Food is a cornerstone of any culture, as its always been. However, every culture has some taboo when it comes to how food is eaten. These stories are about people breaking unwritten social rules about how food should be cooked or eaten. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I used to work in a fancy steakhouse. One night, we had prime Wagyu beef as a special (this is a $100 piece of meat). My job was to run the food out to the tables, and half-way through the night an order came back for well-done Wagyu. If you ask any chef they are going to say this breaks their heart, but people can order steaks how they like if they are the ones spending the money. When I run the steak out to the table the old man cuts into the center, and says it needs to be cooked longer. We repeat this two more times until there is essentially a $100 piece of jerky in front of him.
The old man then asks me for some ketchup and I had to watched him smother his $100 Wagyu jerky in Heinz. The chef almost teared up when I told him. To each his own, I guess..."
"I love Oreos. Like, 'buy a pack and it's gone that day' a lot. One day I saw one of my coworkers open an Oreo,
They scraped the cream into the garbage and just ate the cookies. Because it was 'too sweet' for her. I almost called 911. A part of me died inside that day, knowing such evil exists. Disgusting."
"I was kicked off a 1,500 member 'Foodies' distribution list for this one.
My friend managed the list at a large San Francisco Bay Area company. I worked a few cubicles down. Someone started a thread on 'how do you dress up your ramen?' These folks were hardcore about their ramen. People would set aside a day to get in line at 11am for work lunch at the best ramen places. The thread had dozens of responses and I learned the name of a few new vegetables.
I responded to the thread with 'I put a half packet of Splenda in my Cup Noodle to offset the salt.'
I was trolling a bit, but it was something I actually did at the time.
My friend calls out 'Hey man, can you come here a sec?' and made me watch as he removed my name from the Foodies list."
"My Aunt (in her childhood) would lick the salt off of her Wendy's fries when the family went out to eat. My grandpa would be horrified with her for not eating perfectly good fries, and would eat them himself, not knowing she had licked each one.
So basically my grandma and aunt let him believe Wendy's just had the worst, soggiest fries in the world for years before he caught her in the act."
"I had an insane temporary housemate. We were both in a transitional state of in lives. If I cooked and had extra, she would have some, no big whoop. I'm an Italian-American and don't understand portion control, so I make vats of food.
She, under her own gumption, decides to make dinner one night 'just for the two of us.' I am immediately confused. There is nothing in that fridge worth making dinner over, this I know.
I look to the counter, and she's got out a couple half jars of salsa from a recent party, a bottle of ketchup, and a jar of olives.
'What are you making?' I ask knowing I'm going to hate the answer.
'Lasagna. I talked to your fiancé I know you love lasagna, so I'm making us some.'
Couple things: I know for a fact she did not talk to my fiancé. I know for a fact that I don't like lasagna. I know for a fact that you can't mix ketchup and salsa to make pasta sauce. It was at this moment I knew that the transition time in my life was over and I needed to skedaddle out of that house, and I knew that I had seen the worst thing ever attempted to be combined into a known food product.
Her final recipe:
3 half jars of salsa
1 half bottle ketchup
1 half jar salad olives
1 half box elbow mac
Mix it all together, bake it, and then do what any sane person would do and throw the whole thing into the garbage."
"I was just out of high school and dating this guy long enough to go to Thanksgiving with his family.
I asked his mother if she'd like me to bring anything, she said yes, I suggested mashed potatoes, and she said that's great!
I used to the recipe that my grandmother did when making mashed potatoes. Her potatoes were so flavorful, full of butter, a little sour cream, some cream cheese. And she knew how to make them without becoming gummy. Dehydrate the drain potatoes, then use a ricer to get all the lumps out.
I made this, brought it to Thanksgiving. About when we're going to eat, she sees my potatoes, and then proceeds to dump them out and mix them into her garbage, bland, flavorless potatoes.
I couldn't say a dang thing, but I was horrified."
"Girlfriend insisted that I have Thanksgiving dinner at her parents' house. Her parents, much like her, considered themselves as foodies and wonderful chefs. However, they would never follow a recipe and would substitute all kinds of garbage and never use the right portions.
So Thanksgiving comes around. Dad, who is the embodiment of bravado, declares that he is going to cook the turkey. The oven was being used for the sides, so he decided he was going to cook it on the stove top. A 20-pound turkey, still frozen, in a skillet. After a few hours of it getting nowhere, he decided to quarter it. That is when he learned that there is a bag of gizzards and whatnot that the store puts into the cavity of the turkey. He figured that it was normal to leave it there, but it made sure to shred the plastic bag it was in and leave all of that in the skillet, for that homemade charred plastic flavor.
