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Jun 23, 2008 10:10 AM

Potluck hosts, please don't do this.

I was invited to a casual backyard potluck, 11-2 on Sunday. The host said he'd provide sandwich makings and was asking the guests to bring salads. I said I'd bring broccoli. (There's actually a thread here about the recipe: "NYT Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad?") When I arrived a little after 11, I found that the host had gone all brunchy on me, setting out bagels, cream cheese, red onion, capers, etc. Someone else had brought fruit salad and another had made lovely cheesy rolls. My garlicky broccoli was way too robust for the meal. It didn't fit in at all. Everyone was polite, of course. I just wish I'd been told of the change in plans. Or am I being overly sensitive?

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  1. Were you the only one that was caught off guard? It's the host's responsibility to inform everyone of the change of plans. You brought exactly what you promised, a salad. I would have asked when he decided to turn it into a brunch, though, because that sounds like someone complained so he caved to it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Ranger

      I agree - "sandwich makings" and bagels/cream cheese/onion/capers are not the same thing.

    2. No, you aren't overly sensitive. Sandwich fixings and brunch each suggest differing dishes. You should have been informed. I would touch base with this host the day before any future pot luck events!

      It could be this host just isn't a person who puts much energy into constructing menus with care. So he failed to see where the change might cause a guest to prepare a different dish from their original plan.

      1. Hmm. While "sandwich fixings" conjures up a slightly different food repertoire than bagels and fixins, if I had shown up to a potluck and saw more brunchy type stuff, I would've just thought, oh, I guess those are sandwich fixings, too.

        You did say casual, and it was during that nebulous brunch/lunch timeframe, so I wouldn't have thought it odd if this had happened to me.

        Also, I guess it depends on the circumstances, but if it was a casual affair, and the food was good (which it sounds like your salad was!), I wouldn't be too concerned about strict food/flavor pairings. Then again, based on things I've read here (e.g. bringing a dish when you are invited to a dinner being "rude"), I suspect that things tend to be much more casual among my friends.

        I think this is a perfectly plausible situation among my friends, and had you brought over the broccoli salad, none of us would've even noticed that the flavor didn't "match". Most of us probably would've gone for seconds.

        So it's possible that the other guests/host didn't even notice the things you pointed out.

        Did you get to casually mention something like, "Oh, I brought this salad, b/c I thought you were going to do sandwiches. I hope it goes with the bagels, too" (to prompt a response from the host like, "Oh, yeah, we were going to do x, but y happened, so we ended up doing z", etc.)

        1. glencora, your salad sounds goooood! did the guests all eat it. tell you how good it was, leave it and eat other food items, or what?

          1 Reply
          1. re: alkapal

            No, Glencora, you're not being overly sensitive at all.

            Did the host apologize?

          2. Perhaps the host made a last minute change because the sandwich fixins looked terrible at the store and didn't have time to notify the guests.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              We had people over for dinner last weekend and ended up changing the entire menu the day of the dinner. I took into account everyone's preferences and likes/dislikes,but I hope they weren't disappointed when they arrived (they didn't seem to be).

              I admit that I give hosts a lot more leeway and grace than I do guests in general. They are the ones cleaning the house, paying for everything and doing the work. Of course, Dh and I are nearly always the hosts, so I see that POV moreso than the one of the guest who gets to show up and leave at the end of the night and not face the clean up, etc.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Could be, Miss Needle.

                Glencora, did the host explain?

                Did the host apologize?

                Anything? Nothing?

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  And thinking about it some more, I think it could have been a potentially awkward situation if the host did make the change the night before and called everybody up saying that she's making something else, implying that everybody needs to change their dish to better suit hers.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    True too. In that situation, don't change. Keep to the original plan. Don't like the choices at one deli, go to another.

                    It's why I hate potlucks.