As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to devote an entire post to this highest of my pet peeves. And though most of you are probably chuckling to yourselves about the irony of ME being so bothered by picky eaters (ME who hates bread!), you should know that I don’t mean what you think I mean. I’m not talking about people who don’t like mushrooms, or broccoli, or all vegetables for that matter. I couldn’t care less about individual people’s little preferences or tastes. I mean, I’m married to the cheese hater, for crying out loud! I’m used to that.
What bothers me most is the kind of picky eater that can’t tell you what they don’t like. They don’t have a whole list of ingredients you should stay away from. And they don’t react overly poorly to something they don’t really like. But they also don’t react hardly at all when they DO like something. Which is UNNERVING.
To top it off, this kind of picky eater will sometimes even like the same dish that they really didn’t care for the first time around. Like it so much that they profusely praise it, much to your (the cook of said dish) surprise since they didn’t seem too enthused prior. Like it so much that you make an effort to make it again for them. But the third time doesn’t turn out to be a charm. Instead, they’re back to indifference, or worse – they really dislike it & are confused as to why. Did you, the cook, use the same exact ingredients?! Did you add the exact same amount of love or loathe? Did you stand on your head in a jumpsuit & repeat the exact same mantra at the exact same time in the exact same language?! In a nutshell, there is absolutely no earthly reason for the differing reactions. And perhaps they know it themselves but just aren’t willing to admit it out loud. Or perhaps they are entirely clueless. Ding, ding, ding!!!
In my years of catering to this kind of picky eater, I’ve come to some conclusions. Sometimes the differing reactions are due to nothing more than the fluctuations in appetite of the eater. When they are hungry, food tastes infinitely better than when they are simply not as famished. Because you – the cook – have absolutely no control over the state of the eater’s appetite (since, let’s be honest, this eater is not a regular feaster of your fare; no such eater would exist in your home but is just a passing guest from time to time), this is something you will never be totally prepared for. Though offering appetizers or 5 course meals should be avoided at all costs, of course.
One of my favorite quips from this kind of picky eater is the side compliment. This eater will tell you what a wonderful cook their son/wife/friend/co-worker thinks you are. This is a nice thing to hear, of course. Until you realize that you’ve never heard a compliment from THEM. They couldn’t give two rips about your cooking. But their “somebody else” thinks you’re tops. Hoo-hah.
Have you run into this? Is it as infuriating to you as it is to me?! Or is it just me? Probably just me…