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Ego vs. Etiquette: How Not To Be Offended By Someone Who Puts Ketchup on EVERYTHING?

Now that Thanksgiving is over, there's an etiquette question I've been meaning to ask. I love to cook, and do so for myself and my partner on a regular basis. For the most part, he is an enthusiastic and appreciative fan of my cooking, yet I still have one pet peeve: often without even tasting first, he immediately puts sriracha hot sauce on everything (I said ketchup in the title as I imagine this may be the more common problem for others). Even when I plead with him to at least try it first, he'll do so, but then still insist on adding it, explaining, "I like it spicy." On the one hand, it's his food and I want to be respectful of his desire and right to season it the way he wants, but on the other hand, without being too precious about it, I do think that the meal a cook offers is (at its best) like a perfectly composed picture - you've worked to make all the flavors right, each in its right place and complementing one another. When I see the sriracha sauce going on, I feel like my effort was wasted and its intentions ignored. Put another way, it's kind of like a gift you're giving - and isn't it bad manners for the recipient to immediately start trying to rearrange the teeth in the gift horse's mouth? Should I just get over myself, swallow my cooking ego, and let him enjoy it the way he wants it? Or is there some form of etiquette that says, short of a bit of salt and pepper here and there, this kind of flavor adjustment is rude?

asked by Salt Tooth almost 2 years ago
11 answers 16567 views
Diana B

Diana B is a trusted home cook.

added almost 2 years ago

Seasoning food before you taste it is considered rude and an insult to the chef. You've asked him to stop and he won't, so I guess it comes down to how big an issue you want to make this in your relationship.

added almost 2 years ago

Option 1 - let him enjoy it the way he wants because he isn't going to change. Remember, what you resist persists. Let it go and he may come around, or not.

added almost 2 years ago

I'm old enough to remember that a chef at the White House quit because his food was salted before being tasted. I had to teach my husband to taste before automatically adding salt. When he (finally) understood that it truly hurt my feelings he learned to taste the food as I had seasoned it, rather than as he had liked all food to taste. I feel your pain. You'll have to decide if/when this is going to be a daily heartbreaker or or whether you can accept that, sadly, he'll never enjoy the subtleties & depths of flavour that you do in your cooking. In my case there was also the health issue that comes with a high salt diet


pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

Sriracha is the new ketchup. Don't take this person to Chicago where the use of ketchup on anything is banned practically by law.

added almost 2 years ago

That irritates me no end but, as long as it is not on my plate, I try to ignore it.

added almost 2 years ago

I have the exact same problem! Though, my partner does vary the hot-pepper-delivery-condiment widely. I have no answers, but I too, feel your pain.

added almost 2 years ago

I have the same problem with my husband (blue cheese on everything) and daughter (has to dip everything in ketchup. It used to bug me but I've had to get over it because there are more important battles to fight. Also I've found that some of it was done just to because it annoyed me.

added almost 2 years ago

The Friend and I are in Pakistan, in an area where everything seems to be seasoned with stale white pepper, and too much of it. One explanation we were given: The people's palates become so used to the over-seasoning, they can't taste anything that isn't. It's also why lassis and yogurt is so popular over here -- soothes the tummy-burn from all the pepper. So, it's a 'can't taste' thing, not an actual preference. I used to cringe when a friend would go rooting through my spice cupboard for cayenne pepper, no matter what the entree. I ended up just putting some in a little ramekin for her. Still cringed, but tried not to show it.


Meg is a trusted home cook.

added almost 2 years ago

my older brother puts ketchup on everything and eats like a 5 year old (crunchy things only, foods can't touch each other). on the other hand, my younger brother died at 32 of a rare cancer and my older sister has Down's syndrome and has not lived with our family in my lifetime. Count your blessings.

added almost 2 years ago

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with thoughts on this! Just to be clear, I'm not that perturbed about it - and I'm certainly not considering ending the relationship because of it! - it was more just that I wanted to know how others have dealt with this situation. But don't worry, I know it's a small issue in the big scheme of things!