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How do you fellow cooks/picklers handle food wimps?

I ask because I get tired of being nice about it sometimes. Speaking as a nose to tail consumer, I eat everything. I eat everything in the garden too, including the snails. Certain things I understand; okay if you are Kosher no crab or pork, being celiac is a real condition, lactose intolerant I'm a skeptic, and as much as it pains me I understand that for genetic reasons some people can't taste the full flavor of cilantro. After that it just gets fussy, wierd. Example, my sister used to act as gatekeeper for my mother, and insisted that Mom didn't like beets. Turned out Mom did like beets it was my sister who didn't like beets. So now my sister gets anchovies in everything I cook for her---payback. What I'm getting at is that as a cook you have standards that you don't want to dumb down. I cook hand cut fries but you won't find ketchup in my kitchen. But the wimpolas are a fact of life. Love to hear your thoughts on how you handle this, especially if you are married to or partnered to someone who hates this or that.

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

asked over 3 years ago
59 answers 1364 views
399571_2853636453848_1694221275_n
added over 3 years ago

This is the best way I can answer this: I think it has to do with what we're exposed to in general. I've yet to make something that my husband hates unless I add too much oregano. Then, I'm screwed.

Uruguay2010_61
added over 3 years ago

There was time a time in life that one was grateful for the food put on the table each night . . . you would eat what was in front of you, because it was the polite thing to do. I refuse to kowtow to dinner guests every little like and dislike. . . .I find most times they dislike something because it was either not fresh, not cooked right or of poor quality to begin with. I totally agree with the article in the NY Times the other day---> http://www.nytimes.com... . . . .grow up wimps, try something different. You might be surprised and like it!

399571_2853636453848_1694221275_n
added over 3 years ago

I should have prefaced that with barring any condition. Huge fan of the anchovy since I learned to cook and think for myself. As a kid, I wouldn't go near them...only because my Mom H-A-T-E-D them. (or so she thought!)

Chris_in_oslo
Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 3 years ago

Fortunately, I do not have this problem in my immediate family. We would happily eat up all the snails in pierino's garden. I do, however, live in a community where everyone has an opinion about everything. So, I've learned that when I invite people over, I should ask about food issues and preferences. Then, I take a deep breath and tell myself, "There is plenty of food that meets these constraints. There is plenty of food that meets these constraints." And there is. I do not dumb down. Mostly, I can accommodate. When a Japanese houseguest asked for A-1 sauce, I couldn't.

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added over 3 years ago

I think super-picky eaters is one of the results of living in a corporate, big-ag, prepackaged, fast food society. When the most exotic taste a child is exposed to is Taco Bell, why would we expect otherwise? I'm lucky that my husband supports cooking everything we can at home and expecting our kids to be mature about food. That said, he's not a vegetable lover like I am, but over the years I've decided these food biases are sort of intentional. People decide that they don't like a food (usually because they tried one bad example of it, as usaba dashi says) and they're unwilling to let new experiences change their mind. If you can trick the food hater into being open to a new experience, and you make sure the food tastes awesome, it can sometimes work. Case in point: My husband swore he hated zucchini for the first 15 years I knew him. A couple of years ago I found a new zucchini recipe but didnt even try to serve it to him. It was so tasty the kids hated to give up any to let him try it. Scarcity created demand and now he 'kinda likes' zucchini.

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added over 3 years ago

When I took my wife out on our very first date I took her to my favorite steak house and ordered prime rib, rare (yes, prime), baked potato with everything and the salad bar and a margarita on the rocks in a tumbler no salt (I was 23). Yes, I did order first because she said go ahead while she tried to make a selection. Just after hearing my order she said: 'I'll have the same". It was then I knew I had a match. Turns out I'm the picky one (only because of my standards).

I try to respect all who have dietary issue's and have made the choice to be vegan or vegatarian but people who don't like tomatoes or onions or don't like this or that rub me a little the wrong way when invited to my home for dinner. I do not cater to the picky eaters. I feel I serve enough food and sides that they should be able to find something and have removed people from my invite list only to hear them ask "when are we going to get together again". My brother in law always ask's if the food is organic just as he is sitting down at the table. A few times of that and he wonders why I don't have them over any more. To me this is rude. To come in to someone's home who has been gracious enough to cook for them and complain or give likes and dislikes after the meal or as your serving them is beyond me. I even told a neighbor that he should probably leave when the couple showed up for a dinner party and told me he only eats steak upon learning we were having pork for dinner. But, I have at this point whittled out the ingrates and have a great group of foodies that are always welcome at my table.

