"One time, my mom made a big ham, and we ate as much as could be expected. Then we worked on the leftovers the next night. But there was still so much ham left! And we were sick of it. So she decided for some reason that the best way to get rid of the ham was to sneak it into other dishes BY GRINDING IT UP IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR UNTIL IT WAS A FINE HAM PASTE.
She put that ham paste into spaghetti sauce, she spread it on my sandwich for lunch, she put it into fried rice. I no longer like ham to this day. On Easter, there is always a turkey breast cooked just for me because I hate ham too much to even stomach it for one meal.
WHY HAM PASTE, MOTHER? WHY HAM PASTE?!"
"My mom made a red wine basted chicken. She didn't do it right and the alcohol didn't burn off. 8-year-old me complained about the taste and about how it was making me feel awful, but my mom demanded I clear the plate. I just sat there and cried for what felt like hours until she finally tasted my plate (which she had made first in a small pan, so her pieces actually had the alcohol burned off by the time they were done). Her response, 'Oh, these taste like they still have wine on them.' First hangover of my life the next morning and I still can't even smell red wine without feeling sick. Best part, she never apologized and I was blamed for not telling her what was wrong faster, because at 8-years-old, I should know what being drunk feels like, and automatically know why I was feeling that way."
"My mom used to make a Vietnamese noodle dish called bun rieu but didn't always have time to make it from scratch, so she often used a canned broth.
I am allergic to peanuts and every time she made this dish I would complain to her that I didn't want to eat anymore because my lips were swelling up and I was itchy.
She is having none of that sass obviously and makes me eat the whole bowl.
Few years down the line she decides to read the ingredients label on the back and just says, 'Eh, you probably should stop eating that.'"
"My mom made two different 'salads' that were particularly terrible and spawn looks of horror when I mention them.
Asparagus Salad - Take limp, lifeless canned asparagus and pile it on a small plate. Stick it in the fridge for a little while so it's cold as well as slimy. At dinner time, remove from fridge and drop a big old dollop of mayonnaise on top of your canned asparagus. Serve.
Pear Salad - On a salad plate, place one piece of iceberg lettuce for decoration. On top of this, you will place a single canned pear half. On the depression at the center of the canned pear half, you must dab - you guessed it - a big old dollop of mayonnaise. Now, sprinkle the whole plate with shredded cheddar cheese. Voila!
Really, there was a lot of mayo and a lot of butter in my childhood, which I never understood until a couple years ago when my mom bought me a copy of the same cookbook she learned to cook from.
It was given to her by my dad's mother in 1972, but originally published in the 1940's I believe. It's full of the sorts of recipes you always see from this era, when canned goods and powdered milk and such were considered innovations for cooking.
It also has a whole section on nutrition and sample meals for a day and very firmly insists that butter/mayo is actually a food group and you should get a certain amount of butter and mayo in your diet every day for optimal health."
"As a late-twenties guy living alone, I consider myself a pro at cooking grilled cheese. I remember a friend told me while we were at a diner that it sucks that she's never had a homemade grilled cheese that was appetizing as ones you can get at a diner. I blew her mind when I made one for her later that night. There's a reason why I learned, though.
When I was a kid, my mother would make them for me. She couldn't get the cheese to melt enough so it wouldn't fall apart when she flipped it. That's because she ran the stove at the highest temperature possible. Her way of combatting this problem was using a spatula to essentially steam roll it into a freaking crepe.
The final product was two absolutely charred, flattened pieces of bread with half-melted cheese in the middle. That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works.
"The badness of my mom's cooking is legendary among family and friends. Not only is she extremely technically unsavvy (doesn't know WTF she's doing, in the kitchen or anywhere), she's a cheapskate (wouldn't buy the appropriate cookware even if she knew what it was, nor good quality ingredients) and has little to no sense of taste.
I was six years old before I knew that toast wasn't supposed to be black.
'Chicken soup' generally consisted of large chunks of chicken boiled in water. No seasoning, no other ingredients. Okay, maybe occasionally some half-boiled, still-crunchy carrot slices about half an inch thick.
