Some of us are fortunate to be families of good cooks. Some of us are not so lucky, and that's a shame.
But whether you are or aren't, we've all sat down to a disappointing––if not downright awful––meal. And whether you've liked it or not, we've all been in a position where we had to eat something for fear of offending our host.
Nasty appetizers and unsettlingly terrible main courses took center stage after Redditor bogwhoppers asked the online community "Redditors, what's the worst thing you've eaten out of politeness?"
"My grandmother is a terrible, terrible cook."Giphy
My grandmother's chili. My grandmother is a terrible, terrible cook. I've gotten food poisoning multiple times from her but this chili nearly killed me. She made it in her crockpot. I lived with my grandparents, my younger sister and our mom at the time, my mom was out of town. The first night the chili was good. Everything was fine. She made a huge batch so we had it again the next day. It was still okay, a little bit off but not the worst thing I ever ate.
I was so sick that night. Spewing from both ends. The third night the smell was horrible, the chili was popping and effervescence with tiny gas bubbles. I was nine, we had just learned about bacteria in school. I refused to eat more than a bite. It was pop rocks mixed with rotten meat. I asked her how she stored the chili. In the crockpot she said defensively. "It's okay to leave things in there, I even remembered to unplug it!" We lived in Georgia, it was the summer. She didn't make chili she made a science experiment on the kitchen counter.
"When my sister was 5..."
When my sister was 5, she had my mom, friend and I sit for her tea party.
She made us drinks.
I asked her what she gave us and she said it was water and sparkle perfume.
My sister was trying to be nice after I had taken care of her for 3 years while she dealt with her mental health.
She tried to make me a pizza. It came out more like charcoal. Like fully all black.
She tried so hard to make me happy for once that I had to at least get some of it down; "It's not as burnt as it looks! Really yummy." She was really happy with herself after that.
"Don't even have words..."
Husband's mom made a lemon pie, but it was a "special recipe" she learned from her friend where there was no sugar and the crust was made of saltine crackers. Don't even have words for how sour and salty it was. But you best believe I ate it as it was "delicious."
"It was a white tube..."
Was working in China. They had a big celebratory banquet for us. They served a local delicacy - "sea worms." It was a white tube that when immersed in near freezing water essentially dissolved into a gelatinous lump. Think fish-flavored jello, with just a hint of residual gristle. Ugh. Had to eat several servings while downing shots of Maotai.
"My ex-sister in law's..."Giphy
My ex-sister in law's spinach casserole. My daughter puked it up into their heat vent and I had to clean it out.
"Girlfriend in college..."
Girlfriend in college wanted to be nice to my roommate and me because she often ate over at our apartment, so she was to cook dinner one night. Teriyaki steak.
Somewhere along the line, she got tbsp and cup mixed up, and added 3/4 cup of salt. Pretty sure we were nearing the LD50 of salt for a human, but I ate as much as I could, and drank as much water as I could for the next few days...
"My beloved but very elderly gram-in-law..."
My beloved but very elderly gram-in-law made chocolate chip cookies in which she messed up the sugar and salt AND mistook the dried black beans in her cupboard for chocolate chips. Ohhhhh dear.
"My grandma died right before Christmas..."Giphy
My grandma died right before Christmas. We all got together for the holiday and my aunt was understandably still taking it really hard. She'd made something she called "vanilla angel food pudding cake."
It was in a shallow casserole dish. Top layer was whipped cream and cookie crumble. Middle layer was vanilla pudding. Bottom layer was crumbled angel food cake... soaked to the top in a massive pool of bourbon. The cake was floating in the bourbon. We'd later found out she'd mixed even more bourbon in to the pudding layer.
She didn't tell anyone it was alcoholic so we all got scoops assuming it was a syrup or something. My cousin was the first to bite into it and had to run to the trash can to vomit as soon as it got in her mouth. Another person got a forkful near their nose and freaked out and yelled in shock. Cue my aunt beginning to completely melt down about how she's trying so hard and she got the recipe from a friend and it's not THAT much alcohol and grandma was such a good cook she would've helped her etc etc like full blown about to lose it. The cousin that vomited tried to claim it was something else while the yeller tried to play off that they saw a bug across the room.
