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Are we really THAT rare? Guess so...

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I know all too well that everyone is not a Chowhound - I know people who really do believe that we should eat to live, or who are indifferent to what they eat, and some of them are otherwise perfectly reasonable human beings. But I do tend to expect people who are connoisseurs of good stuff (i.e. the things *I* like) to be at least somewhat interested in trying to expand their horizons...

Anyway, last night I went to a weekly gathering of local car nuts. These things are by invitation only (but that's a great big e-mail list) and free of charge, but you're expected to bring food to share and your own beverages, or else drop five bucks in the kitty. As usual I chose to share, so I made my favorite bean salad (recipe on Home Cooking if you ask nicely), with Trader Joe's canned cannelini beans and some fresh basil and almost enough olive oil...well, I put this down on the food table, then took my bottle off to find a cup and look at the cars. Got caught up in several good conversations, finished the bottle with a little help from my friends, then figured I'd go home since the hamburger grillers had quit for the evening. So I went to pick up whatever might be left of my beans...and they'd hardly been touched! Now, it's not the prettiest dish in the world, but it's good enough that I've been asked the recipe quite a lot over the years. I was scratching my head about that, when one guy said, "Oh, we figured those were peanuts," and a couple of other folks nodded and said, "Yup, peanuts," plainly implying that I should've known better than to bring peanuts.

It would have taken just one of those guys to take a taste and figure out what it was in there. And not ONE of them bothered to try! I can understand not liking it for one reason or another; what I can NOT understand is standing there speculating about it when the answer is right in front of you, one spoonful away!

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  1. Sorry to hear the dish didn't go over well. I know part of the pleasure of making anything is having someone else enjoy it. I wouldn't mind having the recipe myself.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rikkikm

      I'll go post it now.

    2. I've been lucky enough to spend time in the poorest parts of the South Bronx. There are a lot of family gatherings for holidays, for any occasion whatever. Each woman (and any man who wants to)will bring a dish. Reputations stand or fall on the quality of the cooking. If the event is in a public park, you'll see crowds around the stuff brought by the woman with the best rep. And the quality judgment is quite subtle. The same is true in the more traditional parts of Oklahoma. I know a woman who makes an incredible pie once a year with peaches she picks herself in a certain region with the best peaches. She won't give the recipe to anyone, not even her own sister. (Especially her sister, her sister would duplicate it and bring it to the family's gatherings.) In fact, I'm sure similar scenes play out anywhere in the world.

      1. It's the old "I don't think I'm going to like that" syndrome that is self-perpetuating and self-fufilling. If someone makes up their mind in advance, without a trial or taste test, there's not much to be done except schlep the beans home and enjoy them yourself.

        For more years than I care to count, I've heard this refrain and will continue to be amazed until the lid is nailed shut. What pathetic, unchow-worthy lives must be led by the tastebud timid who won't even venture a teeny bite, just in case it might be delicious ..........

        1. NOBODY wants to be the first person to try something at a party AND nobody wants to be the last one to finish it up....

          You have to take a big helping out for yourself, stick an additional spoon in it...tell someone to "try that" and then let it go...

          Really. Its weird, but happens ALL the time...I make sure if that is happening (at a tailgate or friends party), I just walk up and grab...then everyone seems to think its OK....

          4 Replies
          1. re: Cathy

            Oh, I'm the pity taster at potlucks. I always taste the ugly, untouched dishes (unless they look unsanitary or are clearly not homemade.) You never know when you'll be surprised and find something delicious! I just can't bear the thought of the poor soul who brought that dish going home with it completely unappreciated. It would hurt my feelings if it happened to me. I hope someone out there remembers to pity taste something I've brought that doesn't look pretty.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: Cathy

              I don't like to be the first person to eat any dish as a party, but that's more because I don't want to look greedy (which, incidentally, I am). But that's markedly different from a group of people, clustered around a dish at a party, debating what it is. TRY IT, for goodness' sake!

              I've actually stopped making cannele, which are little puffed custard morsels, because they are blackened on the outside (to deliciously offset the sugariness of the melting centre), and every bloody person who walks in the door looks at them and then proclaims, sagelike and overly sympathetic, "Oh, dear - look, you burnt them!".

