There's always that one person who thinks they're a master chef when in reality, their cooking is pretty unimpressive. The food is usually edible even if it's just not great. But, sometimes edible is an overstatement. Occasionally, people have to choke down some seriously nasty food so as not to offend their host.
These are the best stories from Reddit about the worst food people ate to be polite. Content has been edited for clarity.
The Last Time He Ate Out Of Pity
“My aunt is a terrible cook. She invited us over for buffalo burgers using the meat from their recent trip to Alaska. While I was eating said burger, I noticed mold on the bun. I told her and to my astonishment, she replied, ‘Oh yeah, I know. I baked them to kill off the bacteria though.’ I just ate the buffalo patty.
After we were all done eating, it came out that the deep freezer had been unplugged for an unknown amount of time. The meat was warm but ‘don’t worry. Cooking kills anything.’ We were all so sick for days after that. I had the worst stomach pains of my life. Yeah, I don’t care that she’s my aunt…no more pity eating for me.”
Can’t Top This Disgusting Concoction
“My husband once ate ‘beef fudge’ that his college girlfriend made. She basically made fudge, then added raw ground beef to it. He ate as much as he could out of politeness, but it was raw beef chocolate.
When I cook something new and am worried about it being bad, I remind myself that it will never be as gross as beef fudge.”
The Plan Backfired In A Major Way
“Pig’s blood and rice. It’s a long rectangular cube of blood with white rice meshed into it. It was Chinese New Year, I was in Taiwan and was regularly invited to people’s houses for the first three days of the New Year celebration. Many times, they would have a pot on the middle of the table and everyone would just toss in whatever they liked.
You never knew what you would ladle out, so I would always make sure to sit next to a native Taiwanese so if I did fish out something nasty, I’d just put it on their plate, pre-arranged of course.
This plan worked out great for the first two days. But on the third day, my native partner was full. I had to eat every nasty thing that came out of that wretched pot. The blood from those things would just melt into a paste in your mouth and fill every space in my mouth. I’d try to swallow but I would gag it back up. It was like a tug of war between my mouth and stomach except they were both pushing back and forth.”
The Nightmare Before Christmas Cake
“My aunt made a chocolate cake for Christmas Eve dinner one year. I honestly have no idea what she mixed up. Maybe she used salt instead of sugar? Maybe she accidentally dumped an entire container of baking powder in it? It was the worst thing I’ve ever eaten. We all sat there eating this cake and pretending to like it. Like, all 12 of us. Everyone aside from my aunt, who didn’t have any.
So anyway, later on that night she decided to have a piece and she gagged on the first bite. She spt it out and yelled, ‘Oh my god, what is wrong with this cake?’ We were all kind of looking around but no one wanted to be the first to say something.
Finally, my 6-year-old niece was like, ‘The cake was gross but mom told me not to say anything.’ We all started cracking up, including my aunt. She was like, ‘I can’t believe you guys willingly ate this!’
We never did figure out how she messed it up, but we still talk about it like 20 years later how we all ate this cake that tasted like manure because we were too polite to let on how awful it was.”
Christmas Is Ruined
“I had a boyfriend who is Anglo-Japanese – Japanese mother, English father. His mother is lovely, but oh my god her cooking. He used to beg her to make Japanese food growing up, but she told him, ‘We’re British now, we eat British food.’ Except her ‘British’ food is like a Japanese person’s perspective of all the bad stereotypes about British food. Literally, everything is overcooked and underseasoned. Vegetables are boiled, boiled, boiled.
One year, I spent Christmas at his parents with him. Dear God in heaven, the turkey was like sawdust, the boiled potatoes would fall apart like sploot if you touched them with a fork. I retched her brussels sprouts into the bin. But the worst thing… oh my god, the worst thing I’ve ever tasted… was her mince pies.
If you’re not familiar with mince pies, they’re a little sweet pie filled with syrupy dried fruit and spices. They’re a massive Christmas thing in the UK. My Japanese MIL does not like mince pies, but because it’s Christmas and ‘We’re British now,’ she insists on making them.
Wholemeal flour pastry to make it ‘healthier,’ a spoon of the dried fruit mix and then, because she doesn’t like normal mince pies, she grabs every jar of jam and marmalade in the cupboard and throws it ALL in there.
Like, literally, there’s three of us with a jar each adding strawberry jam, some unidentified kind of marmalade, blackcurrant jam, and cherry jam. And then, for good measure, she throws a couple of fresh grapes in each one too before putting the lids on the pies. I mean, these things are small. How she fits that much in there is beyond me. I mean they must be TARDIS pies.
So then she throws them in the oven. The filling bubbles out and burns. The pastry is somehow both rock hard and raw-tasting. They smell like a fire in a jelly bean factory. They taste like dirt-in-syrup. I literally can’t explain to you how rancid these things taste, and the texture with the grapes in there too is just horrendous. I choked one down and she kept offering them for the rest of the stay. My boyfriend secretly disposed of a couple of them for me, so as not to hurt her feelings.
