Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Dilemma

I’ll tell you my bit of a story and then perhaps you will offer me some advice.

Hub and I were invited out for supper the other night.  That same afternoon I made some buns, so I brought a dozen for our hostess.  She was pleased to have them and I was pleased to bring them. 

I sampled one of the buns before taking them and it was very good.  But during our meal, we each took a bun.  And when eating that bun, I noticed an odd taste that was rather disagreeable.    

I was really dismayed and confused because there are only a few ingredients in buns, and nothing in mine could have been off.  All ingredients were fresh.  I said nothing as I began to think it was my imagination and wondered if anyone else noticed. 

I thought perhaps they had, because no one ate more than one. 

Of course if anything was off I couldn’t depend on Hub to notice.  But I was pretty sure our hostess would.  And perhaps she did, but of course good manners would have prevented her from saying so.

So we had supper and an enjoyable visit with no remarks made about the buns. 

Now the next morning, I ate another of that same batch of buns.  And no, it was not my imagination.  Something in those buns was not right. 

And only then did it come to me that when mixing those buns, rather than using regular cooking oil, which is what I normally use, I substituted olive oil. 

And why shouldn’t I?  It is the lighter taste of olive oil that makes it the preferred oil for salads and other things that are too delicate for heavy cooking oil.   

Now I know olive oil does not keep well but the olive oil I used was fresh.  At least it certainly should have been as I only bought the stuff last week.  At a healthy price, I might add, because I am always sceptical about the trustworthiness of no name and bargain food products – especially when it comes to baking ingredients that don’t keep well. 

But with nothing in those buns untoward except the olive oil, that’s what it had to have been.  (You want me to go taste my olive oil off a spoon?  Nah, I don’t want to do that.  But in sniffing it, it has no stale odour, and surprisingly enough, in a salad it tastes fine.) 

So now, I feel so bad that I took those buns to a special supper given by friends. Especially because in this neighbourhood I have a reputation for being a good cook and that reputation is important to me.

My friend, too, has a reputation for being a fine cook and I know that reputation is very important to her as well.  Between us, this cooking reputation thing is like a silent challenge each time we eat at the other’s home. 

So now, do I tell her what led to my buns tasting off?  Do I just stay quiet and hope she didn’t notice?  She is one of those cooks that under no circumstances would substitute one type of oil for another as I am wont to do. 

Telling her, seems to me like a shaky thing to do, because perhaps she didn’t notice, but guaranteed, if she did, she is not above telling everyone that I brought buns to her house that tasted bloody ‘gawd-awful’. 

And that is a crisis situation.  Cause you know you just can’t have a reputation for being a good cook and then you go and make something ‘gawd-awful’.

What to do, what to do. 


Joy Des Jardins said...

This would be an easy one for me Roberta....I'd just tell her. You're both good cooks, friends, and I assume are comfortable enough to talk about something like this. You aren't really worried that she would tell other people if something WAS wrong with your buns, are you? That would be so silly on her part. Who in the heck hasn't made a mistake or two while cooking? Honesty is the best policy...and besides it would resolve you worrying and wondering about it one way or another. That's worth it right there. You know Roberta...if you're a good cook....your a good cook. One batch of 'slightly off' buns isn't going to change that. Hugs, Joy

joared said...

I whole-heartedly second what Joy wrote.

Surely friends can speak together of the vagaries of cooking. I would think you might simply say you were surprised and disappointed that the bun you ate seemed to have an unsatisfactory taste and wondered if she noticed it too. Depending on her response you could share your concern about the olive oil. You did say the oil tasted okay in a salad. Maybe it's a particular type or grade of olive oil that doesn't lend itself to that particular substitution for baking use.

If she would speak poorly of you and/or your cooking to others as you suggest, then I have difficulty thinking of her as your friend. In fact, a caring friend would likely welcome such discussion so both cooks could trouble shoot the problem -- assuming it was a problem of which you seem unsure.

If you haven't by now, you must quickly resolve this matter. Either discuss the subject with her (or others present,) or expel it from your mind. Otherwise your thoughts may become preoccupied -- festering and sapping your energy.

Any good cook is going to have some glitches. A favorite Los Angeles, California cooking show radio personality (Melinda Lee who has a web site) talks openly and freely about these cooking events that go awry as important learning experiences no matter how long we've been cooking as amateurs or professional chefs. Chefs consult her, too. She was a caterer here and in New York City. She treats all callers who present a range of seemingly simple to complex problems with great humor and compassion revealing some of her own experiences and encouraging others to call in their stories and questions which they do. These are the fodder for future shared humorous memories among caring friends and family.

Roberta S said...

Thank you Joy, I needed the counsel and I needed the hug. Sounds good to me. Just a little reaffirmation of what I already figured was the best thing to do.

Roberta S said...

Hi Joared, your encouragement is much appreciated as well. This kind of counsel makes something seemingly so awkward and difficult easier than I can think it to be when debating it in the isolation of my own mind. Thank you. Thank you.

Nora said...

Roberta, I left a comment but I think it got lost. I agree with the above comments. Speak to your friend and also make a new batch of buns and see how they turn out. If good, take some to her. Cooking mishaps can be funny at times. We've all had them. I always make "disclaimers" when I give someone one of my cooking creations.

Roberta S said...

Hi Nora, nice to hear from you. I laugh at your 'disclaimer' -- does it say, to whit - "If it's good I made it with my own little hands. If not, someone was stirring the pot in my kitchen when I wasn't looking."

Pauline said...

I'm assuming by now you've gone to your friend, confided that you switched oils and apologized for making her tongue feel disagreeable enough to mention your buns to others in disparaging tones. I can't imagine what would have made those buns taste odd in the sort time it took for you to taste on at home and another at dinner. Maybe you should have begun your conversation with, "Just what did you inject into those buns I brought you?"

Roberta S said...

Thank you for that comment, Pauline. You made me smile.

I only wish it was that simple --- but the plot thickens. And so, with that wee clue, here comes the rest of the story.