We've all been there before - someone goes to a friend's house and their parents ask that they stay for dinner. Excited for the opportunity of a free meal, they say, 'why not?' But then they see what's being served, and they immediately know that they're in for trouble. But what would one do? Maybe bolt and make up some excuse or stick it out and eat out of politeness?
Well, the people in the following stories decided against their better judgement and took the polite route, even if their taste buds paid for it. Take a look at some of the best stories we could find involving people reluctantly eating food out of politeness. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"One day, my grandma had made some sort of special homemade dish for the entire family, but unfortunately for me, it contained a huge amount of onions. Thanks to my other grandmother, I haven't been able to eat onions without puking since I was 5. So my grandma cooked me something similar to a steak covered in gravy, with mashed potatoes.
It smelled delicious, but as I was about to put that first bite into my mouth, I noticed the meat had about four or five small hairs sticking out. As subtle as I could, I decided to 'check' the meat to see wth was going on and I almost puked right there in front of more than a dozen family members. The gravy had masked the fact that the meat was covered in hairs and I mean covered. There wasn't a single space that didn't have one or more hairs on top. And they weren't even from the same person. Some of them were short and white, others black as coal and the longest hairs I've ever seen in my life.
And that's when it hit me.
My grandma needs to wear glasses all the time because she's practically blind, but doesn't like to wear them when she's home. That night, the meat probably fell to the floor as she was about to cook it and she didn't feel the need to clean it because she saw nothing wrong with it. I didn't want to touch that meat with a five-foot-long stick, much less eat it but my grandma had cooked that especially for me. She had spent extra time in the kitchen because I was an annoying picky eater that hates onions. So I cleaned it the best I could without raising suspicions and ate almost the whole thing.
Just remembering makes me want to puke."
"I grew up very poor and I've always loved potato salad, so Baptist church potlucks were great days when I was a kid. I'd load up my plate with a couple thousand calories of starch and mayonnaise and that full feeling would last almost a whole day.
At one potluck when I was maybe 10, there was this amazing looking potato salad, kinda reddish in color. I could smell mustard and pepper. I filled my floppy paper plate with that and a slice of ham, then sat down next to my mom. Her old lady friend was sitting across from us and smiling at me. I crammed a big spoonful of the salad into my mouth so I wouldn't have to talk.
I bit down. Something was very, very wrong. Alarms started ringing in my head. OOOGA! OOOGA! OOOGA!
Old lady, absolutely beaming, said, 'How do you like my turnip salad?'
It was awful. Bitter, unnaturally crunchy, sort of acidic in a way that gave me my first experience with heartburn. I've accidentally ingested gasoline in my lifetime. This salad was worse.
To this day, it stands in my memory as the most awful thing I ever ate. And I ate every bit on the plate. Just couldn't get myself to squash the old lady's happy moment.
And, lucky me, she gave us all the leftovers.
The first thing my mom said when we left was how surprised she was that I liked turnips, that she had tried it and didn't think it was very good at all, but maybe if I wanted she'd buy some--
'Mom, I hated it. I thought it was potato salad.'
'Eh? Why'd you eat it then?'
I told her. She looked shocked at first, then started grinning, then giggled and laughed uncontrollably all the way home. We put it in the fridge because she knew my dad (who didn't go to church) would try it later.
Mom and I were in the living room that afternoon when we heard, 'Blech! What the heck is this?'
Laughing again. Lots of it."
"I was staying with a lovely host family in Mongolia and they were serving tea as well as camel milk in the afternoon. They passed me a bowl of the milk and since it is considered quite rude to say no, I took a sip. It tasted like rotten yogurt. It just made me instantly feel queasy. But I swallowed it. Thanked them and tried to move on. But it didn’t end there.
Later that night, another girl that was with me (who tried the milk as well) soiled the bed in the middle of the night. I woke up to her cleaning her bed. I was delirious and sick as well but wasn’t aware how bad I was yet. Then the need to poop hit me. I could tell I was about crap my soul out so I ran out the ger (Mongolian home) and ran to the giant hole in the ground that was the toilet.
To paint a picture, this toilet was just a big ol hole full of feces, urine, and blood with two wooden boards over it for balance. It had a short mud wall around the hole so that when you would squat, your head would stick out. You could reach the sides of the wall when balancing on the wooden boards. I dropped my pants in this hole and proceeded to release the demons pent up inside me from that milk.
It didn’t end there. I began to throw up (apparently the locals call this the double dragon). I was now emptying my body on both sides and holding onto the mud brick wall for dear life. It didn’t end there.