The sides, all of which were ready at the rate of about one an hour, were not your standard Thanksgiving fare. Stuffing with dried fruit medley and nut pieces with a 'traditional Cranberry Gravy'. It was white gravy that had broken, so there was just large strands of greasy fat, and in that they dumped a bunch of raw cranberries. It was completely and utterly disgusting. I'm pretty sure the dried fruit and nuts was a trail mix originally.
Roasted vegetables, but because the stove was being used to make another side they 'roasted' the vegetables in the microwave. They also had shredded the vegetables, so you had shredded parsnips and carrots and celery and tomato mush and eggplant, I am probably forgetting some things, but even if it was roasted they don't all cook at the same rates, but it being microwaved was really a great way to make a bunch of random nonsense super disgusting.
There was something with dates and lettuce and cheese. This 'salad' for lack of a better term had been copied from some fancy restaurant, but the restaurant had used figs, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar and honey. This used thousand island as a dressing, and I think shredded mild cheddar.
There were a couple other dishes, one of which was actually edible, but these were the worst. I was there for 6 or so hours, and then I had to go to work, where I got some Chinese food for dinner.
My girlfriend at the time made me a plate for when the whole meal was 'done' for when I was coming back from work. I threw that garbage plate away the next day in the neighbors trash."
"One of my friends from high school would put soy sauce/teriyaki sauce on ANY AND ALL Asian food. Stews, soup, meat, vegetables, and everything in-between. I could understand if he wanted some more saltiness/sweetness depending on the dish, but he drenched things in it... It didn't matter if it was a Panda Express, Mongolian Grill, cheap chicken teriyaki type food, fine, that's ok, it doesn't have much flavor to begin with anyway. But when we're at a nice Dim Sum or Japanese restaurant... So help me God. When the waiters saw us I wanted to explain that he was a random stranger that just sat down with me."
"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."
"My ex-wife would refuse to eat a meal unless it was served 'piping hot.' She would also refuse to come to the table to eat unless the food was already sitting there waiting for her. In fact, she wouldn't begin her come-to-the-table routine -- which included winding up whatever she was doing, going to wash her hands, and so forth -- unless the food was already on the table, even if I gave her several warnings that she should start getting ready because the food would be ready soon.
So given these two delightful qualities, at every meal we ever had, she would sit down, take a bite, pronounce the food too cool for her liking, and get up and microwave the ever living bejeeezus out of it. Didn't matter what was on the menu -- a dish with a delicate cream sauce, an expensive cut of steak, sauteed fish, whatever -- into the microwave it went."
"There was a crazy old lady named Lala who was a server for 10+ years at a restaurant that I used to bartend at. Super nice lady, but she always smelled like cat urine and was generally unhygienic and gross to be around. Customers loved her though, so management kept her around.
Anywho, instead of scraping guest's food scraps into the garbage, she would fill carryout boxes with the scraps. She saved EVERYTHING. I'm talking half a tomato slice, crusty old fries, a single bite of a burger. She would just throw it all in a box. Then, at the end of her shift, she would mix it all together and eat it like a salad.
Feeling nauseated just typing this. It was the most insane nonsense I've ever seen in my life."
"My dad used to start the Thanksgiving turkey ridiculously early, like 9 am, but we didn’t eat until normal dinner time, like 5 or 6pm. So he’d take the delicious turkey out of the oven, toss it in the fridge for five hours, carve it at dinner time, pile it onto a platter, then stick the platter in the microwave. I usually slept in on Thanksgiving, so I didn’t catch onto this abhorrent practice until I moved out and started coming home for holidays.
I’m married with my own house now, so I host dinner. Last year, everyone was amazed at how moist my turkey tasted. Yeah, turns out not microwaving the flavor out of it makes it taste pretty good, who knew?"
"I used to share a house with a guy. We agreed to split the essentials and buy anything different we wanted ourselves.
Every time a sauce bottle got down to be being about a third full, he would fill it up with water and shake it before use to 'get my monies worth.' I thought it was absolutely disgusting.
We had an actual full-blown fight about it, which seems very silly looking back. Anyone who has shared a house before will know the small things tend to get amplified."
"So while I was growing up, my family had lots of get-togethers where my grandparents on my dad's side would host and cook. My grandmother cooked all sorts of things and most things were ready before we arrived, she just kept them in the oven to make sure they were warm by the time we arrived.
