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What would you do if someone constantly critisized your food?

My husband and I love having people over for dinner because we both love to cook. We've been asking this one woman over a lot recently because she's come back to our neck of the woods to be with her ailing father. She thinks it's wonderful to get out of the house and hang out with old friends, but she has been critical of everything I've cooked. We don't go out to eat because we just can't afford to, so we can't just meet her at a restaurant. We've tried to get her to tell us what she'd like to have, and she says, "I'm game to try anything." Then she tears it apart. I've explained to her that this is bad manners, and that I really don't enjoy her negativity, and she always apologizes, but in a backhanded sort of way. The last time was the worst, though. While we were eating spicy pork chops with caramelized apples, she said, "Oh, what kind of apples did you use?" I said I used Fuji's because they're the favorite in our family. We just can't get the kids to eat Granny Smiths. She then said, "Oh, that explains it. I just adore Granny Smiths. I've never heard of anyone cooking with anything else. I don't know about Fuji's. I just love Granny Smiths." Then later, after my husband had left the room, she said, "I guess I need to apologize yet again. I'm just not used to your kind of cooking. You're a good cook, don't get me wrong, but you're not a excellent cook. I dated a certified chef, and he just spoiled me to gourmet food. But you really are a good cook." I wanted to escort her out of my house right then and there because she's cooked for us, and it was nothing impressive. It was canned soup and chicken thrown into a pot with some scorched broccoli on the side. So on one hand I'm thinking, well, you obviously didn't learn anything from him, and on the other hand I'm thinking, you really are a jealous little witch. When she brought her food over to our house, I was just as nice as I could be. I raved over the chicken, which was pretty good, but it didn't have the time and fresh ingredients that go into my food. My husband, once I told him what she'd said, told me that he is so fed up with her crap that he will never invite her over again, and she's more his friend than mine. I'm just so irritated. I don't know whether to keep my mouth shut and let her figure out that she's never getting invited again or give her a taste of her own brutally honest medicine and also let her know that while I'm not certified, I have been trained by some of the best bakers and chefs in our area, but it was more out of friendship and family ties than culinary discipline.

asked by logash almost 4 years ago
32 answers 1334 views
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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added almost 4 years ago

Yikes! I'm amazed that you keep opening yourselves up to this woman's need to build herself up at your expense. Food is one of the great things with which one can be generous. It is a shame that something in her life - her ailing father - prevents her from experiencing the joy inherent in sharing food. Seriously, if someone invited me to dinner and served braised dog food, I would be so grateful, figuratively speaking, you understand, for both the gesture and the companionship, not to mention the fact that i didn't have to shop for it, prepare it, or wash up after it, that I would gladly lick my plate. Your friend is clearly hurting. And rather than experience her pain and fear, which can be so hard, perhaps it is easier for her to hurt you. You are being extremely kind. Perhaps think about inviting her to meet you for coffee somewhere on neutral ground and give her a change to vent about what is difficult in facing an ailing parent. But don't stop being kind to people in general, especially via food.

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added almost 4 years ago

I agree with Boulanere, that this may be the behavior of someone who is hurting. However, the other possiblity that she is an ungrateful cad also exists. If you still feel the need to offer solace in some way, Meeting OUT for coffee sounds like an interesting plan. She will probably find something wrong there as well.

My condolences go to you for this experience, but thanks for reaching out to another.

3162c11b-e070-4795-95d1-fd9492a6b582.lulusleep
added almost 4 years ago

Anyone who does that in my house does not get invited over again.

As for giving her a taste of her own medicine, I wouldn't waste my time. Frankly, people like these are negative because they thrive on it. Instead of getting into it with her, which may cause you to be upset or even guilty later, just don't give her the time of day.

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sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

added almost 4 years ago

Ignore them but ask them to prepare the meal next time. So rude!

0dcfb05c-8a90-480f-8cf7-cbc33e9a6b5c.me
added almost 4 years ago

I don't know what is more incredible - her rudeness, or your patience!

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Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added almost 4 years ago

I live in an area where everyone has an opinion about food. I always ask about preferences and needs before people come over, and I'm always mentally prepared for the unvoiced preferences to suddenly be voiced during the actual event. If you do want to continue to get together with this woman for meals, could you have her come and cook WITH you? That can work, though in this case, she might have to shop with you too! (Personally, I never did get what people say about cooking with Granny Smiths.)

