Help! My Mother-in-Law Interferes in the Kitchen

updated May 11, 2022
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CHOW’s resident etiquette expert, Helena Echlin, addresses perplexing food etiquette dilemmas in her column Table Manners. We’ve helped her out with questions in the past, like this one recently on dealing with a drunk at a baby shower. (You can see her final article, using your answers, at CHOW.)

Now she has a question from a reader who has a problem: A well-meaning, yet interfering mother-in-law, in the kitchen. Read on for the full situation!

Q: I love my mother-in-law, but she cannot stay out of the kitchen when she visits. She hovers while I cook, commenting on what I’m doing (“Wow, that’s a lot of garlic”). She salts and peppers dishes without asking for my permission, she even flips food that I’m sautéing, including some scallops before they had browned on each side. She’ll wonder aloud, “What should we have for dinner?” and will even go out and buy groceries for whatever dish she thinks we should have. I know she’s trying to be helpful, but our culinary styles just don’t mesh and I don’t want her breathing down my neck while I cook. How can I make her stay out of the kitchen and stop trying to control the menu?

—Doormat Daughter-in-Law

Readers, what’s your take on this dilemma? How would you deal with a kitchen-controller mother-in-law?

Give Helena your advice, and she’ll pull it into her column next week.

Related: Table Manners: Bad-Palate Breakups

(Image: CHOW)