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School me on etiquette for dinner guests.... - Page 4

post #61 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

OP, are you feeling pressured by your MIL to have every dish on the table be to her specifications? I think that if there are 2 or 3 things she'll eat, or that can be served separately (sauce on the side or whatever) so that she can eat it, then you're well within your rights to also serve other, more flavorful dishes. I mean, you should also be catering to the dietary whims of the other several people at the table, right? wink1.gif I'm getting the impression that your MIL would be upset if even one dish of several contained ingredients she doesn't like -- is that accurate, or would she happily eat her poached chicken and mashed potatoes and just leave the flavorful dish alone? 



Mostly pressured by the rest of the family and the way things have always been done when she is around. She wants a  fruit medley (no dressing, no big deal) and a green salad, which means iceberg basically maybe a cucumber ( no dressing or crunchy things again so we just add ours) a hunka plain meat (which dh won't eat as he is veg- we normally don't have any meat in the house tho I am not veg) and an overcooked vegetable with no seasoning whatsoever. If she doesn't get her food groups she will send FIL to the store before dinner, so I try to do that each time. She could ignore other dishes, I've just never had the balls to try it. I am just wanting not to have to cook separate meals for everyone. I know DH could be considered picky, but it's our home and we don't cook with meat. So that 's a huge compromise right there. DH will even grill meat for her to make her happy and that makes me sad. I may just ask MIL and DH to duke it out.

 

post #62 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4myfinn View Post



 

I agree.  She's a guest in your home.  You should cook what she can eat.  

 

I can't eat many foods because of DS's food allergies/sensitivities (I'm still bfing).  When you are a guest in someone's home and you are hungry but cannot eat the food everyone else is eating, it just sucks- there's no other way to put it.  I'm not normally picky, but I've realized that my son's health issues are greatly influenced by diet, and so I'm willing to make certain sacrifices.  My family thinks I'm crazy though and says I should just wean him so I can eat what I want.

 

About a month ago we were invited over to a friend's house for a get-together.  My friend told me what was on the menu ahead of time, just to make sure I could eat the food and not have to bring my own.  Everything sounded fine.  However, when I got there she had "forgotten" and put feta cheese and bread crumbs in the burger, sprinkled and melted cheese all over the sweet potatoes, and tossed a dressing into the salad that I couldn't eat.  I ended up eating the veggies and hummus that I brought for an appetizer and a few bites of DS's food.  Of course I said, "Oh, don't worry about it!  I promise, I'm fine just eating some of DS's food.  Don't worry about me!" But it leaves you feeling really, really terrible.  You feel bad for having to be picky and even worse for realizing that your friend doesn't think enough of you to realize you can't eat a single thing she's prepared.

 

I realize that the OP's situation is a little different.  Her MIL is just picky (although, sometimes aversions to certain foods can be the sign of an allergy).  Who knows why she does it.  Control?  Anxiety?  Sensory issues? Just for the fun of it?  I say, OP, that you just deal with it.  Is it really that big of a sacrifice for a week?



Well I sorta believe she "can" eat anything, just won't. Your situation is a fact, it's not in your head, there are allergies involved and if I invited you I would feed you appropriately. One night, no problem.

 

But would you go to a party early and make sure the host is preparing food just for you? There are other people here who also want to enjoy their meals. So far I have endlessly catered to MIL and now I'm thinking I may not quite so much. She won't go hungry... I'm not that rude. But it would be nice to have a main dish others enjoy once in a while.

 

 

post #63 of 82

eh buzzer beater I am with you...today I spent literally 5 hours so far playing with DD and cooking, basically my entire day..if dh came home and didn't like what I've been working on since yesterday well he can make himself something, although he happens to like what I've been working..

 

People here act like making a whole other bunch of food for someone who is just picky and eats frankly what sounds fairly grossly is no big deal...but someone has to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking it all and in my house that means everything from scratch..it is not easy it is not quick and I have a toddler who is clinging to me constantly...so if it was me and my family, they could eat what I busted my butt to make or they could get themselves something.. I don't think it's rude if they don't want to eat my food but don't expect me to do backflips to make sure the pickiest of eaters isn't offended by my cooking..


