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.

feeling like a bad guest...


therdogg
 Share

Recommended Posts

My mother-in-law is such a dreadful cook, that I used to come home after every Thanksgiving celebration sobbing -- it's all about the food, don't ya know!! and her food was so terrible! Brown broccoli, stuffing that could double as cement...<sigh>

But then I just started making my OWN Thanksgiving dinner the follwing day -- the tears stopped.

Wow, someone else who makes another Thanksgiving meal as an antidote to a bad one! I thought I was the only one who did that.

The only gravy at my mother-in-law's table is a bland, pale, dietetic one that she makes from turley stock thickened with cornstarch -- no pan drippings or other fat allowed. The broccoli, peas, and sweet potatoes are all prepared the same bland way: steamed with just salt and pepper -- no fats, again. The stuffing is made with wild rice! And, as a strange counterpoint to all this healthiness, the rolls are Pillsbury Crescent Rolls form a tube. A bakery-bought pumpkin pie and a bakery-bought apple pie, both with that indefinable factory taste. By the way, there's no medical necessity in the family for avoiding fats; my mother-in-law just has to work at staying the size-2 that she has always been.

After two or three years of my mother-in-law's Thanksgiving meals, after which I always felt cheated of a proper feast of plenty, I started preparing and serving to my family my own full-blown, no-holds-barred turkey dinner the night before "to Grandmother's house we go." Makes her dinner bearable. And my two kids know better than to tell Grandma that we did this the night before.

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

She thinks I spend way to much money and time on food- she wants to buy me something called "The Four Ingredient Cookbook"

Oh...ha ha, my mother-in-law actually DID buy me this book for Christmas! To be fair, she meant well. She knows I like to cook (I'm still in the learning stage...I can make very yummy dinners, but the thought of developing my own recipes, or doing something like making a ganache still scares me!). She knows I'm really busy most weeknights, and she also lives alone and doesn't really cook for herself. So I can't be too upset, but it definitely is not the cookbook for me.

She also has made some scary dinners...one night was a hamburger patty done to hockey-puck consistency (no bun or anything like that) and a scoop of cottage cheese on a lettuce leaf (note: I hate cottage cheese!). What did I do? Ate it, of course. There's not much else I could do--I would never want to hurt her feelings. She only cooks when her kids are visiting, so this was a big thing for her. The way my husband and I deal with it is that we know she *does* make some good things--chili, for example. So we just request those when we visit, because "nobody makes it like you, Mom!". Or, we ask if we can cook for her--since she knows it is a hobby of mine, it's not insulting.

We're a bit luckier because we don't actually have dinner there very often, so we can get away with these tactics. I don't know what we would do for a weekly dinner date...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the tone of your post Therdogg, it sounds as if this woman thinks her cooking is comparable or superior to yours and that she actually has the audacity to give you unasked for cooking advice and information. If she is really that insulting then I wouldn't know what to say.

However I do have a few coping strategies:

1. Eat before the meal. A big one.

2. Bring the drinks and/or dessert. (Some friends don't drink. Which brings me to step three.)

3. Amp yourself up with music or whatever makes you happy. Have a little drink while you dress or get ready.(Unless you're driving or it's breakfast :biggrin: )

4. Always be gracious even if you don't like the meal because the love and care that went into it was sincere.

5. Shift your focus from the food (however hard it may be) to the friendship.

6. On the way home it's okay to talk about the meal. Not to be mean but sometimes you just gotta. :laugh: Heaven knows I've made quite a few jokes about my own attempts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think for people having come of age in the 50's they ran the risk of having their fine, traditional cooking ruined. That would be the case of my Mother, who also grew up during the depression. Her mother did wonderful homemade cooking. My mother does some things very well, like her pies and stews, but she has a tendency to take shortcuts and skimp on the luxury items. So a bad combination of finding bargains and convenience food taints her ability to cook well consistently. On the weekends we live together and our pantry contains a sad preponderance of canned veggies, soups and gravy mixes. Because my family cooks alot and some of us are very interested in good food (being wine and food snobs~) as opposed to taking short cuts that aren't good and we're noisy and blunt, we can get away with being honest with each other. I try to be honest and show her the righteous path :biggrin: , but we do have fights and hurt feelings sometimes. It's important to be truthful because we have to guard the good recipes she has in her collection from degradation!

However, with friends and acquaintances it's not so easy. I think if they're receptive, you should give hints of truthfulness. But in other cases, you have to smile politely. I draw the line at pretending enthusiasm for a dish to the point of polishing it off and giving effusive comments, though.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...