There are few things in this world that are worse than expecting a fantastic meal and getting served something that looks like it should be fed to animals. These stories express people's biggest dining disappointment.
A Trusted Chef
“I was 8 years old, and my friend’s dad was a chef at some fancy restaurant. He put something on the table that smelled like feet, and I was convinced for a second that he was a cannibal trying to bring others into his fold. But here’s the thing…I usually really liked his food, so as not to insult him, I ate the entire thing. Moments later, the father sits down, brings the food to his mouth, and says ‘I think the eggs must’ve gone bad.'”
Mac And PLEASE GOD NO!
“When I was about 11, my family and I went to my mom’s half-brothers’ sister’s house for the first and last time. That lady was crazy; she wanted to host this whole ‘fancy dinner party’ which consisted of half a bag of chips as the appetizer, undercooked ham, and this abomination she had the audacity to call baked macaroni and cheese. Plus to make it better (or worse), she didn’t start cooking until after we got there. She told us to come over at 6 and started cooking at 7.
From what I remember, she used Kraft mac and cheese powder mix, but she used different noodles. Then she made too many noodles so she put slices of American cheese on top of it and then she put crushed and whole graham crackers on top of it, and baked it for jusssttt the right amount of time where half of the cheese wasn’t melted. I honestly almost cried at the dinner table, even her husband was like, ‘What is this?’ which made the experience 100x more awkward.”
“So I’m at the girlfriends and her neighbor invites us over for dinner. She also invited another guy over my girlfriend had just told me was being treated for some sort of perverse addiction.
So we have ‘salad.’ Salad being just iceberg lettuce. Seriously, nothing else but Italian or ranch dressing.
Then the pervert guy decides he wants to help serve me some spaghetti, everyone else just served themselves. Despite there being a perfectly good utensil everyone else used, he just reaches his bare, unwashed hands into the pasta and plops a handful on my plate. I didn’t know what dude’s specific urges were about, but I felt like I was eating pasta a la phallus.
I didn’t really know these people and it was all around pretty weird. It was either eat it or anger a bunch of my girlfriend’s neighbors. It was a tough call but it worked out and I never went near her neighbors again.”
A Little Added Protein
“I had a friend growing up. His parents were hoarders, and their home was infested with roaches. And by infested, I mean you’d walk in the front door and see at least a HUNDRED on the walls and floors.
To their credit, they TRIED to fix it. Bombs, traps, etc., but with all the hoarded crap, it didn’t work.
One day, his mom was making dinner. No joke, hundreds of roaches (mostly tiny baby ones but still) swarmed all over the counters, sink, and cabinets as she cooked. As she was trying to make plates for us she had set the plates out, then had to shake the roaches into the sink before adding food (yes, she rinsed them after but still).
When she handed me my plate, I had no confidence that roaches hadn’t crawled all over the plate and food before it got to me.
However, the chicken wasn’t terrible…”
Apparently Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Hot In Casserole
“My dad was a pretty abusive guy growing up, but for the sake of us kids, Mum used to invite him to stay with us when he had access visits here rather than us flying over there. One year, he brought his girlfriend along. She, being relatively lovely, decided to cook dinner to thank Mum for hospitality.
So she serves up a strange meat casserole full of bones. Mum said, ‘Oh, this looks nice.’ Girlfriend says, ‘Oh, I hope you don’t mind, I used the bag of meat in the freezer.’ Mum pauses, and kicks me under the table and shakes her head fiercely at me. We don’t eat the casserole, claiming not to be hungry. Mum watches intently as Dad eats the entire lot, including my serving.
Later she informed me: the bag of meat was dog food. She relished the opportunity to watch Dad eat dog food, whilst sparing me from the same fate.
Literally, the only thing Mum was concerned about was how the dog would feel, having lost his treats. She swore he knew and said he looked at my dad and the girlfriend with ‘judgmental eyes’ and an ‘expression of betrayal.’
