A classmate in my high school public speaking class began his talk by apologizing for his sore throat. When he finished, the teacher commented and advised the class never to apologize in advance.
She said, “Don’t set up your audience to expect something less than excellent. Because you never know.”
I apply this principle to entertaining. On Twitter, @yonitdm complained that her food on Rosh Hashanah didn’t come out well, and she had debated whether to admit it to her guests. Of course, it depends on several factors. How well do you know your guests? How bad is the food? Obviously, if it’s spoiled or badly burnt you’re not going to let people eat it. But what if it’s slightly underdone? Or tasteless?
I usually don’t say anything. The soup that I think is blah might be the best my guests have tasted in years. If I can I pull aside my husband or one of my teens and ask them. Most of the time, they say it’s fine, so I know it’s only my high culinary standards. Or paranoia.
Another Twitterer said she owns up and says something like “I’ll never try that recipe again.” She doesn’t want her guests to think she’s a bad cook. That doesn’t worry me too much. Usually, most of the food is good, and the guests, who are grateful to be invited, will forgive one failure or even two. I pretend everything is just fine and focus on my company. I won’t offer seconds, though.
What do you do when you think your food came out badly?