Banished By Association

by admin on April 30, 2013

An odd thing happened to me and I’m interested in the thoughts of my fellow E-Hellions.

The members of my pre-natal baby group, all of whom had our babies last December, had a reunion last weekend. It was organized by one of the couples, who suggested we meet at a park and all bring our own picnic snacks and accoutrements. An alternative plan in the event of rain (a strong possibility in our neck of the woods) was to meet at their home, where guests would be welcome to enjoy the hostess’s garden and, if so inclined, sample the host’s collection of whiskies. Nothing further was said about refreshments.

My husband and I, and most, if not all, of the other guests brought food to be shared by the group. My husband and I also brought a bottle of wine as a host/hostess gift. The host took one look at our offering, a meat, cheese, olive and cracker plate, and said,  “Did [hostess] not tell you this is a meat free house? I’d rather you not open that and please take it home with you.” He offered to put it in the fridge until we left. I didn’t miss a beat and simply said “no problem”. I was happy to take it home and have been enjoying it thoroughly since then. However, I have been turning the incident over in my mind and have to say it annoyed me so much that I do not feel inclined to socialize with him again.

I understand that it’s his house and he has the prerogative to ban meat. However, I was not informed of this prohibition in advance. Also, not all of the guests are vegetarian, and I do not believe his aversion to meat is so strong that he should not have given the other guests the option to eat the meats. Lastly, he could have suggested we only put out the cheese and not the meat, which was wrapped separately. This, I think, would have been more gracious than rejecting my offering altogether. I did not suggest this at the time as he had shut down my offering so completely.

I probably would not have become so annoyed with him had his wife not complained, in casual conversation during the gathering, that she had been looking forward to trying the meatballs at Ikea, but was disappointed with them as they were too small. 0424-13

I can’t imagine why the cheese, olives and crackers were banished to the refrigerator, too.  Oh, well!  More for you at home!

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki April 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

OP, in your second post, you stated that you felt that it might have just been an arbitrary rejection? May I inquire as to why? That might help determine the depth of the host’s rudeness here – ie., if he said something to you, but someone else served green beans seasoned with ham hock, then I would totally get where you’re coming from. You seem to have felt that it was a personal thing rather than a food thing – is there a reason why they wouldn’t want to eat food from you? Even an imaginary reason?

I am truly curious about that, because I’ve felt that way before, too. When I worked at my old job, we would have occasions where we would all bring food to share. Since there weren’t that many of us in the office, everyone knew what everyone else brought. I took the time to make a maple-pecan pie from scratch (I even shelled the nuts!), and bought ice cream and caramel to go with it. On the day of the event, everything was eaten except my pie. The given excuses were “oh, it’s so fattening! I’m on a diet!” (note: every one of these people ate pecans, so it wasn’t the nuts). Of course, they DID manage to finish off the off-the-shelf lemon meringue pie, so no worries about diets there! No one even tried mine. It hurt my feelings. I never made anything for them again.

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Surianne April 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I think he did the best he could with the situation. He thought his wife was going to let everyone know about the no-meat restriction, but she didn’t (or the OP missed it somehow). They weren’t even really expecting to be hosts, but rather a back-up location if there was bad weather. I think he was perfectly fine to tell the OP that they couldn’t serve it, but to keep it cool for her to take home. I wouldn’t brand him rude or someone not worth getting to know based on this one incident.

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delislice April 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm

It’s interesting to see a situation in which responses are so all over the map. I’m going to cast my ballot with Lady Desmond, who seems to have hit it right on the head.

If for whatever reason you keep dietary restrictions in your house, it’s probably not the best idea to provide the site for a potluck (even a rain-backup site) unless the potluck is among like-minded friends, e.g., all keeping kosher, all halal, all vegetarians, all keeping gluten-free.

When I was in a pregnancy class (years ago — the baby is about to graduate from high school), the instructor asked us each week to bring “healthy snacks.”

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Helen April 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I’m with others who have suggested this was a kosher home. People differ greatly on what level of kosher they keep. I know people who have separate kitchens for dairy/meat. Many people I know keep vegetarian homes, for that reason. Some have separate sets of dishes, and cannot use a dish if it has been used for meat, not dairy or dairy, not meat.

I also will say the OP did nothing wrong, not having been informed of the vegetarian house.

