The recent post about “food police” at a barbecue reminds me of an event I attended. A couple, “Ann” and “Brad” who grew up with my boyfriend, invited us to a pot luck dinner party. I’m usually fine with potlucks as I have a few crowd-pleasing recipes. Ann and Brad, however, sent all of the attendees an exact recipe that they should bring and told everyone that they should “adjust the serving size to 10-12″ since that’s how many people would be attending (this is important for later).
I wasn’t crazy about the recipe I received, but a few other friends were attending so we clicked “Yes!” to attend (this was done on social media a few weeks prior to the dinner).
The night of the dinner arrives and so do my boyfriend and I, sharing dish in hand. We have appetizers (someone else’s assigned dish) and mingle for a bit before being called into the kitchen to serve ourselves. The hosting couple Ann and Brad provided two dishes themselves and they were not main courses but sides. Someone else had done the main course. As people are lining up to help themselves, Ann approaches each person and says, “We didn’t know how many people would actually show up, so the rule is each person can take one scoop of X and one of Y (the two dishes they made) so we don’t run out.” I was dumbstruck but managed to nod politely.
Here’s the thing: everyone who said they were attending showed up and there weren’t any surprise guests. There were exactly 12, which is what we were supposed to adjust our own recipes to. So after going out of their way to make sure everyone else cooked enough, they couldn’t even feed their own guests! And we are all adults in our late twenties; I don’t think any of us would have taken heaping portions of X and Y after seeing that there was not a lot to go around.
So, besides venting, I guess the reason I’m writing is to ask: is it ever okay to be the “food police” at an adults dinner? At the time it seemed like the epitome of rudeness. 0529-14
I had to reread it to “get it” but here’s the gist. The hosts assigned all the guests a recipe with specific instructions to adapt it to serve 10-12 people yet they themselves apparently did not follow their own standards and did not prepare enough of their dishes to ensure that all guests got enough.
Yes, treating adults like little children who must be told how much to help themselves is quite rude. To be that rude requires a large number of assumptions about one’s guests, none of them positive. If you host a dinner, particularly a pot luck, it’s good sense and planning to have a few back-up food items that can be quickly added to the meal to bulk it up. Frozen or canned vegetables are always a great stand-by. Ditto for cheese and crackers, applesauce, cranberry relish, carrots sticks and Ranch dressing, bread sticks.