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Wounded taste buds

Ilze Dreyer realises that dinner with friends can be a food faux pas minefield.

by: Food24: Ilze Dreyer | 25 Feb 2009

Recently I was invited to a friend's house for her favourite, spaghetti bolognaise. And I might have just put a rather enormous foot in my mouth. Now I am in the dog box and not in a small Chihuahua basket. No, I mean in a Great Dane kennel.

I was privy to the making of this masterpiece or rather her take on it. I tried to shut up when I saw the onion powder being mixed up with the meat. But when not a single tomato saw the pan I gently enquired why she prefers not to add tomatoes.

"My spaghetti bolognaise is tomato-free, I just add onion powder and Mrs Balls. My family loves it," she said with a cheery smile.

Never trust your family
I suddenly had Idols flashbacks where those poor, poor people tell the judges that their family thinks they are great singers. This after they'd screeched out Celine Dion's 'Baby think twice'.

But, I am not a mean old Idols judge so I was not about to crush this dream.

Out came the Makro-sized bottle of Mrs Balls, ready for the spaghetti bolognaise battle. I immediately downed my glass of wine because this was going to be a rough night on the taste bud front. However, it became more interesting.

She then arranged some rocket leaves on the plate with some Woolworths steamed vegetables in a very 'unsteamed' state and peaches. (I promise you it's the holy truth.)

Once again, I gently suggested we take the raw pumpkin strips off the plate but the rest (peas, corn, green beans and carrots – all chewable) could stay.

Take one for the team
I poured us another fat glass of wine when she dished up the spaghetti bolognaise with loving care. While it all looked pretty I could only wonder what it would taste like.

It was terrible! I tried my best to fight through the meal but eventually I just could not stand it anymore and blurted out, "It's horrendous, it's the worst spaghetti bolognaise I've ever had. It's not even a bolognaise – where are the tomatoes! And what's with the peaches?"

It was as if I had Tourette's syndrome and couldn't stop myself. Of course my friend was terribly hurt, I mean her family 'loves' it. I apologised and tried my best to fight myself out of the dog box but the damage was done. My friend hit back, "You know you are not the taste god!" And indeed taste is such a personal thing and maybe I should rather have suffered in silence.

Would you rather suffer in silence through a bad meal or do you also have the foot in mouth disease?

Ilze Dreyer is the deputy editor of Food24 and has two paws out of the dog box.

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