But it was the weirdest thing. It was a plastic bag, loosely tied, containing another plastic bag torn open, and it didn’t look remotely human food like. If a serial killer dismembered his victims, defleshed most of the bones and kept them in their freezer, that’s what it would look like.
I wouldn’t go rummaging in the freezer and go ‘oh, these look delicious and stored oh so hygienically’ and freaking cook them. Jokes on them though, I got chicken nuggets for dinner later.”
Paula Deen, Is That You?
“When I was around 9 or 10, my friend’s mom offered me a half a stick of butter as a snack. Apparently, my friend’s favorite afternoon snack was a full stick of butter. I declined as respectfully as you might expect a 9 or 10-year-old would.”
Don’t Worry, It’s Just A Little Extra Fiber
“Oh boy, here we go.
I was in a man’s house in Afghanistan, and as is tradition, he made us tea. The tea wasn’t great, it was really just warm, dirt flavored water as far as I could tell. But, to be polite, I consumed my cups worth. As was expected of me. Next, he gave us rice. Now, these guys are poor, but it’s rude to turn down food. So what you do is this: take a little bit. An appetizer sized amount. Eat it relatively slowly and thank them profusely.
Easy enough. Well, unfortunately, in this particular instance, the gentleman was lacking in certain utensils, dinnerware, and OSHA standards. The rice was served to us on these slabs of shale this guy used as plates and had an unholy amount of GRAVEL, not sand, mixed in. Not to exaggerate, but the pieces of stone in the rice were up to pea-sized. This dude starts munching, so we all follow suit, trying to minimize chewing and maximize swallowing (haha). Again, we ate this rocky rice with our fingers since he had no utensils for us.
His teeth were pretty jacked up, so I can only assume he eats rocks regularly. But anyways, super cool dude, super kind gesture, and I hope we were nothing short of gentlemanly in our acceptance of his hospitality.”
A McMemorable Thanksgiving
“The last Thanksgiving I had with my family, my sister and I showed up to help cook and do dishes. My mom was drinking a lot that day (and every day), so she’s getting less interested in cooking and more into singing ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ on repeat.
I go and check the turkey temperature to discover that the bird is basically a block of ice. Ok—clearly not having turkey for dinner. I call my relatives driving in from out of town to see if they can pick up food, only to discover that they are not coming. The previous week, my mom in a wasted haze stole their tiny expensive dog. I asked how she knew.
‘Her purse barked.’
My mom then apparently ran from their house cursing at all the ‘haters,’ slipped on wet grass, fell on the expensive puppy, and broke its tiny, expensive back.
In the time it took to have that conversation, my mom took the minivan out for who-knows-what-reason.
My sister and I called the cops to report her. Then my sister left, and I had Thanksgiving dinner at McDonald’s.”
That’s A Weird Thing To Put In Pancakes
“I was about 8 years old when my mom and I went to her then-boyfriend’s parents’ house. It was my first time and mom’s second time meeting her ‘future in-laws,’ so she was pretty nervous.
The mom cooks dinner and it’s nice, no issues there.
The dad of the family then offers to make pancakes for dessert. I’m super excited, I loved pancakes. Nobody else wants any, but he sees how excited I am, so he makes a couple just for me, which was super sweet! However, when I try to remember the very first bite super naïve me chewed, it still makes me gag. There was hair in it. I stop chewing and discreetly try to get the hair out, but the dad had short hair and it’s hard to find in the mush. I swallow and feel multiple hairs going down in my throat and try not to gag.
When I went to cut up another piece – no way I could be unlucky enough to get more bites with hair, right? – I see hair sticking out from the sides of the piece I was cutting. I have to cut each individual hair to get the piece to separate from the rest of the pancake. I cut from the other side of the pancake, and the same thing happens. It becomes apparent that the middle of the pancake is a dense web of hair. I still try to eat it (!!!) because I don’t want to seem rude, but even though I try to clean up each piece before chewing, some hair always mad it through. I give up and leave maybe 4/5 of the pancake, stating that it was lovely, but I’m just too stuffed to continue. The parents are clearly a bit disappointed but don’t push.