Honestly in my family, and people can think this is wrong or not, we were raised to appreciate and be thankful for anyone who cooked for us regardless of whether or not we liked what they made. It was so incredibly rude to actually complain about the food being served to you.

 

I don't mind cooking to people's tastes, I really don't but this whole you have to cater to this woman because it is polite is just blowing my mind...How about you cook for "the family" as a group and if an individual is going to be super picky and complain they make their own food or just deal with it.

Then again I have been referred to as a "kitchen nazi" by DH more than once so I'm not incredibly interested in people's pretend allergies or inability to appreciate the massive time and effort I tend to put into my cooking...As I sit here thinking about the stock I have been simmering for almost 24 hours...Only needs 12 more hours!

post #64 of 82

I think you'll be happier if you stop worrying about what she will and won't eat.  Make a good attempt of having at least one thing that she can/will eat--but once you do that, keep your brains/emotions out of her mouth.  It's not on you (nor your business) what she eats out of the offering.  Detaching from the power struggle will benefit you greatly.

 

I'm sure you know that extremely controlling people (esp. when it veers into something like genuine hoarding) are *traumatized* people.  You may never know why, your DH may never know why, so it's easy to blow it off and say, "well, she's just a b***" but maybe keeping that in mind will help you relax the impulse to engage in the power struggle.  My mother is very much this way.  It's not easy to deal with her, and I screw up all the time;  but I've found the more I am able to detach and not engage in the turf war the happier I am (she thrives and loves for there to be drama, so when I get upset I'm only feeding her illness while bleeding out my strength/happiness).  You're not dealing with a rational person here;  and if she never eats anything other than chicken and greenbeans boiled to army-fatigue green dullness, what's that to you, truly?

 

 

post #65 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzer Beater View Post

She wants a  fruit medley (no dressing, no big deal) and a green salad, which means iceberg basically maybe a cucumber ( no dressing or crunchy things again so we just add ours) a hunka plain meat (which dh won't eat as he is veg- we normally don't have any meat in the house tho I am not veg) and an overcooked vegetable with no seasoning whatsoever.


Hmmm. I think I would cook 1 chicken breast (poaching is super easy, doesn't need tending to, and is just bland enough to be right up her alley), microwave 1 portion of broccoli so it's nice and overdone (i.e., to her liking), the fruit salad, a delicious green salad with tons of crunchy bits in it ("Oh MIL, your iceberg and cucumber is in the fridge -- would you like to chop it up while I get this salad ready?"), and a fabulous vegetarian pasta dish with tons of and yummy bits and pieces in it. 

 

Overall she sounds freakishly controlling (specifying who should cook which dish in her already super rude and controlling pre-thanksgiving note??) -- I'm sorry you have to deal with that. 

post #66 of 82
The more I hear about your MIL, the less I understand... I cannot fathom someone being like that. It sounds tough to be her, and tough to be around her. Good luck. redface.gif
post #67 of 82

I have to agree with those who say to have one thing on the table that she'll eat and don't worry about beyond that. Trying to control the entire meal that everybody else is also eating goes way beyond picky, imo. I'm picky. I've always been picky. (I have a lot of emotional stuff about food, and it took me a long, long, long time (mid 30s) to even start pushing my comfort zone on dietary issues. Some of the comments here about picky eaters are really hurtful, to be honest. Yes - maybe it is about control (maybe not), but not in the way people seem to be implying. My pickiness has/had nothing to do with anybody else, and I generally just avoided social occasions that centered around food. They still make me really, really uncomfortable, and I hate bringing anything to a potluck or anything like that.) I've known other picky people. The OP's MIL goes way, way beyond picky. This behaviour would drive me crazy.

post #68 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post

In some cultures it is considered rude not to eat at least a token amount of every dish on the table. In some a host is considered rude if they don't encourage a guest repeatedly to have some of this or that until the guest exclaims they're quite full and couldnt possibly eat more. So much of all our attitudes around food are cultural, and you need to accept your host where they're coming from. If all you said was no thank you, some cultures will hear "not this moment", and will keep offering. And honestly, if i saw you only eating one dish from my meal and you didnt give me a reason when i continued to press, what am i supposed to think?


