Last night we bought home some Buffalo wings from Stop 'n Shop. Had I been paying attention and not looking to see if the Killian’s or Dundee was cheapest, I would have stopped my husband from putting these deli ready-made wings in the cart. Because, here’s the thing:
Buffalo wings do not have breading or tomato sauce on them!
It’s not that the wings tasted nasty or anything (they were extremely soggy, though) but that’s like pouring chicken gravy over a chuck steak and calling it chicken fried steak.
Once, my best friend’s sister said she was going to make Thanksgiving dinner. She sprinkled a little salt on a turkey then baked it and made some white rice. This was a raping, pillaging and raping of the most sacred of cooking laws. I can’t even begin to explain how horrible it was for the15 of us to sit down to a Thanksgiving meal of such overwhelming bland whiteness. There wasn’t even any stuffing, much less pie.
It’s a shame there are no such things as Culinary Police to arrest the perpetrators of such flagrant crimes against food.
Your best friend’s sister is visiting us from which planet?
The only really horrible meal I ever remember being served could only be described as Chicken Surprise. I don’t know exactly what was in it (it’s not like I asked for the recipe!) but I’m almost certain there was canned cream of mushroom soup involved. And bits of chicken, of course. Noodles, cooked until they were glue. Maybe a little salt. And the cook was so proud!
Planet Ecuador. Still, that was no excuse. All the rest of her family is from Ecuador too and they all wondered what happened to the rest of the food. There weren’t even any enpanadas!
When we moved to New England from Texas we decided to try a place called Cafe Iguana. I ordered fajitas (they can’t screw those up, right?) and was puzzled to learn that they had been marinated in…worcestershire sauce. According to teh internets that’s not uncommon, but I’m here to tell you: it just ain’t right.
We tried a new restaraunt last week. I ordered the salmon, described on the menu as “grilled to perfection, with a lemon-dill veloute sauce.”
I was given an overcooked fillet with dried dillweed coating it. I did try it, just to be fair; but it tasted like hay. Wrong on so many counts.
I went to a restaurant in a very small town (under 1200) and was served Chicken Cacciatore with no pasta. Just a chicken breast with some tomato sauce. And a side dish of green beans. And white bread, with butter so cold it tore holes in the bread.
One time at a Chevy’s restaurant I ordered the fajita nachos, which came out fine, but blinked at receiving a side of ranch dressing with them. I dunno if the guy assumed because I was white I was automatically going to slather ranch dressing on everything or what but it was truly bizarre. Maybe someone in the kitchen double dog dared him. (I did dip the corner of one in, just to see. It was…interesting.)
At a SOCal truckstop (just north of the Grapevine) I ordered buffalo chicken fingers (which ARE breaded - a different animal than wings.) I took one bite and made a face. My husband said “you don’t like them? What’s wrong?” I said: “There’s something…Asian?” They were really super hot and spicy like regular wing sauce, but also sweet and orange-y. I couldn’t be sure if I was imagining it so I took another bite and couldn’t eat anymore. He took a bite and made a weird face too. He said “There’s sweet & sour mixed with the wing sauce!” It was so disgusting and Not Right. I ate the garlic toast and french fries but all I could taste for the rest of the night was the memory of wing sauce and sweet and sour. BRRR.
My dad used to make great macaroni and cheese. And then he would dump canned tomatoes in them. Nothing could induce him to stop. Egregious indeed.
Overcooked fish is probably my biggest peeve. Second would be pasta served in enough sauce to feed half of Rome.
Living in a small town in the Midwest makes threads like this easy.
Off the top of my head:
Bouillabaisse that consisted of chunks of seafood covered with chicken gravy
At not one, but two different restaurants, I’ve ordered Mexican dishes only to find that the sauce they put on them was ketchup.
I’ve ordered Eggs Benedict and had them come out sans Hollandaise. When I asked about it, I was told the chef was “too busy” to make it. Yum, yum, poached eggs & ham on dry English muffins. Just what I wanted for breakfast.
My SIL cannot/will not follow recipes. She baked a cake one time and deliberately left out the oil, with no substitutions, because some family members were trying to lose weight and she thought it would help to have a cake with no oil in it. It was, of course, as dry as the Sahara.
She also made a pot pie that was mostly crust and made with frozen mixed veggies. Just sad.
My foster mother through most of high school wasn’t the best cook.
She made baked macaroni and cheese with a block of Velveeta. I still wonder why she didn’t just use Kraft mac and cheese.
She also loved to make American chop suey. Egg noodles, stewed tomatoes (not drained), ground beef, onions and peppers. No spices. No sauce other than the juice from the tomatoes. I still have difficulty looking at a stewed tomato without gagging.
I once ordered Pasta Carbonara at a restaurant that obtained its noodles from a gourmet pasta factory located just down the street.
When the waitress brought it out , she asked me if would like “more soy sauce?”.