Reading this back though makes me sound like a tempermental jerk. But I rather be thought of as that then be the person who caters to picky eaters. My whole career has catered to picky eaters.

Thanks pierino, that was fun.

Dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

This is a wonderful question. It deserves the thoughtful answers you've received. I'm on my way to bed, but will write tomorrow. I love ChefDaddy's response, and SusanCooks's, and especially usuba dashi's. I will say that my mother was terrified of rattlesnakes, and so am I. But largely because of my dog. But that is another story. More tomorrow, and thank you for such a thought-provoking question.

Dsc_0122.nef-1
added over 3 years ago

As long as the wimp keeps quiet while in the midst of company instead of whining, I'm fine.

Sit2
added over 3 years ago

The major standard for a cook is making your audience happy.

You wouldn't put up with a hairstylist that makes themselves happy and you didn't like the cut.

The entire point of cooking for people is to please them. Not to be passive aggressive.

Cooking for picky eaters is probably one of the best learning experinces you can have as you learn to adjust, simplify and you'll learn more from them than your knowledge of how something should be. Learn from them, they'll be the ones most likely to tell you screwed up.



Debbykalk-photo
added over 3 years ago

There's a widely cited idea that you need to serve a food 8 times before a resistant child might give in and try it. Wonder if this holds true for adults, too? It's true that children and young people have much more sensitive palates so many strongly flavored foods might be overwhelming to their tender senses.

Then there are fussy people - can you figure out what's behind it? Is it part of a control issue? It seems to me that the best way to deal with it is to simply make and serve what you want and not make a scene if they choose not to eat it.

Debbykalk-photo
added over 3 years ago

Meant to also say: food should always be joyful and healthy, never punitive or a weapon.

Gator_cake
hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

While I'm not a super picky eater, there are a few things I just can't stomach. If someone cooks dinner and one of those things happens to be on the menu, I just don't eat it. I don't want to make them feel bad, because I know they put effort into cooking, etc, so I just let them know I'm weird and really just don't like that particular thing. If it's something that won't literally make me gag, I'll just eat it. Typically there are enough sides, etc... that it's not a real problem. Seems like an easy solution to me. If someone does have a true dietary restriction I'll cook around it, and I'll cook vegan for a good friend of mine. Other than that I make what I like!

Sit2
added over 3 years ago

....and on the other end of spectrum are dedicated 'foodies' that complain that a dish isn't exotic enough, or mundane. I'd rather deal with a picky eater than a self appointed food critic.

Like Latoscana said food should be joyful.

Phoenix
added over 3 years ago

I think it depends on the situation. If I'm cooking for friends or family who only visit a few times per year, I cater to their tastes (no matter how picky). It's one of the ways I welcome them into my home & express my love for them. I try to make this easy by asking about food preferences in advance. If I share my home & daily meals with a picky eater, that's a different story. I don't mind if someone dislikes one or two things; that's easy to accommodate. If someone dislikes everything, I welcome them to cook their own meals. (As a kid, I was very picky & I learned early how to make my own PB&J whenever Mom cooked something I didn't like. A fair solution.) Now rudeness at the table is another issue altogether & has more to do with manners than picky eaters. Frankly, if someone criticizes my food, disrespecting the effort I put in, I call them on it, plain & simple. (My brother-in-law once criticized the appearance of my homemade chocolate cake which had sunken in the middle. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him he couldn't have any. Let's just say he never criticized my cooking again.) One last thought: I think there's such a thing as a picky cook, and they're not that different from picky eaters. Both people want to control the food that's put on the table.

Dsc03010
added over 3 years ago

tiggybee. . .if that was the case in my house, I'd be putting too much oregano in everything, including his favorite lemon meringue pie.