I don't know where the OP lives, but for some reason I doubt she is from one of those cultures. When I asked how to politely decline food, I sort of expected the answer to be relevant.

 

If you saw me eating one dish from your meal, I would expect that you'd treat me as an adult who knows what she prefers to eat. Pressing and/or grilling someone to eat something is just another form of controlling behavior. I thought controlling behavior regarding food is what we were trying to avoid here...???

 

post #69 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post

If you don't care where someone else is coming from, then why should they care where you're coming from? Relationships are a 2-way street, and they require communication and tolerance. If you have neither to offer, maybe you should just eat at home.


The people I've had push me to eat more and try their food when I clearly said no thank you have not been from other cultures. They do come from a "you should eat what's in front of you" household but I was raised in one of those households too and I still think it's rude.

post #70 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post




I don't know where the OP lives, but for some reason I doubt she is from one of those cultures. When I asked how to politely decline food, I sort of expected the answer to be relevant.

 

If you saw me eating one dish from your meal, I would expect that you'd treat me as an adult who knows what she prefers to eat. Pressing and/or grilling someone to eat something is just another form of controlling behavior. I thought controlling behavior regarding food is what we were trying to avoid here...???

 


Last I checked the US was considered a melting pot for a reason. You may be 3rd generation American, I have no way of knowing that. Just like you have no way of knowing that I'm first generation American on one side and Native on the other. You can't tell that by looking at me. Growing up, we were influenced by both. Unless you know your host's family background and food culture, you are merely assuming that the answer isn't relevant. Culture doesnt abide by lines on a map. As people move, they take their culture with them and pass it down to their children.

And like I said, in some cultures, not pressing someone to eat more is considered rude. It's not about control. They're not shoving food in your mouth, they're not saying you can't leave the table until you clean your plate. They're encouraging you to eat the food they have prepared you. If you don't care to employ tact and honesty to let them politely know that the food is not to your taste (even if it should risk offending them), then you need to accept that they're gonna encourage you to step outside your boundaries. From their perspective, it may just look like the food is outside your comfort zone, and they're trying to be good hosts and make sure you're fed. And maybe that's a special dish that they only make for guests because it's expensive or time consuming or it's great-aunt Mildred's secret recipe. You don't know. You seem to be ascribing horrible intentions to this. And yet you could most likely stop the behavior by saying "thank you, but i really don't care for mushrooms". If after you've said that they continue to press their special mushroom dish on you, then it becomes rude.

Of course, that could most likely be avoided by telling your hosts when you accept the invitation that you don't care for mushrooms. That gives them the opportunity to either rescind the invitation if they had been planning a mushroom-fest or alter their menu.
post #71 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Mko View Post




The people I've had push me to eat more and try their food when I clearly said no thank you have not been from other cultures. They do come from a "you should eat what's in front of you" household but I was raised in one of those households too and I still think it's rude.


That is a culture in and of itself. Just because they may be born and bred American doesnt mean a darned thing when it comes to culture. If it did we'd be one giant homogenous nation.

And like i said, your choices are tell them beforehand you don't eat XYZ, tell them at the table, put up w the food pushing or eat at home.

You seem to be fixated on the perspective of the guest and not giving any consideration to the perspective of the host. Let me give you a glimpse.

Someone has done you the kindness of inviting you to share in their food. They've gone to the (possibly great) effort of planning, shopping and preparing this food for you. And you are ungrateful enough to not only not be honest with them but then ascribe mean intentions to their attempts to be good hosts. A good host does not allow their guest to go hungry. A good host shows concern when the food is not being eaten. A good host wants interaction w their guest, whether that's "I don't care for mushrooms" or "it's a bit spicy for me". Any issue you may have w the food can be handled w tact and appreciation if you care to try. If you're not interested in being a good and considerate guest, stay home.