              1. re: Gooseberry

                LOL. I have responses like that all the time from people who are older and therefore think they're wiser. "Oh, dear, did you forget to put the sugar in this?" No, it's not supposed to be drowned in sugar, it has fresh seasonal farm fresh fruit just picked yesterday! "Oh, this is a bit spicy, isn't it?" Yes, it's a habanero. "Oh, this isn't very creamy." No, it's a sorbet! Oh well.

                1. re: Gooseberry

                  Man, do those sound delicious!!

              2. The same thing happened to me at a pot luck, where the group misunderstood the chowish dish that I had lovingly prepared and lapped up the dishes (Cream cheese and chili jelly) I thought were so pedestrian! I solved that problem by always bringing along a little label card to the gathering that I place in front of my dish that tells what the dish is. If you could do it again, you could name your dish
                "Tuscany Bean Extravaganza" or something similarly enticing.
                BTW, I'd love to be on your car show email list!

                1 Reply
                1. re: OneJayneDoe

                  Cream cheese and chili jelly LOL - that is what my co-worker brings to every single potluck.

                2. This has happened to me too, with some groups you can't be too adventurous. It floors me when people will not try something new and different. What can possibly happen to them?

                  On some TV show Bobby Flay was cooking something with 2 kids helping. When it was finished and they were going to eat, he asked them to take one thing they had never eaten before, even if they thought they wouldn't like it. They didn't have to finish it, just to taste. I thought it was a great way to get kids to try new foods - it seemed to work with the kids on the show.

                  1. Fear not, Will. Try bringing a half portion in two different bowls and set them at different ends of the table. Stir them up so the olive oil a basil "grease" the edges of the bowl, making it appear that it was full at one time.

                    All it takes is one taste to have someone go crazy for it. And Kudos on bringing something healthy to a gathering that is probably typicallya gorge-fest!!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: West Coast Bates

                      Yeah, usually they're grilling burgers and/or dogs, and there's tons of every kind of greasy chip...but I've brought deviled eggs or potato salad, and that stuff disappears in minutes.

                      I'm not totally bummed: now *I* get to eat it!

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        BTDT. It's infuriating! (But I console myself such as you did: I take the remainder home and enjoy it.) Here' hoping those louts get indigestion from everyone else's dishes. :)

                    2. Imagine if your father was like that! My dad came to visit me in Calgary from Alabama & wouldn't eat ANYTHING. He then went home and told everyone I starved him. He eats hamburger steak from a tiny restaurant in my home town 7 days a week.

                      He wouldn't have tried the beans either but I would have!

                      1. Generally, at pot lucks, if somnething doesn't get touched ... there generally is a reason. It sounds like the presentation of the dish wasn't up to snuff.

                        Hoever, espectations also play a role. For example, I had a baked bean recipe from an Indian woman in Orange County, CA that used eight different beans and was tasty. When I served it in the Midwest, it flopped because people generally make their baked beans with great northern beans.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jlawrence01

                          Or you get a pity taste - not from you TDQ! - and a pause, followed by "Oh..that's different". That is the ultimate MN polite expression of "ick". But for "general audiences" I try to follow the same rule as for giving gifts - focus on delighting the audience. You may want to expand horizons, but a potluck may not be the place to do it.

                        2. I think I saw that bean salad and walked right by! ;)

                          JK. I also belong to a local car club and most of our events are frequently NOT potluck for a reason (most are car guys, a few are food guys). Nearly all the members in my club are male, have no pigment to their hair and would prefer meats to veggies. It's a (fitting) stereotype, and it exists for a reason.

                          I think it was the audience; I'm sure your dish would've gone fabulously with a different crowd.

                          1. Yeah, I bring 'exotic' stuff all the time here at work. I agree with the points brought up...

                            1) I always take the first slice of cake, pie, casserole. First, just to taste it to see if it's okay and because as other noted, to save some poor timid soul from having slice it...

                            2) I always leave a note (on personalized stationary) explaining what it is and what it's made with, people who are remotely allergic or picky about ANYTHING tend to shy away from 'strange' foods left on counters.

                            3) If I'm going to an event where I'm not sure if there is going to be a place to sit down, I bring finger foods or dips. I think this might have been a problem with your offering. Folks like to stand around and chat. It's hard to do that while eating bean salad.