Everyone raved about my grandma's 'famous cheese and potato scallops.' And I admit, they were really good. Super creamy, perfectly cut potato slices and seasoned to perfection. They were amazing and we all looked forward to grandmas 'famous cheese and potato scallops'
Then one day, for some reason, I had to stay with my grandma all day and hang out with her while the rest of my family did their business. We were having dinner later that night, so we went to the grocery store getting all the ingredients. She picks out a box and I see it and IT’S THE FREAKING SCALLOPED POTATOES THE WHOLE FAMILY THOUGHT WAS HER RECIPE. There was no recipe, it was just instant boxed garbage that she’s bought for the last 50 years pawning off as her own somehow. Just add some water and put it in the oven. It was always done before anyone arrived, and she never told anyone in my family, for like half a century and somehow nobody in my family figured it out. I don’t even think my grandpa knew.
I remember asking my parents if they knew it came from a box, and they were floored. They asked my grandma about it, and she was just like 'y’all never asked, lol', which is true. She kept cooking them, and we kept eating them because they were still awesome and delicious."
"My ex-stepdad would eat ANYTHING. Like, open a can of store brand beef stew and eat it with a fork.
I saw him fill a mixing bowl with rainbow sherbet, then pour two cans of cherry soda over it up to the brim and eat it like soup.
Another thing he liked to do was put a stick of butter, a scoop of brown sugar, a scoop of regular sugar, a glob of karo syrup and a chunk of peanut butter in the microwave and just eat it. Like he was making cookie dough but didn't want to bother.
The worst thing happened one night when my sister was visiting. She had made a crock pot chicken dish and it was quite good. At one point everyone had gotten up except me and my stepfather, so I was the only witness to this atrocity.
Suddenly, he stopped eating and reached in his mouth, pulling out a wad of long hair and chicken bits.
My first reaction was sympathy. Having hair in your food is terrible and I felt bad it had happened to him.
But then he looked at the small, chewed bits of chicken tangled up in the hair, and began to suck them off the wad. Just shlurping away at it and sucking.
I couldn't run out of the room fast enough."
"There's a guy in my flat at university, and all his meals (not too sure about breakfast, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was also the case) are all chicken nuggets and microwaved rice. Other times he will 'mix it up' by making hot dogs and noodles, but that's all I've ever seen this guy eat.
Somehow this sustains him; he's a lanky guy, but he looks like death warmed up - gaunt facial features, ghostly complexion. I know a diet like that would make me very ill, but I can hardly understand how this guy can just survive on that."
"A few years ago we were having a 'friendsgiving' and while divvying up who was bringing what a friend's boyfriend insisted on doing the mashed potatoes. This boyfriend was, and I presume still is, Swiss. So we had to give him very specific instructions on what we expected from mashed potatoes, because it's a critical dish at thanksgiving. This dumb dude has the cojones to then make mashed potatoes absolutely loaded with nutmeg 'because that's how we Swiss like our potatoes.' And then says that our palates aren't refined enough for Swiss cuisine and then lectures us on America and why thanksgiving is a dumb holiday.
I've asked a few other Swiss people, and they confirm that, yeah, adding nutmeg to potatoes is totally a thing in Switzerland. But, as one woman pointed out, there's also a reason Switzerland isn't known for its food."
"Went out to a restaurant and ordered a steak. Medium rare, as I always do.
What came out of the kitchen was a charcoal briquette. Now, I don't normally send food back, but this garbage was completely inedible. I called the waiter over and explained this was not what I ordered.
The worst part was the excuse: 'the chef forgot how you ordered it, so he went with well done.'
That doesn't even make sense! Seriously, if you undercook it, you can cook it more. If you overcook, you can't take it back and undercook it!
Or better yet, send the waiter back to ask. Still makes me mad. That cow died for nothing."
"My father-in-law is the king of food sins. Some of his crimes that we have experienced include the following:
Buying my husband's ice cream cake from a shop local to them and then driving the hour long trip to our place, despite them passing a supermarket 2 minutes away from our house.
Ordering takeout ridiculously early (e.g 11am) and then sticking it in their oven to 'keep warm' until visitors arrived. It never occurred to him that he can order when the guests arrive.
When given the task of bringing a fruit platter Christmas lunch, he picked up the fruit box two weeks in advance (in the height of an Aussie summer). We did not have our fruit platter this Christmas."
"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."
"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."