Author Topic: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ food preferences)(update #28)  (Read 5676 times)

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Softly Spoken

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I am posting this question per the request of some people on the "holiday hill to die on" thread.

BG: My father was raised on a farm and grew up with simple, 'stick-to-your-ribs' Americana food. Both he and I have very low spice tolerances and enjoy creamy textures. Dad has been lucky enough at his age to never have had a health problem that forced him to change his diet that much. He (we) eats things like tapioca pudding, custard, chipped beef on toast, swedish pancakes, biscuits and gravy, poached egg on toast, hash browns, lots of bacon, etc.
My father recently got remarried to a woman with a different cultural background. She cooks with a lot of spice, and often gifts him with dishes he's never heard of (I have to explain them to him bc I've been to more restaurants than he has; he's a 'diner'/truck stop kind of guy). Before he met her, he had been to (american) chinese restaurants but never thai or mexican. Suffice to say his palate has been broadened.  ::)

BG Part 2: Now as I explained on the other thread, for the past 10 years I have been making Christmas breakfast for our family: biscuits and sausage gravy, fried cornmeal mush, eggnog bread pudding, scrambled eggs, and cottage cheese pancakes. This year I invited SM to come for breakfast, after Dad and I worked out that he would spend Xmas eve with her family. I wouldn't have been hurt if she hadn't come bc I don't know her that well, she is his wife not my mother. Dad and I went through a rough patch when he sprung his new relationship on me and the end result after some emergency counseling was he agreed to try and be more considerate of my feelings and I would try and be more civil to the new lady in his life. Inviting her to breakfast was an olive branch/my effort to include her like he'd said he wanted me to. /BG

Xmas Breakfast: Now with what I already knew about SM's eating habits, I didn't think she would like most of what I was fixing for breakfast. I was almost positive she wouldn't like the biscuits and gravy, but I hoped she would like the pancakes. I even went out of my way to make a fruit salad bc she likes to have a lot of fresh fruit and veggies. Dad has gone out of his way to try her food so I was hoping she would keep an open palate and maybe even like some of what I made.
She took a little of everything to be polite. I was a little miffed when she went into the kitchen and got a bottle of hot sauce (that she had purchased) to put on my scrambled eggs. I didn't remember if she had tried them without, I remember reading that it is insulting (and seems illogical anyway) to put a condiment on food without tasting it first. I felt like she was saying "your eggs can't stand on their own and need help." Probably just me being touchy right? But here's the other thing...

Now I am a picky eater myself. I am pretty sure I am a supertaster. I am very sensitive (think gag reflex lvl of sensitivity) to textures. Now sometimes people noticed when you don't eat something they've served you. They are concerned and ask you why. Or they are just making conversation and ask you "what did you think of the X?"/"Did you like the suchandsuch?" I don't think you should lie and say something was delicious when, to you, it wasn't. But you can be honest without being insulting.
When I have been asked why I am not eating something I feel the polite thing to do is to put it back on myself - sort of an its-not-you-its-me situation. "Oh, I'm sure it's wonderful I just don't care for X but that's just me" or "It's very good but I'm afraid it's just a tad too spicy for me, I guess that's my loss." I try not to say anything that suggests any inherent flaw in the recipe or in the way it was prepared. You don't come to someone's house and insult their cooking. You don't have to choke it all down just to be polite, but you have to acknowledge that it's not their problem if you can't eat something.

So my Dad asks SM what she thinks of the cottage cheese pancakes (he loves them and had actually been raving about them to her leading up to breakfast). She looks at them, sighs and says half heartedly "Oh... they're okay...I guess."

I was sitting right next to her. I remember looking at my older brother across the table and he had this look on his face like " ??? Did she really just say that?" My dad (who was utterly clueless) just smiled and said "Well, I like them." (I had to sit him down later and tell him that my feelings were hurt).

