"My family were excellent cooks. Even when money was tight we always ate tasty meals. But when I was around 5 and in pre-kindergarten I was briefly at a day care that served grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup EVERY DAY for lunch. I have always despised tomato soup (and raw tomatoes). They literally make me vomit. My mother had me tell people I was allergic to tomatoes (I wasn't, just loathed them). So I tell the day care lady that I can't eat the tomato soup because I'm allergic. She says I have to eat it. I say 'but it will make me sick!' She doesn't care, I'm forced to eat the soup. After a few bites, I vomit all over myself and the floor. The daycare witch is angry and makes me clean it up by myself. The next day the exact same thing happens. Day three is just a repeat of day one and two. On day four I sob hysterically as my mother gets me ready to go to daycare and I beg not to go. She finally gets me to tell her why I'm desperate to stay home. I never went back."
"Eggs. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it was one egg. Boiled, scrambled, or fried. For 3 weeks that was what each meal consisted of. A single, solitary egg prepared one of three ways. On Sunday things would be a bit better; we got a single piece of dry, white toast to go with our egg at dinner. Being poor as a kid sucked. This occurred back in 1986. Back then you could get a dozen eggs for 87 cents without them being on sale. One day our local grocery store put them on sale for 35 cents a dozen. So each day we ate a dozen eggs; 1 egg per person per meal. A loaf of bread was around 50 cents for the cheap stuff. So for 3 weeks our grocery bill came out to less than $15 total. No, it wasn't healthy, but it kept us alive."
"Moose meat stew. Let me tell you something about moose meat. Firstly, it comes from a moose. Have you seen a moose? No, not a Canadian or Northern lower 48's type of moose--an ALASKAN moose. They are massive. By god they are horrifyingly large creatures. Perhaps twice the size and weight of a horse. Bringing down a single moose can feed a family for quite a while, so when someone goes hunting, a lot of that meat is going to get shared, and oh boy, our family sure was shared with a lot. SHARING IS CARING, THEY SAID, but this kind of sharing is the sort that puts a little bit of hatred in your heart and dread of the future. The dread of that too tough, too tasteless moose meat stew. Moose meat stew multiple times a week. The meat is tough, it's really hard to chew. More bites than not you're just spitting out the wad of chewed up material because you can't chew it anymore and your jaw is tired. Ever tried running a chewing marathon? No, because that's not a thing except when you're eating moose meat stew. Even in my 20s my jaw still clicks sometimes, but nooooo, I BETTER NOT BLAME THE MOOSE MEAT, NOT THE PRECIOUS MOOSE MEAT. MOOSE MEAT IS GOOD FOR YOU. MOOSE MEAT CAN DO NO WRONG! The worst part is that my mom was an amazing cook! If only she cooked something other than moose meat stew. Want to go to a friend's house for dinner? BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOOSE MEAT STEW? YOU WANT TO EAT TATOR TOTS? NOPE, MORE MOOSE MEAT STEW FOR YOU, KIDDO! And I get it, I truly do--when in Rome, yada yada yada. But give me king salmon, halibut, clams, trout, reindeer sausage, man, I'd even eat marmot (which is not a thing we eat, don't worry), over moose meat any day of the week. I will cannibalize my family before I eat moose meat again. I will go full out Donner Party on them before I allow myself to endure that pain another moment. I will subject myself to the week old gas station hot dog food borne illness nightmare if it means avoiding more mandibular trauma, JUST PLEASE NO MORE MOOSE MEAT STEW."
"'Chocolate oatmeal.' This solid grey-brown mass of chocolate flavored sludge made of mostly cottage cheese and soggy oats was something my dad dreamed up during a health kick he decided to take my brother and I on. He would take raw oats, plain yogurt, cinnamon, applesauce and heaping amounts of cottage cheese then mix it all together. As the final ingredient, he would work in several servings of chocolate protein powder all in a big bowl. He'd then split it up into individual tupperware containers and refrigerate it. By the time we got to eat it it was mostly solid and had turned the color of how it tasted. I hated it as a kid and dreaded the mornings when I had to spoon feed that vaguely colorless gloop into my mouth, but funnily enough, I have now developed my own variation with more banana, honey and almonds and eat it every morning, really helps with regularity. So thanks dad, for making my poops nice (not aesthetically mind you)."