I start planning dinner "parties" before I ever issue an invitation. Thinking about timing, what's in season, what I know about the guest's preferences, what i've fed them in the past. If something has changed since the last time (one friend has gone paleo, one has gone vegan, etc), your chance to inform me of that is when you accept the invite. If you don't, i'm going off old knowledge and may not pick the right meal. If i serve my paleo friend an Indian feast heavy on the rice and legumes, and he doesn't touch half the dishes on the table, i'm sitting there wondering why that is. Is it too spicy? Does he not like tomatoes? I'm going over all the things i know about him in my head, stressing, rather than participating and enjoying the experience. If I offer him the rice a second time and all he says is no, i have no more information than i did before. And I will sit there and stress that i'm being a bad host. If instead he says "thank you, but i'm not eating grains", then i know what the problem is. And i can load up my plate w rice and leave more of the meat dish for him to eat. And that way I feel like I've served the needs of my guest.

And sometimes guests have different needs. DS's Poppa doesnt eat veggies. But Nana does, as do DH and I. So when they come over, i dont make mixed dishes in deference to his preferences. But I still offer the veg to him, on the off-chance that I found the one veg dish that intrigues him or he's in a mood to be adventurous. It has yet to happen, but I still try. But because I know he doesn't like them, i'm not offended when he turns them down... I ultimately didnt make them for him.

Now, if you're incapable of taking all of that into consideration when you're a guest in someone else's house, then you should probably decline future dinner invitations.

Oh, and all of that is coming from the perspective that your host cares (or else why would they be pushing the food). Not like the poster whose MIL knows she doesnt eat meat and still puts it in every dish.
post #72 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzer Beater View Post If she doesn't get her food groups she will send FIL to the store before dinner

 

shrug.gif well, that solves the problem doesn't it? I would sort of try to cook something she will eat, but I wouldn't bend over backwards. Also, I wouldn't be above just buying a bag of frozen veggies and microwaving a portion of them for her every night. 

 

No way would I cut her up a fruit salad every night, she can do that herself, but I wouldn't mind buying the fruit she likes. Just buy a bag of shredded iceberg and presto! you have her salad for the week too. 

 

post #73 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Mko View Post

The people I've had push me to eat more and try their food when I clearly said no thank you have not been from other cultures. They do come from a "you should eat what's in front of you" household but I was raised in one of those households too and I still think it's rude.

That is a culture in and of itself. Just because they may be born and bred American doesnt mean a darned thing when it comes to culture. If it did we'd be one giant homogenous nation.

And like i said, your choices are tell them beforehand you don't eat XYZ, tell them at the table, put up w the food pushing or eat at home.

You seem to be fixated on the perspective of the guest and not giving any consideration to the perspective of the host. Let me give you a glimpse.

Someone has done you the kindness of inviting you to share in their food. They've gone to the (possibly great) effort of planning, shopping and preparing this food for you. And you are ungrateful enough to not only not be honest with them but then ascribe mean intentions to their attempts to be good hosts. A good host does not allow their guest to go hungry. A good host shows concern when the food is not being eaten. A good host wants interaction w their guest, whether that's "I don't care for mushrooms" or "it's a bit spicy for me". Any issue you may have w the food can be handled w tact and appreciation if you care to try. If you're not interested in being a good and considerate guest, stay home.

I start planning dinner "parties" before I ever issue an invitation. Thinking about timing, what's in season, what I know about the guest's preferences, what i've fed them in the past. If something has changed since the last time (one friend has gone paleo, one has gone vegan, etc), your chance to inform me of that is when you accept the invite. If you don't, i'm going off old knowledge and may not pick the right meal. If i serve my paleo friend an Indian feast heavy on the rice and legumes, and he doesn't touch half the dishes on the table, i'm sitting there wondering why that is. Is it too spicy? Does he not like tomatoes? I'm going over all the things i know about him in my head, stressing, rather than participating and enjoying the experience. If I offer him the rice a second time and all he says is no, i have no more information than i did before. And I will sit there and stress that i'm being a bad host. If instead he says "thank you, but i'm not eating grains", then i know what the problem is. And i can load up my plate w rice and leave more of the meat dish for him to eat. And that way I feel like I've served the needs of my guest.

