On Declining Food That Makes You Gag

Saturday, April 28, 2007

When I was in high school my friend Chloe invited me over to her place for dinner with her family. She had asked me the night before what I didn't eat. I told her that raw tomatoes, cauliflower, and steamed asparagus had a similar effect on me as a chainsaw driven through my chest cavity; I would probably die. (Nowadays I like cauliflower and asparagus if lightly steamed. I was 16 back then, what do you want from me?)

The next night, I went to her house and was welcomed by Chloe and her parents (who are both English chefs). Her mother came up to me and informed me of the menu, "Yorkshire pudding, lamb with mint sauce, some home made bread, and this steamed cauliflower and asparagus dish with tomatoes."

My face went white, and I'm told my smile lost all gusto and energy.

"Just kidding."

I thought I would kill them both. We all had a laugh, and she assured me that none of the offending veggies would be served. I apologized, and explained I was raised better, but the idea of all of them combined on one plate and my forcing myself to eat it was too much me to handle and my brain broke. Seriously, the idea of being assaulted by this gang of produce would cause me to almost vomit on the spot.

So what's the best route to take? We've all experienced this horror. This fear. This knowledge of a forthcoming torture that we MUST endure for one reason or another. So what do you do when placed in such a situation? Well, here's my advice on the topic:

If the person is a close friend and you just want to make sure the menu is palatable, you might want to make a small reminder of your likes and dislikes.

If you are asked by the host about your culinary aversions, feel free to tell them how you feel, just make sure you don't say "I hate all veggies." Something like that creates an awkward situation for the host as you've probably limited most of the menu they had planned.

Always feel free to send a heads-up about allergies. That's not being picky, that's staying out of a hospital bed.

If you've been offered something you don't like on the plate you're given, at least take a few bites. Don't be a wuss, just do it.

Don't hide your veggies in your napkin or glass of milk. My mom usually caught me.

If it's something you simply cannot digest and will vomit if you take another sacrificial bite, then just avoid it. You may want to tell the host after the table is cleared that it wasn't anything personal and you just have never enjoyed that dish. As long as you tried it the host will most likely understand.

Never note your displeasure of a dish at the table.

If it's more of a serve yourself style meal, simply avoid what you don't like, but don't horde all the stuff you do like to make up for it as others have to be able to get some as well.

Keep in mind, that someone went out of their way to prepare a meal for you. How would you feel if in their position and someone stated they would prefer not to eat what you slaved over? Just take a moment to show your appreciation and politely decline. That or slip it to the dog when no one's looking.


  1. some good advice there...but I am guilty of slipping things in my napkin- when no one's looking, of course!

    :) Cute Post though!

  2. Nicely said, G! Stating your perferences beforehand makes less stress for everyone involved.

  3. I grew up with the concept of a "no thank you" portion. Very often these days, meals at a friends place are serve your own portion. Taking a small serving on your plate seems less awkward than having none?

    I just finished watching the 7-up documentary series. i couldn't help but think of the excuse given by 7 year old Paul on why he didn't want to get married: I don't like greens... and say she makes greens? But I don't like greens...

    It's so funny watching the emotions play over his face as he equates being married with lack of control over food intake. Is an internal conversation that amazes me still.

  4. That is wonderful advice. I'm quite the picky eater and I've had a hard time trying to figure out a way to put it tactfully, but most of the time I try a food I may not like anyhow.

  5. Margaret Thatcher was definitely not a legendary humorist, but there's one story about her which made me smile.

    She was guest of honor at a children's Christmas party and came upon a small boy crying over his dessert. He said to her, "They've given me blancmange, and I don't like blancmange".

    Her response: "That is what parties are all about - eating food you don't like."

  6. I notice that if I don't take any (family service style) and RAVE about the rest, the hostess doesn't even notice that I didn't touch the offender.

    I'm also one who hates most veggies, so I offer to bring the veggie dish to ensure it's something I like.

  7. Love your advice and I feel your pain.

    When I was around 10 my close friends parent's owned a chinese restaurant and had me over for dinner. They served squid, octotopus and a few other frightening things. I ate the largest bowl of white rice and water.


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