                            What a shame tho! It really is true though, I used to work in Food Marketing (And had the task to dumb down every word possible describing our products), we TRULY are odd balls... sorry...

                            --Dommy!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Dommy

                              All really good advice. The only $.02 I'd can add is if you can offer a serving to a friend or two it can really help with encouraging others to try your dish. It is literally word of mouth advertising.

                            2. Twenty-eight years ago, the newly-married wife of a newly-appointed law professor, I happily agreed to cook dinner for my husband's "small section" of twenty first-year law students. I figured that these young people were old enough to be open to ethnic food, so I spent days preparing a Lebanese feast: hummus, baba ghanouj, three types of kibbee, tabbouleh, stuffed carrots and zucchini, stuffed grape leaves, etc. It was a magnificent, if somewhat exhausting expenditure of time and energy. You can probably write the ending yourself: copious amounts of beer were drunk, but hardly any food was eaten. I was devastated, but I was a wiser cook after that.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: pikawicca

                                I'm not surprised by their response, since I know where you live. Actually, your location doesn't really enter into it. People in general are just nervous around food that doesn't look like the food they grew up with. I've seen this at all sorts of pitch-ins events.

                                1. re: jillp

                                  Hi Jill,

                                  In fact, I was in a different (and even less chowish) location -- to whit, Chapel Hill, NC. The odd thing (to me) was that some local restaurants were still putting squirrel in their burgoo! Who eats rodents, for the love of God? (to folks from other cultures, I realize you might, but I'm talking mainstream American here).

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Ummm...I consider rural Illinois to be about as mainstream as it gets, and squirrel season is awfully busy around there - or was a mere fifty years ago (just yesterday, dangit!). Of course those squirrels are the size of rabbits (whose season is also busy).

                              2. I feel your pain. I work in a field filled with picky eaters (and a lot of vegetarians/vegans) so whenever there's an office potluck, I just bring dessert (usually a fruit crisp or pie). This allows me to bring something (other than paper plates and cutlery) that would be agreeable to the largest number of people. (Tough luck for those on sugar- and wheat-fee diets!)

                                Don't be discouraged. You threw pearls to the swine and they didn't get it. Some events just aren't meant to be chow-centric; save your efforts for those who will truly appreciate them.

                                1. Rumor has it that Thomas Edison, when he would conduct an interview, would always serve chicken soup. If the perspective employee grabbed the salt shaker and salted the soup prior to tasting, Edison would end the interview. He did not want to hire anyone who came to conclusions before having any facts.

                                  I admit I am guilty of eating nothing at pot luck gatherings unless I know the people who made it. As you can see from many of the posts, some people skirt the edge on expiration dates, keeping dairy on the counter, leaving eggs unrefrigerated, and I am much more conservative in my eating habits than many. It's my loss, I understand and I accept it.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: jfood

                                    All the people I personally know who have suffered from food poisoning got it from eating professionally prepared food. One was flying during the days when they still served hot meals. Everyone who chose one of the options got very, very sick. Another friend ended up in hospital after eating a salad in a very upscale restaurant.

                                    I don't mean to diss professionals, just to say that homecooked food is not more likely to harbor dangerous bacteria.

                                    1. re: cheryl_h

                                      Your right.

                                      If i think back over the times i have, unfortunately, suffered from food poisoning, or as upside, just felt plain awful after a meal, there is a high correlation between tummy pain and reaturants. Of particular note is a flight from France to the US the morning after bad oysters at a very high end restaurant. Enough said.

                                      But I also look back at dinners I have eaten at others homes and remember numerous finger lickers, scalp scratchers, coughers, sneezers and dirty diapers around the food. How these did not lead to intenstinal discomfort is one of those mysteries in life.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Because all those little things we consider 'Gross', aren't the cause of most food poising. It's most often, simple cross contimation and improperly stored food. I think those things because of the nature of the enviroment are more APT to happen in busy and hectic professional kitchens, rather than a home.

                                        Plus, our tummy is a lot stronger than we give it credit for... Take it from a girl who has enjoyed street food through out the developed and not quite so developed world... ;)

                                        --Dommy!

                                    2. re: jfood

                                      I heard that salt story about J C Penney.