Monkeys
added over 3 years ago

Before I had kids, I think I had feelings much more along the lines of what you describe. Then, I got a big dose of karma or something. I honestly don't think I could have tried harder to expose my kids to different taste, textures, ethnic cuisines, etc. That said, I came to realize that people are human. They have likes and dislikes for whatever reason. They also have limitations that I cannot control, much as I dislike, disagree, or am frustrated by them. Therefore, sometimes take satisfaction in the pure pleasure of meeting someone completely on their terms and cooking to their tastes. They are happy. That makes me happy. However, that is just some of the time. That is because doing it that way all the time sucks the life out of me as a cook and eater. Therefore, I also realized that sometimes I must cook what I want and how I want it. It is a bit of a balancing act - the scales might tip one way or the other at each meal, but over the course of a week we get our way some of the time. Either way, I can sit down with my loved ones and share time and food. We just are able take time to enjoy each other's company. I think is really the main point and a joy in life to be savored.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

With kindness, courtesy and respect. The way I treat everyone. But people who complain or are otherwise difficult are not invited back. Period. ;o)

Dsc03010
added over 3 years ago

My kitchen, my rules. Rule #1: You git what you git and you don't throw a fit. With six sons, if I ran my kitchen any other way, my photo would be in the dictionary next to the word "stir-crazy."

Their father, a hillbilly from a hollow in W. Va., is big and burly and so good with tools that it's scary, but talk about a food wimp--he's so petrified of rare meat that he won't touch corned beef because "it still looks raw--I ain't eatin' it" even after he's been watching it boil itself to death for half the day. And the only things he'll eat that are green are lettuce (if it's on a taco) and jalapeno peppers. But if you've invited him to a lunch of reuben sandwiches or to a vegetarian dinner, he will very politely swallow what's in front of him in a way that you, the host, won't realize that he hasn't chewed one bit of what he's bitten off.

Son #1 will turn 40 this year and has absolutely positively never eaten mashed potatoes for the past 38 of those years. Son #2 hates snickerdoodles (!), #4 won't eat butter unless it's melted, #6 only eats female (no nuts) chocolate chip cookies or brownies, yet he adores pecan pie. I don't consider them to be food wimps because they all eat guacamole and turnips and bleu cheese and beans and we fight over chicken livers.

If you're an acquaintance--a co-worker or a neighbor, say--I will not invite you over for dinner unless I've thoroughly scoped you out. If I don't think I'd be comfortable catering to your food preferences, you'd be invited over only if it was potluck. If I'm cooking for you because you're related to me by marriage (like the first 'other grandma' who gags on mushrooms, or the second 'other grandma' who thinks whole grain bread is Third World food and who swears that Hormel chili is a godsend--miraculously, my daughters-in-law are normal), I will accommodate your tastes because I'm a gracious hostess who realizes that without you, my beloved grandchildren wouldn't exist, so one of the frittatas will be lacking mushrooms and you will have a choice of white or wheat blueberry muffins at Christmas brunch.

I like to think that people, related to me or not, enjoy eating here because I have "a way" with food. Most of the time, anyway. I'm not afraid to admit my mistakes, and I can handle a fair amount of criticism. (I am able to hear "Needs more pepper" or "Just once, could we have a roast chicken without lemon?" and "What's this green stuff?' without retorting, "Shut up and eat it.") And I'm not averse to making a last-minute substitution or even withholding a dish that I think is less than okay.

Conversely, I have had free meals that I thought were disappointing, but I would never think to disparage the food and the cook. Ages ago, I accepted an invitation to have lunch at the home of a Catechism student. I was anticipating a "ladies who lunch" type of spread. Mom served deli ham sandwiches on white bread without a condiment of any sort, cottage cheese, potato chips, milk. Also ages ago, I was served grand, wonderful meals with odd (to me, at the time) ingredients, like squid and daikon and smelly fish sauce, in primitive huts and stately homes on Japan and Okinawa and the Philippines. People serve what they like to eat, and I can state unequivocably that hosts the world over hope upon hope that their guest relishes their offerings as much as they themselves do, so I try very hard not to be a lousy guest. I try very hard to be the guest that I would like to have at my table.

I think it boils down to this: Is it possible for a wimpy eater to also be a great guest?

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added over 3 years ago

Weird is not spelled wierd.

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added over 3 years ago

I will admit to having a few vegetarian friends I’ll accommodate. Not many, mind...

Perhaps my pickiest regular guest is also a dear friend, so I do accommodate her. She does eat fish (but not if it comes with a head or a tail, and not squid or shellfish), but no meat or poultry. However, she's perfectly happy to have, say, paella, and pick out the bacon, chorizo and shellfish and ignore the chicken stock. She also makes an exception for my Jewish Chopped Liver, and usually takes a bit home as well. Mind you, she’s also the sort of person who will throw a party and, recognizing that most of her guests are carnivorous, will cook and serve a few beef tenderloins in addition to the roast veg and couscous salad.

