44 People Share The Stories Of The Horrible Foods Their Parents Used To Make

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All of us probably have a specific dish our parents would prepare when we were growing up that still can make our stomach churn. You would come home from school, open the door, and get hit with an aroma that would instantly kill any semblance of hunger.

So one netizen asked the internet what dishes were ruined for them by their parents’ terrible cooking decisions. From a distaste for seasoning to cooking all meat beyond recognition, people detailed the food choices they had to relearn later in life. So get comfortable, grab a snack, and get to scrolling. Be sure to upvote your favorites and comment your own experiences below. We also got in touch with satelliteboi who made the initial post to learn more. 

#1

All food. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I discovered that food could be good. My mother would buy a nice premium cut of beef — tenderloin — and fry it in a frying pan for a good 30 minutes and then add ample water and boil it until it was well and truly inedible. I grew up thinking eating was a chore.

Image credits: Marty_Br

#2

It’s kinda funny, but I’d have to say pizza!!! My great grandmother was pure Sicilian and would make the absolute best pizza every time I visited her. She made everything but the cheese from scratch! Even the sauce came straight from tomato’s grown in her garden. I have yet to find anyone who can make a pizza as good as hers was.

Image credits: ChronicallyGeek

#3

Darling mother loves dill. Will put it on or in anything she can. My siblings and I won’t touch the stuff…ever…

Image credits: LallybrochSassenach

Bored Panda got in touch with satelliteboi who initiated the discussion online. Firstly, we were curious about why he posed this question to the internet. “Okay, I made the post because I had recently told the story to a few friends separately and they had found it pretty funny, especially my POC friends who give me trouble for having “white people” tolerance (and I take that in stride, no harm meant or done by those comments).”

“I was wondering if anyone else had had a similar situation with their family or what else might’ve been ruined by the way someone was fed growing up,” they shared with Bored Panda. Before the internet, it seemed like bad cooking ran in generations, but now we all have the luxury to improve and learn. 

#4

My mom was a horrible cook, so almost everything. Thank the powers that be for the Food Network and youtube for showing me that food is supposed to be seasoned.

Image credits: Vanta_Black422

#5

Ketchup.

I couldn’t eat ketchup unless it was already on my fast food cheeseburger, and I definitely couldn’t use it to dip anything in, until I was like 30. When I was growing up my brother put it on everything, and the smell of it started making me sick, because not only would he drown everything in it, but if he was dipping something in it, he would scoop it so that all of his fingers would drag through the ketchup, and then he’d put his whole hand in his mouth to get extra ketchup. It made me sick. I can enjoy ketchup on some things now though.

Image credits: ybreddit

#6

Beans. My mother’s beans were always hard. Worst was rice and beans.

First time I had soft beans, I was shocked.

Image credits: Easy-Concentrate2636

That’s why we asked satelliteboi to share a little about their own cooking journey, particularly about how they learned to make dishes with actual seasoning and flavor. “I learned to cook by watching a lot of YouTube and by cooking dinner with friends. I’m usually more reserved when seasoning my own food because I’m scared to ruin it with too much.”

#7

Carrot and raisin salad. There was an incident.

Image credits: gsfgf

#8

Tuna sandwiches and boiled chicken. My younger sister was a very picky eater and for a long time relied on those as protein staples. The stench of boiled chicken was a constant in our home. As soon as the sulfur odor had faded from one chicken, it was time to boil another. This went on for about 5 years. One day when I was 14, after a solid 3 months of tuna sandwiches for lunch (and often dinner), I burst into tears and pleaded to eat something, *anything* else! My mom knew I was an adventurous eater that liked just about everything, but to make things easier, she fed me my sister’s extremely limited diet.

Nearly 30 years later I can’t bring myself to eat canned tuna or boiled chicken. Blech.

Image credits: Pearlsawisdom

#9

Twizzlers. My dad loved Twizzlers, and so did I. Then he died unexpectedly.

He wouldn’t listen to me about getting vaccinated or masking, he got COVID (though was “just” sick at home for a week), and then 2 months later he suddenly died.

Anyway, now I can’t eat Twizzlers without being sad.

Image credits: 3plantsonthewall

“Little by little I started adding more once I’d seen people around me using their spices liberally, but I still usually stick to my basics, salt, pepper (a little), onion powder, and garlic powder,” they shared. Many of the stories in this post follow a similar pattern, of slow, hesitant experimentation until the fear of a spice rack is finally broken. 

#10

My Asian mum is an amazing cook. However, when it comes to western food, she has interesting takes. Bolognese is more like a mincemeat curry served with pasta and she would actually eat her portion with rice instead. Her shepherds pie was littered with raw chillies. The worst was her scrambled eggs. She would add sugar and cook it till it resembled pellets.

