Cheflambo's Profile

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5 Times to Say "No Thank You" and 3 Things to Do When You Hear It — How to Be a Grownup

I go through this at Thanksgiving every year. My spouse (who is clueless about offering anyone anything - he will pour himself a glass of wine and cork it up right in front of me, ignoring MY empty glass) has a cousin who is our host for T-day and at the other end of the spectrum ("Are you hungry? Can I get you anything? Turkey? No, ok how about a drink? Would you like a sandwich? Can I fix you some coffee? Do you want a bagel or something else"?) I simply can't believe these two are related ... his wife is the same way. If we are going out somewhere they will BOTH ask me, more than once "Do you want a jacket?" "No, no, Im fine." "Are you sure?" "Yes, really, its OK". "It might be cold at the restaurant/theater/outdoor venue" ... The last time this happened I was so exasperated, I turned to my spouse and said "OK, its YOUR turn ... do YOU think I need a jacket?" "I dunno ... why?" was his response.

In Farsi (Persian) there is an expression called "T'aarof" -- a term of hospitality that requires the host to offer, at least 3 times, and the guest to decline at least 3 times, before actually accepting what is being offered. If you say "yes" after the first offer, the host is offended, because on some level he or she was not providing whatever you needed or wanted.

Feb 24, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Should you tip the owner?

Always tip your server, no matter who it is. IMHO it is tacky to expect buy-backs. I can't even imagine questioning whether someone "deserves" a living wage or not. SMH

Feb 13, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Looking for a magazine for my 80+ dad, not too adventurous

Get him on Penzey's mailing list. They send out a catalog every month with recipes in it. I think Saveur and BA might be good, but for real mainstream fare, there is a magazine put out by the Food Network folks that features recipes that might be more mainstream for him. You can find it on the newsstand and in most supermarkets.

Feb 07, 2015
Cheflambo in Food Media & News

Is it okay to...

I've seen far worse behavior in restaurants. Go for it.

Feb 07, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

How long does bacon keep?

Bacon freezes very well. I pulled a package out of mine last week and cooked some for breakfast, and chopped & cooked the rest for coq au vin. Everything tasted fine. When I looked at the package just before tossing it in the trash, I noticed that I had put it IN the freezer 2+ years ago. Not necessarily recommending this "aging" process, but no harm done here.

Pat peeves as a guest at a dinner party?

I like the idea of assigned seating. One of the great opportunities of a dinner party is to meet new people. Following stricter protocol, the seating should be boy-girl-boy-girl and couples should NOT be seated together, unless one needs to cut the other's food for them.

As a host with only one bathroom, I check it often*, and leave additional tissues/towels/TP in plain sight. (Im always peeved with guests who dont want to "mess up" the guest towels ...) *last winter I went to an open house where there was a half bath on the 1st floor for guests' use. Someone clogged the commode, then walked away and did not tell our hostess until I went to use it and could not. Let's just say this was one place where a scented candle would have been welcome.

I have Thanksgiving with the inlaws & their cousins every year. Our host always comments (and not always kindly) on what is on my plate -- "oh, no potatoes? no gravy? Are you dieting again?"

Jan 17, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Accommodating a Party Guest-What is Reasonable?

PartyHound - please get back to us on this event. Im sure Im not the only one who wants to know how it turned out. Im sorry your otherwise delightful friend has food issues -- I am wondering how anyone else in these other social situations you mentioned handled this problem. Clearly this fellow doesn't have a wife who comes along to reign him in. The fact that he does not seem to recognize the issue indicates that he really does need to get some professional help before this, literally, kills him. I don't think "intervention" is too strong a word to use here. Eventually he won't be invited anywhere, and he's surely going to wonder why.

Jan 03, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

too old for cooking school?

This is a great school. They have a restaurant attached to it that has some of the best food I've ever had. That said, if you just want basic skills and are not considering a culinary career, perhaps individual courses would be better for you; allows a spot to be open for a career-oriented 20-something that has the energy and stamina to make their life's dream a reality.

Unfair bill splitting

I concur, biondanonima, and assuming that the parents have not brought this up previously, I can see why. Bringing it up beforehand makes it seem more important than it is. Don't worry about and "awkward argument ... in front of the kids" -- we dont know how old these kids are, but I doubt that they care. The parents WON'T argue the point "in front of the kids" but WILL be reminded that they've allowed the OP to pick up their slack at previous meals. It probably won't happen again -- either the checks will be more evenly divided in the future, or the OP will not be invited out with them again.

