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Dutchess_III's avatar

What advice would you have offered this person when a guest, who was invited to her "picnic," brought a ton of food of her own?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46743points) September 5th, 2016
39 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

From Facebook:

“I invited one couple for good old fashioned summer picnic fare food: Grass fed beef burgers, in-season corn on the cob & sliced tomatoes, as well as a tossed salad. Plus, cake and ice cream for dessert. Gave them menu ahead of time. No disagreement was offered.

She showed up with a very substantial “cauliflower/potato based” vegetable soup , brussel sprouts, loaf of crusty bread, wine and perrier water. And a what she pronounced as her “special apple dessert,” (recipe from her country of origin). So basically, their own dinner. Very good, but another full meal.

Meanwhile, as I was cooking & trying to serve the burgers, & the corn & salad (under our grape arbor outside), she is heating her soup inside, asking for bowls & spoons for the soup. She serves her soup crusty bread and brussel sprouts, all which (again) are very good, but filling while my burgers & corn went cold.

I feel like she co-opted the meal. I love them dearly as friends, but this has ticked me off and I am so frustrated I want to say something which makes me then feel petty and somehow ungrateful. Drat!”

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Zaku's avatar

Uh, as usual, I’d just be honest and say what was going on that she might’ve misunderstood, like, “Oh! You brought food! We weren’t expecting you to. We’ve got all this. Well, this is going to be tricky since…”

That is, it’s a shame, but it tends to be much worse if you pretend it didn’t happen and don’t talk about it.

cookieman's avatar

I see how this is rude, but being from an Italian family, I’m used to it. It’s pretty much expected.

Every get together or holiday we tell my mother-in-law not to bring anything. My wife always cooks a large spread. My MIL always says, “Oh, no worry. I bring nothing.” (Imagine little-old-lady broken-English-with-Italian-accent)

Then she shows up with a massive lasagna, about 200 homemade cookies, and a panettone. That’s just how it works. All her aunts and uncles operate the same way. My wife even does it sometimes.

So yes, I see your point, but in some cultures that’s just how it’s done.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I said I would have probably eaten the food I cooked first, and told my husband to do the same, and if there was any room left over I’d try some of her stuff.

Sneki95's avatar

That sounds like stealing the spotlight.

That bitch would not get invited again, if I was the poster of that status.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The term ‘first world problem ’ is frequently overused, and not often a thoughtful thing to say.


My friends and I are quite poor. When people bring lots of food, we are very thankful.

I really wish my life was so great,that I could complain about such things….

Sneki95's avatar


I fell like I should apologize for my answer.

Now that I think about it, she probably didn’t have mean intentions…..

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course it’s a first world problem. But it was a problem, @MrGrimm888. And if it is expected in your circles for everyone to bring food, that’s fine.

I had a woman take over my kitchen once, when she and her husband were invited to my house for a barbque. She went so far as to pick up a clean basting brush, that was tecchnically a paint brush, eye it distastefully and throw it away!

BellaB's avatar

I’d have put my stuff in the fridge and just gone with what the guest brought. No point in fussing about someone wanting to be a good (if over-enthusiastic) guest.

I’d probably say something about it a few days later if it really bothered me.

(on a separate note, the guest offerings sound fantastic)

chyna's avatar

I want invited to @cookieman‘s parties! I love lasagna.

cookieman's avatar

@chyna: If you’re ever in Boston, you are guaranteed a seat at our table. Consider it a standing invitation. You can even bring your dog.

jca's avatar

@BellaB: What the OP said in the original column post was that her burgers and other food were not eaten because everyone was full from the guest’s soup, veggies and bread. It sounded like she was annoyed because of her carefully planned and purchased food not being eaten.