Mom doesn’t believe me and demands to know why I didn’t finish eating. I keep repeating that I’m full, she’s having none of it and is calling me rude. I promise to tell her later because I didn’t want to embarrass the parents. She doesn’t let up and eventually I shout with the tact of an 8-year-old, ‘Because it’s full of hair and it’s gross!” The parents look shocked and my mom is furious. At first, mom doesn’t believe me, but then I show the pancake to the parents, who look genuinely upset and embarrassed how the hair got there, and I feel so bad for them. After dinner, when we’re in private, my mom kept yelling at me about how rude I was, how I embarrassed her. Even after seeing that it was full of hair, she said that I should just have eaten the pancake.”
Serving Is Just As Important
“A friend invited me and a couple of other friends to dinner when I was in high school. His mom served homemade chicken soup, which was fine. There was chocolate cake for dessert, but instead of serving it on separate plates, she went around to each of our places and sliced off a piece into each of our soup bowls, each of which still had some broth. Chocolate cake flavored with chicken broth is not a flavor I really want to repeat.”
A Northern Delicacy
“I grew up in the Southeastern U.S., and met a friend in college who was from Minnesota. I love her to death, but I cannot eat her cooking. That scene from How I Met Your Mother where Marshall’s mom is teaching Lily how to make the ‘salad’ is absolutely spot on—everything she ever made was covered in miracle whip (dear god why), ranch, 12 pounds of cheese, or butter. She made what she called calzones once, which were ham and mayonnaise wrapped in canned Pillsbury pizza dough. Mayonnaise, mayonnaise everywhere.”
The Saddest Breakfast
“My mother in law’s life centers around two things: preparedness and calorie-counting. Her food is extremely bland and frequently prepackaged. On Sundays she’ll usually make all her meals for the week, even stuff that shouldn’t be eaten that many days post-prep.
One morning my husband and I were extremely hungover and exhausted after being up all night at a party, all we wanted was a greasy hangover breakfast, some strong, hot coffee, and to get to bed. Driving to my mother in law’s was pure torture, and as my husband talked to her, I slithered into the bathroom to try my hardest to purge anything that would come out of my body. When I emerged from the bathroom he mumbled, ‘She offered to make us breakfast and I took her up on it. I’m sorry; I’m so sorry.’
She had batch-cooked a bunch of scrambled egg whites (the kind from a carton) using PAM cooking spray and no seasonings earlier in the week. She had also, earlier in the week, cooked up a bunch of turkey bacon. Both were microwaved and served on a soggy paper plate. Added to that was cantaloupe, which I don’t really enjoy in the best of circumstances. But this one had been cut up several days before it was ripe, and coincidentally several days before it was served to us. It was flavorless and mildly slimy. And I’m not a coffee snob, truly, but Folgers coffee bought in bulk and ‘brewed’ from a reusable Keurig pod is about the equivalent of running a stale coffee bean through a cup of hot water.
And because this was a sweet, lovely, wonderful woman who was serving us breakfast unexpectedly, we had to do the right thing and sit there and eat the whole. Entire. Thing.
I will admit that I cried in the car when it was over.”
How’d That Get In There?
“I have a doozy…
When I was still in high school, my mom made muffins of some sort and put one in my lunch. So I was taking a walk down the street and had this muffin to snack on while I walked.
So I take a big bite and start chewing, and hit something hard and crunchy. It takes me a couple minutes to kind of separate the crunchy bits in my mouth away from the muffin bits so that I can spit them in my hand without also getting a hand full of chewed muffin, but finally, I do it.
I look down and discover a handful of glass chunks. I have no idea how or why, and apparently neither does my mom, but I’ve always been suspicious of her baking after that…”
The One Time You Want The Meat To Be Burnt
“My grandma once served me burnt-to-a-crisp hamburgers and hotdogs with dish soap-washed salad (yes, you could taste it). For dessert, there was cinnamon jello made with Hot Tamales (it was revolting). At least she did burn the meat though because it had been ‘thawing’ in the summer heat outside for the entire day. Grandma’s meals were always a little terrifying. If she didn’t cook the meat long enough, there was plenty of food poisoning to be had.”