Now from what I have read on ehell, the prevailing attitude/etiquette about serving food that some people don't like is "well, unless you are deathly allergic, tough." I do understand that you can't please everyone, but as a host I am bothered when one of my guests does not like my food. I try not to take it personally, but I am disappointed that they cannot enjoy the food. However, I believe that there are classy and non-classy ways to reject food. She could have said "Oh I can see why you like them, I just don't usually eat pancakes for breakfast." or "Well I am not used to food like this but they are well-cooked." I'm pretty sure she was trying to be vague and neutral to be polite, but it came off to me as if "she would have liked them if they had been prepared better."

IMHO, the idea of "not saying anything if you can't say something nice" backfires in situations like this bc everyone knows what the silence means (who hasn't seen Thumper give that famous line "Bambi"). I believe it is better to try and find *something* good to say about it, and let any disappointment you have in a dish fall on you as a picky eater.

My etiquette question is this: what do I do next Christmas breakfast? If SM is the only one out of six people who doesn't like five out of six dishes I make than I'd rather she didn't come, and I would think she wouldn't want to come anyway for the exact same reason. The food is the whole point of the celebration; the time and effort is my 'gift' to the family in leu of actual presents (and why I am so sensitive about this). I really don't want to invite her again and watch her pick at the food I worked so hard to make and everyone else loves. I feel like telling Dad "she is welcome to come but I'll understand if she doesn't", and then secretly praying she won't.

Am I being an SS? Too thin skinned? How would you guys have handled it? How *do* you handle it when someone doesn't like your food? How do you handle it if someone actually *disses*(sp?) your food?

Thanks for taking the time to read all this! ;D

*edited to take out 'picky' since people were picking the use of that word apart...* :P
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 05:01:15 PM by Softly Spoken »
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jmarvellous

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2012, 02:02:06 PM »
Well, in your stepmother's defense:
I would, out of the things you made, eat the biscuits (maybe, if they weren't made with animal fat), eggs with added spice and fruit salad.
I would have (and always have had) trouble pretending to like those parts of the meal I wouldn't voluntarily eat if it were up to me. I wouldn't actively say anything negative, but a sensitive host would "get" that I wasn't over the moon.
"It's OK, I guess" and adding spice to eggs (which I'm sure didn't look spicy -- in some cultures, it's totally normal to salt, pepper and hot sauce your eggs without tasting them. Personally, I dump on the salsa or Sriracha.) are so far from insults they don't even register with me.

So, yes, I do think you're being oversensitive. Next Christmas, I would just invite her with full awareness that she will show some idiosyncrasies that the rest of your family won't. And maybe put some salsa or hot sauce on the table.

One person who's not used to the food you eat is not an insult, just a difference.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2012, 02:03:27 PM »
This woman is going to be in your life, unless you cut your Dad off and it doesn't sound like that is something you want to do.

Personally, I'd just invite your Dad and SM for breakfast again next year, no provisos.  I would go ahead and make everything I'd planned on making and then add a few items for SM - the fruit salad was a good idea.  I'd put the hot sauce on the table and try to suss out another dish she might like and make that, too.

I can understand why you are miffed but I think some of the history is making this feel like a bigger issue than it really is.  With the exception of getting up to get the hot sauce, I think she was trying to be polite by taking a little of everything.  It was your Dad who put her on the spot and she didn't react as well as she could have.
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camlan

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2012, 02:05:24 PM »
If you invite your dad to Christmas breakfast, you have to invite your step-mom as well. They are a social unit and as such, need to be invited together.

Now, the eggs and hot sauce--I know a lot of people who will only eat their scrambled eggs with ketchup. It's not a comment on the way they are cooked; it's just that for them, scrambled eggs need ketchup, the way some people want ketchup with their fries. So I'd give SM a pass on this--although she should have asked, instead of getting the hot sauce herself. Or did she bring the hot sauce there that morning, just for the eggs? I'm a bit confused on that point.

As for the pancakes, well, she tried to give a neutral comment and it failed. She may not have meant it the way you took the comment.

What about the rest of the food? Did she eat any of it?

Now, this is the SM who cancelled her plans to be with her own family on Christmas morning to be with you and your brothers, correct? So she gave up her own Christmas morning traditions so that your family could keep your tradition.

