Author Topic: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply  (Read 1451 times)

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turnip

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A friend is coming to visit soon and has generously offered to make whatever dish I'd like for dinner one evening.   It is a very kind offer and I would like to give a gracious and appreciative response....

However while I have enjoyed this friend's cooking, I'll be honest and say that his more elaborate dishes often fall short of the mark. The dishes I like best are pretty simple ones.  Part of me wants to say "Oh, I'd love that pear and walnut salad you do!" but I worry that it looks a little dismissive(?) of his skills?  Like by omission I'm making it clear that I _don't_ like any of his more complicated recipes.

I'd also be happy to say "Oh, how about that wonderful Yorkshire Pudding again!", even knowing that last time the pudding didn't come out that great, just to make him feel appreciated.  But that also feels kind of dishonest and patronizing...

I've even thought of suggesting a recipe, but I have a feeling that could land me in eHell.  Maybe I should just go with "Surprise me! I'm sure I'll love it!"?

I know a lot of hellions are passionate about cooking and entertaining - so what would _you_ want to hear if you offered to cook someone a dinner of their choice? 


lady_disdain

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 05:55:50 PM »
I would like an honest reply, instead of "surprise me". If I wanted to surprise you, I wouldn't have asked. If you really like the pear and walnut salad, say so. You can even add something like "I love how you [insert what you like about it]" or mention how simple dishes can be tricky to balance but he always gets the [ingredient] just right.

Ms_Cellany

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 06:01:39 PM »
I think you're overthinking it. Say enthusiastically what you want (because you DO want it and you ARE enthusiastic).
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TootsNYC

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 06:04:10 PM »
I think you're overthinking it. Say enthusiastically what you want (because you DO want it and you ARE enthusiastic).

I agree with this.

And you can always add that you never think of that salad on your own, etc.

katycoo

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 07:31:13 PM »
Don't hide the dishes you like!  Just say "You know, I know its not as fancy as some of the other things you've made, but that pear and walnut salad was so good it was in my dreams for weeks afterwards.  I'd love you to make that again."

ktanne

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2014, 12:53:55 AM »
I cook for my closest friends a lot.  When I ask them what they want me to cook, I'm asking because I'm tired of always being the one to decide so "surprise me" would put the onus back on me! 

I ask them this question when I'm out of ideas, when I don't have a new recipe to try, when I'm sick of cooking old favourites, and also when I want to do something nice for them.  Whilst they all seem to enjoy the food I cook regularly (and most of them hate cooking themselves), they seem to appreciate the opportunity to "order" their preferred meals from me from time to time.  It makes me feel like I'm doing something nice for them, and it takes the pressure off me to make all the decisions!  My BFF almost always asks me to make a salad and my basic risotto.  I don't feel guilty about how easy the meal is, because I know she loves it - and frankly, I love it because it's less work for me.

I think you should just ask for what you like, no matter how simple you think it is. 

sweetonsno

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 04:05:57 AM »
I want to know what you want. I'm perfectly happy to try something new (provided that it doesn't go against my values or make me itch) as well.

I vote for asking for whatever he's made that you liked best. If you can't come up with anything other than the salad, then think about things he's made that might fare better with different treatment. The tandoori chicken had good texture but tasted dreadful? Ask him to make a plain roast chicken. Gummy risotto? See if he'll make a nice pilaf.

lowspark

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2014, 09:53:15 AM »
If I understand correctly, the friend is coming to visit you and will be cooking in your kitchen, right? I don't think I'd provide a specific recipe, necessarily, but I would definitely choose something very simple for him to cook. Honestly, I'd do that even if he were a fantastic cook because I've had people cook in my kitchen before and they tend to make much bigger messes than I do, or than I suspect, they do in their own kitchens. I don't know why that is but it's definitely been my experience over the years.

Anyway, I'd suggest something like baked chicken or fish, maybe, and then say, "Oh and that pear and walnut salad you do would be fabulous to go with it!"

In addition, I'd feel terribly uncomfortable having someone cook in my kitchen while I sat in the other room doing nothing. He's going to need your help somewhat anyway, if only to figure out where the pans & utensils & spices are, so if it were me, I'd step up as sous-chef. Not that you'd want to take over in any way or even try to guide him, but just to sort of police things in my own kitchen. Maybe to help clean as you go, for example, in order to get the menial tasks done which might otherwise get overlooked.

Mikayla

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Re: "Tell me what you want for dinner!" - how to graciously reply
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2014, 02:31:43 PM »
I  agree with everything lowspark said.  The other issue in using someone else's kitchen is unfamiliarity with the oven, cooktop and even microwave .  I tried helping a friend cook for a party several years ago, and she had a flat top (electric) oven.  This is not the same as gas, where you can just turn off the burner and everything is fine.  No, everything gets burned :)

So a simple entree and that salad you love sounds perfect.