Everyone else was sufficiently guilted into eating at least some of what they'd scooped onto their plates. That was physically painful to eat. Everything burned. Looking around the table you would've thought we were all downing spoonfuls of wasabi. I was 19 but I guess my parents were more worried about my aunt than me getting underaged sloshed on pudding but about halfway through my portion they found a discreet way to dump my plate. The whole place reeked a couple minutes after we dug into the "pudding" too so it was this awful inescapable sensory overload of bourbon.
"I came home from school one day..."
I came home from school one day and was hungry and told my mother that and she told me there was blueberry muffins. So I took one and when I took a bite it was the driest most flavorless thing I've ever eaten. So as to not upset my mother I ate it and when I came back my mom was laughing and I asked what was funny and she told me they were a friend of her's muffins and my brother had spit them out when he tried it. So basically I got pranked by my mom.
"Was visiting Guatemala..."
Was visiting Guatemala, and this old lady invited us to dinner. In this country, it's extremely rude to not eat what was placed before you. Unfortunately, this lady served us a vegetable soup with some meat in it that tasted like chicken broth from hell. She didn't eat with us, as she was being polite or something. She didn't even talk to us during the dinner.
We took a taste, and nearly wanted to puke. However, due to the country customs, we decided to eat it. We barely could get through it. We ate about 3/4 of it and then mentioned we were just full. We both retched later on that night. It was so nasty!
Ran into the lady later in the week walking down the street, and she apologized to us. Apparently the chicken was rotten and she only took one bite. She then chastised us for not telling her.
Sometimes it's frustrating not knowing all the ins and outs of different customs!
"My grandpa made sushi."Giphy
My grandpa made sushi. With tuna, rhubarb, yellow mustard, seaweed, and undercooked rice. Watched me eat it make sure I got a taste of each ingredient. The entire time I ate it, I thought "this tough bastard made it through the beaches of Normandy, eat the sushi and smile."
"I went to Kenya..."
I went to Kenya on a college trip. For the first week we were there we built a kitchen into a school. Every day my buddy and I would joke about this goat at the school and his big it's nuts were.
Well fast forward and the last day we were there the school put on a feast, eating corn, beans and kale (grown at the school) with goat meat.
The local elders came by at the end to show their appreciation. My teacher (who was from Kenya) got up and said "the elders have prepared a delicacy, it is somewhat of an insult to not eat what they present you"
Bam here came the karma bus. Now I enjoy fried Rocky Mountain oysters, however what they served was a barely boiled got ball. I tore off a sizable chunk like a champ, I will NEVER forget the rubbery texture, or the ultra gamy taste, but I ate it like I was honored for even being offered.
"It's a symbol..."
In Arequipa, Peru I drank a blended mixture consisting of molasses, stout beer, raw eggs, some vegetables, and frog skin. Yes, the skin of a frog. It's a symbol for healthy fertility I guess, and the tour guide insisted we try it.
"Since it is in a spiral inside the shell..."Giphy
Sea snails with my Vietnamese friend. I paid for it when I tried to pull it out with my teeth instead of using the little toothpick. Since it is in a spiral inside the shell, it snapped out of the shell and sprung forth, bouncing off my face and onto the table, leaving my face covered in fishy smelling, briny sea water. I would have run straight to the bathroom, but I was temporarily brineded.
"We all got sick."
An undercooked potato, garlic, feta, chopped meat package in aluminium foil. It was supposed to be a Greek dish. We all got sick.
"I rented part of a house..."
Back in the late 1970s, I was sent from California to a rural Maryland town for a 6 months job assignment. I was used to the wide variety of very fresh vegetables grown within a couple of hours of my city. In that rural Maryland town, I rarely saw what I would consider good fresh vegetables, except for a very short season when farmers markets had local produce. I really missed my good veggies.
I rented part of a house that had been converted to apartments. The nice elderly couple next door had a huge vegetable garden, consisting primarily of green beans. I used to lust after those beans.
One day, Mrs. Neighbor saw me outside and invited me to join them later in the day for a barbecue. "We are going to have the first of our own green beans." I could hardly wait. I was so-o-o looking forward to those beans.
Mr. Neighbor barbecued and Mrs. Neighbor plated the food in the kitchen. With great pride, she handed me a plate containing an incinerated steak and a bunch of gray tubes. "We like our green beans best after they've been canned."
Yep. She had home-canned the green beans, then cooked them, Southern style, for a hour or so with a chunk of ham. I looked at my plate. I looked over at all those crisp, vibrant beans still on the plants. I looked back at my plate.
I never knew I possessed such good acting ability.
DQ: What's the worst thing you've eaten just to be polite?