Unfair bill splitting

If there are 6-7 close friends and 8-9 kids, the parents really SHOULD contribute more. If you find yourself in this situation again, ask the server to bring YOU the check at the end of the meal - then YOU do division with the # of eaters instead of the # of payers -- and let them negotiate. Concessions can certainly be made for babies in booster chairs (vs. 12 year old boys who eat their weight in food every day).

One week in Houston

Not sure where you might find greem corn tamales, but for authentic Mexican (not Tex-Mex) food consider Hugo's (on Westheimer).

There is no Bhutanese restaurant in Houston. They are few and far between.

Brennan's is a lovely restaurant. A jacket is required at dinner (I believe) and a tie would be a good idea too. Shri Balaji Bhavan will not disappoint either, and the price point is at the opposite end of Brennan's. If you're really interested in South Asia/Pakistani cuisine, don't miss Himalaya at 59 & Hillcroft. Let chef Kaiser tell you what to have. Not sure if you will have a vehicle, but be aware that Peli Peli is about +/- 30 miles from where you are staying.

Dec 07, 2014
Cheflambo in Houston

Servers who pick up dishes but not flatware between courses: was I rude to bring this up?

I hope you didn't reduce your gratuity for this horrendous faux pas?

I too need help on uninvited guests.

Congratulations. I know this was difficult for you. If any of the offended individuals decline to come back next year, its their loss, not yours. They need to understand that your request was made out of love and concern for everyone's safety and enjoyment of the event.

Nov 30, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

I'm totally burned out on Tex-Mex, which is unfortunate because I live in Houston, where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a "mexican" restaurant. Authentic Mexican food is good, but if I never see another enchilada, tamale or nasty pile of refried beans in front of me again, I would be grateful. That said, I do like fajitas and the ubiquitous chips and salsa.

Nov 15, 2014
Cheflambo in General Topics

Parents of Adult Children: When should kids start picking up the check?

My dad was always the first to reach for the check. My brother is the same way. We were taught this from a young age. That said, the first time I went to a casual dinner with my folks not long after getting my first job, dad looked at the total, then looked at me, and said "your meal was $_____" He saw the startled look on my face, and then added "well, you're working now, right?" The juxtaposition of personal responsibility vs. generosity was confusing to my then-22-year-old brain. But the next time my parents invited me to go to dinner with them, I told them I couldn't afford it. We're all past that now. Even when we take my now 87 year old mom to dinner, she fusses that she want to pay (she really doesn't) so we let her leave the (never more than 15%) tip.

Nov 09, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Pastured, local bacon/smoked sausage in Houston area?

The best you will get anywhere is from Al Marcus at the Grateful Bread (Urban Harvest Farmers Market on Saturday mornings). He sources locally and his bacon and sausage are amazing. Most farmers and very few butchers are set up for smoking.

Oct 17, 2014
Cheflambo in Houston

Breakroom Freezer

Every office situation Ive ever worked in had this "help yourself" issue with the community fridge. On the plus side, I could leave all my baking and cooking disasters in there and know for sure they would get eaten somehow. I love the swap of the auto part for alcohol, however. Impressive.

Oct 05, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Moving a fridge full of food... HELP?!

IMHO, use this as an excuse to completely purge the fridge of all but essentials that you KNOW will be stable for a couple of hours. Those half-empty jars of condiments, etc. should REALLY get the heave-ho and start fresh in your new place. Stuff that is frozen hard could be transported in a cooler if you just cant bear to part with it. DO NOT TRANSPORT A REFRIGERTOR THAT IS NOT EMPTY. (voice of experience here)

Bad service (not horrible). Check adjusted. What to tip?

None of these things is really a "punishable by reduced gratuity" offense. Have you eaten there before? Did they usually clear your dishes & glasses at the pace you prefer? (Some servers wait for everyone to finish a course before they clear plates so that slower eaters do not feel rushed). Im surprised the manager comped as much as she did. Is this the kind of resto that expects servers to memorize the orders rather than write them down? Did you ask for a lot of special service (something "on the side", a substitution, or a dish prepared without an ingredient noted on the menu)? Any one or all of these things can throw someone off their game. I agree with the poster below who did the math and noted that you're cutting the server twice by tipping low on the post-discounted tab. 20% on the original check would have been the right thing to do. The server will surely be corrected by his or her manager.