A thing I failed to mention was that I was with several people who also tried the milk. They were also very sick but you see there were only two toilets. I got one and another dude got another. Everyone else that got the double dragons just had to run out into a field and drop their pants. One girl who didn’t get sick for some reason was going around trying to help people. Passing out hair ties and such. I’m holding onto the walls, throwing up, crapping a storm and just praying for my life to end, but I think to myself, 'At least I got the toilet right?'
Well, when I felt something crawl over one my hands I started to think otherwise. It was pitch black outside and I couldn't see anything. I called to the girl helping out people to bring a flashlight real quick so I could see what just crawled over my hand. I honestly didn’t know what it was. Well, she came over and shined the light on the mud walls. I was greeted with the sight of at least a dozen large brown spiders scuttling in and out of the cracks of the wall. At this point I wanted to cry. I started hugging myself because the walls were literally crawling with spiders. But the double dragons didn’t care. It didn’t care that there were spiders and I knew couldn’t hold my balance at this rate. I knew I would fall in if I didn’t hold onto something. The girl that came over to shine her light knew this. Just as she shined her light on me like an angel, she reached her hand out to me like an angel too. She grasped my hand and held me in place until I was done about 10 minutes later. I have never felt so close with another human being since. I have never been the same since this incident.
I will never drink camel milk again."
"When I was about 7 or 8, I had to spend the night at my aunt's house. During dinner, I watched her use a pepper grinder to season her food. The thing was huge, looked like a bed post, and I really wanted to try it out. She offered to do it for me, but it looked fun so I insisted that I knew what I was doing. I had no idea how to work the thing and somehow got a pile of whole peppercorns in my food.
I was embarrassed at the idea of having broken her giant pepper grinder, so I ate all one thousand of the peppercorns with my meal, hiding them as I did so. It was horrible.
She must have known."
"I once ate dog stew in Korea.
My boss for a new job invited me out to lunch with the team, his treat. He warned me we were having dog stew, said I could decline if I wanted. I took one for the team. I'd lived in Korea for 6 years before I finally worked up the courage to try it. Every time someone suggested it, the image of pets I had as a kid, looking at me in dismay, would immediately come to mind.
At first, it was actually not bad. The broth was good and not oily, the meat lean with a peppery taste, I kind of enjoyed it.
While listening to the boss tell a story, I sunk my spoon into the pot and, without looking, spooned a whole intact dog's liver into my mouth.
There it sat, on my tongue, a whole, soft, slightly mushy, cooked liver, about the same texture as mashed potatoes. I dared not chew it for fear of getting that awful taste between my teeth. All I could do was mash it against the top of my mouth and swallow.
And so I did, spreading that horrible taste and texture all across the roof of my mouth, while feeling the slightly oval shape of one end of the liver tickle-nudging the back of my throat.
It felt and tasted like I had just made out with a turd."
"It was a chile relleno, which instead of being stuffed with cheese and/or meat, had canned tuna mixed with mayonnaise and a can of mixed veggies. That was bad enough, but they were trying to cook too many in too short a time. The fryer couldn't get hot enough to fry the egg batter. Instead of making a crust, the egg turned into an oil sponge. I pressed on the 'crust' and oil just oozed out. I lifted the fork and it reabsorbed the oil. Fascinating, but not something you want to eat.
The reason I had this meal was that when I was a kid, my parents were part-time missionaries with a focus on Mexico. We were in Monterrey, doing repairs on a church. The pastor and his wife ran a restaurant for their primary income.
They offered the missions team, 33 Americans, dinner at their restaurant, to say thanks for the effort. The wife announced that they had prepared her special recipe, her own creation, for everyone.
They said that anyone who didn't like her special dish could have a ham and egg omelette. A good half of the group started to raise their hands, until my mom (the group leader) said, 'Oh, no! Of course not! We love it! Right, everyone?' Because she had manners, and everyone realized she was right, we all ate as best we could.
I managed to eat about half before I had to give up."
"My mum was once going through a really tough period with her mental health, but she still soldiered on with a family meal she invited us all to. We all offered to postpone until she was feeling better, or to cook the meal instead while we all still met at her house.
She insisted on going ahead with it, and we didn't want to dent her confidence, so we relented.
She made some kind of lavender couscous. It was shocking. It was like an anti-meal. Words cannot describe how utterly unpalatable this meal was. But my mum was clearly despondent at how she'd managed to craft such a culinary abomination.
Every single person there was glancing around at the spectacle of this crime against humanity. But we did our family duty. We got in there, got down and dirty, and feasted on that like it was the nectar of the gods. It was an Agincourt for the taste buds. But we made it through. By the end, the troops, bloodied and broken, dutifully declared it to be a true masterpiece, and my mum was visibly relieved.
