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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 over 5 years ago

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16 answers 22302 views
Diana B
Diana B

Diana B is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 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.

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SKK
SKK
added over 5 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.

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jsdunbar
added over 5 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

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pierino
pierino

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

added over 5 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.

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CaramelBlond
added over 5 years ago

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

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threefresheggs
added over 5 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.

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siryn511
added over 5 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.

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Melusine
added over 5 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.

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luvcookbooks
luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 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.

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Salt Tooth
added over 5 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!

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Mark Myers
added 5 months ago

I was taught early on by my Southern belle mother that putting salt on food before you taste it is an insult to the chef at a restaurant and an insult to the hostess at a dinner party. Then I worked for a Japanese company for 10 years, and in my time over there learned that putting wasabi on sushi before tasting it, or drowning it in soy sauce, is an insult to the sushi chef. So obviously this is a universal rule that crosses cultural boundaries - it's not just you. Now if you are a chef in a restaurant or hosting a dinner party, you just have to grin and bear it, but when it is your significant other doing it, you can and should say something. First tell him that when he does that he is sending you the message your food is not good enough the way you prepared it, which is hurtful. Ask him why liking everything spicy is more important to him than your feelings. Second, tell him that his habit is likely to insult friends who invite you over for dinner and embarrass both of you. Third, tell him that not all food is supposed to be spicy, and certainly not all food is supposed to taste like Sriracha's particular flavor profile, and people who want all their food to taste the same look immature and ignorant, and like mindless sheep who simply jumped on the played-out fad of making everything taste like Sriracha. If none of that works, start making really good food just for yourself and tell him he can order out and ruin someone else's food.

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Sam1148
Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added 5 months ago

One thing about sushi. Almost all of the grab and go sushi even from whole foods and quite a few of the chain stores in strip malls do not use wasabi under the fish. So if I get a grab and go Sushi I almost always have to disassemble the nirigi and remake it.

Mark Myers
added 5 months ago

Sam1148, that's a fair point, and with takeaway food the chef never sees you eat it, so no chance of insulting him/her by the way you eat it.

nutcakes
added 5 months ago

The Siracha people are completely different from the Ketchup people. They have different roots. So you lost me.

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BerryBaby
BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added 5 months ago

Hot pepper flakes are becoming the new salt/pepper. Drives me nuts! I make an incredible meal and then certain people insist on sprinkling red pepper flakes before tasting the dish. Go out to eat, there are red pepper flakes on the table, have no idea when it started.