Khalid and Zoë Advise Everything: Dastardly Dishes

Desperate Daughter says, “My dad is the nicest guy in the entire world. He’s genuinely my best friend. I would not be the person I am without him — he’s an incredible human being and an inspiringly dedicated activist. 

He’s also the worst cook I have ever met. 

Everything he cooks, without fail, tastes like dog food. He made pasta with soy-seasoned salmon, cream sauce, and olives. He makes risotto that tastes inexplicably like barbecue sauce. He can even mess up fried rice. He makes his food with love, and he does it to take care of me, but almost all of it is just straight up nasty to the point where putting it in my mouth causes me physical pain. I’ve tried to feed it to our pets under the table but not even they want it. Somehow, everything he cooks is delicious to himself, but everyone else who’s ever tasted it can’t stand it. He’s very sensitive about his cooking, and proud of the recipes he invents. 

Khalid and Zoë, how can I get my kind, loving, nurturing father not to cook for me ever again without hurting his feelings?”

Daughter, thank you for coming to us with such a complex and serious issue. Lucky for you, we have a little experience with foul-tasting food from our own parents (Pizza needs crust, Mom. Also, not everything has to be sweet ’n’ sour.). We can speak from our own experience and pass that wisdom on to you.

With all of that out of the way, here are your Khalid-and-Zoë-approved suggestions:

#1: Lower Your Standards

If we’re being 100 percent honest with ourselves, it sounds like maybe your standards are a smidge too high. When you say, “pasta with soy-seasoned salmon, cream sauce, and olives,” we hear an adventurous take on salmon alfredo. You say, “His risotto tastes like barbecue sauce.” And to that we say, “Who doesn’t like barbecue sauce?” We understand that everyone has different tastes, and that we don’t know the full extent of your dad’s culinary struggles — but maybe just shift your mindset around his cooking. Or, at the very least, lower your standards: If you expect it to taste like poison, dog food is a pleasant surprise.

#2: Cook With Him

Cooking can be one of the most fun and productive activities to do with another person. Bonds are formed in the kitchen. If you cook with your dad, not only will you be able to keep an eye out for any questionable culinary decisions, but it will also strengthen your relationship with him. If you try this and the food still turns out … less than ideal, maybe start suggesting recipes. “Hey Dad, can we cook this new risotto recipe I found?” is a lot easier to digest than “Dad, your cooking makes animals cry.”

#3: Feed Yourself

Both #3 and #4 are all about one key word: independence. As a college-aged person, you’re at most a few years and at least a few months away from being on your own. This is the perfect time to start cutting ties. You did it with those friends from high school: Do it with your dad’s cooking. Start cheffing up on your own — before your dad has a chance to mess up making cereal. Plus, if you eat right before he cooks, then you can just say “I’m full,” and that will be that. 

You’re growing up, Desperate Daughter, so it might be time to start discovering your own cooking skills. Hopefully, your dad’s lack of talent skips a generation.

#4: Wait It Out

In a matter of four years or four months you’ll be free from the oppressive clutches of your dad’s “food.” So, the most practical course of action might be to just power through to the end. You should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully, that will keep you strong until you sign the lease on your first place. Sure, you’ll have to keep eating his food until then, but you’ve made it this far, so what’s a little longer? You’ll probably still have to eat his cooking when you visit at Thanksgiving or something like that, but that’s like once a year. We’re sure you can handle it.

#5: Break His Heart

We know this is exactly what you were trying to avoid. You love him, you say. He’s your best friend, you say. He’s an incredible human being and an inspiringly-dedicated activist, you say. Well, if he is all of these things, as you say, then I’m sure he will be self-assured enough to know how much of an absolute mess he is in the kitchen. Will it be easy? No. Is it harsh? Only if you think crushing someone you love is harsh. Is it the best, most mature way to approach the situation? Probably.

So, there you have it. Five foolproof, Khalid- and Zoë-approved solutions to your dastardly dishes. We hope it helps.

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