Crazy combinations of ingredients: she would reduce the number of pitchers of juice in the fridge by simply mixing them together, along with pretty much any other remotely similar liquids available. The worst was when she mixed orange juice, grape juice, and fruit-cocktail syrup. It was olive green, opaque, pulpy, and viscous.
The skins of baked potatoes were like old leather, impossible to cut even with a steak knife, and hard to chew; we were forced to eat them anyway because 'that's where the vitamins are.' Lima beans were like pellets of chalk dust and we had to choke those down too. My sister once sat at the table for two hours after dinner was over, supposedly eating her lima beans but in reality flicking them one by one into a napkin in her lap when mom wasn't looking. When they were 'gone,' she was let up from the table and dropped the loaded napkin in the trash on her way out of the room. Pork chops were both tough and dry; I 'hated' pork chops until I got married to a woman who knew what she was doing in the kitchen. Turns out I love PORK CHOPS; I just hate MY MOM'S pork chops.
Fish was...well...fishy! To be fair, mom now attributes this to 'not having good fish in those days,' but I suspect she just didn't want to spend the money to get good fish. Do they sell 'day old' fish? If they do, or did in the 1960s/70s, I'm sure that's what she bought.
I remember two specific meals that we ate repeatedly when I was a child: 'Spanish Rice,' which was basically white rice with a catsup-like sauce and 'Beef Stroganoff,' which was one-inch-plus chunks of tough beef soaking in a disgusting chalky sauce.
She has no awareness that certain items are considered inedible. I've seen her eat raw pumpkin shell, orange and lemon peels. I'm trying to remember if I've seen her eat a banana skin.
She made homemade pizza, which the crust and sauce were okay (except for that one time she didn't have pizza sauce and substituted catsup), but the pepperoni slices were 1/4" thick and cooked to the consistency of hard rubber; the whole thing was covered with cheese and baked 'til it was dark, dark brown, almost black.
Due to economic issues, I am staying at her house during the week these days, which involves eating dinner with her most nights. The first night I was here, she wanted to celebrate by cooking me dinner. I said sure, go ahead. Bad move. Not only did it take her almost four hours to make meatloaf, minute rice, and boiled green beans, but when she went to start the beans she got the pan wet, then set it on a piece of mail, then put it on the burner with the mail stuck to the bottom. The mail ignited and we had a flaming piece of paper hovering over the stove (and a tableful of more mail). Fortunately, we got it out, but I had to wipe wet ashes off the pan, stove, etc. Ate dinner at 9:30 on a work night.
Just the other night, she microwaved a hotdog on a plate. I wasn't paying attention and in retrospect deduced that she must have gone to type ':90' (ninety seconds) into the panel, but put in '9:00' (nine minutes) instead. Four minutes later, there was a huge BANG as the plate cracked in half. The hotdog was split in a spiral along its entire length, is curled into a 'C' shape, and was hard and black. The microwave has stunk to high heaven ever since, but I scrubbed it out and at least the whole house didn't smell for more than a few days. The irony here is that last Fall, at my house, I did exactly the same thing with a hamburger one night while my wife was away. Took three months to get the smell out of the microwave. I am my mother's son, alas.
As a child, I was absolutely mystified by food commercials on TV that sang the praises of an item as being 'just like homemade!' WTF was that about? Homemade was terrible! I wouldn't have bought a product that was 'just like homemade' if my life had depended on it. If they were going to sell to me, they would have had to say 'just like a restaurant!'
When I was in college I would eat at a friend's parents' house about once a week for a while, and spent every meal regaling them with horrific tales of mom's cooking. That's an hour a week, for a couple of months, just telling bad-cooking stories.
As a result of my upbringing, I am extremely easy to please. I eat hospital and airline (when they had it, anyway) food with genuine, unfeigned gusto, and fast food is just as delightful as the gourmet stuff. My wife can make anything she pleases, with very few exceptions. She's a terrific cook by anybody's standards THANK GOD."
