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!
*edited to take out 'picky' since people were picking the use of that word apart...*