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FerrisW April 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

This is an interesting post to me, as I have often wondered if I have been a bad host at times for something vaguely similar. I am allergic to caffeine, and although I need to ingest or touch it to have a reaction, the smell of coffee makes me feel incredibly nauseous and brings on very bad headaches at times. It’s difficult to stay away from the smell of coffee, and would never ask, for example, my office mates to not drink coffee at their desks- I instead remove myself from the situation. I also never complained about flatmates having coffee in homes we shared.

But when I bought my own house, I made a firm ‘no coffee’ rule. My guests may have tea or coke or hot chocolate (none of which smell strongly enough for me to feel sick by it) if they need a hit, but no coffee. I always inform guests of this if they’re coming to the house for an extended time (ie, more than a few hours, and especially if they’re staying, or will be having a meal), and yet time and again people show up either expecting to be given a cup, or bringing their own coffee with them. And most people are quite taken aback when I ask them not to open their bags of coffee, or to finish the takeaway lattes they’ve brought with them outside. The worst offender was my best friend’s mother who came to stay for a month, and despite being warned it was a coffee-free house, went out and bought several bags, and then made a great show of throwing them away when I asked her not to open them. And then, on a day trip out where I was driving, brought a large coffee into the car because it ‘wasn’t the house, so the rules didn’t apply’. It was a tense month.

Not to sidetrack from the OPs post, but I’ve always wondered if I was out of line here. If I took an item to someone’s house and was told that it wasn’t welcome for a specific reason (dietary restrictions, ethical reasons, etc) I wouldn’t be offended, yet so many of my guests seem to be. At what point should I put my safety/beliefs aside to be a ‘good host’?

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LizaRose April 30, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I’m actually a bit bothered by the level of hatred some posters seem to have for this gentleman. Isn’t one of the main aims of etiquette the ability to get along well with different people? I don’t feel this story has any “bad guys”, just a minor mixup which both parties seem to have handled nicely.

He has a meat-free home. The OP wasn’t informed of this in advance; I’m guessing the husband and the wife each assumed the other had let OP know. He nicely, privately, told OP the situation, and graciously offered to keep the tray refrigerated for her. I think he handled an awkward situation as gracefully as he could. So, calling him a rude jerk seems a bit harsh.

I’m a vegetarian, for religious reasons. In my case, I could not have meat on my table or touching my dishes; it’s a huge no-no, and nothing to do with preference or entitlement. My wonderful spouse enjoys meat outside the home, and considers himself neither a hypocrite nor a doormat. If this mixup happened at our house, I imagine I’d have to do the same as this man did, even though the refrigerator would need to be cleansed afterward. If he holds the same traditions that I do, I think he did a good job of compromising to (hopefully) spare his guest’s feelings, while respecting his own beliefs.

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Virg April 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm

nk, the fellow did ask if his wife hadn’t told her about the meat-free house (indicating that he assumed she’d tell everyone) so he’s off the hook for that. As to “reacts so angrily”, there’s no part of the original post that fits this statement since he reacted quite politely by the original poster’s description.

Virg

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Mabel April 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Entitlement complex.

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ItsyBitsy April 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

‘His house, his rules.’
Normally, I would agree but not this time. He and his wife offered their house as an alternative venue. The good weather option, the park, was pot luck with no restrictions so the wet weather option, their house, should have been offered on the same conditions. He should have just sucked it up (and I say this as a vegetarian myself).

As for the person who said that the wife should have warned the others about the house being meat free (if you accept that the rules could be changed which, as I have said, I do not), why? It’s her husband who’s the one with the issue, not her, and from the sound of things they were both involved in the organising.

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Elsie April 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm

OP, unless there are other reasons not to interact with this couple, put it behind you and just never meet them at their home again. Go to more neutral locations or ones where they are not hosting. Politely excuse yourself early if you do happen to be in their home again.
If he gets in your face again there, then cut him and his wife off.

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Kate April 30, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Host and hostess made a big error in not making it clear to their guests that they didn’t want people to bring meat. If you are hosting and have a serious aversion to something that you can reasonably assume others may not be averse to, it’s your responsibility to communicate that so your guests don’t end up bringing food that can’t be consumed.

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Cat April 30, 2013 at 9:12 pm

These situations can be very awkward. A friend’s daughter married a man I did not know well, but the daughter made a point of telling me it was new husband’s birthday. I gave him 2 prime steaks.He loved it and new wife barbecued them for his birthday dinner. Well and good.
When the new hubby’s sister married a man they didn’t know well, they happened to draw his name for the family gift exchange. Not knowing what to get him, they followed my example and bought him a box of steaks. At the Christmas dinner table, he mentioned that he was a vegetarian and that was why he refused both ham and turkey…and there they sat, knowing that, in a few minutes, they were about to present him with his very own box of dead cow.

