“As I like it”

(we all might have been like this at one point or another in our lives)

As always, when we have house guests over we almost always cook. Life sure could be easier with takeout of course, but I prefer to just make something for the sheer fact that the person is a guest in our house and it’d be great to give something a little closer to the heart.

Every now and then and understandably so, there will be a person who will ask for a little something to go with their meal. One guest asked for hot sauce while we were eating a roast chicken I made, and that of course we gladly provided for them. I myself am not a fan of spicy, but am willing to accomodate for those who are. But one particular guest captured my attention of them all…

It wasn’t a matter of spicy or mild, flavorless or not, but this one visitor had the tendency to douse ketchup and cheese over EVERYTHING that we made. Sure, perhaps it is a teenage way of life (the guest was 17) and it’d been a while since I’d had the company of a teenager. But one couldn’t help but feel … just a tad if not more, insulted.

At one point though, our beloved teen guest was confronted about this questionable behavior towards our food that became an epic ongoing discussion. They didn’t fully understand why it would come off as “insulting” that the food we graciously prepared, was now becoming a new dish on its own with all the works they were putting into it. After exerting long, LONG exhausting exchanges of words, the young guest concluded to us: “I just like food the way I like it.”

Having been a much pickier eater myself for a good 3/4 of my life, I could relate to this statement. However, since I crossed over into my adult life, I now had to raise my eyebrow at this one.

How many times have we heard this referral in a movie? In the movie “Remember Me” (2010) there’s a scene where Emilie de Ranvin’s character is ordering in a restaurant and tells her date (played by Robert Pattinson): “I like to have my dessert first.” Her reasoning? it’s what she really wanted in the end and why wait? Also, who could forget the classic introduction to the neurosis of Meg Ryan’s character in “When Harry Met Sally”:

Now of course, I had to excuse the fact that this teen was young: they had yet to realize a lot of the etiquette we now know as adults. But just as I had been trained over and over again in my life, I took this as their own kick in the butt.

HOWEVER … there was one point that stood out, if anything, from dealing with this matter. This young person couldn’t understand at all why it was a crime to eat something exactly the way they wanted it, how they liked it, and why it’s somehow acceptable to do this in restaurants (they claimed to do it all the time, as they saw many also do while they worked as restaurant staff). Trying somehow to dictate the rules of guest etiquette was starting to become a tad uncomfortable as the real answer lay: “because it’s just not something you do.” It became really clear that this person never learned Grandma’s rule (as Bourdain so-put):

“I often talk about the ‘Grandma rule’ for travellers. You may not like Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey. It may be overcooked and dry – and her stuffing salty and studded with rubbery pellets of giblets you find unpalatable in the extreme. You may not even like turkey at all. But it is ‘Grandma’s Turkey’. And you are in Grandma’s house. So shut the eff up and eat it. And afterwards say, “Thank you, Grandma, why, yes, yes of course I’d love seconds” — Bourdain, from his book ‘Medium Raw’. 

We told her simply that if she’d gone to a La Bernardin in NYC, and covered her food in cheese and ketchup, she should expect a sneezed-on fish. Unlike Burger King, sometimes, ya just can’t have it your way.

Look, if a salt and pepper shaker exists on your table, take that as one of the only indications that perhaps permission has been granted to make it more geared to your own tastes. BUT … unless the ketchup bottle is on the table or they’ve laid out actual cheese and a toaster for you to add to your meal… don’t do it. Taste it for whatever it is, and move on.


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