                                    3. I have absolutely been there. I considered bringing run of the mill opposed to the tasty, yet time consuming. Then I smacked myself for even allowing my mind to meander down that path. I still have to eat the food that is there and at least if I bring something I know at least something will be good. Now I just shamelessly herd a couple of people to the dish I brought and that is usually enough. After a short while you will hear people saying "did you get any of the (insert fantastic dish here)? it's amazing." and you will be free to sit down and enjoy your too expensive wine out of a dixie cup knowing that you have now done your good food deed for the day.

                                      1. We had a potato bar potluck at work one day. We were all supposed to bring a topping. I brought sour cream and caviar. Not one person touched it...well, I did.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: melly

                                          Their loss.

                                        2. You've got to play to your audience at potlucks. From the car clubs I've been arouond, your bean dish wouldn't get touched --no matter how delicious/special/etc. it is.

                                          I used to go to a dance with a potluck beforehand once a month. Inevitably, this guy would bring a soybean dish that no one would touch. I couldn't figure out why he kept doing this, especiallly when he brought his two kids and they plowed throuogh the potlulck table, eating everything in sight. The ratio of I brought a dish to please and share/how much I and mine are consuming was very skewed.

                                          Now, maybe he was the king chef of all that is soybean but it didn't fit this crowd of people. So why keep making it? And he certainly shouldn't be offended. Another group of people may have adored it.

                                          1. Hi Will Owen,
                                            It seems I can trust you to hit on topics that really resonate with important issues in my own chowhounding life.

                                            About wanting to be loved for my food that is. Or just loved, and food is a way that I've found works for me.

                                            My mother is a great teacher for me, and I tell her so. But I don't tell her that usually I learn from her bad example. I see how she depends profoundly on outside approval for her mental/emotional well being, and frankly, I don't wanna live like that. So I tell myself, and I tell her, that if we expect others to make us feel good about ourselves, we're going to be profoundly disappointed - and probably often.

                                            So, cook for the joy of cooking. Eat for the joy of eating. And if other people enjoy it too, that's their good luck that they came to the same potluck as you did.

                                            But, speaking of potlucks, your question about the confusion regarding whether you were serving tacky cheap peanuts or your finely crafted precious canellini creation can be easily remedied next time. The very same issue came up for me at a pot luck seder at my synagogue. I spent about $50 on my smoked salmon dish - but just looking at it you wouldn't think it was anything more desireable than anything else on the table. So I decided to label my dish - once people realized it was something so wonderful you could not hold them back. I'm also proactive. I have favorite people, everybody does. So, to make sure my favorite people tasted my edible tribute, I made a few packets for them, including the rabbi of course, to take home, and they loved the thoughtfulness. I said, "rabbi, I just wanted to give you a little of my smoked salmon salad to enjoy tomorrow, because you're one of my favorite people and I thought you'd really enjoy it." So, be proactive - advertise your wonderfulness and your liklihood of getting positiive feedback will increase dramatically.

                                            1. Lots of great suggestions, I won't repeat them. I've got one more approach that may be helpful. If you feel like catering to your audience (sometimes I just don't!) and you have reason to suspect that they're not sophisticated eaters, take a common dish and execute it wonderfully using great ingredients. You're not going to chance the world! They'll still be raving about the 'dessert' pizza made from Pillsbury crescent rolls, cream cheese and fruit. But if you make top notch enchilladas, macaroni and cheese, or potato gratin they will eat it and maybe even appreciate it. And for some it will be the first time they eat mac 'n cheese or "au gratin potatoes' that didn't come out of a box!

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Kater

                                                This doesn't always work. I brought potato salad to a gathering once, using homemade mayo (I never buy mayo). It wasn't storebought, so some people thought it tasted "funny". And I know kids who won't eat mac & cheese unless it's from the box.

                                                1. re: Kater

                                                  That's what I was thinking, too! Blow 'em away with the best burgers ever. Or homemade potato chips. It's still trad. American, outdoor chow. Uh,,,,,homemade hot dogs???????

                                                  1. re: noisejoke

                                                    Well, unlike the pedestian unsophisticated eaters that can drive us all crazy, I make a point to try just about everything at a pot luck.

                                                    But I draw the line at homemade hot dogs! That is TOO scary...