"Cake. See when we came to Canada my family was really poor and my mom had a cake business she would do on the side. We were at the time scraping by so much that most of my lunches consisted of the extra cake slices from my mom's business. Now you would think as a grade 1-3 student that cake would be the most awesome lunch ever but it got really boring really fast. So I've hated cake ever since I was a little kid. It had it's bonuses though since most kids loved cake I would be trading it for bologna sandwiches (which to this day I find so delicious since I was deprived of it), random snacks and pogs. My mother makes some of the best tasting cakes the family and customers have tried, yet I HATE it. Growing up on it, I got so sick of her signature taste that my family gets visible upset when I reject an offer to have a slice. I actually prefer store bought cake over hers. My friends will even give me a sour face as 'Your mom makes the best cakes why are you buying this junk!?'"
"I LOVE macaroni and cheese. Any style. The cheesier, the better. I don't give a fig about noodle shape, type of cheese, baked and crispy, wet and loose, whatever. Artisanal? Yes. Grocery store in a pre-packed container? Ok. I do not care - put it in my mouth. I'll eat my weight of the golden good stuff. I met my boyfriend three years ago and was subsequently introduced to his parents. They're big people. They like to cook. They like to eat. One of her specialties that she makes ALL the time? Mac and cheese. Once she found out it's my favorite she makes double the portions she used to make. So, now instead of a 9x13 baking pan of it, she'll make two and send whatever's left over home with us. The problem is: it's terrible. Terrible. I don't know what she does, but it's dense. She bakes the top but doesn't put anything on top, so it's just hard as nails noodles that can crack your teeth. The cheese just doesn't melt right. It's not stirred together well, so there are pockets of milk or something. I don't know what it is, but it's not something very appetizing. I feel terrible - she's otherwise a good cook. And she always is so proud that she's made my favorite thing, and makes sure that I get more than anyone else, and then sends a whole pan home with us - which I just end up throwing away. I try to push it around on my plate, or get up and throw my plate away before she notices I didn't touch it. I just don't have the heart to tell her that's it's easily the most disgusting thing I've eaten."
"My mom is actually a pretty fantastic cook of Cantonese cuisine but for some reason, once every few months, she was compelled to make this dish- I don't know the name of it - but it was basically pigs hooves boiled in vinegar. It stunk up the house big time. No one in my family liked it as far as I knew, including herself. Looking back, I really don't know why she ever made it. Maybe specifically to spite my dad when they had an argument or something because he hated the smell."
"One summer when I was about 7 my mom met a guy at the bar. She wanted to be with him so bad, but I guess he didn't like kids. So he or she bought a barrel of dried Pinto beans dropped it off and left. That's what we ate for 3 months. No lie. We mixed them with ketchup, mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, you name it, anything left over in the fridge. I remember we tried to steal food from the store but got caught. My older sis Lisa (she's my mom to me) explained our situation so we got a free ride home by the cop who then left. Nobody did anything."
"When I was young my parents made me eat oatmeal. Not that bad but tiny me despised it. It didn't matter how much brown sugar, milk, or fruit was in it breakfast ended in tears almost every day. So, one morning after we had stayed over at my aunt's place my parents make me the typical bowl of oatmeal. My aunt kept her spices and sugars in unlabeled bulk bags so they located the brown sugar and dumped a large amount in, in the usual attempt to make it more tasty. That morning the battle was fierce. By the time I had finished half the bowl I had been grounded three times. So with tears in my eyes, I glare at them and challenge them to try it. Rolling their eyes they take a bite and immediately spit it out. The unmarked bag of brown sugar? Yeah, that was beef bullion. They had forced me to eat half a bowl of beef flavored oatmeal. I got Captain Crunch the next day."