Now, I know sweet scrambled eggs or omelettes exist but this was neither of those. I was so used to sugary scrambled eggs that I was incredibly insulted at the soft salted version offered to me by a friends mum. I ate it of course and made no complaints but I secretly thought she was a bad cook. I later came to realise that this version was far superior!

Image credits: wildgoldchai

#11

Beef stroganoff- I blame Hamburger Helper, specifically.

Grew up with a mom who made this often (cheap, easy to make.) Now, the smell of it makes my stomach turn.

Image credits: QuietlyThundering

#12

Mushrooms. I grew up in a country where everyone picked mushrooms from the woods. Then people would soak them in salty water, then boil for 40+ mins and then use it in cooking, like frying or in stuffing. They literally had no taste and the texture was awful. So I came home one day (I was 30 years old at that time) and we picked some amazing fresh porcinis and I just lightly fried them with garlic, pork belly and thyme. Everyone’s mind was blown lol

Image credits: bad_russian_girl

We were also curious about how satelliteboi handles spice now that they have some experience. “My spice tolerance is not great. I still get uncomfortable with too much black pepper in my food, but I’m trying to push myself and try spicy things. I’ll munch on spicy chips, but only a few at a time, with a cup of water close by.”

#13

Bologna. We had it constantly. That’s all they would ever buy. Sandwiches. Fried on egg sandwiches. Cut up and mixed with eggs. I can’t even stand to smell it.

Image credits: Geawiel

#14

Beef here. My dad over cooked steaks to the point that knives couldn’t cut it and eating it was a chore. I moved to Korea almost two decades ago and Korean beef (similar to Wagyu) opened my eyes to this new world of meat.

Image credits: royalpyroz

#15

Cliche for the time period but Pork. Dry, dry, dry Pork. They overcooked all the meats so I could have overcome this. Except for the constant Parasite stories and the stories that if you get sick once every time after if you’re even near it will make you sick again. I eat the crispiest bacon and sausages.

Image credits: travel-Dr

But in general, they were happy about the discussion the initial post prompted. “I’m overall glad how well the post was received. It helped me know I’m not alone in having food reservations based on how I was raised and fed growing up. I also got a lot of tips for increasing my spice tolerance and I’m grateful to the community for that.” If you want to improve your own cooking game, Bored Panda has got you covered, check out our article on kitchen hacks, or explore some culinary fails

#16

My mom has 5 recipes in her whole cooking repertoire and my entire childhood was either eating these on repeat or fast food. And my parents would get hooked on a fast food joint and we would eat there once a week till they got tired and moved on to another.

I HATE lemon pepper chicken like nothing else in this world.

And the thought of going to a primo burger groses me out.

Image credits: Mother_Mach

#17

I was a picky eater growing up, but in retrospect, I’ve always wondered if the food was just bad.

I moved to London when I was 20 and it was the first time I could try foods from parts of the world I didn’t grow up in. Turns out I love Indian. Turns out I love a lot of food that isn’t bland.

My family might have done me a favor though, because now I try new things well into adulthood and I’m still discovering tastes I love.

Image credits: cusickcatherine

#18

Lasagna. My oldest sister had a brain tumor when she was 9-10. I was 4-5. We were very fortunate to have friends and family rally around us. But what is the practical choice when you bring a family a premade dinner? Lasagna or some type of hot dish.

As a teenager i couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like lasagna. Everyone else seemed to like lasagna. I recall numerous times at a friends house for dinner forcing myself to eat lasagna or trying to push it around on my plate to be respectful.

My middle sister one day told me she didn’t like it either. Because we ate it like 2 times a week for over a year. There’s probably some psychological factor of it representing the stress and confusion of that time as well.

#19

My dad is a decent cook, but one of his quirks is that he doesn’t like to waste food. Which is fine, except for how he does it.

We had a wedding reception catered by a local Italian restaurant. The next day he made French toast…

…with the garlic bread.

Image credits: guthepenguin

#20

I was raised in a cult that believed each family should keep a years’ supply of food on hand. As such, most of our meals were from cans.

The worst was the canned carrots. They were salty, had a strange smell, and had the consistency of baby food. We had them three times a week, and I was not allowed to leave the table until I finished everything on my plate. There were times I didn’t get to bed until midnight because I was trying to chose those carrots down.

To this day, I can not stand cooked carrots. I can do maybe roasted if I am in the right mood, but it has to still be mostly crunchy.

Image credits: AchduSchande

#21

My entire family loves spicy food. My mom is a chef, I know my food was seasoned. She said she craved spicy food when she was pregnant with me. I’m the same way where black pepper is spicy for me. However I loooooove wasabi and strong horseradish.