                                                    I hear what you and cheryl are saying about the depth of some eater's poor taste, but if they are so limmited that they only want bottled salad dressing and instant mac 'n cheese then I'm never going to be willing to cook something they like. And someone's got to eat that cream cheese and pepper jelly I keep hearing about! So it usually balances out in the end.

                                                    1. re: noisejoke

                                                      Have you ever tried to make hot dogs? Very difficult and time consuming and very easy to screw up. They are an emulsified type of sausage that is then smoked. Very easy for the emulsification to break and then they get real greasy and nasty.

                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                        Congratulations, you've managed to squick out someone who has seen how sausage is made. "Emulsified" is an adjective that should never be allowed within ten words of anything talking about meat.

                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                          Well in this case emulsified is a good thing. An emulsification is just when one substance is suspended in another substance. Basically it is just the finely ground meat, fat, water, and spices that are suspended in the resulting paste. As long as there is no heat during the grinding process then it all stays together uniformly. But if you let the grinders get warm the suspension / emulsification will break leaving greasy parts and gritty parts in the finished hot dogs.

                                                          You grind it all at cold temps and stuff it into the casing. Then you slowly poach or hot smoke the hot dogs and as it smokes and cooks the emulsification solidifys, the water leaves, and the sausage becomes firm. At that point the emulsification can't break and you have tasty hot dogs.

                                                          Hot dogs, bologna, liverwurst, kielbasa, weisswurst, boudin blanc, mortadella,etc. are all emulsified sausages. They take the most skill to make of any type of sausage.

                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                            Kielbasa is a generic term for sausage in Poland, and most varieties are quite coarsely ground. My dad was a butcher and made several types, so I was truly blessed.

                                                  2. Will, I've noticed at many parties I've given and attended that bean salads are one of the least popular dishes. In fact, I've stopped making it at my gatherings. Inevitably, it seems that they are hardly touched by night's end. Interestingly enough, a friend told me that she loves bean salad but it doesn't agree with her, and she's embarrassed by what might happen. The whole point was that she has no qualms eating it in her own home but hesitant to do so at others. This could be one reason...just a guess.

                                                    1. Will - you've gotten a lot of advice here on what to bring to a potluck and how to get it eaten. But I read your question differently.

                                                      My answer is: yes, people ARE that non-chowish, and we ARE almost alone.

                                                      Last year...dinner at my house w/ some inlaws. A couple in their 70's , one late teens. I served israeli cous cous as a side dish. It's little balls of pasta for God's sake. Might as well be baby food. two of the four guest did not touch it. I heard one of them quitely ask her boyfriend, who had eaten his, what it was as I cleared the plates. So....there was curiousity...but not enough to actually stick a fork in it. IT WAS ON HER PLATE. inches away. Why not taste it?

                                                      Same week...one houseguest asked for salad dressing. I responded there was homemade salad dressing on the table. She asked if we had something else. She had not tasted it, nor did she ask what kind of salad dressing it was. Apparently all she knew was that salad dressing should come from the store w/ a lable on it.

                                                      I just try to take a deep breath....

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: danna

                                                        I get this ALL the time, danna.

                                                        I always, always, ALWAYS make vinaigrette from scratch. Mustard, vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil. I've had people say, "Oh, don't you have any ranch?" more often than I care to think about.

                                                        So one time I made vinaigrette and ranch... and do you know, someone actually said, "Do you have the kind that comes in the bottle?" ("No, I don't. I don't eat sugar in salad dressing.")

                                                        Fortunately, I cook weekly for a group of people who appreciate it. Two of them are allergic to HFCS, and they know that when they eat at my house, absolutely NOTHING has HFCS in it because it's all made from scratch.

                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                          hmmm....this could explain why my Green Goddess got disrespected recently. I thought maybe it was because it was green. But you are probably right...the mere fact that it did not come from a bottle (with a half life) doomed it from the start.

                                                      2. Yep, I'm sure it has happened to all of us at one time or another. I bake a lot and there's only two of us, so I often send the baked goods to my fiance's work, and everyone always loves them, but then, you can't really get too weird with baked goods! ;-) We had a potluck dinner with his work and I brought shrimp salad, and I only saw one person with it on their plate, and he is another Chowhound!! They all kept saying, "Oh, Katie makes such good things," but still, no one took the shrimp! Before that, I hadn't thought of shrimp as a "weird" dish, but I guess I learned my lesson!!