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MichelleP April 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I’m with the posters who say the host was rude. Not terribly rude, but rude. I’m not with the “his house his rules” bit when there was no warning at all, and there were other people there who do not share his beliefs. If it’s not hurting him there is nothing wrong with having meat there. If he’s that adamant about not having meat near him, which is absurd, he doesn’t need to host a potluck.

I’ve been in that situation: I love to bake and bring people food, and I’ve had noses turned up at a potluck when I brought sweets: “we don’t need to eat that!” Interestingly enough, the ones who say they don’t need it are the ones who scarf it down. Once I brought a fruit platter to a job for a going away party and the manager looked down her nose, “Is the fruit washed? Pesticides you know! I saw this thing on 20/20 about the dangers of unwashed fruit!” I looked dead at her and said I didn’t bring it for her.

I’ve had enough of the whole thing and just don’t bring food to events anymore. I bring supplies and/or drinks, and it’s always needed and appreciated.

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Daisy April 30, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I think the host was less than gracious, and the hostess may be less than personally enthused about the host’s kitchen protocols. My daughter has been a vegetarian for decades, for ethical rather than medical reasons. Her husband and son eat meat, which they cook for themselves. She would never make anyone feel uncomfortable for bringing meat to her home. People are more important than personal preferences.

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Rap April 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

“If his restrictions were so important, he should have made them known to all. One thing I don’t understand is why it was acceptable to have the platter in his refrigerator if he was so anti-meat. ”

I’m under the impression the party wasn’t entirely planned to be at the house, based on the description. What you tolerate at a picnic is different than what you allow in your own home. I have vegetarian friends who have no issue if I scarf down bloody rare steak in front of them in a resteraunt but who also won’t allow meat in their home.

It sounds like the male homeowner was genuinely surprised that someone brought meat to his home. It also sounds like the female homeowner did nothing to suggest she or her spouse were practicing vegetarians. (I would assume for example, that someone discussing eating meatballs is probably not vegetarian) Without knowing how close everyone was in the prenatal group was… my assumption, yes a dangerous thing I know, is that the prenatal group was more about the women socializing than the men. If the woman did the inviting, and not openly vegetarian… my guess is that this was an honest mistake.

Was he a little curt? I wasn’t there, so I can’t speak to tone, but he *sounds* like someone who takes his vegetarianism seriously and yet didn’t in any way throw a major vegan fit. He offered to put the food in his fridge – and was likely making a major concession, and I actually think its more polite to not tear up a plate of food for “acceptable” tifbits. Plus, I can see where the cheese a)isn’t vegetarian and b) yes its being a lil jerky but some vegetarians would genuinely be grossed out by eating veg off a plate that also holds meat. It’s his house, he doesn’t sound like he was nasty, and he didn’t make the OP waste the food.

Also, in all seriousness, OP, your opinion of how serious his vegetarianism is and how he should serve meat to meat eating guests in his own home is a little entitled. It’s his home, he does not have to serve meat in his home just because a guest brings some. Maybe he’s “going thru a phase” with the vegetarianism, I know I did… It just doesn’t sound like he was trying to be deliberately offensive or provacative. I know vegans, no longer friends, who wouldn’t allow a platter with meat to cross the threshold into the house and who would insist you leave with the offensive meat.

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NostalgicGal April 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I had a very good friend a number of years back that was omnivorous but her husband couldn’t eat meats… he literally broke out in sweats, and stank to high heaven. Her kitchen had to be totally meat free, because if the frypan had had anything meat grace it, he’d break out even if it was seriously cleaned. It wasn’t psychosomatic, he wouldn’t know someone fried a burger in his pan and washed it, he’d know someone did AFTER he made something in it after they used it….

She would eat everything meat outside the house; he would literally have to bring his own meal to eat with anyone. In this case we all knew when we did potluck, bring our own everything to cook/reheat with and serve with if it was at their place, and she’d put away every pan and tie strings on the door handles (tie them shut).

I reread the original post, and it seems that the missus was taking care of the invites and didn’t mention no-meat house, and the host didn’t know that. He was at least kind enough to let the dish be stored so it didn’t go bad and could be taken home, instead of being thrown or banished to the car. And still, the missus doesn’t seem out of line either, on being an omnivore outside the house.