"My mom makes this thing my brother and I can only refer to as 'compost salad.' It starts on a skillet where she scrambles some eggs. Then, she adds 3 cups of kale and steams it, often times burning the eggs in the process and releasing a vaguely fart-like scent into the atmosphere. Then, everything gets weird. She adds an entire can of kidney beans (bean water and all), mashing them into the eggy kale. She then adds cinnamon, nutmeg, curry powder, garlic powder, and salsa and Tabasco sauce. At this point, the smell is so nauseating it's nearly impossible to be in the same room as this abomination of a dish. After it's done being heated into a mush, she puts it on a plate and adds vanilla yogurt on top. Looks like it was fished straight out of the trash. Needless to say, I refuse to let her make me food. And by the way, I really have no idea what's wrong with her, but something is definitely up if she thinks that this is an acceptable meal."
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"Not my parents, but my grandmother. She made a dish she called 'hamburger soup.' It wasn't so bad the first time, but she would freeze the left overs in a zip lock and the next time she made it she would unfreeze them and add to it. She did this for years. I got sick every time she made me eat it, to the point I would violently throw up and have diarrhea for days. She also made 'ketchup soup' which was a pot filled with water and enough ketchup to flavor it. She would then serve it with venison that came directly out of the freezer then was thrown in 2 inches of oil to fry it. After I was old enough to leave for dinner I would. If I waited until grandpa had to go into town, he would stop by Burger King and buy a few whoppers - a couple to eat right then and a few to hide in his truck for later. He would then go out to feed the cows and eat cold whoppers that sat under his truck seat all day as it was still better than grandma's cooking."
"My father worked in restaurants, so as the saying goes - 'The cobbler's children wear no shoes' - we ate terribly. My father had no patience for cooking nice meals at home. Instead, he was infamous for his 'soups,' which were really just whatever he could cut the mold off of, coarsely chop, and boil until it was gray. Nothing was ever skinned, carrots, potatoes, whole cloves of unchopped garlic, an unskinned onion quartered. He swore to us all the nutrients came from the skins and it was terrible. Nothing was ever seasoned and everything was just boiled to death. One year after my parents divorced, when I was about 13 and my brother was 9, we were visiting my father in Florida. It had been hot, humid, hurricane weather our whole trip but the only thing he would feed us would be gray, lumpy, unidentifiable, slop served steaming from a giant steel pot. He had a roommate and after over a week of this his roommate came home one day and found my brother and I peering with both curiosity and disgust into the giant, simmering, pot and trying to identify what all the little, white, floating specks were. I'll never forget him groaning 'Not this AGAIN!' and 'That's it! I'm ordering pizza.' I think it was the first time I realized that it wasn't just in our heads, that eating unidentifiable gray slop from a pot for days upon days wasn't how most people lived. It was so commonplace for us we had simply gotten over even noticing how disgusting it was."
"My folks both worked, so it was pretty common to eat leftovers for dinner from Monday to usually about Thursday or Friday. Suffice it to say Sunday Dinner was a big deal and featured entirely too much food. Oftentimes this was a good thing. Pasta is fine for leftovers. Grilled chicken is fine for a few days. They didn't gussy anything up, you just had microwaved leftover grilled chicken, but throw some BBQ or ranch on there and hey, not so bad. Burgers though. Ever had a four-day old cheese burger that's been in a freezer bag, bun and all, after it came out of the microwave? Just miserable. The bread is like a gooey cloth substance. The already well-done burgers are now mummified. Much like a hot pocket, the burger is magma on the outside and ice cold in the middle. There was always food on the table, so I shouldn't complain. But my god, leftover microwaved cheeseburgers. There is no amount of ketchup and mustard that can save them."
"My mom, God bless her, was not a very talented cook. She tried, but she just wasn't interested and didn't have the knack. At least I got a home-cooked meal most nights, so I can't complain. Mom used to buy these awful Polish sausages. She would take a few and throw them in a pot of water with a head of cabbage. Let everything boil for a while and that was dinner. Mom called it 'bratwurst.' I lived in fear of the 'bratwurst' my whole life until I was in college. There was a German festival and all of my friends were like, 'Oh boy! Let's go get some brats!' I thought they were crazy. Then someone handed me a real brat on a bun with spicy mustard and sauerkraut and I realized that I had been all wrong about the true nature of bratwurst. That was probably the best thing I learned in college."
"Boarding school in Ireland in the 1980s:
-Saturday lunch dessert was always yoghurt. They were often so far past their sell-by dates that they had a layer of mold on top.