And then, when we left to go home and I was finally going to be free of these abysmal affronts to Christmas, she gave us a plastic box full of them to eat on the journey.
Those pies were left in a bin at Kings Cross station. Bins are hard to find in UK train stations, but we hunted one down. Honestly, just thinking about those pies is making my stomach uncomfortable.”
A Cheesy Nightmare
“We’ve got this weird thing in my family where the men get sick if they eat cheese. Well, when I was about 12, I was visiting some old family from my mother’s side who we honestly have very little contact with.
The first night I arrived the mother asked me if there was any type of food that I couldn’t/wouldn’t eat, I said I’ll eat anything except cheese. Unfortunately, she had made lasagna with lots of cheese. Being polite I said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll have some.’
I’ve never had anything more disgusting in my life. I felt so sick afterward that I slept for 14 hours straight.”
“I was studying for an exam with a good friend in a time where we were kind of flirty with each other so I really didn’t want to be rude. After an hour or two of studying and talking she gets up to make a quesadilla and asks if I want one as well. I hadn’t eaten yet that day and it was like 3 in the afternoon, so I was glad to accept.
This girl took a moldy tortilla from an unsealed bag and tore off the mold, which was easily 30% of the surface area of the tortilla. Then, she went to the fridge where she pulled out two slices of American cheese from ANOTHER unsealed bag and just puts them on top of the tortilla. The worst part? She didn’t even cook it in a pan. She put that horrible thing in the microwave.
I ended up eating most of it, but there’s a good chance that I would have vomited were I not on an empty stomach.”
Taking The Word Sandwich Literally
“My dad used to make my sister and I eat sand when we would go to the beach. He’d bring a cooler of sandwich supplies and some sodas. For lunch, he made the sandwiches for my sister and I. Before handing us our sandwiches, he’d take the top slice of bread off, grab some sand, and sprinkle it all over the lunch meat. We protested and he said, ‘Sand in your sandwich is the best part about going to the beach. It’s good for your gizzard.’
When we protested further, asking to make our own sandwiches, he told us, ‘Either you eat this or you don’t eat.’ We begrudgingly began to choke down our gritty sandwiches. ‘Want something to drink with that?’ he asked. We nodded. He grabbed a can of 7-Up out of the cooler, opened it, and sprinkled sand over/around the opening of the can, then handed it to us with a cheerful ‘Here you go.’
He was an odd dude. It wasn’t a joke, though.”
An Annual Disappointment
“Dry turkey. Every Thanksgiving. The same place, the same people, same dry turkey. The same people saying, ‘Oooh this turkey is delicious.’ I tried to not get some once but that was a mistake.
‘Oh, you didn’t get any of this dry, messed up turkey? Here lemme get you some!’ I’m gonna start telling my family I’m vegetarian, except they always have ham, too, and that actually is delicious.”
Good In Theory, Bad In Execution
“I was staying at my aunt’s house for the summer and she made orange chicken one night for dinner. It sounds good in theory but this tasted like she marinated it in orange Pledge. It was acrid and weirdly chemically.
To avoid being rude, me and my cousins played a game to see who could eat the most without making a face. The winner had basically no sense of smell, which gave her a natural advantage.”
Lovely Woman, Strange Taste
“I went to Cambodia with Engineers Without Borders. It was at a tiny island and I was staying in an old lady’s house who I had no way to communicate with. It was two days before the translator got to the island.
Every meal, I would eat catfish head soup and every time I would have to eat all of it to not insult the host. After every meal, I would have to go and vomit behind the house. She was an amazing and lovely woman, but I can never understand how anyone could enjoy eating that.”
The Thousand Yard Stare
“My mom was a fairly competent cook when I was growing up. She would mostly make basic working class ‘American’ staples every week, like spaghetti, casseroles, chili, hamburgers, and chicken, but she would occasionally branch out and try a new recipe that she found in magazines and such.
One weekend, she decided to make an Italian wedding soup type concoction. Spinach, meatballs…other things. I’m not sure what the intended flavor profile was supposed to be, but I still vividly recall the end result. It tasted like a bowl of gritty dirt and lawn clippings floating in hot beef tallow. My father and I, being the deferential sort, both choked it down without much fanfare. She asked us how it turned out, and we both put on our best DeNiro frown-and-shrug expressions, and said, ‘It’s pretty good…’
We were halfway through our bowls when she finally sat down and made one for herself. After two or three spoonfuls she said, ‘This tastes like crap!’
We didn’t comment. She then looked at us accusingly and yelled, ‘Why on earth did you say it tasted good?’
We didn’t know how to answer that question. We just gave her the thousand-yard stare.”