                                                        1. I was just about to post a comment about how depressing this thread is. Then I stopped out for a sandwich break. After further consideration, it’s worse than depressing. It is a tale of people who care about good food to the point of going out of their way to prepare unusual, far beyond the norm, and far above the average dishes to share. Who then serve them to people who are inconsiderate, selfish, and ill-mannered. Didn’t these people hear when they were young of at least trying something new? Don’t they have any consideration for the feelings of others? It’s got nothing to do with “chowhound” or “not chowhound.” It’s about manners and up-bringin’ which are lacking. And sadly, they don’t even realize how insulting they are.

                                                          I could make a real rant here, but I’d probably start sputtering an’ stuff.

                                                          1. This post is sad. I had a similar experience at a company potluck this past December. I made my killer chicken soup from scratch, it's sort of a signature offering of mine and frequently requested. I made a large pot and brought special bowls, soup spoons, accoutrements (cilantro, onion etc)and nobody touched it. While conversing about what everyone brought, someone said who would bring chicken soup...you only eat that when you have to. I was crushed.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: davinagr

                                                              That reminds me of the time I brought a fruit salad to work, thinking it was a great way to bring summer indoors. Most people liked it, but there's always that one person who won't touch anything. To add insult to injury, the next day I admitted to feeling tired and under the weather, and she immediately said in what she probably thought was a considerate tone "Oh, it was the fruit salad, wasn't it?" She thought I had given myself food poisoning with germ-ridden raw fruit. I was horrified.

                                                              PS. You can't win with some people. Obviously I brought the most boring thing I could think of (fresh seasonal fruit, washed and sliced, then mixed together), but someone was still grossed out by it.

                                                              1. re: Pei

                                                                Grrrrrr.

                                                              2. re: davinagr

                                                                Dunno why, but soup or soupy things rarely work as potluck food. It may be the carrying/splash factor.

                                                                1. re: Snackish

                                                                  Chili, however, works with the crowd I was trying to feed. Car guys, feh...

                                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                                    Yup...at the once or twice a year potlucks our car club has, there's always at least TWO chili dishes. Car guys may not be food guys, but they sure are great company!

                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                      yeah - I was going to post that to some men, the only place for beans is in chili. i sometimes wonder if some guys eat differently at home than they do at guy social occasions?
                                                                      i find my bean dip (always served with salsa & guac) is very hit & miss, and it does tend to be women who love it. i know dh doesn't get it. then again, my npn-chowish female friend has actuially made fun of me months after the fact for serving bean dip (and it was a hit at that party). i was pretty shocked at her comment, thinking of how i refrain from mentionning that her no-fat mayo spinach dip tastes like paste.

                                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                                        Good lord, man, you don't put BEANS in chili!

                                                                        I think part of your problem is that a lot of people, myself included, have had bad experiences at pot lucks. It may LOOK like ordinary meat loaf.... Which means that I'll pass over things that might be pretty good just to stay with things I know that even my crazy cow orkers can't ruin. And I'm normally a pretty adventurous eater.

                                                                        1. re: fnarf

                                                                          I knew that comment (re: beans/chili) was coming eventually - even if it took two months! Call it Canadian Chile if you will :)
                                                                          I see your point, but personally I am more likely to try the weird looking stuff at a potluck, I take that risk because that's where I tend to find the gems - Jamaican curry goat, or Indian tea sandwiches (simply white bread with green chutney, but so good). It does suck though when you load your plate up with chancy items and find they are all bad. I've started to realize that most potlucks must be seen as community/social events, food is *very* secondary, and I've lessened my own efforts as a result. I bring something easy to make or even buy something (something decent, mini spanakopita are my current item of choice).

                                                                    2. re: Snackish

                                                                      One thing I've wished for is the deep but fairly wide styrofoam cups that the commercial places use for soups (kinda like overgrown coffee cups with nicely fitting tops). I can't understand why I just can't find these things. All I ever bring to occasions where I make soup (killer borscht, lobster bisque, even matzoh ball soup) are these flimsy plastic things that can't hold more than 4 oz. and have that flimsy rim. Maybe it's not a big deal, but I just feel like some folks don't want to walk away with that flimsy plastic "bowl" and that more would be willing to try it if the styrofoam cups were available.