-Sour milk on our cereal
-Stale bread (also sometimes with mold)
-Kippers (seriously, who would ever voluntarily eat a kipper?)
Every few weeks, the whole school would be mysteriously ill with 'a bug going around,' the symptoms of which were eerily similar to food poisoning. Yet the moldy yoghurts were the ones that grossed me out the most. Saturday was the day that some of us were allowed to go home for the weekend, but we weren't allowed to leave until we had finished our lunch - which included the moldy yoghurt. To this day, fruit yoghurt gives me a gag reflex.
"I was fed plain Chinese steamed buns and water every day when I was younger. Called 'mantou' in Chinese, at best it was a tasteless mound of flour. However more often than not my buns were either under steamed or over steamed, so I would either be eating tasteless wet dough or a tasteless wet brick. This combined with a cup of water meant that whatever steamed mess I ate will expand 10x in size. I usually got a stomach ache in 20 minutes but my parents never believed me. I wanted to stop eating but I was young and refusing to finish your buns and cup of water was asking for a butt kicking back then. Yes, I realize steamed buns can come in many varieties, but plain bun packages are 25 cents cheaper than buns with filling. Guess what my penny-pinching parents always bought?"
"My mom was/is seriously the worst cook. The only time I ever ate anything good was when we had weekends with my dad and he took us to restaurants and let us order whatever we wanted. For a kid, I could eat a huge amount of lobster. My mom made these disgusting casseroles with fried spam, Velveeta macaroni and cheese and canned peas. Then it was topped off with those Kraft singles slices and crushed up bbq potato chips. She thought that was the ultimate in cooking. I still feel sick when I think about it. Sometimes for dinner we would have chipped beef on toast which is a disgusting salty great depression kind of food. And if it wasn't chipped beef it was some kind of soup/tuna mixture over toast. If it came in a can, we probably ate it. This is probably why I taught myself how to cook. I went back home to visit last year and I cooked dinner every night because I saw my mom pulling out the Spam and Velveeta and there was no way I was going to let that happen. My dad didn't want me to leave after the fourth salted caramel apple pie I made."
"I could rant for hours. My mother was a former hippie and health nut, so she tried to avoid meals containing wheat, cheese or meat for most dinners. Almost everything we ate was a combination of rye, barley and maize flours and some kind of lentils or beans. There was one thing - I don't even know what to call it, vegetarian casserole? - where she would make a paste out of some combination of those flours, mix in onion, mushrooms and lentils, put it in the oven for a while in a casserole dish and serve it for dinner with mountains of veggies. It had a weirdly spongy, dense texture, like biting into a brick of styrofoam, and somehow there was always enough for three or four meals. And her sad school lunches. They consisted of a few sandwiches, a handful of tiny tomatoes or some celery or carrot sticks, and homemade wheat-free, sugar-free 'cake' - the densest, saddest excuse for cake I've ever had. Just that, every day, for my entire school career. Oh, and you know what her favorite sandwich filling was? Slices of pickled beetroot and peanut butter. Or, peanut butter and vegemite. I used to dream of having sandwiches with more than two ingredients. Sure, I must have been the healthiest kid at school, and we ate on the tightest budget you can imagine, but it was torture trying to explain to my friends what I was eating for dinner that night and why my lunch looked like prison food. I'm pretty sure there are better ways to do vegetarian/healthy cooking. As you can probably guess, I'm a terrible cook and to this day I'm still not certain what real home cooked food is supposed to look like."
"It has to be the chicken noodle soup my mom made. She'd start with a whole chicken, but then never strain or spoon out any of the excess oil. There'd be an oil slick on the top of all our bowls of soup. And each time she made it, my dad and I would get sick to our stomachs. She loved it. Eventually, I started refusing to eat it. Then there was the fact that no matter what meat she would cook on the grill, it would be seasoned only with salt and pepper, and would be varying amounts of burnt (she liked it burnt). Oh, and when we were having a fancy meal, instead of canned green beans, she'd whip out the canned asparagus. I grew up thinking I didn't like steak or asparagus or all these other things because I'd never had them prepared properly."