Thank the lord. She has never made it again. I suspect she knew. But we rose to our duty for her sake, and for that, we are proud."
"Not out of politeness, out of desperation. When I was a young lad serving in the United States Air Force, it made the most financial sense to eat at the chow hall. My old Gaffer, also having served in the military, had given me some advice before leaving for basic training.
'Son, never volunteer for anything, and don't mess with the cook or the paymaster.'
One fine morning, I asked for COS, which in the military, is biscuits and gravy. We lowly airmen too poor to eat elsewhere cleverly (we thought) referred to this ordinarily delectable dish as 'crap on a shingle.' When I took a bite that fateful morning, my COS was so salty it almost made my eyes water. Somehow I got it into my head it would be a good idea to let the cook know the COS was over-salted. You know, so others wouldn't have to suffer. Heh.
ME (a one-striper): 'Hey Sarge, this COS is too salty.'
HIM (a clearly annoyed non-commissioned officer with many stripes): 'What?'
ME: 'This COS is too salty.'
HIM (looking over the top of his glasses): 'What's 'COS?''
At this point, I had a vague feeling of unease, as if some unseen danger approached. Sadly, it was not a strong enough feeling to prompt me to shut up and walk away.
ME: 'You know, the biscuits and gravy.'
HIM (still deadpan): 'What does 'COS' mean?'
ME: 'Uh...chow on a shingle?'
HIM (face lights up with a smile): "You mean crap on a shingle?"
ME (totally failing to see the trap): 'Yeah! COS. It's too salty.'
HIM (smile gone): 'So you think the food we make for you in the dining facility is crap?'
ME (now realizing I goofed): 'Uh...that's what everybody calls it.'
ME (having not yet learned when in a hole to stop digging): 'Not all of it, just the COS. Today! I mean just today the COS is...too salty. The rest of the food is fine. I mean great. The food here is usually GREAT!'
HIM (still not smiling): 'Thank you Airman, I'll take care of it.'
He took care of it by making sure the COS was too salty to eat for the next week. I don't know if it was too salty for everyone, or just for me. But I had learned the lesson my old gaffer had tired to teach me. I just ate my COS, chewed with my mouth closed and a smile on my face."
"My high school boyfriend was going through some troubling times with his parents, so we were invited to his aunt's house for Christmas or Thanksgiving supper.
His aunt and uncle, and their two sons, are huge people. They are tall. And wide. And loud. And scary. They're all six feet or taller and if it wasn't for the fact that I knew from previous experience that they're just such nice people, I wouldn't have gone. They're only scary when it comes to how loud they are - a quick snap is more like a thundering boom when they wanted to give you grief for something.
Anyways, from the minute we come in the door, they are just going on about the stuffed mushrooms that the aunt makes. Her two sons were counting the mushrooms on the pan, and the number of people in attendance, to ensure there would be an even share of mushrooms among people. Because these mushrooms were supposed to be so heavenly, they made an abundance. There was something like four or five mushrooms per person, but remember: this was a big family. Per person there was a restaurant appetizer order of mushrooms. But that was nothing but a section of their plate.
My ex and I were getting very excited about these mushrooms. She'd never made them for us but with the way everyone was talking - and good stuffed mushrooms are always appreciated - we were getting excited.
You see where this is going.
The mushrooms themselves weren't even bad. It was whatever she stuffed them with. Pardon my language from here on out, but that was the most god awful disgusting thing I've ever put in my mouth. I thought, hey, I've eaten cold ravioli out the can when I've been stoned, I could choke down this nastiness inside my mouth. I was wrong. My body physically rejected it. You could have put a cooled off turd inside my mouth and my body would probably have had an easier time accepting it as food.
I actually thought it was a joke. I thought they made them this horrible on purpose just to see how I would react because they always joked about how I was so tiny and didn't eat 'hardly anything.' (I'm an average height and size, they're just big people.)
I remember quickly taking a drink to swallow this stuffed mushroom whole and glancing around the table. Watching that family pound back those mushrooms and almost fist fighting about the extras had me stunned. There was no way in my mind these could be good to any normal human being. But you gotta do what you gotta do. If I refused those horrible stuffed mushrooms, they would make a big deal out of it and I had no reasonable excuse as to why I wouldn't eat them because with all the hype leading up to supper, I couldn't shut my stupid mouth about how much I truly love stuffed mushrooms.
I choked down all of the mushrooms I had been allotted. One by one. Spaced throughout the meal because I thought the rest of the otherwise delicious food would wash the taste out of my mouth. It didn't. A whole dinner ruined.