If someone has a genuine issue, well, OK I’ll accommodate and I always ask before someone new comes over. I guess I learned this in India where not only do you have to do veg and non-veg sides of a buffet table, but also various people are constantly on various fasts (no eggs, no grain, etc.). I mean, this is part of being a host and I often look on it as somewhat of a challenge. However, that doesn’t generally mean I’ll make the whole meal to suit them. Indian is great for this because I’ll make five or six dishes and if someone can’t eat one or two, well there’s still plenty for them to eat.

However, I cannot abide people who are sanctimonious about their food choices. There used to be a yoga teacher in Cairo who was a strict veg. A friend had his wife over and she refused the biscuits (cookies) she was offered, claiming she could “smell the blood in them.” I’m sorry, but that person would never be invited back, and, with luck, might have already left by the time I stopped laughing.

I also take issue with people who clearly just don’t like food. I think that’s what a lot of picky eaters are, and they just aren’t fun or interesting to share a meal with or cook for and generally don’t get invited back. I can’t think of a guest I’ve had like that who was over the age of ten since some aid worker we had to dinner in Cairo. Someone my wife had gotten friendly with. Didn’t like this, didn’t like that, etc. She was a bore and neither of us ever saw her again.

I can’t imagine marrying someone like that. My first really serious girlfriend thought Olive Garden was exotic and would actually choose to eat McDonald’s over, say, a homemade meatloaf. For that reason alone, I knew the relationship could never go the distance...

Though perhaps not as obsessive about it as I am, my wife really enjoys good food and is an appreciative audience. My kid too, though I live in fear that her teenage rebellion will be to go veg, just to torture me.

Zester_003
pierino

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

added over 3 years ago

Well, this has been fun! Thanks for so many thoughtful responses. Sounds like most of you think like me. But it does get complicated---I'm ultra-careful about people who may have nut or shellfish allergies which might kill them; that's not being a wimp. A restaurant owner I know used to serve wonderful "killer shrimp" except that I couldn't even taste them himself, he just knew how to do it. And then on the other hand I have my Jewish friends who count among the greatest afficianados of pork that I've ever known.
The kitchen committee I participate in had a meeting for a "solstice" dinner where the menu called for prime rib and I was in charge as lead cook. I had to source the beef. Someone asked, "is it grass fed?" And that came from a vegetarian who wasn't going to eat it anyway. Now that's a wimpola!

Dsc_0028
added over 3 years ago

Thank you all for a wonderful read and plenty of (pun alert) food for thought! :-) betteirene, you made me laugh out loud -- I wish we were neighbors! Now here's one for you all -- how about house guests who immediately upon arriving, go out and buy their own groceries? (Think: whole foodies -- nothing but what they deem to be "organic" food can be allowed to pass their lips..) I've also had pretty much the opposite circumstance -- a houseguest with kids who went straight out and loaded up my pantry with junk food and soda! Different perspectives, but from similar motivations -- what you have on offer isn't good enough for me or my kids.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only
AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

Cookbookchick, I have no problem whatsoever with guests buying and bringing in whatever they feel is necessary to make them more comfortable. I don't take offense, and I don't make any comments, because that would be rude and I'm not rude. That said, I do appreciate some cooperation in making room in the fridge, maintaining order in my tiny kitchen, etc. Rudeness and complaints result in permanent banishment (graciously, i.e., without comment, of course) which is their loss. Fortunately, in my extended family, no one assumes that they are invited or are entitled to any special treatment, which works out just fine . . . . people coming into town request to stay as they would with a non-family member acquaintance. It may sound strange to some, but it actually works out very well for all concerned. But the golden rule (which works in all aspects of our lives) is that there is no excuse, ever, for rudeness, even when one is the subject of it. People used to call that being a lady, or being a gentleman. Yes, it's old school. But it works. ;o)

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added over 3 years ago

Qoutes that befuddle me:

The entire point of cooking for people is to please them. Not to be passive aggressive.

Meant to also say: food should always be joyful and healthy, never punitive or a weapon.

How Can food be a punitive or a weapon?

If I don't care for people who are picky at my table and I don't accommodate them am I being passive agressive?

Dsc_0122.nef-1
added over 3 years ago

I'm absolutely fine stocking up the fridge with essentials like lactose free milk etc. While I would have no problem accommodating some dietary preferences, I don't think I'd appreciate it if anyone decides to stock up my fridge with their personal choice, completely over riding the hosts selection, organic or junk! It seems kinda rude! I most certainly wouldn't do it when visiting them, Its like questioning (or even insulting) the hosts hospitality.