My mom ruined steak for me. A lot of people think I’m weird because I don’t like steak. My mom owns bars and restaurants so the last thing she wanted to do when she got home was cook. Steaks were her go-to quick meal. We ate a lot of steak. I got so sick of steak as a kid.

Image credits: yougotyolks

#22

Chicken breasts.

Always bought the largest ones. They almost always had a “woody” texture because the proteins grew too fast and didn’t have time to develop properly. I always mentioned that three small ones cost the same as two large ones but was always shrugged off.

They were also unseasoned and usually dry.

Image credits: dstuky

#23

Oh no!

I was almost ruined for spice (still can’t handle more than mild-leaning-medium salsa) similarly. My mom used to make, for instance, chicken soups/stews/etc with 6+ cups of water… and *one* bullion cube. Maybe a little salt & some pre-ground black pepper so old it could vote. Luckily that little bit was apparently enough to save me from total spice intolerance.

Also almost ruined was salmon- throughout my childhood baked 45 minutes at 350, with slices of oranges on it the entire time (so they get burned and turn bitter af, a flavor they impart to the salmon itself) Pork chops, steak, and plenty of other meats got a similar “40-45 minutes at 350” treatment but the salmon was especially bad.

Image credits: valsavana

#24

My mom ruined spaghetti, lasagna, hamburger helper and oatmeal for me. Constantly made dishes and had to eat as leftovers for like a week. Or having only oatmeal for breakfast every day I’m burnt out on it and never crave it.

Image credits: wolf_sw13

#25

My mom ruined a couple of meals for me, but in a different way. Her meat loaf and goulash were some of my favorites. Even with her recipes, I can’t recreate the flavors. So they’re ruined in that hers were so good that none others can live up to it.

Image credits: machoken

#26

Apple Pie. When I was a kid, and we visit McDonald’s sometimes for breakfast. I saw Apple pie on the menu and asked if I can try that. My Mom said cooked apples will not taste nice. In fact, fruits are supposed to be eaten raw and not cooked.

When I started working, I had the freedom to eat whatever I like. I ordered apple pie and I loved it instantly.

Image credits: incognitodw

#27

Not food but ingredient, rosemary. They put way too much every chance they got, I was in my 30s before I was able to try it again

Image credits: Noimnotonacid

#28

There was a brief period of time, not even a year. after my grandmother died that my grandfather was cooking for my brothers and I. Before I took over at 14 out of necessity. He never cooked before. He was very classic old world, went to work and came home to (bad) food she cooked. The most he could cook was warming up a tortilla on the burner and a slice of bologna the same way.

I don’t know how or who told him about it but he discovered Mrs. Dash seasoning after someone also told him that salt in anything was going to kill you. And it became the main ingredient of everything. Potatoes, eggs, heated up pasta sauce, on Spam, on white rice. Everything. No salt. Maybe a little pepper. To this day almost 30 years later. I cannot even look at Mrs. Dash in the spice aisle without feeling honestly nauseated. God I still remember the smell of it. There was 5-6 jars of it at all times in my cupboard. He went through a jar or more a week. This was like PTSD for me. I still see it in my mind. Dreading anything he made because it would only taste like that stuff.

Image credits: Typical_Intention996

#29

My dad is Japanese and wouldn’t let me try sushi until I had it in Japan. When I finally did, it was the freshest sushi in the world (you literally pick the fish out of the tank and they kill it for you). I’ve never been able to get sushi even half as good or as cheap in the US, so I just don’t eat it here at all.

#30

My grandmother ruined ribs for me. My mother says they were “country pork style” ribs though I honestly have no idea. All I know is they were almost all pure fat and then she would steam/boil-ish them in bbq sauce so none of the fat would render or get crispy or anything so when they were ‘done’ it just felt like slime in your mouth ?

To this day I can’t look at any kind of ribs without my stomach turning… and I LOVE bbq as a general rule. I’ve tried to eat them again but just seeing them brings back such strong memories of any time we were at my grandparents for more than a few days (like Thanksgiving or Christmas) ribs would be made as one of the meals and I’d either have to eat them or eat nothing so even with what are clearly properly cooked ribs I just still can’t get past ‘all that’

Of course, my sons favorite food is ribs ??‍♀️?

Image credits: DancingDucks73

#31

Split Pea Soup.

I don’t know what about it, whether the recipe was bad or my mom made it badly, but I always hated it when it was made. To me, it was bad tasting mush; using ketchup as a condiment didn’t really help it either.

Image credits: Street-Medicine07

#32

Looking back the reason I hated vegetables is because they were always straight from a can and into the microwave with no seasoning.

