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Old culinary habits....


PPX
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Anybody else out there have a dining companion who feels compelled to add a special condiment or seasoning to a meal, no matter how well it's been prepared? Perhaps your pop needs ketchup on any beef or egg dish, or your sis was introduced to tamari in 1980 & now she splashes it on everything...... a friend just isn't happy if there is not a bottle of hot sauce within reach. The second part of this question is: do you feel insulted if you've prepared the meal(humph, hours slaving?), or are you unfazed? My Southeast Asian hubby requires a bowl of fish sauce and chiles by his plate (but honey, its osso buco!), and occasionally brings other spicy mixes to the table.....sometimes we all end up using these contributions, but at other times the chef feels slightly miffed.....anyone else? :unsure:

Edited by PPX (log)
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SIL who puts salt and pepper on just about everything without ever tasting it first and I mean SALT and PEPPER - until there is a visible layer of both! Drives me nuts not only from a culinary perspective but from a health one too. Besides, it is DAMN rude!

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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Having worked as a personal chef for people with some really odd taste, nothing much fazes me now. One of my Brit clients put Branston pickle on everything and would come back from the UK with a suitcase full of Daddy's sauce and other such items. I worked for a Spaniard who put olive relish (not tapenade) on things that seemed to me like very strange combinations.

I will serve the food the way it is supposed to be and if they ask for a condiment I suggest that they try it first au naturale and then add their stuff afterward.

I do not put salt and pepper shakers on my dining table. I have pepper and salt grinders on the sideboard in case someone insists on them.

I would get testy about someone wanting what I consider to be an inferior product on one of my desserts (note the Cool-Whip, in the potluck etc. thread).

However most of the time people consume my food the way it is served. I make a lot of condiments myself and set them out with foods for which they are intended. However I am not above learning something new, if someone has a suggestion for an additive and when I try it myself I find that it does indeed complement the dish.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I like Tabasco in clam chowder, corn chowder, and pretty much any and all form of eggs.

I have a friend who puts ketchup on everything. And I mean everything. Pizza, Steak, chinese food, spaghetti, tacos, sandwiches - I have never seen her eat a meal without adding it to the food.

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The thing that kills me is people putting ranch dressing on everything, including pizza.

The guy I live with tended to put Worcestershire sauce on everything. The first time I made beef bourguignon, he tried to put it on that but I persuaded him to taste it first. I don't really understand that habit because he's Polish. His mother was a good cook and I'm sure she didn't put bottled sauces in everything.

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I am personally not insulted by this. I like hot sauce on lots of things that it doesn't traditionally go with, and yes, I have to have it on almost any egg dish I eat. I have had food prepared very well, and I usually take a couple bites first to see how it is in its natural state, but that doesn't stop me from adding sauces later, it just adds to the taste.

People have differing personal tastes, what is perfect to the chef might not be perfect to the diner, so if they enjoy it more with a little tabasco, ketchup (blech, not my preference, but whatever they want), or ranch dressing, what is wrong with that?

Ranch dressing gets a bad wrap I think. The stuff just tastes plain good, as does blue cheese dressing, both can adorn my pizza, eggs, or other random things anytime. Sometimes I feel like them, sometimes I don't, but my decision to add them shouldn't ever be taken as an insult to whoever prepared the dish.

Similarly with salt and pepper, there is no such thing as a universal perfect amount for a dish. I enjoy a good bit more pepper than most people, so, I almost always grind some extra to the food on my plate before eating it. Why should a diner eat a meal that isn't completely satisfying for him or her when all it would take to send it over the edge is a little condiment? A chef can take a meal 90% of the way to perfection, but sometimes the diner just needs that little bit extra to really make it feel right.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I don't mind salt at all and not pepper particularly. There are differences in taste buds. For instance, if the chef is a supertaster, the dish may not have enough salt for me. I often find that food in restaurants is not salty enough for me. I have come to the conclusion that they are aiming for the lowest amount of salt practical figuring that folks will add to their taste at the table.

Universal use of ketchup, sriracha, Tabasco and such bothers me a little as I would like for my guests to try it without it first. But, if they insist, I am not going to waste any significant energy on it.

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

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As long as they are not doctoring YOUR plate, what difference does it make?

Sorry, touches a nerve. The Evil One (the ex) fussed if I salted or if I didn't add pepper when he did. He also screeched because I put ice cubes in my wine (cheap plonk, BTW). I wasn't putting ice in his wine, why should he care?

sparrowgrass
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It might make me cringe to see someone slather ketchup on my coq au vin, but if they like it that way, who am I to say? My husband likes peanut butter and maple syrup on his waffles. I won't touch it, but he likes it, so what?

I don't put salt and pepper on my table either and have never had a guest ask for either (or ketchup when it wasn't warranted).

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I understand that one should be allowed to do whatever they want. People do have the right to put whatever they want on their food. Despite this logic, after I cook what I think to be a perfectly executed meal, to see it buried under ketchup or soy sauce or even Maggi's seasoning, I get angry. I don't let it show, and let people do what they want, but deep down I want to hit them with the ketchup bottle. I guess it is something we cooks must take with a grain of salt. :rolleyes:

-- Jason

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I like salt and pepper. I do taste food before adding either, but isn't the point of eating to enjoy your food? Isn't the point of preparing food for friends and family that they enjoy what they are eating? I might be able to understand someone requiring a child to taste something before drowning it is condiments, but I don't understand the need to insist that adults eat it exactly as I want them to.