With burgers, if they’re cooked, chilled and then reheated, they don’t taste the same as they do on the first day, hot off the grill.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (2points)
ibstubro's avatar

So, the offending guest filled the menu out according to “her country of origin”?
The absent starter course of soup or salad.
A side dish option.
Dessert course.
Ubiquitous “crusty bread”.
I love this woman!
She turned a high-end Burger King meal into a picnic.
Well, not a picnic in my book, but a vast improvement on the unimaginative OP’s menu.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca I agree with your sentiment, but, again, please read. They were the only people invited. Just the OP and one other couple.

@cookieman I have two dogs. And 10 grandchildren. Can I bring them?

@ibstubro I want crusty bread too!

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think it’s probably more of a misunderstanding than a shot at showing you up. When I hear the word “picnic” I assume that everyone brings something. And I would also assume that the menu is provided to prevent duplication of entrees. Personally, and quite selfishly, I still carry those powerful feelings of glee from long bygone bachelor days at the sight of wonderful varieties of food in ample quantities sufficient for leftovers. And there can NEVER be too many desserts! I think it must be some primal reflex from the experiences of my younger days. The glory of opening the refrigerator the next day to reveal the miracle of so many goodies inhabiting the usual barren desert of stainless steel.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I don’t know why you are implying that I didn’t read the column. I read the whole thing yesterday morning on FB, and comment by comment I followed what was written on it. I know who was invited. What did I write that gave you the impression that I did not read what was written? Also, please stop talking to me like I am a child (“Once again, please read.”). I hope you never actually spoke to children that way. If my daughter’s teacher spoke to her that way, I’d not be too thrilled and would probably take it up with the principal.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (2points)
cookieman's avatar

@Dutchess_III: The dogs perhaps, but ten grandchildren?!? Yikes. ;^)

ibstubro's avatar

As a side note, how are (even pretentiously “grass fed”) +burgers+ a “good old fashioned summer picnic fare food”?
I thought the point of a picnic was that all the food was pre-prepared and all anybody had to do was open and eat?
Stale corn-on-the-cob, anyone?

Dramatic dramatists deserve decent drama?

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: From the NY Times column and the comments the OP (in the original column) wrote on it, it sounds like the event was a cookout at her house but the food was “picnic fare.” My thoughts about the food were that if she lives in NYC or anywhere around, grass fed beef is probably very expensive and she was not happy about people not eating the food she paid a lot for and spent a lot of time buying.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (0points)
SABOTEUR's avatar

I guess it depends on the company you keep. Looking back on the picnics I’ve attended, it wasn’t unusual for guests to bring a little something to contribute, ensuring everyone had something to eat. I understand, though, that this practice may not be something you’re accustomed to. Not an easy question to answer…“advising” this person who brought her own food may come across as being rude or ungrateful.

Far easier to address the scenario of a guest who arrived empty-handed and proceeds to eat everything in sight.

Dutchess_III's avatar

A “little something” is great, IMO. A small side of beans or other dish. But the OP said it was enough to feed an entire other family. Sounds like it, too. A hearty soup, bread, some apple dessert. That doesn’t even match with hamburgers and corn and the apple pie the hostess made.

ibstubro's avatar

I thought the hostess had cake and ice cream? Apple dessert and ice cream would be complementary.

Yall know what? When the dinner rotation reaches my house, bring anything you like! There are plenty of tables available.
The last feed I put on I had at the auction house. Everyone but us had to travel hours to get here, and most spent the night in a motel (mini-holiday) an hour and a half away. I told them I would provide all the hot food – 2 meats, taters n gravy, broccoli rice casserole, buttered corn, chicken n noodles, and hot rolls. They could bring any cold side or dessert they wanted. We had a great spread.
Points for something ethnic, or something new. Gazpacho and crusty bread would earn you a hug about now, and I’m not huggy. Please cut the brussel sprouts and roast them that way that makes them delicious, cause I ain’t tried it yet. And yeah, I’m great with cold.

