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A woman pulling a face and fanning at her open mouth | Source: Shutterstock
A woman pulling a face and fanning at her open mouth | Source: Shutterstock

My MIL Switched My Food to an Extra-Spicy Option 'To Teach Me Not to Be Picky' – I Had a Lesson for Her Too

Caitlin Farley
Jul 04, 2024
10:30 A.M.

At a family outing, my mother-in-law switched my mild chicken for an extra-spicy option, leaving me humiliated in a crowded restaurant. As my mouth burned and Linda smirked, I decided to plan a dinner that would teach her a lesson she'd never forget!

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It all started on what was supposed to be a nice family outing. We were at a popular hot chicken restaurant—one of those places that prides itself on making you sweat from the heat.

Jake, my husband, loves these kinds of places, and unfortunately, so does his mother, Linda. Me? Not so much. I can barely handle black pepper without needing a glass of milk.

Interior of a fast food restaurant | Source: Midjourney

Interior of a fast food restaurant | Source: Midjourney

We all gathered around a large table. There was Jake, of course, his mother Linda, her husband (Jake's stepdad) Bob, and Aunt Carol. The place was buzzing with activity, the smell of fried chicken and spices hanging heavy in the air.

As we sat down, I could already feel the anxiety bubbling up. Linda had a way of making even the most mundane experiences feel like a gauntlet.

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"What are you getting, sweetheart?" Jake asked, flashing me a supportive smile.

A man smiling at his wife | Source: Midjourney

A man smiling at his wife | Source: Midjourney

"Lite mild chicken tenders," I said, trying to sound confident. "I think I can handle that."

Linda smirked. "Lite mild? Oh, come on. You should really try to expand your palate a bit. Live a little!"

I forced a smile. "This is me living a little, Linda. You know I have a low tolerance for spice."

The waitress came over, her pen poised to take our orders. Jake went first, then me, and finally, Linda. Predictably, she ordered the "reaper" level, the spiciest on the menu.

A mature woman | Source: Pexels

A mature woman | Source: Pexels

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"Go big or go home, right?" Linda said, giving me a pointed look.

I ignored her and focused on the menu, trying to block out the snide remarks that inevitably followed. I sighed with relief when she excused herself to go to the bathroom.

The food arrived shortly after Linda returned. Steam rose from the plates, and my stomach churned with both hunger and dread as I inhaled the spicy scent. I picked up a tender, took a cautious bite, and—

Oh. My. God.

A woman shocked by her spicy food | Source: Midjourney

A woman shocked by her spicy food | Source: Midjourney

Fire. Absolute fire in my mouth. I dropped the tender, my hands shaking.

"Water!" I managed to choke out. "I need water!"

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Jake looked at me, alarmed. "What's wrong?"

I couldn't answer. Tears streamed down my face as I gulped down water, but it felt like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol. Through my watery eyes, I saw Bob and Carol exchanging amused glances. Then, I noticed Linda's satisfied smile.

A woman gulping down a glass of water | Source: Midjourney

A woman gulping down a glass of water | Source: Midjourney

"You okay, honey?" she asked, her voice dripping with fake concern.

I glared at her, the realization hitting me like a ton of bricks. "You did this, didn't you?"

Linda shrugged, not even trying to hide her glee. "Maybe you should learn to handle a little heat, dear. It's good for the soul."

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Jake was bewildered. "Mom, did you switch her chicken?"

Linda laughed. "Oh, relax. It's just a bit of fun. It will teach her not to be so picky next time."

A mature woman smiling | Source: Pexels

A mature woman smiling | Source: Pexels

I wanted to scream. I wanted to hurl the rest of the chicken at her smug face. But I didn't. I decided to let it go—at least for now. I wouldn't stoop to her level in public. No, I'd bide my time and plan something far more memorable.

As we left the restaurant, I couldn't shake off the humiliation. It lingered, gnawing at me. Every time I thought about Linda's satisfied smile, my blood boiled anew.

I needed to do something, but what?

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A thoughtful woman | Source: Pexels

A thoughtful woman | Source: Pexels

A few days later, as Linda's birthday approached, inspiration struck. I'd teach her a lesson in empathy she'd never forget.

Growing up, my great-uncle used to tell us stories of his childhood in Central America, where he was born. The region he came from had some amazing food, including several dishes that used Zophobas morio, or superworms.

Yes, they are actual worms, and they're pretty tasty, too. To him, they were a delicacy. To Linda, they'd be the ultimate test.

A woman giving a devilish grin | Source: Pexels

A woman giving a devilish grin | Source: Pexels

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I spent the next few days planning the dinner meticulously. I invited close family and friends, ensuring Linda would be surrounded by people she respected. The menu was traditional, rich with flavors and ingredients that would be unfamiliar—and hopefully challenging—for Linda.