Ex boyfriend and his grandmother wholeheartedly agreed those mushrooms were awful. The theory is that the wife - who married into the family - made them and her husband pretended to love them to make her happy. When their children were born, they either were bred into the taste for disgusting mushrooms or he had to have a pep talk about the mushrooms to them, hence the hype. We were just sorry fools caught in the middle."
"I was teaching in China for a summer and during that time, a lot of the students would ask me to join them on the weekends for home visits. During one of these visits, the family visit was broken into two parts - one where the father of the family gave me some 100-year-old concoction which was basically 200 proof, and the second half where the grandmother of the family was going to teach me to make traditional dumplings.
So with the dad, he was telling me it is rude to not drink. So I was taking down these shots. I was three sheets to the wind when I was carted off to the family home where this sweet woman had chopped onions and mushrooms and was in the process of cooking fish sauce to be used in these dumplings.
It would regularly be a strong smell but oh my Lord, I wanted to die. I was way too wasted for dumplings. I managed to stay up and eat maybe three of them before excusing myself and losing my lunch in a shop bathroom across the street."
"My grandpa had a caretaker who had us all over for dinner to introduce us to her family, since she had met all of us. The table was crowded to capacity with food, and the coffee table piled high with fruit and pastry.
She served us kebab and ox tail soup, with emphasis on the soup as it is kind of special, and not something you would ever find at an Armenian restaurant here. I happen to really hate eating meat, so the bone, it made me gag, and I also didn't really enjoy cartilage or rubbery parts of animal. Most of the solids in this soup consisted of bone and cartilage.
To say 'No thank, I don't really eat this kind of stuff,' would have been an incredible slight, especially since she had made it especially for us."
"Apparently, it's called 'Green Bean Casserole' in the best of circumstances, but this was... mush. The first Thanksgiving I went to my now father-in-law and step-mother-in-law's house, she made that. She's a nice person so I tried to eat it and was making eyes at my now sister-in-law, who also married into the family, to see if she thought this was edible.
I vomited in my mouth and had to swallow it back down. Multiple times. It was awful. I'm sure done correctly it would have been decent but Jesus H. Christ, was that awful and disintegrated as soon as the fork touched it.
Now they know that I'm 'a picky eater,' so they aren't offended when I don't have much on my plate. We stopped at McDonald's on the way home. McDonald's tastes like heaven after that meal."
"I went on a high school trip to Nicaragua with a group of about 30 teens and a few adults chaperones. We visited a farm in a tiny village one day, and before we got there, we were told that the people that live there don’t make much money at all and cannot even afford to eat the food they grow because they need to sell it all. So it was a big deal that they were planning on making dinner for all of us.
We were told that it was incredibly rude not to eat everything we were given, so even if we didn’t like it, we had to finish as much as we could. There were about 20 people living on the farm, a mixture of kids and adults. After hanging out and helping them on the farm for awhile, dinner came around and they served us this potato soup that was so plain and was difficult to eat. We all ate and quite a few of us weren’t crazy about it but for the most part, we ate as much as we could. We didn’t even notice until the end of our meal that the people who lived there weren’t eating with us.
After we were done eating, the people who lived there went around and collected all our leftovers and split the leftover soup amongst themselves. Had I known, I would have saved them more. Even though the taste of the soup wasn’t my favorite, it was truly one of the most humbling moments of my life. I felt so much love for those people for so freely sharing with us what little they had."
"A college friend and I were returning home for a break. I dropped him off at his house. He told me that his very traditional Indian mother had invited me in for a meal to thank me for driving her son home. He said that to turn her down would be an insult. He apologized for putting me in this situation but appreciated if I would just come in and have a quick bite as a sign of respect.
Ok. No problem.
His mom was very pleasant and welcoming. Since she didn't speak English and I didn't speak Hindi, my friend translated.
His mom was so eager and excited to give me a huge heaping plate of home cooked food. It smelled warm and exotic.
I’ve never had Indian food so I didn't know what anything was.
I started to eat. It was delicious. A few more bites in and I realized something odd was happening.
My tongue felt like it was burning.
Then my lips felt like they had been set on fire.
I realized then why my friend always doused his pizza in red pepper flakes.
I was sweating, But I was still shoveling in the food. My eyes started tearing but I nodding my head and thanking them for the food.
My nose was dripping. Everything inside and surrounding my mouth felt like someone lit it on fire.
Finally I heard the mother yelling at her son and he ran over to the fridge and grabbed sour cream and milk.
He told me that his mom was sorry and she could see that I was not used to spicy food.
I rubbed the sour cream all over my lips. Then the three of us look at the each other and laugh.
The mom and I hugged on the way out. I don’t know if I’d say it’s the 'worst' thing I’ve ever eaten, but it’s the only time that I ever felt like I was on fire."