Lesley Freeman Riva wrote in The Atlantic about friends that she has fed with good cooking, who are unable to reciprocate. Excellent article - extract
Collectively, we food people (and if you frequent this site, I'm talking to you) may have to take ownership of this one. You know what I mean: our endless course-by-course recounts of memorable restaurant meals, our chatter about fennel pollen and pork belly and pimentón. If you're just not a cook, it can be both intimidating and obnoxious (not to mention boring). So you end up with situations where non-foodie friends—whom you genuinely like—invite you to a restaurant to avoid cooking, and then spend the evening worrying that it's not "gourmet" enough for you. Or worse, they invite you home to dinner, and the anxiety the meal preparation has evidently cost them is completely exhausting for both of you.Read more. Riva mentioned those friends who were not such good cooks. In this case, perhaps she could 'dumb down' her meals now and again for them. After all, if Riva didn't mind what her non-foodie friends prepared, surely these same non-foodie friends would not really care either.
There was a time when I cooked slow braised duck in red wine with chestnuts and porcini. Friends I had served it to described it as tasting like chicken. From then on, I only prepared that dish with chicken and not duck. It was obviously wasted using duck. Similarly, while baked quail seems gourmet, most people do not know how to eat it properly, leaving too much of the meat on the small bones. While it looks impressive, it is a wasted dish on most people.
The answer to Riva's dilemma is to cater to your guests and not be a food snob. It's about the company of friends after all.