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poofandmook's avatar

What do I do about my boyfriend's mother?

Asked by poofandmook (17272points) July 28th, 2008

She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Let me get that out of the way.

The problem is that she has no concept of when food spoils. She has no sense of smell from some old botched medical procedure and her mother was a “Depression kid” so she’s grown up with the “waste nothing at any cost” attitude. She has a habit of using spoiled food in her cooking and nobody realizes it until it’s too late. This morning, she made my boyfriend ham and eggs, and he realized when he was through that the ham was left from our camping trip over the July 4th weekend.

It’s very hard to decide how to deal with this because she’s always trying to make sure everyone is fed; she’ll get up and cook a meal no matter what time you get home from work and have it ready when you get home… that type of thing. But it’s too unhealthy and terribly unpleasant when you constantly have a stomach issue. How does one handle this?

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19 Answers

Kadaj's avatar

You have to let her know that her bad habit of using food that is about to spoil could endanger the well being of the people she is trying to take care on the first place. Consequence: food poisoning or worst diarreah hmmmm

dragonflyfaith's avatar

Are you dating my husband behind my back?

I honestly don’t know what to tell you here. My mother in law is known for her leftover casserole. The ham from Christmas reappears at New Year’s in black eyed peas and then the following week in some sort of casserole dish. Luckily my mother in law doesn’t start off with rotten food though, she just reuses food a little too long. I’ve just taken to claiming that I already ate whenever I see a casserole dish coming out of the oven.

Good luck!

augustlan's avatar

You shouldn’t be the one to talk to her, but your boyfriend definitely should…besides being gross, it’s a dangerous practice!

dragonflyfaith's avatar

I agree, make your boyfriend talk to her. If she becomes your mother in law, you’ll never hear the end of it if you’re the one to confront her.

marinelife's avatar

Bring your own food. Offer to cook when you come for dinner. If your boyfriend lives there, have him go through the fridge and take out stuff that needs to go and carry it out to the track (so she can’t retrieve it).

I have the same problem with my mother-in-law: moldy cheese on the vegetables; meat that is rainbow colors. Gag.

flameboi's avatar

Tell your boyfriend, and try to be nice :)

srtlhill's avatar

I’d have to go on a special diet that doesn’t include her food. I would be part of any dinners that are prepared but very selective with what I choose to eat. Salad or other vegtables but nothing that could make me sick. Be helpful to her but not hurtful change takes time. I liked marina’s idea of throwing out what you know is bad prior to her preparing a special dish. Introduce her to take out. Good luck.

poofandmook's avatar

I lived there for 7 months in between apartments and I had a stomach “flu” every other day. I remember one time she made a corn chowder, and it was pretty good, until I asked her how she made it and she said “well I used up that milk”... which I specifically remember gagging over when I sniffed it because the date had rubbed off.

shilolo's avatar

Since you live there, you can volunteer that one of your chores can be to clean the refrigerator. Use that as an opportunity to eliminate unwanted and dated items. As long as you keep up with your chore, this problem should not reappear.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

You can feel fairly safe with ham…it really doesn’t go bad quickly because it has been cured. Other than that, I would say stick to my philosophy of not eating anything I didn’t see made or didn’t make myself.

poofandmook's avatar

@Sueanne: It’s been my experience that lunch meat definitely definitely spoils at the max two weeks after it was purchased. It gets slimy, smells and tastes sour. Just.. shudders

@shilolo: I don’t live there anymore; I’ve been in my own place since last November. But when I was there, I tried that trick and she refused to let me lift a finger save putting my dishes in the dishwasher. She even took my laundry! So it didn’t work. And the one time I threw something out she got sort of upset so I didn’t dare do that again. I started eating out a lot and then I gained a ton of weight. :(

syz's avatar

It sounds to me as if she has more than just anosmia. Any relatively intelligent person should understand the consequences of spoiled food. Your description makes me wonder if she suffers from some sort of mental illness.

There are some really good websites out there that list the dangers os anosmia and have suggestions onhow to deal with the disorder.

baseballnut's avatar

This reminds me of my husband’s great aunt who brought me casseroles while I was pregnant and they were hideous! Turned out she had early onset Alzheimer’s and the symptoms got progressively worse over time. If something like that isn’t a possibility, do what I used to do when invited to her house. I’d tell her that I was trying hard to learn to cook and needed the practice – then I brought the meal. We got the pleasure of her company without the bad side effects. Bless her heart – she was a wonderful interesting woman and food was her “love currency” – too bad her currency devalued!

poofandmook's avatar

@syz & baseball: No, really, she has no mental illness. Definitely not early onset Alzheimer’s. She just has a cast iron stomach, no sense of smell, and a big set of exaggerated food-saving-skills.

syz's avatar

Personally, I would sit down and have a heart to heart with her. If you are non-confrontational and supportive, surely she will accept it when you tell her that she is putting her family (and herself) at risk.

baseballnut's avatar

Good answer syz. Tell her you love her and appreciate the gesture. Hard conversation but it sounds like one you gotta have.

Good luck – in the meantime, Pepcid before visits

susanc's avatar

It wasn’t just the Depression! During WWII they had rationing. Many many people went one way or the other n response to the privations – became bigtime consumers or ate moldy cheese forever after.
You and your bf can take a stronger hand. You like her. She likes you. She KNOWS she has no sense of smell. Insist she must trust yours.
Ask this vivid woman to tell you her stories while you throw away that slimy broccoli and cook up some delicious soba noodles with sesame oil, scallions, and fresh-fresh prawns. She’s given to you the best way she knew how. It’s her turn to be coddled. Tell her I said so.

hoteipdx's avatar

This won’t really help you, but read the essay “I’ll Eat What He’s Wearing” by David Sedaris with your boyfriend. It will give you a chuckle.

poofandmook's avatar

@hoteipdx: I just read Me Talk Pretty One day and I’m almost halfway through Naked.

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