My Suffering Better Half is like I used to be, a meat-N-potatoes woman; now that I have to eat differently, he still eats the good stuff. I even lovingly prepare him the foods he’s able to eat and I can’t. He did offer to eat my diet and I looked him in the eye and said You Can’t. You Won’t. You just won’t be able to. I’ll eat what I have to and you can eat what you can. Only thing is I get the right to banish him to the other end of the house to eat it (some days the best of cooking smells like disposer breath to me, so..). And some days I take my whatever away for similar reasons.

It shouldn’t be the deal breaker to never mingle with the group again, but by same token I can understand not wanting to continue much farther with a membership with this couple…

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Heather April 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Yeah, this isn’t a big deal at all and not worth another moment of your time.

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Marozia April 30, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Seems peculiar that the OP & husband were the only people who were not informed of this ‘meat free zone’ business.
Rather weird, though. ‘Sample the hosts collection of whiskies’ seems odd to me. You can get yourself rip-royal-roaring drunk at a baby group, but you can’t eat meat!!
Oh, well, more food for OP & husband!!

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Michelle C Young May 1, 2013 at 1:22 am

I think the hostess didn’t tell you it was a meat-free house because SHE likes meat, and was rather hoping her husband, who usually forces her to abstain, would refrain from bullying, and allow meat in the house, which she hoped to be able to enjoy, too, whenever his back was turned.

Note, she talked about the meatballs at Ikea (I thought they sold furniture??), and not about having meatballs at her house. She probably married a meat-hater because she loved all sorts of other things about him, and just deals with it as best she can. However, it does not make her a hypocrite if she likes meat, and enjoys it whenever the chance arises, as she cannot enjoy it in her own home.

However, the husband did enforce the no-meat-in-the-house rule, and she was no allowed to sneak a snack. Perhaps you can get together for a ladies’ lunch, and enjoy a lovely steak together.

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amyasleigh May 1, 2013 at 3:07 am

Interest aroused by the way opinions here appear — to me anyway — fairly polarised. Seems that the majority of posters either feel that the host’s actions and words were perfectly acceptable — maybe a little bit brusque; or feel, as I do, “very rude”: the failure to inform people beforehand that the house was meat-free, and then his attitude and his wording, which last appears to me as borderline hostile — if I’d been the guest, it would have pressed all of my anger buttons. (As said earlier, if he’d been a bit apologetic about his requirement, the thing would have been OK with me.) A minority of posts, fall between the two extremes. It’s just interesting what highly different reactions people can have, to the same situation !

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Christine May 1, 2013 at 6:55 am

This seems like a genuine miscommunication that was handled well by both parties at the time. Yes, the hostess should have informed the poster that their house was meat-free, but it seems that information got lost somewhere along the line. The host privately stated his concerns about the house being meat-free and was nice enough to store the platter for the duration of the party. The poster didn’t cause a fuss at the party and I’m assuming a good time was had by all (and the poster got leftovers!) A win-win in my opinion.

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NicoleK May 1, 2013 at 7:10 am

We all have things we find morally objectionable, so imagine if someone came to your house with something you find morally abhorrent but that isn’t illegal.

Maybe someone came with their own pennyroyal to perform a home abortion. Maybe they brought hardcore gangbang porn to the Yankee Gift Swap. Maybe your best friend’s husband brings his barely legal mistress. Whatever it is that is legal that you absolutely wouldn’t want in your home…

What WOULD be the correct way to handle it?

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livvy17 May 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

To me, it’s interesting that some people have been so emphatic in their reactions to this. I thought it likely that there was a lack of communication from (or perhaps between) the host and hostess, but that it was handled quite politely at the time.
OP should just let it go – miscommunications happen. It’s very possible the wife is a bit miffed about the situation at home, and perhaps unconciously forgot to confer her husband’s no-meat rule. Or, depending on the timing of the change from the park to their house, she felt that it would be rude to NOW tell people that any dishes they’d ordered/planned containing meat would no longer be welcome. In essence, I feel like there might be some conflict between husband and wife, and OP got stuck in the middle, but it’s too trifling a thing to throw away a friendship.
As mentioned by others – insistance upon one’s own offering being served up at a hosts’ house can seem a little entitled/rude as well. (not that the OP did this.)