"My mother loved potato soup. My sister and I hated it. So when we'd come home from grocery shopping we'd help mom put the groceries away. We hid the cans of potato soup behind some pots that were never used. When we moved she found a couple dozen cans back there and was not pleased. As an adult I now enjoy a good potato soup. Mom never lets me forget."
"Tater tot casserole. I've always been an adventurous eater who ate every bite without complaint but this monstrosity destroyed me as a child. My mom would cook and drain ground beef and mix it with mayo and cream of mushroom soup. This ended up looking and smelling like paté cat food. Then she would spread that garbage on the bottom of a pan, place tater tots and cheese on top, then bake. We would be served a heaping glob that my picky sister and I always refused to eat. My parents would give us the old 'sit at the table until you finish' rule which resulted in us sitting at the table for at least an hour. After my parents got bored and left my sis and I would quietly spoon feed it to our German Shepherd. R.I.P. Raider. You were the best garbage disposal a girl could ask for."
"It's not a meal, but as a side, I liked whole kernel corn. My brother didn't particularly like creamed corn, but he knew I hated it so that is what he'd ask for. As a 'compromise,' my parents would mix 1 can of each. Yeah, my parents didn't understand that a cup of wine in a barrel of sewage is a barrel and a cup of sewage, but a cup of sewage in a barrel of wine is a barrel and a cup of sewage. They would tell us, 'We don't need to dirty more pots just because you're fussy!' I actually did get myself grounded once for calling them out on this lame excuse. I was grounded often for not accepting parent-logic growing up. Didn't really care though, my room was where the cool stuff was anyway."
"My mom liked to make spaghetti. 'That's not weird!' I hear you say. Let me mention that she made it with raisins. Like, get a pot of water boiling, throw in the noodles and some raisins at the same time. No spaghetti sauce afterward, just cooked spaghetti and rehydrated raisins on a plate. She was very proud of this dish and didn't understand why we hated mom's day to cooking."
TunedIn by Westend61/Shutterstock
"Oh man, so 'tuna salad' but with a twist, let me spell this out. My mom would combine tuna with fruit. I thought it was disgusting the savory flavor of tuna (which is already kinda suspect coming out of a can) just doesn't pair with a grape and an apple in my opinion. But here's the killer, she'd slop it into an ice cream cone. You cannot imagine the horror as a child (think like 5-6 years old) thinking you're getting a scoop of ice cream only to suddenly realize the truth, it was a disgusting meaty slurry that dripped mismatched fruit juice on your hand as you tried to consume it. I learned quickly to carefully check what I was handed and try to throw that tuna salad out when no one was looking. If only I had a dog growing up."
"I was raised Catholic, and I never understood why I couldn't just be a vegetarian on Fridays when you're not supposed to eat meat. Why do I have to eat your horrible boxed fish? I can just have a heaping serving of veggies, maybe some beans, etc. To be honest, I could've skipped one day of protein and it wouldn't have hurt me any. School lunches were the worst. 'I'd really rather not have the disgusting fish sandwich. I don't like fish. Can I just get extra beans/peas/salad, whatever?' 'No. Children need a serving of meat with every meal.' And living in a small rural community, I couldn't even be a vegetarian. I was force-fed meat every single day of my life, two times daily. Now as an adult, I only eat chicken occasionally (once every couple of weeks), and quality sea food maybe 2 times a year. Beef makes me sick even looking at it."
"For a long time my parents loved getting recipes from this one family that was on a number of unusual diets. Their taste in any food--diet or regular--was astoundingly bad. The most heinous thing my siblings and I were subjected to during those dark times was dairy-free mac and cheese. Sort of like vegan food before vegan was super well-known and decently tolerable to put in your mouth. The main ingredient in the cheese was brewer's yeast. Yes, we ate yeast mixed with some spices (which I now forget) and called it 'cheese.' While I have done my best to repress the memories of this unmitigated disaster of a food, my tastebuds are not so quick to forget. I can still taste the yeasty, spicy mixture on my poor tongue. The lesson here is simple: there is nothing wrong with vegan. No matter the motivation, it is an admirable pursuit and I have much respect for the people who stick with it. But for the love of all that is holy, just make vegan cheese that doesn't use yeast. It is not something you would wish on even the worst of your enemies."