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GeorgeGee's avatar

Do you think it's an insult to describe food as bland?

Asked by GeorgeGee (4925points) August 31st, 2010

Sometimes I enjoy bland foods like macaroni and cheese and clam chowder. Once I describe my (then) wife’s cooking as a “good bland soup” and she screamed and nearly put out my eye. Do you think “bland” is always insulting? Or is there “good bland” as well?

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31 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

Nah, sorry @GeorgeGee , “bland” is pretty much always insulting. “Gentle” food or “comfy” food might work better for you.

wundayatta's avatar

I would not describe good mac and cheese as bland. Nor any good soup. If something is bland, then there’s something missing from it, and it’s not worth eating, as far as I am concerned.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

XD! I get that constantly and will settle for “edible”.
Yes,it is an insult to people that take pride in their culinary me,that’s just plain funny ;)

chyna's avatar

It does seem as if that is not a complimentary word. Bad choice. Maybe say something like “I like my wife’s soup. She doesn’t overspice it.”

wundayatta's avatar

@chyna or better yet—the seasonings are balanced just right for my tongue.

Austinlad's avatar

Yes. It’s like saying to someone who has asked how he or she looks, “You’ll do.”

chyna's avatar

@wundayatta Oh yes, that sounds good. You are a much better wordsmith.

Brian1946's avatar


“You’ll do.”

Thanks! ;-D

aprilsimnel's avatar

Some definitions of bland as it relates to food are “Mild or insipid” and “Having little or no distinctive flavor”. Not the word you’re going for, then.

Just say it’s tasty, and leave it at that.

Brian1946's avatar

Ordinarily I consider bland to be a derogatory comment, but not in the context you detailed in your question.

Had you already told your wife about your perception of bland before you told her that she made a “good bland soup”?

Trillian's avatar

Yeah, it’s all in the perception of the particular word. You could use a phrase like “comfort food”. That’s sort of what mac and cheese is. You could have said; “My wife’s soup is something I like to eat when I need comfort food.”
But no. You had to go and say it was bland. Well, you’re a man so I guess we have to forgive you, otherwise it would be like kicking a dog for barking.
(@cruiser, and @chazmaz, this remark was specifically directed at you two, in case you missed the nuance.) Lurve you both! ;-)

stardust's avatar

Well it’s certainly not the most complimentary thing. Next time, say nothing :)

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s fine to use the word ‘bland’ when talking about certain foods in general. Some people are instructed by their doctor to go on a bland diet for medical reasons, e.g., plain chicken and rice, a plain baked potato, buttered toast. When describing a specific dish prepared by someone, particularly after having tasted it, be it past or present, will almost always be construed as rude, even if that is not the intent.

JubalHarshaw's avatar

I’d be a bit put off if someone said that about my cooking. What you meant to say was “satisfying but not overly seasoned”. Bland is like hospital food or MREs, characterless.

OptimalMoose's avatar

Eh, it usually is meant as insulting, so most people automatically assume it’s intended to be a bad thing. Personally, I don’t mind when my cooking is called bland though. I find it best just to use terms like comfort food (As already mentioned). The curse of being a man is that we usually say it as we think it, which sounds bad (mostly) even when it’s supposed to be a compliment.

missblackberry's avatar

To me, “bland” means missing flavor not well seasoned———in other cases it could mean
“dull” so If somnone called my food bland yes I would be insulted and if I tasted some food that I felt was not good and it was missing something I would call it bland because I am honest.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Yes, it is insulting. If you truly loved her you would have simply said it was delicious and left it alone.

Aster's avatar

I was told this last week; I know what happened. Its a slight insult but I deal with those easily,
I get it from different people so I have to be less sensitive.I mean, it,s correctible.

NaturallyMe's avatar

There can be any kind of bland that you choose there to be, however i think this word has negative connotation attached to it. Maybe something like “subtle flavours” would sound better?

Mom2BDec2010's avatar

I would find that insulting also.

NaturallyMe's avatar

What insults me more (and makes me quite angry) is when people start throwing salt and condiments all over the food before they’ve even tasted it! >:S

marinelife's avatar

I would find referring to my cooking as bland insulting.

If you must say something like that, go for “comfort food”.

FutureMemory's avatar

If someone describes my cooking as bland I’m of the opinion they’re taste bud challenged.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Bland is a huge slap in the face to any cook.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Thanks for everyone’s thoughts on this. I often like highly spiced food, Szechewan, Mexican, Indian, etc, but I can also appreciate the absence of spice, and I don’t use much salt as a rule. I don’t see “pleasantly bland” as an oxymoron, but clearly many disagree; it’s helpful to know that so nobody else will throw a skillet at me! :D

NaturallyMe's avatar

I wouldn’t take offence to “pleasantly bland” – if you’re enjoying it then yay me. :) If it’s bland though (in the negative sense), then it’s bland, no use trying to pretend that it’s a taste explosion, however i probably wouldn’t voice this to someone who i’m not very comfortable with.

CMaz's avatar

No. It’s just food. Sometimes food IS bland.

lilikoi's avatar

Mac and cheese and clam chowder are not supposed to be bland. If you know what you are doing, both can have layers of flavor that are simply amazing.

I would say bland is one step above tasting repulsively awful or vomit-inducing, but it is not a compliment. Taste and smell are how we sense food so if it tastes bland, you are doing something wrong and frankly you’re missing out.

The definition of “bland” is lacking taste or flavor. The only way this can ever be a good thing is probably if everyone else around you eating the exact same thing is saying the food tastes like rotting carcass.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Hmm, repulsive and vomit inducing are certainly not what I have in mind, more like these definitions from
“Mild… soft; gentle; smooth in manner; suave; Having a soothing effect; not irritating”

lilikoi's avatar


Good point. Yes, I suppose the word could be used to mean those things, too. In different contexts, I have probably used it with those meanings. However, I think it is the third entry on for “bland” – “Lacking in taste or vigor” – that is the most popular and culturally understood meaning when Americans use this word with respect to food. The other meanings, while legitimate, are not typically what a person means when describing food as bland.

The bottom line is, while you may intend “bland” to be a compliment based on those other meanings, the average person would probably immediately take offense and the wordsmith would respond with a clarifying question – not the most efficient way then of communicating what you are trying to say. Because “bland” can have both positive and negative meanings, more commonly negative in association with food (I think I have even seen Chef Alex Guarnaschelli on the Food Network’s Iron Chef as a judge state that a dish was “bland” and add a grimace), the meaning is cloudy at best and I think you’d be better off with a different descriptor.

Greenie's avatar

Sometimes the intended message is not the received message. While her reaction was certainly an OVERreaction, I’m sure she has said things that were misunderstood, too.

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