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The Elf May 1, 2013 at 8:24 am

Sweetonsno, I think the hang-up is mostly from the nature of the event. It was a potluck. So, what the guests are eating is what the guests are bringing into the home. While he can still insist that no meat be served in his home (or whatever religious/ethical/medical/dietary restriction is going on), it does change the situation somewhat as he is now essentially dictating what people purchase or prepare to bring to his home.

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Kris May 1, 2013 at 8:46 am

@CaffeineKatie – My thoughts exactly. Both of my roommates are straight edge and one of the house rules is no booze in the common areas and has to be in a bag in the fridge. I tell any company I have over that we’ll be drinking in my room or out on the back porch. No one has a problem with this.

@Susan – Its possibly hubby went meat free post baby classes.

This was an oversight on both the host and hostess’ part. Yes this was a backup plan, but not having meat in the home is not something you forget to mention. I do feel that since this was a potluck the house rules could have been bent slightly. It does also come down to a matter of comfort, I know more than a few vegan and vegetarians who live with meat eaters(my sil is one) who don’t keep meat free homes.

I wouldn’t go so far as to cut out associating with the Host, as he may be one of those people wh just go to their default mode when in situations like this.

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Virg May 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

The Elf, I don’t see dictating what someone can bring to a potluck at one’s home is a problem nor is it intrinsically rude. The example of keeping kosher or halal was given above, and I can’t say I’d consider myself rude if someone showed up at my potluck with a puppy souffle’ and I didn’t set it out for all to enjoy. The only dropped ball here was the lack of prior notice and it sounds like this guy’s wife dropped that ball, not him. On top of that, he was polite in how he approached the situation and didn’t politicize, criticize or waste the food so I don’t see where he did anything worth cutting him off over. Considering that being there in the first place was a backup plan, I’m willing to chalk it up to a minor miscommunication and give everyone a pass.

Virg

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Shalamar May 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

Politrix said “I think the whole situation is really not about meat/non-meat, but rather how the host made the OP feel after she presented her offering.” I totally agree. The husband could have been much more diplomatic, and no-one’s feelings would have been hurt.

I mentioned my MIL sneering at my homemade candy earlier – if she’d said “Oh, how nice of you, but we’ve actually got tons of sweets right now. Would you mind if we put it away until later?”, I wouldn’t have minded at all. Some people (MIL is one of them) wouldn’t know tact if it bit them on the keister.

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sv May 1, 2013 at 8:59 am

I think perhaps the man in question did not offer to put out the crackers/cheese/olives because that in itself seems rude – to pick through your offering and take only what he deemed acceptable. To me it seems less offensive for him to put the entire tray aside for you to enjoy later than for him to take out what he wants and send you with the leftovers. Clearly they should have informed you in advance but since he didn’t I think he handled it as diplomatically as possible. That being said, I would be annoyed too, but you have no control over the rules other people have in their homes.

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Sansa May 1, 2013 at 9:14 am

Two quick things- I thought Ikea was furniture store, so why does it have meatballs? Does it have a cafe like some Targets & Wal-Marts?

Second, I seem to recall a post a couple months ago about guests insisting that a dish they bring be served but that may not apply as I believe that was a dinner party, not a potluck.

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Rap May 1, 2013 at 9:28 am

I really don’t see how it being a pot luck means a host isn’t allowed to say what is and isn’t served in his own home. I’ve been to themed potlucks before and its really not unusual to hear “its a sweets only potluck” or “Mexican food only” or yes “vegatarian only”.

Like someone said above, there’d be no question if someone brought cigars to share, that the host, who may not have specified no smoking on the invite, has the right to dictate what people purchase to use in his own home, or use in his own home. This sounds like a miscommunication. It could have been handled better with the guests getting more notice, but really, why do we have homes if guests have the right to demand whatever they want regardless of house rules?

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Joni May 1, 2013 at 10:03 am

Yes, IKEA stores have a cafe inside (the stores can be exhausting to navigate so the opportunity to fill your belly is a boon!) and the meatballs are divine and very reasonably priced. If you’ve never tried them, you’re missing out!

Personally, I’d chalk the Meat Free Man and his family up as a loss and keep them at arm’s length. Life is too short to pursue friendships with people who make you feel bad.

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Mae May 1, 2013 at 10:14 am

@Nikki, post #51- I had a similiar experience, except that it happened at the first Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, not the office.