"My mom was from the 'boil the everloving crap out of everything' school of cooking. Carrots boiled to sad orangish lumps. Broccoli steamed beyond any recognition. Corn may have started fresh but by the time she was done with it, it resembled creamed corn but lacking any possible flavor or texture. Bbq chicken? Boil that mother-effer COMPLETELY before you blacken it on the grill, lest you and everyone you love die horrifically from salmonella. The things she would do to a steak are crimes against humanity.
Combine all this with an'80s desire to avoid salt at all costs, and my dad's pathological fear of bad breath resulting in a blanket household ban on onions and garlic, and mealtime was a grayish, disappointing place. I now take cooking very seriously."
"My mother only knows one cooking method: deep fry. She would regularly buy pre-made food, such as breaded chicken, sausages, or any other sort of cook-from-frozen food (the kind where it told you on the back that you could leave it unattended in the oven for twenty minutes) and she'd deep fry it. This and the occasional microwave pizza was all we ate as kids because it was all she ever bought, and she only ever cooked it that way.
The worst of it all would be chicken kievs. Done in the oven, a kiev is breaded chicken with a creamy garlic butter centre wrapped in breadcrumbs. Deep fried, it's scorched black breadcrumbs, with chewy chicken that's still pink in places, surrounding a slab of half frozen butter. On more than one occasion I was served this, and for years it was assumed by my mother that I was a fussy eater because I couldn't stomach her simultaneously burnt, yet frozen, food."
"My folks always cooked meat way past well done because, 'We don't want you to catch anything,' and this was usually done with round steak, which is very tough to begin with. We chewed on sole leather. My brother and I would complain, but our dad said to eat it, that, 'It's good to give your jaw a workout.' That poor cow died twice: once when it was slaughtered and once when mom cooked it.
The other main lowlight was when she'd cook four packages of ramen for us in a stock pot and stretch it by adding canned mixed vegetables and cut-up Spam. Yes, ramen noodles and Spam. In the same pot. What a sodium bomb. Blech."
"My mom made what we came to call 'Pepper Soup.' It initially was an accident, she was making a small batch of soup for dinner & while shaking some black pepper into it, the pop-top shaker lid fell off & the entire container of pepper emptied itself into the soup. She scoped out what she could but in the end it was still way too peppery to eat. She ended up enlarging the batch of soup into two large canning pots (each about 5 gallons) before it was at a tolerable level. Us kids still found it way too peppery. Anyway, we ate that soup what seemed like every day for a couple months."
"I was born with a cleft palate and when I was a kid, I had to have a couple of operations on it. Because of this, I wasn't able to eat solid food for a little while. Now I'm pretty sure that what the doctors meant by that was 'make a soup or a relatively smooth stew.' My mum, however, decided that the best approach would be to cook a family meal in its entirety, take my portion, and stick it in the blender. She did this with anything and everything. So, for example, my family would sit down to a delicious Sunday roast, and I would be presented with a pale imitation of a roast in the form of a bowl of hot gray goop which I would have to sip miserably from a soup spoon.
"My mother, bless her freaking heart, was war crime level bad in the kitchen...WAR CRIMES.
Some of my favorites:
-Half way defrosted and re-frozen, frozen veggies. When they were removed from the package, they were suspended in their own ice block of veggie melt water. My mother would take this block of veggie ice and microwave it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter until the veggies turned gray. She would then serve the veggies in a soup of their own melt water with a sheen of oil on top from the margarine.
-Then there was the DiGiorno Pizza Disaster of 2007 when my mom baked the pizza without removing the plastic wrapper and cardboard bottom. She insisted that, 'It's supposed to look like that,' until someone made her try and eat it. Melted plastic pizza is...interesting...
-She took nice steaks and boiled them over hard in a pan of Hormel jarred gravy, resulting in hard steak, and plastic, burnt, 'gravy.'