“The only thing better’n swappin spit is swappin recipes!”
Me. Before the internet.
I’m currently reading a reference book that has a lot of dialogue from the Civil War south.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There was just too much food for 4 people. And, for whatever reason, they all went for the guest’s food and let hers grow cold. But I still say 50% of that was their own fault. I honest to goodness would have eaten mine first, and tried theirs last. I guarantee you that’s what I would have done.

jca's avatar

People on the FB post suggested not to allow the guest to heat up her soup but to take it and put it away and say “thank you very much.” Then continue serving what she (the hostess) was serving. It probably didn’t seem like too much food but the guest took over and then with something thick like potato soup and bread, that filled everyone up.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (1points)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, that was one suggestion. My thoughts, eating my food first, was passive aggressive, and so was that suggestion. I think my idea was a little less rude, though. If the guest asks why you put her food away, what do you say?

Where as if she says, “Aren’t you going to try my food?”
You can say, “Sure! As soon as I’m done with this!” Then go ahead and try a little when you’re done. If she pushes you to try more, just tell her you’re full.
That might also open her eyes to the fact she didn’t eat any of the food you cooked.

It’s difficult to counter supreme rudeness with anything other than some amount of rudeness in return. Hopefully as little as possible.

jca's avatar

Yeah I don’t think I’d be brave enough to take a guest’s food and say thank you and then put it away. Even though it’s pushy of the guest to bring such a quantity and take over the kitchen, and we’re not obligated to serve something a guest brings, I’d still feel it’s rude to take the food and put it away.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (1points)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Right. It creates a tetchy situation. Totally not fair to the host.

ibstubro's avatar

I love leftovers!
Better than the first run. The flavors have a chance to mellow and blend.
If I knew a couple enough to host them for dinner, I’d know them enough to defuse the situation. “What am I supposed to do with this? I made a meal, dammit!” [Grin]

She should have heated the soup herself. In the microwave. 4 cups. Starter course.

jca's avatar

@ibstubro; She did. In the post (original post and probably here too) it says she took over the kitchen. Host’s other complaint is that she was busy (host was busy) trying to deal with getting ready for party and had to show guest around kitchen (here’s a pot, here are bowls, etc).

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (1points)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Left over corn on the cob just doesn’t work.

@ibstubro That’s the problem. The hostess did feel she had any control over the serving of the soup, etc. The guest took that over.

ibstubro's avatar

Am I mistaken, or are there four people involved in this meal?
Two couples?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Two couples. 4 people.

ibstubro's avatar

I respectfully submit that I would not lose control over a situation involving 2 additional people visiting my home.
If I did lose control, I would be sufficiently embarrassed as to not admit to it.

My advice? Get some nice cheese that compliments your whine.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I didn’t write the post, @ibstubro. It came off of Facebook.
I do sympathize with her, though. I once had a dinner guest take over my kitchen when we invited them over for a cook out. She went so far as to throw away one of my cooking utensils which she deemed unfit, for whatever reason.

If it had been me, I would have been pretty pissed too. You plan for this, you cook, then a guest shows up and basically changes the menu at the last minute.
However, I would have simply eaten the food I cooked first, and sampled hers afterward. I would have asked my husband to do the same.
If none of the hostess’ food was eaten, that was 50% her own fault.

ibstubro's avatar

Yeah, I know you didn’t write the post, @Dutchess_III.
If it had been your story, I’d have been a little more diplomatic/sympathetic in my reply.

It just sounds like so much drama to me. I don’t believe it to be anything close to an impartial account.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No you wouldn’t have!

Yeah, I don’t like drama. But I don’t like rude people, either.

ibstubro's avatar

”...a little more…” @Dutchess_III.
I would be a LOT more at the outset, less and less as you wished and washed. Picked your nits.
As the discussion becomes endless, I grow weary, and blunt force trauma becomes more and more likely. I love nuance, and as that fails, I can deploy rude. I’m the same in person.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. Picking a fight where there is none. Nice @ibstubro. Carry on.

ibstubro's avatar

Oh, I wasn’t picking a fight, @Dutchess_III.
I wasn’t criticizing you in any way. I was just describing my MO. I don’t like generally rude people. But if I am frustrated badly enough, I will appear rude.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have not a clue what you meant by all of that.

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