Grandma Must’ve Hated Him
“I dated a girl who was half Italian and we would visit her grandmother occasionally. Her grandma was super old school Italian and would serve us food no matter what time of day we’d visit. At one point she served super hard bread and a bowl of warm water. I was told to dip the bread in the water and suck/chew on the moist end.
It was basically stale bread dipped in warm water. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, but the texture and lack of taste of this bread was just too terrible. I still cringe thinking about it.”
Mashed Potato Maniac
“I can be a weirdly picky eater, so I force myself to eat a lot of stuff out of politeness rather than being that weird guy who hates normal food. But for years, I was unable to eat mashed potatoes. I was staying with an aunt for awhile and she made mashed potatoes with a ton of mayonnaise in them. I didn’t know this at the time and I hate mayonnaise. So I assumed this is just what mashed potatoes were like. I choked them down as to not insult her.
For years after that, even the texture of mashed potatoes made me gag, despite being perfectly fine eating potatoes in other forms. It was 100% a psychological thing. I can eat them just fine now, but it took a lot to get over the mental connection to my aunt’s cooking.”
Yum, Tastes Like Rubber
“In China, we were given grilled pure wheat gluten on a stick, covered in spices. It’s a very popular street snack that looks deceptively tasty. It doesn’t sound so bad, but holy cow, it’s like chewing a stick of flavorless rubber, with some dry spice that makes you cough and gag. Texturally, it was atrocious. In Chinese, it literally means ‘dough tendon’ and it does feel like trying to eat a raw tendon.
I tried to brace myself and stuff one right down my mouth to get it over with, but I couldn’t swallow and I nearly vomited. My wonderful Chinese friends probably thought I was very odd.
On this same trip, I ate duck blood, chicken heart, brain out of the skull and cow stomach, and loved them. I’m not a picky eater, but those gluten sticks were rank.”
They Somehow Made Bacon Bad
“When I was younger, I went camping with my scout group. Our leader made bacon with some of the other leaders and they made a lot of it too.
Us children sat down at the benches and, of course, piled on the bacon.
I bite into a piece of bacon, expecting to taste salty goodness. But nope, it had the flavor of inhaling smoke. It was so bad, I was literally shaking every time a bit of that flavor came back up over the course of the entire trip.
The other kids also hated the bacon and started getting up. The head leader stopped everybody and got mad at them for throwing out this bacon they made. All the kids said how horrible it is but sat back down because they didn’t want to be yelled at.
The leader sat down, bite into the bacon, and spit it out. They then informed us that the rule of eating everything you take doesn’t apply to this bacon. They all threw theirs out, and the rest of the batch out.”
Interesting Storage Technique
“A 7-11 cashier asked if I like chips and salsa. ‘That’s my favorite!’ I told him.
‘Oh really? My wife makes homemade salsa,’ he said.
I said, ‘Wow, that sounds great!’ He asked if I wanted to try some. I said, ‘Sure!’ thinking that she sold homemade tubs of it to buy.
The guy pulled out a paper plate of stale chips and greenish salsa from under the cash register area. He was so proud. I took a bite. It was ok. I was dying inside but I said, ‘Wow! That’s amazing!'”
This Cheeseburger Was Not From Paradise
“One time I was hanging out with a few co-workers after we had gotten off work. We were gonna smoke a little and play Mario Kart. My coworker was bragging about this burger she likes to make that apparently ‘everyone loves.’ Okay, cool, I love tasty burgers. The burger was mixed with a random assortment of spices and cheeses and filled with french onion dip. Not my usual style, but whatever, I’ll eat it if it’s supposedly so good.
Oh my god, it was terrible. She didn’t even use actual buns, she used thin wheat bread. I made an excuse so that I didn’t have to finish it. I truly believe she was lying when she said everyone loved it. It was so bad.”
Local Delicacies Aren’t Always As Appalling As You’d Think
“I had homemade sausage made from fermented cats in North Vietnam. It’s called ‘nem meo.’ A lot of Vietnamese deny that any such thing exists except when made from pork, but it does. I have eaten it and it is nasty. It took two days to get the taste completely out of my mouth.
Generally speaking, the cuisine agrees with me, even the weirder stuff. The only other specific incident that comes to mind in the four years I lived there involved pan-fried pig intestines that hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned.
The fertilized duck eggs aren’t my cup of tea. It depends greatly on the stage of development of the embryo. But I can manage.
Things that I had expected to be on the list but that actually were good included goat blood salad (tiet canh), a wide variety of rice spirits with a wide taxonomy of animals in them, various dishes made from dog, whole fried finches, and fish eyeballs. There was a venomous snake caught on the farm where I lived for a while that was bled into some rice spirit and it made my whole body slightly tingly, but it was enjoyable. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. I enjoyed living there a lot.”