                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                        Restaurant supply stores....If you have seen them, that's where they come from .... you just have to buy like 100 or 250 at once.

                                                                      2. re: Snackish

                                                                        I brought mine in a crock pot with a glass lid to prevent such a disaster, this also enabled me to leave it plugged in on low to keep it hot. But alas still an unpopular choice.

                                                                        1. re: davinagr

                                                                          Right - that's what I always do, but what do you serve it in? If it's a family get together at someone's house and they're using their china/tableware, that's ok (but even those are paper plates and plastic forks, these days). But at a work or other group potluck, it's always paper or plastic, and I really feel that this is what keeps a lot of folks from trying the dish. I'm going to do what Candy suggested and look for those overgrown styrofoam cups at the local rest. supply store.

                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                            I purchased some sturdy foam bowls at Smart & Final. Different than those reco'd here.

                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                              The issue is really that you now have carry silverware, plate with food, bowl with soup, cup with drink, and not spill on yourself. It's stupid -- go and put things down and come back and get the soup or the drink -- but there it is.

                                                                      3. Potluck isn't always as easy as it sounds. I guess it helps if you know the crowd. I can make the fancy stuff, but only when I know it'll be appreciated. If I know I'm not going to feed foodies, I pick items that most people know and eat. It's sad, but some people can live on just eating a few things.

                                                                        1. I feel your pain. Some years ago, back in Denver, my wife did her famous New Orleans Seafood Gumbo, for a tennis group. This was a labor of love and, considering the cost of good seafood in Denver, not inexpensive. For the first hour, everyone passed it by. Fortunately for wife, someone finally tasted it, and "BAM," it was ALL gone in a heartbeat. If only folk would try things outside their comfort zone - they would likely be amazed.

                                                                          Hunt

                                                                          PS, a nice OR Pinot Noir goes well with her gumbo.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                            Many years ago I took a big pot of linguini with fresh pesto to a 4th of July bash with a bunch of (then) fellow hippies. It sat ignored for an hour or so - it looked so square among the black beans and soyburgers - until one of the children tried it. Within minutes it was swarmed by small people bearing plates and forks, and very quickly it was gone. I saw a couple of kids rubbing their hands around in there and licking them blissfully. Enough to give one hope for the future...

                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                              I love this story! It's makes a great visual in my mind.

                                                                          2. On soup-y potluck items, I went to a lively Christmas party once where the hosts served up a huge pot of their favorite minestrone. The passed it around using dozens of identical diner-style white coffee mugs with a teaspoon stuck into each one. Guests helped to pass them around and it was a great hit.

                                                                            1. I work in a mostly female office environment which is very multicultural. It kills me to see homemade food sit untouched, yet all the store-bought pastry and take-out dishes get ravaged! I have a pot-luck rule - if someone went to some trouble to make something, I'll try it. If you bought it, I'll skip it.

                                                                              1. I have had similar problems in the past. For the past few years I have been making up cards describing the dish. We had a neighborhood block party this early this summer and I put out an apricot/apple crumble that looked horrible but tasted delicious, and watermelon, olive, feta cheese salad. I had forgotten the cards back at my house and no one was touching either dish. I went back home and returned with the cards and placed them by the dishes. Soon folks were reading the cards and trying the dishes. I got so many recipe requests that I went home and typed up the recipes and handed out several dozen. Since then I take both description cards and recipes with me and never seem to take enough for all the requests.

                                                                                Some people won't try a new dish or one that looks "funny" to them. It happens and there isn't much you can do about it. My nine old twin niece and nephew are this way. Of course my sister never mentioned to me that they have major food issues. Last weekend they stayed over for the night and I thought I would make them a sweet and savory chicken dish. I had fresh early apples from one of my farmer clients which I cut into chunks and cooked with cranberries, white wine, maple syrup, chicken stock, garlic, onions, etc. It came together in a beautiful thick sauce that was sweet, tangy, and savory. A really great sauce that tasted amazing. I sautéed 2 inch pieces of chicken and added them to the sauce and served with a Mexican yellow rice on the side. I thought the kids would love it. My niece asked what was in it and after I told her, she wouldn't even taste it. My nephew tried it and thought it tasted great but stopped eating it after his twin sister just kept poking at the food on her plate, pouting and saying she hated it. (Even though she refused to taste it.) OK, maybe the dish was a little too fancy for them, but it tasted sooo good and other folks who later tried it thought it was great, even much younger kids.