I made a Paula Deen side dish- stuffed cranberry sandwiches. Using canned cranberry sauce/jelly, you slice it, top the slices with a mixture of cream cheese and nuts, then top it with another slice. I put it in a nice, new tupperware container and placed with the other side dishes. No one even tried it! They didn’t make any excuses about why not, they just ignored the dish altogether.

Never again made anything for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with them. I actually do not particpate in any of their dinners anymore for other reasons, but I remember how much that hurt my feelings. If they had tried it and hated it, that would have been ok .

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White Lotus May 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

Why are people so shocked, surprised, critical and judgmental when vegetarians or vegans drink whiskey (which is veg) or wine (which, arguably, is not unless marked as such)? Does this mean I am allowed to judge and criticize any runner (some tend to be holier than everybody at times IME, so they make a good patsy here) who tops off a run with a sugar and caffeine filled “energy drink” of which I disapprove? I think not. Does that runner have a duty to live up to MY standards of Decent Behavior For Runners, especially something to which I do not personally subscribe? No. I am not entitled to an opinion. And I do not have a duty to forgo alcohol or anything else because of some weird (IMO) opinion YOU have about What Vegetarians Must Do To Meet Your Approval.

I find this attitude very offensive.

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KJ May 1, 2013 at 11:21 am

@Mae – I have made that stuffed cranberry sauce; LOVE IT!

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Anonymous May 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

@Sweetonsno–Normally, it’d be fine to say that you keep an meat, alcohol, tobacco, or whatever-free home, but part of the problem here is the fact that the original plan was for a picnic in the park, which got moved to the organizers’ house at the last minute because of rain. So, between that, and the fact that the OP and her husband didn’t even know about the “meat-free home” stipulation, it wasn’t possible for them to bring something else. If they’d known, they could have picked up chips or something at the last minute, but that’s really a “nice but not required” thing, especially since they were already bringing wine. So, in this case, I think the situation calls for a little “give and take.” Since the original gathering was planned for the park, I think the gracious thing for the organizers to do would be to bend the rules for one day, and just pretend they were still at the park. Then, the next time this couple organizes a potluck at their home, they’d be free to say, “Actually, we keep a meat free home, but last time we made a one-time exception because of the rained-out picnic.” Better yet, they could host a meat-free meal in their home, and bring up the “meat-free” thing in the course of normal conversation. Even if their reasons for keeping meat out of the house are religious, most world religions also advise people to be kind to each other, and not hurt their friends’ feelings, especially when they mean well.

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Allie May 1, 2013 at 11:58 am

Nikki, it was just a feeling and it may have been in my head but I thought I noticed some annoyance in his manner that suggested there was so much food already and not much space left to put it in and he just didn’t want to deal with another plate.

FerrisW, your situation is entirely different as you indicate you have always informed people in advance of the restriction, not to mention the very important reason for it. Had I been notified in advance, I would NEVER presume to bring an offending item into someone’s house, even one as precious to me as coffee ; ), especially if it would actually make them ill. And I certainly would not be offended in this situation if I had been informed in advance and accidentally forgotten or didn’t realize something I brought contained the offending substance.

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Allie May 1, 2013 at 11:59 am

Sorry, that last post under “Allie” is me, the original poster.

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AS May 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I am a little late pitching in… but thought I should share my 2 cents here.

I cannot say whether the host was rude or not. A lot of it is the way he says it rather than what he said. But I can totally see some such thing happen. The part of the world I come from, there are some orthodox religious people who are strict vegetarians and don’t eat anything even if they are prepared in a kitchen where meat gets cooked. Bringing meat to their house is unthinkable (and lot of them would not even offer to store the meat in their fridge!). They are otherwise wonderful people, but very fussy about meat. Is it possible that the host belongs to some such orthodox culture? Maybe he married someone who is not the same religion or culture as he is, and the compromise that they have arrived at is that she eats meat outside, but their home is meat-free. In that case, she is not really a hypocrite. It is possible that the hostess forgot to add that their house is meat-free, because there was a 50% chance that the party would have been outdoors. And the host was polite enough to offer their fridge to store your platter so that the food does not get spoilt.

My other thought was that the host was allergic to meat, and hence prevents contamination of any kind by keeping the house meat-free.

Maybe the OP is just taking things too personally.