I’m Thankful For Many Things…But Not This Dinner
“The first Thanksgiving I spent with my ex-wife’s family was terrible and scary. I grew up in the restaurant business, so everyone in my family can cook, and I took that for granted.
First the turkey—unseasoned or marinated, full of box stuffing. They were taking it out of the oven when I mentioned that it was clearly not cooked yet. It had only been in for maybe 3 hours, the skin was still pale, and the temp gauge was still down. I was told that those gauges never work, so there was no point in using that as a guide. They didn’t own a meat thermometer for me to prove my point. They cut the first piece to reveal a soft pink core of raw turkey. Instead of putting it back in the oven, or even cutting up strips to pan cook, they decided to microwave each portion. They did not offer to microwave the stuffing. I refused to have any, claiming I did not like stuffing. I had one small bite of turkey and made it disappear when no one was looking.
The sides were ok for the most part, no seasoning or flair, but I filled up on it. The rolls were cool and raw in the middle, so no rolls for me. Finally, it was time for dessert. They made pumpkin pie. Looking at it I was already questioning the texture, but as I am a cook and not a baker, I figured I could just be over critical from the dinner fiasco. I took my first bite and nearly spit it back out onto my plate. The whipped cream was the only thing that saved me from doing so. I asked what recipe they used for the pie. Apparently, it was a silly question, as they just used a premade crust and added a can of pumpkin…no condensed milk, no sugar. Nothing but the canned pumpkin and the crust.
Every year afterward either we hosted dinner for her parents or we visited my family.”
“My Grandma had signature dishes, which meant it was all she made, ever.
‘Swiss steak’ consisted of the cheapest cut of meat, cooked until hard and gray; then she’d dump a can of mushrooms on top and burn those until they turned into a congealed topping.
Ramen noodles were usually cooked just to the point of liquidity; if she was feeling fancy, she’d dump in a can of tuna and mix that all together with the seasoning packets.
‘Fruit salad’ was orange or lime Jell-O mixed with canned fruit. The topping would consist of mayonnaise and cream cheese spread over the top.
She also served reheated McDonald’s french fries and used expired condiments and seasonings and washed her dishes with Ajax or Comet.”
There Are Two Kinds Of Mashed Potatoes In This World
“My first girlfriend in high school. Her mom was the best cook on earth. She made mashed potatoes that were so good they could sit in the fridge for three days uncovered and you could gobble them up cold. I had a reputation with her family for being able to just demolish everything she made. One time we went to her dad’s mom’s house for her dad’s birthday. My girlfriend and her mother rode separately and they both warned me that the grandma was not a good cook. I figured ‘how bad can it be?’
My god, it was so bad. Literally, every dish was atrocious. Unseasoned boiled meat would have been better than the stuff she made. The worst part was her mashed potatoes. They were gray and watery and tasted like death. Everyone there was fully aware of my diehard love of mashed potatoes. I managed to eat everything on my plate out of politeness, and when they saw I was done, my girlfriend’s dad, his brother, and his mom all started hounding me to get seconds. I had to come up with an excuse that I was sick. I felt bad, but wow, that was the worst food I’ve ever eaten. I left feeling bad for my girlfriend’s dad and his brother for having to grow up eating that slop.”
Be Sure To Take Some Leftovers!
“My girlfriend’s stepmom for some reason is against putting any type of seasoning on her roast chicken. No butter, no salt, no pepper. nada. Just the way nature intended. Straight outta the packaging and into the preheated oven. It has become a running joke between me and my sisters and brothers-in-law, and no one has ever dared mentioned to her how much we hate her bland roast chicken. After more than 5 roast chicken dinners at their house—no amount of ketchup, sriracha, or great tasting side dishes could mask my disappointment anymore. She still gets the last laugh though, since there is always quite a bit of leftover chicken and she declares, ‘Wow heaps of chicken left—I’ll make a plate for you guys to take home.'”