This was the only dish I have sent back in my lifetime.
Not exactly cooking, but definitely egregious: I ordered a MooLatte from a hole-in-the-wall Dairy Queen that was inside of a gas station. I watched as the woman filled up a container from a big bag of what looked like chocolate sauce and pumped it into my drink. I’d ordered the mocha, but it tasted like vinegar and smoke and ice cream. I think they got the bag of chocolate sauce mixed up with a bag of barbecue sauce. She also copped a 'tude when I asked for a refund so I told her she needed to make herself one and try to figure out where she went so very, very wrong as she sipped it.
My dad, god bless him, is a terrible cook. And when we were kids he did most of the cooking (dad worked days, mom worked nights).
Some memorable dadisms:
One day he had “orange chicken” at a chinese place and thought to try it at home. So he took a can of orange juice concentrate, threw it in a pan, heated until it melted then cooked a whole chicken in it. Yum.
All beef - cooked until beyond gray. He out-britished the British in this one. I had no idea beef was tasty until I learned to cook on my own. I remember being at home after college and cooking a nice roast for the family. My dad was literally dumbstruck - “It’s so good!” “Yeah, I cooked it to a nice medium rare. Keeps it juicy and flavorful.” “My god. My mother always cooked it to well done. I never knew a roast could taste…well…good!”
blink blink, at least he’s learning
Dad’s “holy trinity” of added (usually unnecessary, often inappropriate) ingredients: peanuts, broccoli, ranch dressing.
“Dad, why do the scrambled eggs have peanuts in them? And why did you put ranch dressing on them?”
blink blink - “everybody likes ranch dressing and peanuts, don’t they? Do you need some broccoli in them too?”
(Disclosure: I’m a professional cook with 26 years of experience.)
There was a stretch of time while I was living in the local men’s homeless shelter where a fairly well-to-do couple would come in once a week and cook us up a spaghetti dinner. Their homemade sauce sure looked good: chunks of tomato, onions, peppers, mushrooms, meat. Mmmmmm, looks tasty! Then I took a bite and was hit by what I can only describe as the flavor of “red Kool-Aid”. There was none of that pungent, spicy bite you expect from Italian tomato-based sauce. I couldn’t even detect the onions and peppers, because the whole thing was overwhelmed by this completely out-of-place fruity sweetness. And it wasn’t the sweetness of sweet basil or anise; it literally tasted like they’d poured red Kool-Aid into the sauce. I’m sure they didn’t, but there seemed to be a lot of sugar involved, whatever they did.
So the next week I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’d simply made a mistake the first time. Nope. Same exact thing. I stopped coming down for spaghetti dinner after that.
Then there was my mom’s “beef stew” when I was a kid. I should mention right off that my mom didn’t do “spicy”. At all. (There’s a good reason my dad smothered everything with pepper.) Her “beef stew” involved a package of stew meat, some carrots, some potatoes, and some celery. Cooked all day in a slow-cooker crock pot. With some oregano, salt, and maybe a couple beef boullion cubes added for “flavor”. Did you know that when you boil everything with carrots, everything ends up tasting like carrots? I like carrots, but I like my beef to taste like beef, and my potatoes to taste like potatoes.
I avoided stew like the plague until I was in my early 30s, when I ended up working in a restaurant that occasionally served beef stew as a lunch special. I finally got to see it made by somebody who knew how to make it right. “What? You mean you cook everything together in beef gravy?” <taste> “Excellent!”
Couple of easy ones – cooking pasta, potatoes or meat without salt. Using unripe avocadoes out of ignorance. (I was served a ceviche by someone who didn’t know what an avocado is supposed to feel or taste like.)
And unfortunately, anything my best friend tries to bake. She tosses in flour without measuring or weighing (the dough could stand in for pasta dough once she thinks it looks right), kneads a couple of times, leaves to rise for no more than half an hour, shapes the “bread” and bakes. Thinks it tastes delicious.
I ate at a decent-looking Mexican restaurant in Asheville (a town that is not without good Mexican food) a few years ago. Both the chips and the salsa were Tostito’s. I recognized it immediately (it has an unmistakable mildewed-washcloth taste to me), and when I peeked back in the kitchen they were indeed pouring it out of a large Sam’s Club-sized bottle.
Unsurprisingly, the meal didn’t improve from there. I really should have feigned an illness or something, since it’s hard to imagine a better harbinger of horrible Mexican food.
I was there again a few months later and the restaurant was gone, building and all. No sign it was ever even there. Good riddance.
Bah…At least you got Tostito’s. One time I ordered Huevos Rancheros and got Scrambled eggs on mega-bag cheap Tortilla chips-yes chips- covered in Hunt’s diced tomatoes, not salsa-just canned tomatoes, I saw the can.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the swill that most restaurants call sausage gravy. Most of it is like watered down kindergarten paste.