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added almost 4 years ago

I have an ex-husband who had a similar bad habit - when I served him a rib steak with a mustard cream sauce, he muttered something about sirloin being good enough and announced "If you have to put a sauce on a piece of meat, it must be a bad piece of meat." When I made cream of mushroom soup, he told me not to bother again, Campbell's was just fine. So -- I learned to preempt his criticisms with "I'm making ___, like my grandmother taught me. You won't hurt my feelings if you don't like it." Later, I simply said "When someone does something nice for you, maybe you shouldn't bitch about the way it gets done." It sounds as if your friend is similar -- for some reason, she needs to criticize something in which you take great pleasure. Misery loves miserable company? Perhaps after the cup of coffee Boulangere suggested, with its chance to vent, mention you'd love to invite her to dinner, with the caveat that she knows your husband loves to cook for friends, but her snide remarks hurt his feelings. If she's not simply rude and self-absorbed, maybe she'll take the cue to promise to not make anything other than yummy noises.

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SKK
added almost 4 years ago

Love boulangere's recommendation about meeting for coffee and neutral grounds. What I know is I can't change or control this guest's reaction. I can count on she is going to react the way she does. Trying to change her would be like trying to change gravity and saying "Every time I let go of something, it lands on the floor. I just hate gravity."

I do have choice and control over my reaction to her comments. Since I can guarantee she is going to say what she says about my food, I can say for example "You are so cute! I knew you would say that." Or stop inviting her for dinner and be straight with her why I won't invite her any more "It seems all I hear from you is criticism, and it stops me from enjoying my friends and the meal."


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hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

added almost 4 years ago

Wow! Just wow. I would perhaps go out for coffee, and broach the subject of cooking for her and how much it stings when she criticizes your cooking - e.g. "I really take pride in using good quality fresh ingredients, and I put a lot of effort into what you make, so if you don't appreciate it then perhaps we should find other ways to spend time together that won't lead to hurt feelings on either side." Let her know you'd love to have her over for dinner, but would appreciate if she were mindful about her comments. Then invite her to dinner. If she once again complains or criticizes then be done with feeding her. If you still want to be kind to her, perhaps offer to go on a walk or to the library or something else....

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added almost 4 years ago

I don't mean to call your friend names logash, but she sounds a bit narcissistic to me.. if she was soo spoilt on gourmet food by her ex chef boyfriend, she shd go back to him. If she's never heard of anyone cooking with anything else other than granny smiths.. it speaks of her ignorance, not your capability of being a good cook!

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added almost 4 years ago

It sounds like your guest is definitely speaking out of pain.
Food, to so many is a bonding experience. Perhaps meals, while she appreciates the invite, are actually causing her inner turmoil because they aren't prepared the way she did them with her father. It's not at all that yours are bad-but they don't give her the same feeling because the same ingredients aren't used that she would...with her father present.

I think I would still invite her over actually. If she behaves this way again, I would privately pull her aside and explain how grateful I am she can join me-that I like her very much as a person-but that her comments are very hurtful and embarrassing. She may honestly not realize she's being so negative. (I'd also add the part about eating with her father!)

Either way, I'd not take it out on her. Hurtful as her comments are-I don't believe they're personal.

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added almost 4 years ago

This person has real problems. You can't solve them but, as you are doing in inviting her over, you can show compassion for her situation. I think it's completely in order to have a conversation before inviting her again. Explain that you invite guests to share the meal and conversation - and though you feel perfectly competent in the kitchen, you are not trying to win culinary awards. Therefore, if your food doesn't meet her standards, you will not be hurt if she declines the invitation. This person is missing some basic communication clues so I think you should be forthright - subtlety will be lost.

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added almost 4 years ago

The thing is, I have told her that her comments are hurtful. That was why she said, "I guess I should apologize yet again." I have asked her on numerous occassions to let me know what she likes/doesn't like, so I could work around it. I have so many food allergies, that I ask those I eat with to do the same. In this apology, she also said, "It's just that the things you fix are foods that make me nausous." I told her that she shouldn't tell me that she's game to try anything if she's really that picky an eater. As for her father, he wasn't really there for her growing up, so I don't think there's really a food tie-in there. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she had a huge crush on my husband back in the day, but he didn't compete with the guy she married. She's told me as much, and she told me this in a manner that said that if she had picked my husband, I wouldn't be here to get upset by her comments about my cooking.

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added almost 4 years ago

What ChefJune says. If this woman is even a fraction of the ungracious, presumptuous jackass that comes to mind when reading your accounts of her and you continue to invite her abuse by bringing her into your home, then perhaps it's time to consider why on earth you would torture yourself like that.