I was determined to make this birthday dinner a memorable one.

On the day of the dinner, I was a bundle of nerves, my mind racing through every possible outcome. The house was filled with the aroma of spices and herbs, and the table was set with an array of colorful dishes.

Beautifully set table | Source: Pexels

Beautifully set table | Source: Pexels

My great-uncle's recipes, especially the dish with Zophobas morio, were the centerpiece. I made sure everything looked perfect.

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Guests started arriving, and the house buzzed with chatter and laughter. Jake, ever the supportive husband, gave me a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder as he greeted everyone. Linda walked in, her sharp eyes scanning the room.

"What's on the menu?" she asked, her tone casual but her eyes curious.

"Oh, just some traditional dishes from my great-uncle's recipes," I said with a smile. "I thought you'd enjoy trying something new."

A woman smirking | Source: Pexels

A woman smirking | Source: Pexels

Linda's eyes narrowed slightly, but she nodded. "Sounds interesting."

Everyone gathered around the dining table, the conversations flowing easily. As the first course was served, the room filled with appreciative murmurs. Linda seemed intrigued, taking small bites and nodding in approval.

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"This is quite different," she remarked. "But it's good."

I smiled, relief washing over me. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. Then came the main course—the dish with the superworms.

A family sharing a meal | Source: Pexels

A family sharing a meal | Source: Pexels

I carefully placed the plates in front of each guest, saving Linda's for last. Her eyes widened as she looked at the unfamiliar ingredients and her face turned pale.

"Is this...what I think it is?" she asked, her voice shaky.

"Yes," I said, feigning innocence. "It's a delicacy in some parts of Central America. Quite the experience."

Linda stared at the plate, her face turning pale. "I can't eat this. This is too much."

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"Why not, Linda?" I asked, my tone light. "One of my relatives is from a part of Central America where this is traditional food. Don't be so picky."

A woman shocked by her meal | Source: Midjourney

A woman shocked by her meal | Source: Midjourney

Her eyes widened as the realization dawned. The room grew quiet, everyone sensing the tension. Linda sighed and finally looked at me with a mixture of annoyance and something else—respect?

"I...I suppose I could try a bite," she said hesitantly, picking up her fork.

She took a small bite, her expression a mix of surprise and discomfort. "It's...different."

I nodded, keeping my voice calm. "It's an acquired taste, but it's important to be open to new experiences, right?"

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A woman eating | Source: Pexels

A woman eating | Source: Pexels

The room was still silent, everyone watching the exchange. Linda put down her fork and sighed.

"I see your point," she said softly. "I suppose I haven't been very considerate of your preferences."

Jake looked between us, his brow furrowed. "What's going on?"

Linda turned to him, her voice gentle. "I've been so set in my ways, I didn't realize how it affected others. I haven't been fair to her."

A serious woman | Source: Pexels

A serious woman | Source: Pexels

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There was a collective sigh of relief around the table. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, the tension easing. We continued the meal, the conversation slowly picking up again. Linda and I exchanged small smiles, a silent understanding passing between us.

After dinner, we moved to the patio for coffee and dessert. The atmosphere was relaxed, the earlier tension forgotten. As we sat down, Linda turned to me, her expression serious.

"I owe you an apology," she said, her voice sincere.

Two women having a conversation | Source: Pexels

Two women having a conversation | Source: Pexels

"I've been so focused on my own tastes and preferences, I didn't consider how it made you feel," she continued.

I was taken aback by her honesty. "Thank you, Linda. That means a lot to me. I know we have our differences, but I want us to find common ground."

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She nodded, a small smile tugging at her lips. "I do too. I realize now that respecting each other's backgrounds and tastes is important. I'm sorry for being so harsh."

A woman smiling | Source: Midjourney

A woman smiling | Source: Midjourney

"It's okay," I said, feeling a wave of relief. "I appreciate you saying that. Let's make an effort to understand each other better."

We hugged, and for the first time, it felt genuine. The rest of the evening passed in a blur of laughter and shared stories. As the guests began to leave, I felt a sense of accomplishment and hope for the future.

Over the next few weeks, Linda and I made a genuine effort to understand and respect each other's preferences.

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Two women greeting each other | Source: Midjourney

Two women greeting each other | Source: Midjourney

She started asking about my favorite recipes, and I found myself curious about hers. Our relationship improved significantly, built on mutual respect and understanding.

The lesson was clear: respecting differences is essential for harmonious relationships. Sometimes, it takes a taste of our own medicine to learn empathy and consideration. And in the end, it's those moments of understanding that bring us closer together.

Click here to read how Jake teaches his conservative mom a lesson about family after she excludes his wife and stepdaughter from a family dinner.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided "as is," and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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