I don't see this SM as being rude. She cancelled her plans when she realized how important this breakfast was to you. I think she's trying to get along with her new family. If you nitpick every single thing she does--you noticed that she only took a small amount of each dish, for example--you will find much to find fault with. But really, if I were faced with an entire meal of unfamiliar dishes, I'd only take a small serving of each, until I knew which ones I liked.

My advice, which is worth exactly what you are paying for it, is to cut your new SM some slack. I think she's trying to get along with all of you. She's going to make some mistakes along the way. So, most likely, will you, and your brothers.

For your next Christmas breakfast, your dad and SM might not even be there--they may decide to alternate Christmas morning between his family and hers. Or, if they are joining you, why not ask her to bring one of her family's traditional Christmas breakfast dishes? That will make sure that there's something she'll enjoy, and your family can start to learn about her traditions.
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TheVapors

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2012, 02:19:05 PM »
I feel after reading this that you were being a bit oversensitive.

Your SM is at least making the attempt to spend time with her husband's family. She's probably not perfect, but it's clear that there's still resentment on your part about this relationship, and that it's coloring your view of this encounter.

I know some people that LOVE hot sauce on their eggs. To me it just wouldn't be odd for someone to grab hot sauce and put them on their eggs, whether I had it out or not. I wouldn't be insulted. I wouldn't take it personally. I wouldn't expect them to taste it first. I love ketchup on my eggs. No one should take it personally that I like ketchup on my eggs. It's just the way I'm used to eating them.

From your own words she attempted to take some things on her plate. Whether it was purely to be polite, we'll never know. Maybe she thinks those foods are perfectly tasty, but just doesn't eat as much of them as does your family.

SM was then pressed for her thoughts on a dish that was given GLOWING reviews by the asker (your father). It was bound to be an awkward situation if she didn't like them as much. She tried to give a neutral answer. It wasn't an insult.

(As a side note - I remember some stories about people giving a compliment over horrible tasting food, and the host/hostess then continuing to make the horrible tasting food every time those guests visited purely because of the compliment! This is not related to the OP's story, it just reminded me.)

Overall, I don't think putting hot sauce on eggs, and saying "They're okay, I guess." is really worthy of any place in EHell. 

The SM deserves a sticker for at least trying to build a bridge on a holiday by spending time with her husband's family. Give her credit for showing up, and let it pass. Make the foods you'd normally make next year when you invite them both.

Also, it's not necessary, but if you want to make her feel included you could ask her for a recipe of something she normally eats those days, then attempt to include one dish you know she'd enjoy. You'd be inviting her, and broadening the palates of those at the table. Again, not absolutely necessary, but it'd be a sweet gesture.





« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 02:21:08 PM by TheVapors »

RingTailedLemur

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2012, 02:20:05 PM »
it came off to me as if "she would have liked them if they had been prepared better."

bc everyone knows what the silence means.



These two bits in particular leapt out at me.  I'm sorry, but I really do think you are reading too much into this.  Yes, she should have found something nice to say - but you are taking her non-committal approach as a direct insult to your cooking when she didn't insult it at all.  She may have thought exactly what you infer, but she may not.  Why not give her the benefit of the doubt?  I say that as a fan of the Thumper Rule!

She may have been wrong-footed by your menu as much as you might be by one of hers.  I had to look up a couple of the things you mentioned as I didn't know what they were.  Could it just be a cultural difference?

I think you are being a little thin-skinned and wonder if perhaps this is all just part of the adjustment of having this new lady in your family.

Deetee

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2012, 02:27:06 PM »
You asked and I will answer.

Yes, you are being way oversensitive. She added hot sauce to eggs and made one comment (when asked) about the pancakes. This is not something to start WW2 over.

