audience for our cooking prowess.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I don't get insulted if people don't want to try new things or at least things that are new to them.  You have to know your audience.  People who live on casseroles and snacks aren't going to appreciate "fancy" food.  It's best to pack up your pride and just be a good host and a better guest.

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  • 2 years later...

This thread was the gift that keeps on giving.

 

I'm fortunate to have escaped with little more than over boiled veg from various elderly relatives :)

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2 hours ago, Tere said:

This thread was the gift that keeps on giving.

 

I'm fortunate to have escaped with little more than over boiled veg from various elderly relatives :)

  

What my mother used to do to broccoli should have been punishable by law. How long do you have to boil it before it turns gray.

 

She made, for almost every meal we ate at her houseful a couple of years, a lime Jell-O, Cool Whip and canned fruit salad that I dubbed Green Slime. Behind her back, of course.

 

No, she was not a gifted cook. But I did appreciate her Swiss steak done in a pressure cooker.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Twenty five years ago I was invited to a colleagues share house for dinner.

She cooked pasta with vegetables and banana....we're still good friends.

She has become a better cook with needing to feed three children, but still sees recipes as a challenge. I think I've finally convinced her to stop putting cream in carbonara, but wouldn't be surprised to find carrots lurking.

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This is more of a sad meal than a bad meal.  My grandmother was an excellent cook.  She raised 5 children alone in a small rural town after her husband's untimely death.  She also took over and successfully ran his title business.  We celebrated every major holiday at her house- no small feat given that each of her children also had at least 3 children.  She taught me how to bake apple pies, make extraordinary and lump less mashed potatoes, peerless giblet gravy and REAL whipped cream.  I still make those things today.

 

Fast forward a few decades.  I was in my late twenties and my family was beginning to despair of me ever meeting "the one".  Finally, I had begun dating the first likely candidate.  Somehow, Grandma got wind of this and insisted that I bring him to meet her over lunch.  So, we drove to her house and I helped her set up the table and bring out the food.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely- until I began serving her casserole and spooned out a cream of something soup lid.  Short of a death, I don't think I've ever been so saddened.  That was the end of the holiday meals and not long thereafter, the end of her ability to live independently.

 

I remember her fondly and dearly every major holiday.  Especially on Thanksgiving when I proudly serve her apple pie with homemade whipped cream, lumpless mashed potatoes and her extraordinary giblet gravy.

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2 hours ago, NWKate said:

This is more of a sad meal than a bad meal.  My grandmother was an excellent cook.  She raised 5 children alone in a small rural town after her husband's untimely death.  She also took over and successfully ran his title business.  We celebrated every major holiday at her house- no small feat given that each of her children also had at least 3 children.  She taught me how to bake apple pies, make extraordinary and lump less mashed potatoes, peerless giblet gravy and REAL whipped cream.  I still make those things today.

 

Fast forward a few decades.  I was in my late twenties and my family was beginning to despair of me ever meeting "the one".  Finally, I had begun dating the first likely candidate.  Somehow, Grandma got wind of this and insisted that I bring him to meet her over lunch.  So, we drove to her house and I helped her set up the table and bring out the food.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely- until I began serving her casserole and spooned out a cream of something soup lid.  Short of a death, I don't think I've ever been so saddened.  That was the end of the holiday meals and not long thereafter, the end of her ability to live independently.

 

I remember her fondly and dearly every major holiday.  Especially on Thanksgiving when I proudly serve her apple pie with homemade whipped cream, lumpless mashed potatoes and her extraordinary giblet gravy.

 

Would you be able to share your grandmother's mashed potato recipe?

 

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@JoNorvelleWalker

 

She would peel and quarter red potatoes and boil until soft. Then drain and place briefly back on heat to evaporate any lingering moisture.  Here is where the muscle comes in- get you hand masher and mash!  Add milk and continue mashing until smooth.  Add butter and salt to taste and mix.  She always said it was most important to add the milk before the butter because adding the butter first coated the potatoes and prevented absorption of the milk.

 

Nothing very complicated but I never fail to think of her when I do it.

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Thank you @NWKate it was a beautiful story.

 

Seems about half the authorities say to add the butter first and half say to add the milk or cream before the butter.  All with their good reasons!  Then some say red potatoes and some say Idaho potatoes.  I go back and forth, hoping for enlightenment.

 

But I'm with your grandmother all the way on the hand mashing part!

 

 

 

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But most 'experts' say you must rice the potatoes to get the very best texture.

I don't because it's just an extra step to get out the damned ricer and it seems unnecessary.

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11 minutes ago, lindag said:

But most 'experts' say you must rice the potatoes to get the very best texture.

I don't because it's just an extra step to get out the damned ricer and it seems unnecessary.

 

What's the difference between getting out the ricer and getting out the masher?

I'm no expert, but the ricer gives me what I consider to be better results and is no more trouble.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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42 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

What's the difference between getting out the ricer and getting out the masher?

My ricer is way too big for my tool drawer so it is stored away in the pantry.  The masher is right at my hands in my tool holder.

 

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9 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Thank you @NWKate it was a beautiful story.

 

Seems about half the authorities say to add the butter first and half say to add the milk or cream before the butter.  All with their good reasons!  Then some say red potatoes and some say Idaho potatoes.  I go back and forth, hoping for enlightenment.

 

But I'm with your grandmother all the way on the hand mashing part!

 

 

 

 

I add cream and then mash. Yukon Golds for me.

I contend that they have better flavor and never taste like dirt as some russets do.

I use a masher because the ricer is in the back of a drawer. It starts out in front, but sneaks back at night.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

 

What's the difference between getting out the ricer and getting out the masher?

I'm no expert, but the ricer gives me what I consider to be better results and is no more trouble.

 

My mashed potatoes most likely would not make the "very best" list but a ricer would be difficult to use. I steam red potatoes with the skin on, then mash using an Oxo masher starting with just butter. When they are nearly ready I add a dash of milk and some sour cream. We all like the texture and visual appeal the skins bring to the finished dish.

 

I suppose for purists this might sway them toward a "worst meal" feeling.

Edited by Porthos (log)
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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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1 hour ago, robirdstx said:

My masher and ricer sit side by side in their drawer. I have not used the ricer for potatoes, except once. I found that it was more trouble to keep refilling the ricer. I just mash the potatoes in the pot they were cooked in.

 

PS I actually like some lumps in my mashed potatoes. :x

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