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Goldie May 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Sorry, I cannot take the host’s side in this. I’ve been to themed potlucks too. What I haven’t been to is potlucks where the host surprises guests with an unexpected theme AFTER they have arrived and brought food. In my years of hosting potlucks at my house, I admit I have not partaken of everything everyone brought in, but never have I turned a guest’s dish away, that’s just over the top rude. In OP’s place, I’d be mortified to find myself at a potluck where it looks to everybody like I haven’t brought anything, so in my opinion the host put OP in a bad light in front of all other guests by quietly hiding her dish in the fridge. It was his mistake; he should’ve warned the guests about the dietary restrictions in his house and he didn’t; so IMO he should’ve dealt with the consequences and offered the dish to his carnivore guests to enjoy. (if he didn’t want it in the house, he could’ve set it in the garden, I guess, since the guests were heading out to the garden anyway?)

I don’t believe the “smoking in a house” analogy applies here. By default, no one would smoke inside a house (especially at a party where there are a lot of babies present). So people know not to smoke inside a house unless, for some strange reason, the host asks them to. On the other hand, by default, at a potluck party, people tend to eat food. At a picnic party, people tend to eat picnic food. If the host didn’t want the guests to bring or eat a certain type of picnic food at what was supposed to be a picnic party, he shouldn’t have assumed that they would read his mind and magically know. He should’ve told them in advance.

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LawGeek May 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I don’t know why you don’t believe his aversion to meat is strong. Obviously it is a pretty strong aversion if he keeps a meat-free home. And I don’t understand what his wife’s behavior outside the home has to do with his ethics. She didn’t say she would bring the meatballs home.

These two points make me think that it is the OP who is unreasonable, and make me wonder how the dictum was delivered.

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maydijo May 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I don’t drink for religious reasons, but have no objections if other people bring alcohol into the house – after all, it’s a personal choice for me not to drink; but I don’t have the right to make that choice for anyone else. I understand things are different with Kosher/Halal – but in that case, isn’t the very idea of a pot luck somewhat contradictory? If people are bringing foods they prepared in their own (non-Halal/non-Kosher) kitchens, don’t those foods then contaminate the dishes/utensils? In which case, if it is a Kosher/Halal house, wouldn’t the most sensible thing be to not host a pot luck?

Because he has alcohol, he definitely does not keep a Halal house. I strongly suspect it’s not a Kosher house either, since it would appear that he served other offerings without checking for the Hechsher. He should have served your offering. Just because he has made a choice, does not mean he gets to make that choice for his guests.

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Maggie May 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Very little cheese is vegetarian. Most uses rennet (think stomachs of baby cows killed for veal).

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Rap May 2, 2013 at 12:47 am

One does not need to keep a Halal house or a Kosher house in order to keep a vegatarian house. The OP in the origanal comment made no “He said it was against his religion!” comments in any of their comments, origanal post or followup.

In prior discussions on this website, its been made plain that being a guest does not give one carte blanche to over ride the host’s rules and do whatever you please. If a host is allowed to say “your dog isn’t allowed in the home” or “you aren’t allowed to smoke in my home” then please explain to why “don’t eat meat in my home” needs a moral, justifiable to the guest explanation of his entire belief structure to justify the host saying “I don’t want meat eaten in my home”.

OP? Was meat eaten in the home? Is that your point? If its not, if no meat was eaten during the potluck, then really, explain why you believe your gift was slighted and you were arbitrarily treated differently and OTHER MEAT was acceptable and eaten openly while your meat was slighted intentionaly. If there was NO meat eaten in the home, then the host was not arbitrarily slighting you while letting the guests feast on pork ribs. If no one else brought a meat dish to a potluck, with no specification that meat was not ok, in all seriousness, I will admit, I question whether “no meat” was not communicated if only because our default setting is “yay meat!”.

How about it, OP? Did anyone else bring meat? Was meat eaten in front of you in this home?

At what point, if a guest brings something you find unacceptable, do you have to bend over and allow it? We’ve decided no outsider pets, and no smoking, but if a guest brings meat, you damm well better smile and serve because *you* are rude in your own home to say no.

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Mer May 2, 2013 at 1:59 am

I have to comment (sorry for not reading every answer yet) that I do not think it’s odd that wife would eat meat while they still have meatfree home. I do know couples like this. Other is strict vegetarian, other is not. So they cook vegetarian food at home and mostly don’t have meat there at all but in the restaurants and outside home the omnivore eats also meat. After all, the vegetarian cannot dictate the diet of other person, but they can make together rules that apply in their home. If omnivore is okay with this, I see no problem here.