I have a friend who also doesn't believe in placing salt and pepper on the table. She says that the food has been seasoned properly and so no one needs these things. Well, I do. :shock: I was dying for salt the last time she cooked, but I didn't ask for salt as she had already decided it wasn't necessary. I didn't enjoy my meal. :sad: I needed salt! I think we need to get over ourselves when it comes to food preferences and accept the fact that not everyone tastes things the same way. It shouldn't be perceived as a slight against the cook, but just as recognition that we are all different. Isn't it more important for your guests to enjoy their meal and want to return than for everyone to think that the cook was perfect? A good host or hostess cares more about the comfort of their guests than about the integrity of their recipes. :wink:

KathyM

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I think chefs -- professional and amateur -- who don't put salt and pepper on the table are being a bit pompous and I never hesitate to ask for the stuff if I want it. Similarly, I have a deep distrust of anyone arrogant enough to pronounce their cooking "perfect" or "correct" or some such nonsense, as though all palates are the same and their mouth is the ultimate arbiter right and wrong -- and that their cooking is the perfect extension of their perfect palate. Sheesh.

The point of cooking is to bring people together in companionship and delight, not to indulge your ego. The happiness of the diner is always, always, always more important that your culinary vision. Unless they put the redi-whip om your plate, too, have a glass of wine and relax.

PS, I will put chutney and/or pickle on anything even remotely Indian -- and some things not -- if at all possible.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Sorry, touches a nerve.  The Evil One (the ex) fussed if I salted or if I didn't add pepper when he did.  He also screeched because I put ice cubes in my wine (cheap plonk, BTW).  I wasn't putting ice in his wine, why should he care?

The drive to make others live their lives as we deem proper seems to be hardwired into the human animal.

* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.

* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...

<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

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I'm with those who have said that they aren't offended by the use of condiments. I grew up with a dad who put Tobasco on almost anything savory, and many members of my family love salt. I often cook with or for my sister who likes dishes more heavily salted than I do, and I'm not insulted at all when she adds salt to my dishes. I want people to enjoy what I cook for them, and if they need to add salt or some other condiment, it's fine by me.

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I don't mind if people add salt to my dishes.. but I do want them to taste first!! How else will they know how much salt they need? If they taste first and then decide that they need more salt to have the dish suit their taste, fine. But if they load salt on their plate without tasting first, I'm insulted.

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given the question of "do you feel insulted if a guest adds/alters a dish you cooked with salt, pepper, etc.", how do folks on this thread feel about this question, "as an author of a recipie, do you feel insulted if a cook adds/alters a dish you originated with x, y, z?"

i think they're comparable. i think it's wise that, generally, folks taste their food first, but i can also see the wisdom of a guest who has eaten of a cook's kitchen previously, and knows that that cook tends to use less salt (say) than the guest normally likes. if that's the general experience of a guest with a particular cook, i can see why that guest would not engage in the taste-test.

cheers :)

hc

Edited by halloweencat (log)
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I have to have jalapenos with barbeque. I have a BIL who insists on having them with every meal.

As for salt, I figure it is up to the individual. It does not "insult" me at all. They are my guests and I want them to have what they desire and be happy.

If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

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My Dad has always salted his food before he tastes it because he's yet to find a plate of food that's salty enough for him already. I don't think it's rude, really - he sees it as a timesaver. It's like coffee - some people just always want a certain amount of cream and sugar., regardless of whether it's Folgers or hand-picked home-roasted fresh-ground French-pressed authentic "gourmet" beans. They never taste it first. I think it's only a habit of convenience and since no offense was intended, none should be taken.

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Thanks for the posters who serve salt and pepper.

Personally, I do not need very much salt at all in a dish, but know many others do. My dad was a person who used a heck of a lot more salt than I ever have.

So I may serve a dish with less salt than some might like, and am more than happy to let them adjust it.

I also like a lot of pepper, but would not impose my heavy hand on others.

Cannot believe my palate is the standard to which others must adhere.

And if someone wants to slather ketchup over osso bucco, fine.

They are my guests, and deserve to be treated as such.

At least that is my two cents.

Edited by auntdot (log)
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I went through a phase of over seasoning the food I was cooking. I'm not sure why I lost my touch, but I did. Since then, I've tried to season less, and then if others need to, they can adjust to their taste. It's easy to add after the fact, but once you've overdone it, you're screwed. Also, as my mother got older, she liked less salt, and if she was my guest, I made sure to salt it less than I liked so that she could enjoy it. Everyone else could adjust as needed.

One of my bad habits is the use of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. I can't seem to stop using it, even if I'm cooking other cuisines. I loves me some Tony's.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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My husband started out as one of those who put salt on everything, before tasting it. I finally persuaded him, mostly because my mother thought it meant he didn't like her cooking. She's just very sensitive, and I don't think she thought he was rude, though. I grew up eating low salt (Dad had been put on a low salt diet when I was a kid and it sorta stuck), and used to really have to work hard to talk my mom into extra salt for certain thing. Anyway.....DH finally started trying things first, and discovered somet stuff just didn't need extra salt. In a moment of compromise, I started salting my french fries with extra salt. :)

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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I think the person eating the food should be able to do whatever it is that makes them enjoy it the most. We all have different tastes--after all, if we didn't there would be no interesting choices out there.

My biggest restaurant pet peeve is when the server places the food and before anyone can taste it, starts trying to sprinkle pepper or grated cheese all over it. How should I know if it will needs enhancement until I've tasted it first? Duh!! And why don't they send it out tasting its best in the first place?

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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My biggest restaurant pet peeve is when the server places the food and before anyone can taste it, starts trying to sprinkle pepper or grated cheese all over it.  How should I know if it will needs enhancement until I've tasted it first?  Duh!! And why don't they send it out tasting its best in the first place?

Well, pepper at least should be added as close to eating the food as possible, so it makes sense to save that off for the last possible minute. As for the cheese, it is more fun to watch it melt and get a bit soft on your hot food than it is if it comes out already like that.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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