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Jul 24, 2007 06:43 AM

Getting "Type-cast"

Do you ever get "type-cast" as a cook who makes one dish so well that people only think of that dish when they think of you? Here's my own example...then please think about this in terms of yourself.

We frequently have family gatherings that are done potluck style. One of my relatives typically hosts these gatherings and assigns out responsibility for which type of dish we are to bring. Once, a year or so ago, I brought a salad that everyone really liked. Nothing exciting or very labor-intensive - just had strawberries, toasted almonds and red onions with a bottled poppyseed dressing. (I was extremely busy with work and stuff going on at home at that time so was looking for a "throw-together" dish to bring. 99% of the time I make my own salad dressing. Bottled dressing makes me shudder.) Everyone raved and raved about it. I even gave out the recipe to several of my relatives.

So now, whenever there is a family gathering, that salad is specifically I feel compelled to bring it....and frustrated because it requires absolutely no culinary skill to make. My mother-in-law even hinted that she hoped I was making "my strawberry salad" for the backyard party we had this past weekend. I did not.

My husband asked me why I wasn't making the salad and my response was that I do not want to continue to be defined by that salad. I don't like making the same thing all the time. I figure, they now have the recipe - they can make the salad to their hearts' content.

What about you - are you "type-cast" by a certain dish? Do you try to break free, or grudgingly comply?

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  1. I don't know, I'm flattered that people would like a dish I make, whether it was easy or not. If it bothers you so much then make the salad and something else smaller and more complicated.

    1. Especially when it comes to a family gathering, I'd personally make the salad and know I could stop thinking about what to bring to such a thing. lawgirl3278 is on target, though, make something else in addition because otherwise you'll be answering questions from everyone the whole gathering about why you didn't make the salad.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ccbweb

        Hi lawgirl and ccbweb - I edited my original post because I wasn't looking for a specific response to my situation. I've decided how I will handle this going forward. I was mostly trying to open a dialog about the topic of being known for one particular dish. Thanks, however, for your responses.

      2. I did a pulled pork thing once and have a friend who insists that I make it over and over. I did make it again, and since I'd used slightly different cut of meat, and didn't cook it quite as long, it "wasn't the same". That's where I stopped making it.

        It hasn't been a real problem, and some people complain about something every time you see them.

        I'd decide if I wanted to (a) do what I want and forget the salad (b) do what I want and throw a salad together (c) give up, do the salad. In my case, I'd probably do the salad because my family is not especially into fine food in general, and the few who are get invited over separately anyway.

        Not doing the salad at least gives everyone a conversation point, although if it was my family, they probably wouldn't understand your "artistic" reasons for not doing it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: salutlemonde

          I have been stuck with the label, "Blue Cheese Dressing Girl". (UG) I do in fact make a mean but very simple blue cheese dressing but attending a dinner party where everyone is making something and what they want from me is dressing makes me feel like the little kid at the party. Just like when my Mom would have me make my special "California Dip", (onion soup mix and sour cream) for parties when I was 10. I try and protest, "But but I can make something else" but then I get to hear how sad everyone will be if my dressing is not there! Oh well, at my parties I don't serve it!

        2. Oh yes, we used to go to parties where everyone was majorly disappointed if I didn't bring my "Cocktail Weenies of Death". Forget my more high-brow recipes, the weenies were the thing. Oh well, at least it was cheap and easy to bring and it's very flattering to have everyone stop what they are doing and demand, "Did you bring weenies oh please say you brought weenies and where are they?!" the second you walk in the door. It got boring, but how insulted can I be when the dish is cleaned out within about half an hour of our arrival?

          1 Reply
          1. re: dalaimama

            Oh, can you please share the recipe for your "weenies of death?" :)

          2. Pretty much everyone that knows me only a little bit knows me only for a dish or two -- only my best friends know that there are lot more things that are only so-so. I've tried all kind of stuff that was only "eh" that gets supplanted by a "back-up dish" for get togethers at my house. Take this past weekend, I had some good friends over and I tried a Ecuadorian fanesca. Seemed like it would go well with my tired & true fajita platter, but it only rated an "eh". The fajitas will probably end up as a request if some of the friends have me over to a shared dish thing...
            When it comes to family they'll rarely ask me to bring things like paella, as they know it ain't cheap. They will ask for orozo salad, which is almost as much work, but far less costly. I am lucky in that most of the in-laws don't impose financially. One b-i-l is even so good as to offer to do shopping ahead of time, though he lives about 3 hours away.

            I am mostly flattered whenever I get asked make anything -- ego and cooking are hard for most folks to separate.

            It takes many get togethers, shared diners, returned invites to get a full sense of most peoples culinary limits/adventurousness