And sometimes guests have different needs. DS's Poppa doesnt eat veggies. But Nana does, as do DH and I. So when they come over, i dont make mixed dishes in deference to his preferences. But I still offer the veg to him, on the off-chance that I found the one veg dish that intrigues him or he's in a mood to be adventurous. It has yet to happen, but I still try. But because I know he doesn't like them, i'm not offended when he turns them down... I ultimately didnt make them for him.

Now, if you're incapable of taking all of that into consideration when you're a guest in someone else's house, then you should probably decline future dinner invitations.

Oh, and all of that is coming from the perspective that your host cares (or else why would they be pushing the food). Not like the poster whose MIL knows she doesnt eat meat and still puts it in every dish.


Yeah I'm coming from the perspective that a lot of hosts don't care. My experience has been that people keep pushing even after I tell them why I'm not eating the food. They know my preferences, they knew I was vegetarian. They didn't care. They even lied to me about the food having meat in it.

 

I have been a hostess and I do ask people what they would like to eat. I offer and if they decline, I am fine with that. I do not try to push people to eat food. If they don't eat what I've offered, they are free to make themselves at home in my kitchen and I will tell them that. I don't worry about how much people are eating or if they've tried things I prepared. If they don't want to eat it, I am not at all offended.

 

I still maintain that it's rude to try to get me to eat when I politely have declined.

 

I'm also teaching my children that it is perfectly acceptable to politely decline food. "No thank you." I believe in listening to our bodies and if you don't like something, you don't have to eat it.

 

post #74 of 82

This thread has got me pondering.

 

I don't like seafood. Fish, yes, but nothing more exotic - shellfish, octopus, crab, lobster, all those sorts of things really creep me out. I might like the taste if I could bring myself to try them, but I can't - too squeamish. The thought of putting a prawn or oyster in my mouth just gives me the heeby-jeebies - and I don't even like sitting next to someone who's ordered a pasta dish with baby octopus. Too many legs. It's a thing.

 

If I were invited to dinner and someone asked about my dietary preferences, I'd probably say I didn't have any: as in, we're not GF or DF or vegetarian or anything particularly unusual. I really can't stand raw tomatoes, but if someone serves a salad I can generally manoeuvre round them without difficulty (or feed them to DD). It wouldn't really occur to me to say "Please don't make anything squiddy or prawny", but if someone did serve me up a dish with little octopi in it - I'm sorry, but I just don't think I could bring myself to eat them. I'd gag. Which is presumably also an etiquette gaffe. :p

 

So what's one to do? List all one's dislikes, no matter how unlikely they are to appear on the menu? (Nobody ever has tried to serve me octopi - round here most hosts go for safe bets like chicken or red meat. Well, safe if you're not vegetarian, obviously!) As a host, I try to go for fairly "user-friendly" meals myself. I wouldn't tend to serve guests duck, because until recently I was squeamish about eating duck myself, so I figure it might be out of other people's comfort zone. (Plus, I still haven't quite mastered duck yet...) Similarly, eggplant and lentils - I just know way too many people who don't like 'em. So most of our guest meals are chicken-based. Would you say it's part of being a good host to serve fairly "neutral" food that most people like? I think I would... I know if I plan to cook curry I'll always check, because a lot of people don't like spicy food. And I once served a guest a muffin made with duck eggs - it never even occurred to me that she'd have a problem with it, but I mentioned the duck eggs when she was halfway through a bite and she turned white and spat it out! So, lesson learned!

 

Quote:
They even lied to me about the food having meat in it.

Now, that is incredibly rude and obnoxious.

post #75 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

If I were invited to dinner and someone asked about my dietary preferences, I'd probably say I didn't have any:

No, you say "I don't eat seafood". Problem solved!
post #76 of 82

Well, yeah, I suppose that would work. :p It's never occurred to me in the past, though, simply because people don't tend to serve it. Seems a bit like saying "I don't eat ostrich" or "I don't eat liver" - both of which are true, for similar reasons of squeam, but it's never really come up. How esoteric should one go? "I don't eat huhu grubs"?

