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About a week before Thanksgiving I was talking to some people online and one woman said that she hated the holidays, because she didn’t like being obligated to eat things she didn’t like. I asked her why she would ever eat things she didn’t like, and she said that she “had to” because otherwise it would hurt people’s feelings. I’d kind of forgotten about it, then the topic came up in conversation with my family a few days ago.
When the woman online had said what she did, the idea seemed so strange to me. I’ve heard of people getting touchy over such things, but I thought it was just my odd and damaged biological family that thought in these ways, not average people. I asked mom and Eric about it, and they agreed with me: If you don’t like something that’s being served, you don’t eat it. It’s that simple.
Apparently there are people out there who will get offended if you don’t eat something they’re serving. That doesn’t really make sense to me. If someone doesn’t like what you’ve cooked, that doesn’t mean the food isn’t good or that you’re not a good cook, it simply means that the food doesn’t appeal to the particular person who you offered it to. You shouldn’t take offense to that, because it doesn’t mean anything about you or your skill, only the preferences of the person doing the eating. I’m not sure what’s worse in this, the fact that people would take it personally if someone doesn’t like their food, or the fact that people feel forced to consume something they don’t like just to save someone else’s feelings.
When you cook, you need to like what you’ve made. If you like it and you’re happy with your skill and the results that it produced, that’s all that really matters. You can’t reasonably expect everyone you offer the food to to like it. Everyone has different tastes. If you serve your food to people and they all love it, count yourself lucky. Whether people love or hate what you’ve made, it’s not a personal reflection on you. At worst it might mean that you don’t know the tastes of the people you’re serving, but it doesn’t mean you’re not a good cook or that the food isn’t good. Furthermore, you should always want people to be honest with you. If you expect everyone to like your food and they lie to you to save your feelings, all that means is that you’re making them suffer just so you can feel better.
If you’re the one doing the eating, there’s no need to eat things you don’t like. I always encourage people to try everything once, because you never know what you may like. Even if it’s something you don’t usually enjoy, it’s possible that a different preparation may be good. Always try a bit of anything that’s offered to you. That is a polite thing to do, and you should always have good manners, but don’t feel obligated to eat something you’ve tasted before and know you don’t enjoy. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “No thank you, I don’t care for that.” You have the right to refuse things you don’t want. It’s not your fault if that refusal results in someone’s feelings being hurt, so long as you decline in a polite and honest manner.
If someone takes the refusal of their food as an insult, it simply means that they have an issue they need to deal with. Maybe they have a need for approval or maybe they have low self-esteem that they feel is improved through praise. Maybe they’re just overly sensitive for some reason. Now, I’ve heard that some people will make a scene over this issue. If that happens, try to maintain your calm and stand your ground. Remind the person that your individual preferences aren’t a reflection on them. Don’t get angry or insulting toward them. Be kind and just stand by your right to consume or not consume as you see fit. If you get the chance to talk to someone who gets offended by people who won’t eat their food, do so. Be compassionate and see if you can help them overcome whatever issue it is that causes them to behave that way. And on the off chance that they actually are a terrible cook, maybe you can find a way to help them gain more skill in the kitchen.
This also comes down to an issue of honesty. You shouldn’t lie about things, even under the guise of saving someone’s feelings. What if they find out that you’re lying? How much more would that hurt? You’re really only hurting yourself and them by lying. Both parties deserve respect at all times. It’s disrespectful to expect someone to do something they don’t want to do, and it’s disrespectful to lie to people. Lying only perpetuates the problem. You may think that it’s the easiest way out and saves face for everyone involved, but it only causes negative feelings and allows the cycle to continue.