A64f0bcb-569d-43e7-b4db-4f21866cac44.farmer's_market
added almost 4 years ago

What ChefJune and Rhoda said.

I just read your question and my immediate reaction was: you're still inviting her over because...? Sad that her father is ailing, but it sounds like she's exploiting your kindness to express some infantile chip on her shoulder - with your name on it. Repeatedly. Honestly, I wouldn't even be bothered enlightening her about your cooking training - or anything else for that matter. 'Proving' yourself to her just seems like engaging in this infantile passive/aggressive thing she has going. We all have (or have had) painful periods in our lives, but in the end, rude is rude.

I'd suggest sending her an occasional email asking after her father - and leaving it at that. Cook for other friends/family who will no doubt unconditionally appreciate your efforts. Granny Smith would be appalled by her behavior. :-)

164ae6cf-b233-45ae-a461-8d7543fae705.melissa_mitchell
added almost 4 years ago

I'd assume that she's speaking out of pain and distress, and continue to be compassionate towards her....but maybe invite her over to do something like "make your own pizza" (you provide the dough and a choice of toppings) or a"stir fry party" (same idea) so that if she "doesn't like the food...." it's kind of her own fault (hey, she chose the toppings!). I guess those ideas are probably lower-brow than it sounds like you and your husband are used to, but it might serve to provide her with the support she probably needs while shielding you all from her constant harping.

I like the ideas of coffee, cooking together, and having her bring food over, too. What about a potluck...? Then you go do a little tit-for-tat and give a zinger about her dish right back. Just kidding. That probably wouldn't be the most supportive choice.

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added almost 4 years ago

I would like to give the PC answer as some have above about just working with her on changing recipes, talking to her over coffee, just being understanding. But frankly, I think once is bad, twice is rude, and beyond that it's just plain spiteful of her to make comments like that. Personally, if asked why she had not been invited over for a meal in some time I would simply say, "I clearly can not cook to the standard which you require to be satisfied. I cook to satisfy my guests appetite and my soul with pleasure for doing so. Since I can not achieve either with you as a dinner guest perhaps it's best we get together over food that someone beside you or I cook." Sorry if that sounds cold hearted but cooking for people is about bring joy to you and them and that's clearly not happening. Just my 2 cents.

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 4 years ago

I used to have a "friend" like that, and frankly, after taking years of her abuse thinking I was being helpful, I had to cut her loose. Shooooot! we all have feelings, and they aren't purposely hurt by those who really care about us.

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mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

added almost 4 years ago

Wow that was entertaining to read. I would stop inviting the bitch over. The end.

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added almost 4 years ago

You are a very nice person for trying to help her out. Since you tried to talk to her directly about her behavior and she won't change then don't feel bad about not inviting her anymore. Bad behavior should have its natural consequences.

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added almost 4 years ago

If you still want to maintain a relationship for some reason (long history, being helpful in her distress, whatever reason) the suggestion of coffee is terrific. I wouldn't get into the cooking thing at all. If asked, you could just say something like "gee, I don't know---we just haven't been cooking lately...." and shift topics.

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added almost 4 years ago

I learned long ago to surround myself with positive people. This person would NOT be welcome in my home. Don't invite her over anymore. If you need to stay in touch, do it in a neutral place where you don't have to cook!

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added almost 4 years ago

There's a huge valley between being outwardly kind to a person going through a hard time and repeatedly opening your home to someone who obviously enjoys being a nasty, ungrateful guest. I say the next time the idea of having her over comes up, you suggest that she take her Granny Smiths and seek out a colonic instead.

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drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 4 years ago

logash, you're from Alabama, right? There's only one thing to say to this woman (and as I'm sure you know, you have to say it with DRIPPING sweetness): "Why bless your heart, honey, we certainly wouldn't want to subject you to another unpleasant meal, now would we?" as you're escorting her out the door.

8e507f5f-d9f6-4f7b-bc71-924644356ec4.m_eats_huarache
added almost 4 years ago

it's so affirming to read all the comments that advise compassion. Indeed, with food we nurture- and not just those who "deserve" it. I am a good cook and make my living, some would say, as a chef (I have a hard time spitting out that word in reference to myself) but there seems even to me to be so much pressure to be knowledgable and skilled in the kitchen.. all these foodbloggers-- it feels impossible to keep up. So those with lower self-esteem.. trying to keep up with the Joneses. It kind of ruins the simplicity of breaking bread together...
Anyway. I always think it is best to let people know how you feel... often they don't realize how their comments can hurt, or at least, make things awkward. So if you value your friendship, do have coffee with her, as others recommended, and over something sweet, tell her her comments take away from a convivial evening with friends... Your next step depends on her response...