 

Not trying to be argumentative, I'm just curious. I suppose it's culture-dependent... if I lived in an area famous for its clam chowder, it might be wise to mention the seafood thing. (Well, technically NZ is famous for its seafood, but it mostly appears in restaurants... I don't know anyone who cooks shellfish or lobster, like, ever.)

 

Interesting topic...

post #77 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post




I don't know where the OP lives, but for some reason I doubt she is from one of those cultures. When I asked how to politely decline food, I sort of expected the answer to be relevant.

 

If you saw me eating one dish from your meal, I would expect that you'd treat me as an adult who knows what she prefers to eat. Pressing and/or grilling someone to eat something is just another form of controlling behavior. I thought controlling behavior regarding food is what we were trying to avoid here...???

 




Last I checked the US was considered a melting pot for a reason. You may be 3rd generation American, I have no way of knowing that. Just like you have no way of knowing that I'm first generation American on one side and Native on the other. You can't tell that by looking at me. Growing up, we were influenced by both. Unless you know your host's family background and food culture, you are merely assuming that the answer isn't relevant. Culture doesnt abide by lines on a map. As people move, they take their culture with them and pass it down to their children.
 

 

I grew up in Hawaii, was raised in a bi-cultural household, and spent over 20 years either in or around the military, so I think I know a little bit about melting pots and culture, thanks.

 

I can't imagine being invited to someone's house for dinner and not knowing what culture they come from. Strangers don't normally invite me to dinner. Maybe I'm an anomaly.

post #78 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post



 

I grew up in Hawaii, was raised in a bi-cultural household, and spent over 20 years either in or around the military, so I think I know a little bit about melting pots and culture, thanks.

 

I can't imagine being invited to someone's house for dinner and not knowing what culture they come from. Strangers don't normally invite me to dinner. Maybe I'm an anomaly.


Please don't go to dinner with Irish people.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVH3IBr_Ipk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOLYYYsFqcI
post #79 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

Well, yeah, I suppose that would work. :p It's never occurred to me in the past, though, simply because people don't tend to serve it. Seems a bit like saying "I don't eat ostrich" or "I don't eat liver" - both of which are true, for similar reasons of squeam, but it's never really come up. How esoteric should one go? "I don't eat huhu grubs"?

 

Not trying to be argumentative, I'm just curious. I suppose it's culture-dependent... if I lived in an area famous for its clam chowder, it might be wise to mention the seafood thing. (Well, technically NZ is famous for its seafood, but it mostly appears in restaurants... I don't know anyone who cooks shellfish or lobster, like, ever.)

 

Interesting topic...


Yeah, I know what you mean. I am vegan & GF but I have allergies to certain fruits & nuts. Mango is a big one, for ex, but how likely is it that a host will cook something that revolves around mango? So I usually don't mention it, but there actually have been one or two occasions where I regretted not mentioning it. But if I listed everything I can't eat, I'm pretty sure the host would freak out!! So I just say vegan/GF and hope nothing else I'm allergic to will be served...

One time someone went out of their way to get me a (frozen) vegan dish but it wasn't gluten-free and I felt so terrible I just ate it. That is NOT a good tactic lol.gif
post #80 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

Well, yeah, I suppose that would work. :p It's never occurred to me in the past, though, simply because people don't tend to serve it. Seems a bit like saying "I don't eat ostrich" or "I don't eat liver" - both of which are true, for similar reasons of squeam, but it's never really come up. How esoteric should one go? "I don't eat huhu grubs"?

 

Not trying to be argumentative, I'm just curious. I suppose it's culture-dependent... if I lived in an area famous for its clam chowder, it might be wise to mention the seafood thing. (Well, technically NZ is famous for its seafood, but it mostly appears in restaurants... I don't know anyone who cooks shellfish or lobster, like, ever.)

 

Interesting topic...

hee=he around here fish is the main dish constantly..something about being 10 feet from the ocean helps..mmm clam chowder! If you came to dinner at my FIL'S and didn't say "I don't do seafood" there is a good chance thats what you'd be served! Just do your hosts a favor and say it when they ask...so much easier for those of us doing the cooking,
 

 

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