                                                                                I served the twins some Nathan's hot dogs since I won't force anyone to eat anything. I later found out that they eat only meat and no vegetables and my sister is having major diet problems with them.

                                                                                On the other hand my other niece, their two year older sister, stopped by one day when I was in the middle of lunch. She watched me eat some incendiary Thai green curry I had made and laughed hilariously as I sweated and grimaced in pain. Through her laughter she asked why I was still eating it if it was so hot. I told her because it tasted so good. She wouldn't try it, which was probably a wise decision on her part. So I I told her I would make a very, very mild version for her and she liked that, but it was hard to get her to taste it at first. At least I have some hope for her becoming a 'hound one day.

                                                                                1. I have a friend who used to bring a bag of potato chips as her contribution to potlucks. I think someone might have said something and now, she is more adventurous and takes the time to put together something that is more suitable to the spirit of potluck.

                                                                                  But I digress.

                                                                                  I get annoyed at adults who are like the children described in the post. Without trying anything, they declare the food inedible or unacceptable. I realize that we all, to some degree, have selective palates but it's truly rude to pass judgment without tasting anything. I can understand problems with allergies but it's such a waste to not explore the different dishes that are out there.

                                                                                  1. I live in a college town with a strong international population and for years worked with a wonderfully multicultural bunch of people. Every year I'd suggest that we have a potluck for which people would bring in a dish from their own cooking background. Every year people looked at me as if I had two heads. I gave up.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: jillp

                                                                                      I use to work in an office that was multi-cultural and we would have pot luck where you volunteered to bring any dish you wanted. Someone would usually track who was bringing what just to make sure we had a mix of sweet, savory, entree, apps, etc...

                                                                                      People naturally brought what they felt comfortable with. I loved the samosas that one of the workers brought in and I was pissed when the spring rolls ran out before I got to them. The point is that people brought in what they felt comfortable with.

                                                                                      Some that weren't comfortable cooking or didn't have the time or aptitutde to cook just brought in store bought items, which is fine with me (particularly the guy who brought the KFC, I love KFC).

                                                                                      Anyway, the point is that people bring in what they are comfortable with, and it may make some people uncomfortable if they are asked to bring in an item from their cooking background. You may get a better response just asking for potluck in general.

                                                                                    2. That really sucks. I feel your pain. It happened to me before too.

                                                                                      I like to try all of the new things too. Also, I get my cousins while they're young. I've got a lot of cousins and more coming each year, so I figure I can train some adventurous palates.

                                                                                      If they eat with me, they have to try new things if it's new to them. When they refuse to try something, I say, "What if, that would have been your most favourite food in the whole world, but you were too scared to try it?" That usually gets them and they usually get won over too. Sometimes I let them stir, or help me measure while I'm cooking or baking, so that probably aids in their willingness to try new foods too.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: S_K

                                                                                        I like that! What a wonderful, non-threatening way to get kids to try something new. Brilliant.

                                                                                        1. re: Zengarden

                                                                                          Thanks. :)

                                                                                      2. I just had a terrible potluck experience.

                                                                                        I'm working overseas and made Sheperd Pie for a company potluck. My girlfriend totally digs this dish cos it combines her favourite food (potatoes, cheese, some ketchup). When making it I kept thinking of her enjoying it and I assumed my colleagues would too.

                                                                                        I spent three hours boiling, mashing, stir-frying and baking, but only 1/4 was eaten and one comment was made. That person said "wow that must have taken a lot of work", yet she was apprehensive to eat it. Bah! I just wanna bring it back for my girlfriend to enjoy. Unfortunately, she's so far away now...

                                                                                        1. Fear not, Brother Will..I have read your posts...You are an artist in a world of Phillistines.

                                                                                          Keep making the Bean Salads..but next time you go to the car show, add a little 90 weight Axle oil instead of the usual Olive ...I am sure the Car enthusiasts will find it appealing.

                                                                                          Or, better yet, make the same dish and call it " 327 Bean Salad with Fuel Injected herbs and Chili peppers ".

                                                                                          There will not be a bean left.