Ephemera

Do You Need Some Advice?

by:
September 15, 2015

We're starting an advice column—and we need your questions.


Are you searching for food- and life-related answers that you're not going to get on Google? For example:

  • I am committed to eating locally in [generic urban center], but whenever I go to my parents' house in [generic suburban neighborhood], there's corn in December and butternut squash in July. Am I a snob for urging them to think seasonally and buy from farmers markets? How can I eat the way I want without disrespecting them? 

  • I got invited to my friend's house for dinner this weekend. Her family is South Asian and I am pitiful when it comes to spicy food. What do I do?

  • I'm in my mid-20s and trying to save money. My roommates and I often host potluck-style dinner parties at our apartment and most guests bring alcohol (and a few bring food). We want to try something new—providing the complete meal and asking people to contribute a few dollars. What's the best way to tell guests of our new plan?

  • My son and his girlfriend are coming to visit and she often makes disparaging comments about the way we eat: how the food is prepared, its nutritional value, etc. He loves her, but I find her commentary—and complaints—unbearable. I still want to be a good host. How can I make her feel comfortable without giving in?

  • HELP! I don't want to talk about beer anymore but all of my friends are obsessed with it. How can I redirect the conversation before I fall asleep?

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If you have a question you need addressed—something a little more personal and involved than what you might ask on the Hotline (think of this as the Dear Prudence for food) we want to hear it. 

Leave a comment below or email [email protected] (and specify if you'd like to remain anonymous). 

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11 Comments

Talia R. September 17, 2015
During my time at Food52, I picked up a couple tiny tricks or ingredients that totally changed my cooking (like using sherry vinegar instead of balsamic in a dressing, or topping ricotta with the super-simple yet magical combination of honey/fruit/salt). What are some similar back-pocket techniques and tricks that you suggest for people looking to up their home cooking to the next level?<br /><br />(Also, SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS COLUMN GUYS).
 
Kendra V. September 16, 2015
vegetarian dinner party/large group menus! when i try to come up with 3-4 dishes to serve together, it ends up being all scoopy bowl things or else just pasta and salad zzzzzz
 
ennekim September 16, 2015
One of my friends has suggested a bake-off this weekend, and I'm wondering if I should participate. However, the only thing I can bake is chocolate muffins! I want to know some tips that can be useful in baking with limited supplies and a tight budget. Please help!
 
foodieri September 15, 2015
What is happening to this website? Advice columns? Seriously? You used to have a singular focus that you executed flawlessly.
 
Kenzi W. September 15, 2015
Hey foodieri—It's totally true that this site used to have a much more singular focus, but it’s our intention to expand that focus as we grow: So long as we’re staying true to our longtime mission of inspiring and providing a service to home cooks, this is how we see ourselves evolving. And we’re excited by the prospect of it! <br /><br />We may have covered a smaller range of topics in the past, but maintaining a diversity of voice and experience within our content has always been at the core of how we approach editorial. An advice column, to us, has the potential to add another layer, another voice, another story to tell and respond to and learn from. It’s all a part of experimenting with new formats—something we’ve always been known to do—and we appreciate your patience as we figure out what works for us together.
 
Leslie S. September 15, 2015
I've been having my boyfriend's mom over for dinner more frequently and I've already run through some of my back-pocket go-to's (sautéed dates, Genius chicken in milk, my mom's zucchini pasta). She's an amazing cook herself, so I'd love some advice on preparing knockout meals for her—and other guests I need to impress—from cocktails to dessert. And any tips on how to entertain for a small crowd (when it's just one guest) would also be much-appreciated!
 
Taylor R. September 15, 2015
Please help! I want new and exciting ways to prepare vegetables for dinner. Steamed broccoli and quick potatoes just aren't cutting it anymore, and I want to be more adventurous when it comes to eating vegetables as a main dish, rather than just as a side.
 
byb September 15, 2015
What a fun idea! I'm excited to hear your thoughts on a number of the conundrums you all used as examples above! <br /><br />My contribution - what is one to do about a hostess/host that almost seems too accommodating? Where after a day or so of "Oh, no, nothing you can do to help but just sit and chat with the others" and "Get away from those dishes!" leaves me feeling as though I don't appear competent enough to make scrambled eggs and, at the same time, guilty for not doing anything. Is it better to have the back-and-forth, "oh, please I insist" conversation and shoulder my way to the sink or should I actually listen to the host/hostess and focus all my attention on conversation with other guests while of course being extremely gracious?
 
Sarah J. September 15, 2015
That's a great question! I never know what to do when I really want to help but keep being turned down!
 
Cary September 15, 2015
Most of your sample questions can be answered with a simple "Use common sense good manners: eat what you are served and be grateful, don't charge people to come to your party, and a good host/guest makes the other feel comfortable and welcome."
 
Marian B. September 15, 2015
lol