Obviously there is a LOT of background, but you sound raring for a fight/looking for offense with this woman. (Just the level of emotion associated with hoy sauce and eggs was weird to read. Also, you aren't being amazingly gracious and welcoming by inviting her to breakfast. That is the bare minimum of civility that is accorded to a married couple. You invite them both. It's good that you invited her, but it's not above and beyond)

edit: I just reread my post and it coming a lot harsher than I was thinking in my mind. I was just trying to get across that married couples are always invited together and so any invite to a family event will include your dad and his wife. You can still invite just your dad for coffee or somesuch. Basically, it is gracious to invite to invite her, but you also had to invite her.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 02:38:53 PM by Deetee »

Surianne

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2012, 02:29:46 PM »
To me it sounds like she was making a good effort to be polite, taking bits of all the food, eating what she could.  She got caught off-guard by your Dad's question, and he really put her on the spot, so I wouldn't be angry with her for not being able to think fast on her feet.  She didn't actually say anything bad about your food, and it sounds to me like she was trying. 

I do think you're overreacting quite a bit here because of your dislike for the woman in the past.  I would try not too read too much into silences and slightly awkward comments, since she's your Dad's wife and she wasn't actually rude to you in any way that I can see.   Try not to look so hard for offence. 

For next year, if you don't want anyone there who doesn't enjoy the breakfast, unfortunately you'll have to leave your dad out too.  There's no way you can politely invite him but leave his wife out when she hasn't done anything horrible to warrant the extreme offense that would cause. 

If you still want your Dad to come, and decide it's worth inviting his wife too, why not ask her if she'd like to contribute a dish to the breakfast, and share some food from her own culture?  Then she'd have something to fill up on, and everyone would get a chance to try her food in addition to yours.  It might make everything a bit less awkward.  Even if she chooses not to contribute, she'll know that you were welcoming and want to give her a chance.

WillyNilly

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2012, 02:33:39 PM »
I think your attitude is actually very nasty.  If your dad is invited, his wife is invited.  Full stop.  No "oh you can come dad but if your wife won't eat my food she should stay home".  If you can't invite a married couple with an open heart you should pass the torch on hosting the family meal.

Second if there wasn't already hot sauce in the eggs... well that's simply how many people eat eggs.  like of like putting mayo on a sandwich or ketchup on fries.  Yes she should have tasted them first because some people add the hot sauce to the raw eggs before cooking them (such as in scrambled eggs or omelets) but its not in the least bit rude to put hot sauce on eggs, especially when someone who prefers spicy food is served a very mild meal.

Third, I think you should give this woman some credit.  You say she tried every dish and didn't complain or make any negative comments.  Yes she gave a neutral, perhaps telling, comment but only after being put on the spot (he didn't for example ask a broad question "is everything ok?" or "enjoying your meal?" she was asked very specifically what "she [thought] of the cottage cheese pancakes").

strangetimes

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 02:42:31 PM »
To me it sounds like she was making a good effort to be polite, taking bits of all the food, eating what she could.  She got caught off-guard by your Dad's question, and he really put her on the spot, so I wouldn't be angry with her for not being able to think fast on her feet.  She didn't actually say anything bad about your food, and it sounds to me like she was trying. 

I do think you're overreacting quite a bit here because of your dislike for the woman in the past.  I would try not too read too much into silences and slightly awkward comments, since she's your Dad's wife and she wasn't actually rude to you in any way that I can see.   Try not to look so hard for offence. 

For next year, if you don't want anyone there who doesn't enjoy the breakfast, unfortunately you'll have to leave your dad out too.  There's no way you can politely invite him but leave his wife out when she hasn't done anything horrible to warrant the extreme offense that would cause. 

If you still want your Dad to come, and decide it's worth inviting his wife too, why not ask her if she'd like to contribute a dish to the breakfast, and share some food from her own culture?  Then she'd have something to fill up on, and everyone would get a chance to try her food in addition to yours.  It might make everything a bit less awkward.  Even if she chooses not to contribute, she'll know that you were welcoming and want to give her a chance.

This.

OP, you are very particular food yourself- maybe put yourself in the position of your new step-mother, who has been begrudgingly invited along to her husband's family and there isn't anything there you can eat. She tried to be polite by taking a bit of everything, but asking her how she likes a specific food item that you're already sure she doesn't like is going to put her on the spot. (OP, I know you didn't ask the question, I'm just pointing out that she was in a very tough spot.

shhh its me

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2012, 02:49:51 PM »
    Your father put her in an awkward situation , she had seconds to come up with a reply, it wasn't an insult it was a non compliment. Bringing her own hot sauce was rude BUT using these 2 minnor offense a basis not to invite your fathers wife to Christmas breakfeast is a wild OTT reaction.

