Some friends invite you to their home. There's just the 4 of you (2 couples). S/he is cooking. At the end, s/he is asking you how was the meal s/he made for you. You didn't enjoy it at all, food was far below average, not to say worse than that. How can you answer that question?!
They are good friends, the meal is standard food for the country.
I don't want to hurt their feelings.
Is there a polite way to answer or deflect the question?
EDIT (from comments / more details):
- my 2 cents: she asks because nobody made compliments during the meal.
- It happens all of a sudden, I was stunned by a question that I didn't expect.
- It's quite common to ask in Western Europe (from experience: with people in/from UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy).
- Host is a standard cook with average experience.
- Dishes: salad as an appetizer, chicken with "sauce" (?) and vegetables. Sweets weren't homemade. Nothing too spicy/salty/bland, just an unpleasant taste.
UPDATE: I have put into practice a method based upon a mix of some answers. Long story short: good meal with (closer) friends, but did like it was not in my mind. Asked my host right away: what is this taste in your dish? looks like you put [ name it ] in it? Her: this, and this too. Why? Me: tastes different, I never expected that it would do this. Her: but did you like it? Me: maybe it would have better matched MY taste to put less of it, or none at all, because I like it [ your taste ]. Don't worry, I'm curious, it's just a question, not a big deal :)
All went fine. Then I told them the whole story, that the meal was very good, and apologized for making them part of an experience, to which they laughed. As they were curious about it, we even talked about this awkward situation, and my previous experience, and what one should do. Like some others I asked to, they said that you should be very careful when you answer, and that deflection was the smartest way to do it, in their POV.
2nd try : I brought this in an unformal talk: how would you react if...?. Most people said: don't tell it's not good! Either you deflect or you white lie. (but to me, liying is not an option though).
Anyway, thanks a lot, you all have been very helpful at this point. To be continued...