-As kids, she let us roast marshmallows over citronella candles. My dad walked in on that one and I think he was rendered speechless by how lapsed her judgment was there.
-Boxed mashed potatoes cooked into one, hard, homogenous pan shaped mass."
"My mom made pasta, pesto and chicken every night because we were poor. Not bad, but it got old reaaaal quick.
Then she met my step dad who was about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike when it came to cooking. He was very controlling and whatever he put in front of you, you had to eat it. If you didn't he would put a food ban on you.
Two of his culinary achievements which spring to mind are liquidized steak poured over Jacket potatoes and a sweet and sour chicken lasagna with egg instead of lasagne sheets.
Keith, your cooking was crap."
"My mom makes this thing me and my brother can only refer to as 'compost salad.' It starts on a skillet where she scrambles some eggs. Then, she adds 3 cups kale and steams it, often times burning the eggs in the process and releasing a vaguely fart like scent into the atmosphere. Then, it 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."
"Every single morning, my mother would make me a big bowl of sauerkraut for breakfast. A big bowl of sauerkraut. Every single morning. It was driving me crazy, so I said to my mom, 'Hey, mom, what's with all the sauerkraut?'
And my dear, sweet mother, she just looked at me like a cow looks at an oncoming train, and she leaned right down next to me and she said, 'IT'S GOOD FOR YOU!' and then she forced me to eat sauerkraut until I was twenty-six and a half years old."
"My mom has always been a great cook for the most part, but also a health nut, and back when I was a child, fat in cooking was the greatest villain.
For the longest time I thought I disliked Italian sausage because it was too dry. One day, I walk in while my mom's cooking them and she's standing over the pan with a fork, POKING HOLES IN THE CASING. Dios mio. I asked her what she was doing, to which she replied, 'Look at all this oil that comes out of the sausage. That's not good for you.' FACEPALM. That's what makes sausage so freaking good, it's the meat cooking in the casing in its own fats! We had a talk after that and she stopped doing it. Thank the lord she is a reasonable person."
"My stepmom's first family dinner as our stepmom was a spicy Italian sausage dish. Not having spicy sausage, she bought sweet sausage. She also thought cool whip was the same as heavy whipping cream. She spent a long time preparing everything and we tried our best to eat every single bit of it. I choked down every bite of that vomit noodle stew. When she sat down and ate, she was appalled and made us all stop pretending and throw it away because it was so awful."
"She made something she called 'Mexican beef' which was ground beef, onions and raisins with rice served with a dollop of mayonnaise on the side.
Yeah. I've been to Mexico and nowhere did I see this gray bull on a menu. Thankfully, mom turned into an awesome cook, but I want to go back in time and burn whatever 1970s cookbook she found this dish in."
"Before my dad passed, when my mom would cook, she would often not pay attention to what was cooking, so a lot of things came out overcooked, or she would confuse ingredients. For example, one time, when making Hamburger Helper, instead of adding in the two cups of milk, one cup of water, she did two cups of water and no cups of milk. She burned cheeseburgers because she was on the computer when cooking.
This all changed after my dad passed. My dad was an amazing cook, and he loved cooking, so by the time I was in middle school, my dad did almost all of the cooking. Then he passed, and my mom, in a surprise move, actually took the time to learn how to cook, and she became amazing, she didn't make a bad meal or make the same old mistakes. And she was a fantastic cook up until she passed away, too."
"I used to think I hated pancakes. I don't hate pancakes. I hate over-eggy crêpes, which my mum made and always called pancakes. She used to be a devout Catholic back then, so all the eggs had to go before Lent, but they couldn't be thrown out, oh no -- food could never ever go to waste, which led to fat kids or ruined recipes.
But what mum did ruin for me forever were cruciferous vegetables. Boiled soft and gray every time, I would often get broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage on one plate, all with a dollop of mustard. She said at the time, 'These are just the vegetables you get in this country.'
I would have cooked for myself, but I was expected to stay hungry and out of the kitchen until whatever time she rolled in, even in my 30s."