Sep 01, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

sensational sour cream but only sold in part of the midwest

Well, Boo. Now I want some, and I'm in Texas. You guys are just teasing me ...

Jul 27, 2014
Cheflambo in General Topics

Restaurant Pet Peeves

Wondering why you think this is part of a stock broker's sales training..... its just common courtesy. And really, there's no harm in knowing the server's name. If you need to get their attention, its much more polite to address them by name than, say, snapping your fingers (yes, people still do this) or saying "hey, you!"


Revival Market might be able to help, or know of a source.

Jul 07, 2014
Cheflambo in Houston

guests not offering to do dishes, is it rude?

I am always happy to help the hostess with the dishes, but acknowledge that many folks want things done "their way", a method with which I am not always familiar. I don't think there's a "wrong" way to load a dishwasher, but reading this thread, I've learned otherwise. If my offer to help is met with "no no, just relax" ... that's what I do.

Perhaps my pacing is different. At many a Thanksgiving dinner with my family (after my siblings were grown) two of my sisters are lightning fast eaters, and are whisking the plates off the table before the rest of us are finished. My brother and I would be leisurely enjoying our pie and coffee while getting the stink-eye from the other two for "not helping".

Jul 04, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Suggestions for Thursday, July 3rd w/79 yr. old mother

Hubbell & Hudson is closed

Jul 01, 2014
Cheflambo in Houston

Women who don't eat much when among peers

Has anyone considered that Mrs. Z may have had a big lunch, wasn't hungry après ballet, but BECAME hungry again later?

Jul 01, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Why do people find it so strange to take photos of your food?

Mona, she has worn out her welcome with most of our mutual friends. She's also highly critical of the food, the ambiance, and anything else she can find to complain about. You can imagine how she treats waitstaff.

Jun 03, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Why do people find it so strange to take photos of your food?

If the fact that you ate lunch today is the most newsworthy thing in your life, well, go ahead and share it with everyone who has friended you on FB. 99% of us don't care, however, and will scroll right through it.

But like anything else that is taken to excess, photographing everything you ate is just one more passing obsession, enabled by the cameraphones we all have in our pockets.

When I go to special events where food is the focus, it just cracks me up that everyone.... EVERYONE ... pulls out the phones as soon as the first dish is laid down. If I have a dish that is different from the photographer next to me, I have to wait until THEY have taken a picture of MY food before I can dig in. Again, I can let this go.

But I have one friend who hauls around a big, honking Nikon with a flash. No matter how dark or intimate the restaurant, EVERY plate gets a shot, disruptive flash included, because she fancies herself a "food blogger", Her "blog" is FB. She likes to mention this when she makes reservations (presuming that this will somehow garner her a few comp items, or special treatment somehow - she also thinks hauling out that conspicuous camera will make "them" realize she is important). She is traveling in a foreign country at the moment, and I wonder how the locals perceive this behavior .....

When you are hosting a dinner party, do you ask guests whether they have dietary restrictions, or preview the menu for them?

I respect and accommodate any medical or religious dietary restrictions, and when I invite someone to dinner, I usually know them well enough to be aware of these things. If someone is bringing a date I have not met, I do ask about their requirements, but if they're vegan or vegetarian, there's always plenty of food, and something they can eat. I just don't prepare a special dish just for one person who has chosen to eliminate something from their diet. I am never offended if someone brings their own food. Its the pleasure of their company I hope for, not a debate on the merits or sins of eating something that once had a face ....

Jun 01, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Advice from Dear Abby

I second THAT emotion. I will always give someone's food a second chance, but life is too short to eat with unpleasant people.

May 20, 2014
Cheflambo in Not About Food

A Non-Offensive Universally Acceptable Meal

I have way more than 15 friends. They ALL know what to expect at Chez Cheflambo. The rule is ... if you cant eat it, don't eat it. No whining. There will be meat. Probably fish or shellfish (in season). A big salad. Lots of vegetables/crudités. Good bread. And a gluten-free option if my one gluten-intolerant friend can come (she's delightful and always welcome, because she doesn't complain about her issue). Plenty of wine and beer. Soda and water for the non-drinkers. If anyone thinks there is not going to be enough food to accommodated their appetite and special needs, they usually bring their own, and I am not offended.