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added almost 4 years ago

Cole Porter was said to have two embroidered pillows on a sofa: "Don't Explain" and "Don't Complain." I think of this when I am confronted by a situation like this. The world is full of people who don't listen and don't hear, and this woman is one of them. She is not your friend, and she is no longer your husband's friend. You have made every possible effort to show caring and also to acknowledge and change the situaltion. You have every reason to let her go, without guilt.

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added almost 4 years ago

Question: Is there anything that you enjoy about this woman's company? Why does she keep on coming over if she hates the food you cook so much? I'm sure you're a great cook and she sounds like a real jerk, but if someone kept inviting me over for dinner and their food made me nauseous (which I would never, under any circumstances, say to them), I'd start making excuses to avoid having dinner with them. It may be that she's being especially self-absorbed and rude because of her father's illness, but really, I can't imagine under any circumstance behaving that way, even in the worst of times.

The worst part is that you have told her how you feel about this and she keeps doing it. It's probably an ingrained habit that she's had for a long time -- my father used to comment on my weight every time I came home for a visit, and no matter how many times I told him it was hurtful and I didn't want to hear it, it was in one ear and out the other. Finally I wrote him a letter. For some reason, that worked. Frankly I don't think this person's "friendship" is worth the effort to go that far to make her understand, but my point is just that verbal communication isn't working. I suggest that if you want to make the effort to continue to spend time with this person, you stop inviting her over for dinner and invite her over for board games or a movie rental instead. You've got to set a boundary with her. If she asks why, tell her it's because you don't enjoy making dinner for people who criticize your cooking constantly. Either she'll leave it at that, or she'll apologize -- a real apology, not "I guess I have to apologize" which is really saying "you are making me apologize" not "I feel bad about what I said."

Fad1d966-4923-41f5-815f-8c19d8b337e4.flower
added almost 4 years ago

Oy vey. Take her a Last Supper in a picnic basket you don't care about and close the door, literally and figuratively. And use the friggin' Granny Smiths as a parting gesture.

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KCK
added almost 4 years ago

Wow. I think this person has forfeited any claim on your time or attention. So ungracious. I would not fault you and your husband one bit for keeping your distance from her. I wouldn't do anything to retaliate, but I think you are perfectly justified in not inviting her over any more. If she asks why, previous comments have given plenty of suggestions about what to say.

You are clearly a very patient and compassionate person, and if you do decide to keep socializing with this person, maybe you want to do it on an explicitly non-food-related basis? If finances are tight, I wouldn't even bother going out for coffee with her. Maybe you could invite her over some evening AFTER dinner to play cards, Scrabble, etc. You can serve tea (and suggest that she bring her own teabag if she's picky about what kind she drinks!) Again, if she questions why not until after dinner, she's given you plenty of reasons why!

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KCK
added almost 4 years ago

Wow. I think this person has forfeited any claim on your time or attention. So ungracious. I would not fault you and your husband one bit for keeping your distance from her. I wouldn't do anything to retaliate, but I think you are perfectly justified in not inviting her over any more. If she asks why, previous comments have given plenty of suggestions about what to say.

You are clearly a very patient and compassionate person, and if you do decide to keep socializing with this person, maybe you want to do it on an explicitly non-food-related basis? If finances are tight, I wouldn't even bother going out for coffee with her. Maybe you could invite her over some evening AFTER dinner to play cards, Scrabble, etc. You can serve tea (and suggest that she bring her own teabag if she's picky about what kind she drinks!) Again, if she questions why not until after dinner, she's given you plenty of reasons why!

Eb515e78-7387-4e72-b91d-acfa26b55b99.default-full
KCK
added almost 4 years ago

Wow. I think this person has forfeited any claim on your time or attention. So ungracious. I would not fault you and your husband one bit for keeping your distance from her. I wouldn't do anything to retaliate, but I think you are perfectly justified in not inviting her over any more. If she asks why, previous comments have given plenty of suggestions about what to say.

You are clearly a very patient and compassionate person, and if you do decide to keep socializing with this person, maybe you want to do it on an explicitly non-food-related basis? If finances are tight, I wouldn't even bother going out for coffee with her. Maybe you could invite her over some evening AFTER dinner to play cards, Scrabble, etc. You can serve tea (and suggest that she bring her own teabag if she's picky about what kind she drinks!) Again, if she questions why not until after dinner, she's given you plenty of reasons why!