#33

Scalloped potatoes and ham. My parents made it when I was still in a high chair and made me eat it even though I didn’t want to, and then vomited all over the table. I can do cheese + potato + pork in certain combinations but in that specific presentation, I’m 35 years old and still no.

Thankfully scalloped potatoes are like, not a common dish these days and very easy to avoid.

Image credits: BuckeyeBentley

#34

Fish. Grew up fishing and would eat fish fresh from the ocean most days in summer.

Now, I don’t go out fishing and any fish bought tastes horrible.

#35

Peanut butter sandwiches. I had them all the time for my school lunches, and now I can’t stand peanut butter in anything. I can eat peanuts fine, just not as a spread.

#36

Bananas.

My father is anything except a decent cook, and one day when I was a kid he decided to try and make a “superfood smoothie” for shits and giggles. It consisted of bananas, unwashed kale, raw spinach, walnuts, chia seeds, raw oats, and ice. He just about killed the poor blender and it tasted distinctly of swamp. Still can’t have bananas without becoming nauseated.

#37

Pork chops.

Every version of pork chops was dry as the desert, heat blasted til it was gray in the middle.

#38

I made my parents some zucchini and used some black pepper and my Dad wanted to know what the black things were. He didn’t like it.

#39

Carrots. When I was about 8 or 9, I got a really bad case of conjunctivitis. On top of the medical treatment and eye drops, my mom was dead set on drowning me in carrot juice because of the popular belief that eating carrots is good for your eyes. So she took that to the next level, buying kilos of carrots weekly and juicing them every morning. I would sit in the morning at the kitchen table, tears streaming down my face, gagging, with my mom begging me to finish up the glass of juice. No other fruit mixed in could help mask that horrible taste.

I couldn’t stand carrots in any food for years. Not boiled, roasted, finely grated, nothing. Once I started cooking myself, I slowly was able to incorporate them back into my diet and actually enjoy them roasted or even grated in salads. But snacking on raw carrots is just a big NO for me, and the smell of carrot juice still makes me gag to this day.

#40

Meatloaf

Not because it was bad, but because my mom’s version was so good/different it ruined my ability to enjoy it at restaurants. When I started cooking it for my wife when we were dating, it ruined it for her too.

Bonus story:

My wife’s answer is 100% bratwurst.

Her parents would just boil them in plain water and she hated it growing up and got sick to her stomach just thinking about them. At one of my family events I asked her to try a grilled one (before I knew the backstory). When she did her face lit up, and she then info-dumped the whole story and how she never thought these things could taste good. Over the next few minutes she slowly starts to realize all the foods she hates are foods her parents cooked by boiling in water. One by one we make them by using non boiling methods and turns out she liked them. Her parents are amazing cooks, but they have a few family tradition recipes that need to die.

#41

Like a lot of people: vegetables.

My dad liked his vegetables cooked to mush, even more so as he has gotten older and his teeth have gotten worse, so my mum placated him and overcooked vegetables. She also never used any seasoning, not even salt and pepper. Turns out that vegetables are great when cooked properly and seasoned just right.

#42

My parents had odd obsessions with food. Canned asparagus, cold. I’d offer to buy fresh asparagus and steam them. Unnecessary, I was told. The incident of the 100 corns they froze and we ate for 3 1/2 years. Took me *decades* to get over that. Broccoli when I was older. It’s one of my favorite vegetables – but, not just steamed and served, salt less and butter free. Cauliflower is exceedingly good – but not just boiled and served with some melted orange cheese goo. When I would make dinner for them I’d be careful to add such scandalous things as thyme, marjoram and maybe bay to sauces.

#43

i’ll go in the opposite direction as most commenters it seems.

gumbo. years ago, my parents took me to commander’s palace to celebrate my high school graduation. got the chicken and andouille gumbo. something my mom made near weekly during the colder months. she slowly taught me how to do it from the age of ~13. 1st just stirring the simmering pot. onto stirring the roux, controlling the heat, till i was basically doing it all my own while she yelled at me. the commander’s gumbo was just so incredibly underwhelming.

my only gripe with my mom’s was that i thought it could be spicier. when i moved out on my own for good after college, i tried to merge her and isaac toups’ recipe. i tried 5 or 6 times, all included lengthy phone calls asking for help. i just could not get it to come out like she did. it was probably objectively fine, but it didn’t taste anything like mom’s, and thus, i’ve given up trying to make gumbo. same with my red beans.

#44

Chicken breast and pork.

Grew up thinking it was always stringy and tough to chew. Never knew they were always overcooking it so badly, and not properly seasoning it to boot. I cook breasts to 155 and let them sit there for a few mins. I also dry-brine them. But I also rarely eat breast because thighs are better!

This content was originally published here.

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