But I have to admit that I don’t know if these couples would go so far that they would prohibit guest to serve their potluck offering when guest did not know about meatfree home-policy.

sweetonsno: I do think it is person’s right to say what goes in his house. But it might not be the most graceful thing to do. I think that person should ask himself, what happens if he once has meat in the house. Is he being more uncomfortable than the guest whose offering he is disrespecting. It is his home so it is he’s rules. But as a host he also has obligation to make his guests comfortable. As it was basically his original blunder not to inform (though given the setting, I understand that this was kind of second option so he might have thought that it was not necessary) it might have been more gracious to not totally dismiss the dish OP brought. But of course he was not in the wrong to deny serving it.

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GwenSoul May 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

Honestly I see a lot of assumptions from people here on how this host should feel about putting out the meat dish. Every time I see one of those posts. (“I would do this, that or the other” or even how his wife feels about it) I keep thinking “what an interesting assumption”. It seems rude to me to be making these assumption about him and his wife with no further elaboration. Truth is we have no idea how strongly or the reasons for his belief and really shouldn’t question it as it hurts no one. Although honestly I still would not label him rude, just a poor communicator.

Instead of focusing on what you would have done given that no one knows how or why he has a meat free house I think the real question is how it should have been better communicated or handled in the event of a miscommunication, given the constraint that he will not serve the meat. What would you have done if you had a strongly held belief, for whatever reason, and someone brought in an item you would not set out? I think it is an interesting question if we even say that the belief is not due to religious or health reasons, since those tend to trump all, but rather what if you have a strong personal ethical or moral reason?

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Goldie May 2, 2013 at 9:23 am

If his aversion to meat is that strong, then, like a few people above have said, he should’ve personally made sure all of his guests knew about it. OP says an email went out with the invite. Why didn’t the email say anything? Did he read the email, or just trust his wife to send it? If he sent it himself then I’m even more puzzled.

Wanted to reply to the negative comments that were made about the host because of his whiskey collection. I have had some exposure to people that had various degrees of drinking problems. In my experience, a collection of whiskeys doesn’t mean that its owner is an alcoholic. Actually it probably means the opposite. An alcoholic/heavy drinker would never have a *collection* of hard liquor – he’d just drink whatever he has and won’t be able to hold on to any such collection. Further, an alcoholic wouldn’t even have a “collection” of different liquors. He or she would instead have boxes of the same stuff (since it’s cheaper in bulk) that he or she would be going through at a quick pace. Bottom line, I see nothing wrong in the host’s whiskey collection, and anyway, it isn’t relevant to the story.

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Enna May 4, 2013 at 5:04 am

To me this just sounds like a hicup with communication – the host might keep a Kosher house and this information might not have been passed on: I am a vegetairan and sometimes cheese is made with animal rennant which means I can’t eat it: olives can be marrianted in a meaty marinade. As for the wife eating meatballs in Ikea – maybe she just eats meat outside the house?

OP the man put the food in the fridge for you he didn’t throw it away. I would say chaulk this one dow to expieraince.

I don’t like people slamming the host – there could be a reasonable explanation: seems a bit unfair if it was just a slip up.

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Rob May 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I have to go with “serious overreaction by OP” on this one. If his house really is meat-free, for whatever reason (and it being his house I don’t think he owes anyone an explanation of why it is), it was nice of him to hold onto the food in his fridge. He didn’t throw out perfectly good food that others could enjoy outside his home, he didn’t kick the OP out of the party. I would never expect to be allowed to bring something, no matter what, into someone else’s house if they didn’t want it there. Seems like some simple miscommunication, nothing to get worked up or offended about.

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Barb May 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I had the same problem, I lived in a co-op and paid $30 for a monthly parking spot. #14. I was living elsewhere for a while and the doormen would direct visitors to park in my spot as they figured that I was not using it. I would drive over at least once a month to check on it and occasionally would find a car in my spot. I would park and block it. You should have seen how fast the doormen would come out and say I couldn’t do that. I explained that is my spot and I pay monthly and I don’t want anyone parking in it. I would wait for them to find the person and have them move the car. Eventually that stopped. You have to be tough or you will be walked over. It took awhile but I finally sold it last month and even though I lost money I am happy that I don’t have to deal with the b***s*** of a co-operative apartment anymore.

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Chocobo May 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

If someone is only offering their house as a venue, and are not serving as host, they do not get to dictate what other people bring. Other than allergies so severe that mere presence could cause a trip to the hospital, there is no reason why the owners of the home should feel they can tell other people what to eat at a gathering.

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