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Haute Cuisine Fear Factor Strikes Bay Area Michelin 3-Star

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In yesterday's Dear FloFab column in the New York Times Diner's Journal, a woman -- we'll call her Gertrude -- writes in with concern about an upcoming reservation she has at a Michelin-three-star restaurant near San Francisco. So we're probably talking The French Laundry here, possibly The Restaurant At Meadowood. Gertrude has kindly invited her mother-in-law to the dinner, but said mother-in-law "feels she may be in trouble since they cook with a lot of ingredients she doesn’t care for like, 'onions, peppers and frog legs.'" Naturally Gertrude wants "to make sure everyone enjoys the meal." But says to FloFab, " my personal enjoyment is going to be diminished if one of my dining companions thinks they’re going through haute cuisine Fear Factor. What should I do?"

FloFab responds with authority:

"In your case, so as not to make your mother-in-law self-conscious, I would suggest you call the restaurant in advance and explain what her likes and dislikes are. You might also suggest that if special dishes are made for her, like something without peppers, the same dish should be served to the entire table. Or that any dish prepared for her minus some offending ingredient be as similar as possible to whatever is being served to the rest of your party. That way you may avoid any embarrassment on her part. Fear not. Handled diplomatically, it should be a lovely occasion."

Sure Gertrude won't enjoy the meal if her in-law is experiencing haute cuisine fear factor, but won't Gertrude's experience also be dulled if she has to give up peppers, onions and frogs legs just because her dining companion doesn't like them? What's your take on the Haute Cuisine Fear Factor conundrum? Do share effective coping mechanisms with your fellow students here.

Dear FloFab: The Kitchen Dropped My Dinner [Diner's Journal]