You said you went to emergency counseling and the result was your father would be  more considerate and you would be civil.  I am concluding that means you were uncivil  even rude in the past? Does that also mean only your father was inconsiderate or was she also uncivil without being provoked?  and would I be correct in assuming that emergency counseling means it was serious and possible multiple instances of incivility? What I'm hearing and this is your side of the story is ..............I have been rude to my stepmother in the past , I invited her to a family event to patch things up and when directly asked she did not compliment my cooking, "That is it no more Christmas for her." It sound like you're looking for offense and from a person who you have hurt , treated rudely and you may have even right to be angry and resentful of you, you may be in the postion were it's you that needs to earn forgiveness.   From your post it doesn't sound like she acted angry or resentful at worst she was a little rude to bring the sauce and even that is only under strict etiquette , bringing a favorite condiment/side dish/dessert to a close family function isn't  that unusual and could even be interpreted as friendly.  An olive branch so easily retracted isn't really an olive branch and if my step daughters were to say " oh she doesn't need to come to Christmas breakfeast" (even if to my husband) that I would find deeply hurtful and offensive.

cicero

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2012, 02:52:35 PM »
I have to agree with others here. It sounds like everyone was making an effort here which is a wonderful thing.

you need to take a step back and think about this. think about what you want from this. do you want to have a relationship with your father ? well, then that includes *yoru father and his wife*. and she has different food taste than you do.

Next year? make a few things that she likes. make a few things that you like. there is nothing wrong with that. make *your* menu and add two or three dishes that she likes. buy the hot sauce that she likes and put it out in a pretty bowl. it will make her feel included. and then - stop looking at her plate. she is eating what she wants to eat.


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UpdatedName

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2012, 02:55:42 PM »
I agree that you're being too sensitive, and also wonder about the idea that "the whole point" of your Christmas breakfast is the food. Surely the whole point is the people you're making the food for?

UpdatedName

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2012, 03:05:03 PM »
Also, it doesn't sound like she's a picky eater. Everything you made, with the exception of scrambled eggs and biscuits, has a mushy texture. Ergo, if she doesn't like mushy (and I know I personally can't stand it), there wouldn't be much there for her, even if she eats a wide range of other foods.

NyaChan

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Re: What about next year/next party (dealing w/ picky eater)(warning long)
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2012, 03:33:48 PM »
I think that you may have already been on edge the morning of the breakfast from the stress of having Smom over and having had to ask your dad to change his plans rather than him keeping to your tradition.  It is understandable that under that stress you may have been a little oversensitive to everything that was going on around you - I'm not saying that you were looking for things to get upset about, but I am saying that you didn't give the more charitable explanations for little behaviors a chance before taking it negatively.

The hot sauce - well, as others have said, for her hot sauce may very well be what she eats on eggs all the time & I don't see it any different than her adding more salt - everybody has a different palate.  I eat very very spicy food.  When I eat eggs that just have a little salt & pepper, I can tell just by looking that it isn't flavored enough for my taste and if I eat it without any condiment, it tastes like nothing to me.  I have a friend that eats everything savory with ketchup, like I mean EVERYTHING.  I don't take insult to him putting ketchup in the food that I make, because I know to him it doesn't taste good without it.  The whole point in my cooking is to make it enjoyable for the people who are eating so I keep a ketchup bottle out for him whenever he comes over so that he doesn't have to ask & feel uncomfortable.  So, no I don't think it is rude for her to go get the bottle of hot sauce she specifically brought over for her use.

ok I guess comment on cooking- I'll concede that this was not the best choice of words.  But who can honestly say that they say the best possible thing in stressful situations?  Put on the spot like that, she said what came to mind and even if it was deliberate, it still isn't really rude.  I'd give her a pass.  She gave up the tradition she normally has so that you could keep yours, and as a result she spent her Xmas morning in a stressful situation eating foods she doesn't particularly like with people who don't seem to like her very much.



« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 03:36:57 PM by NyaChan »