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Sep 24, 2008 11:43 PM

Rude to Bring my Own Dinner to Party?

My MIL is having a dinner party on Saturday and I asked what I could bring. She said nothing and said bring the wine that you like, if you want to, which was fine.

I have another issue though. I have nut allergies and I'm a picky eater so even though she said not to bring anything for HER group, I'll probably make my own chopped salad and take it. I know some people who think that's a rude thing to do, and most people I know think it's fine. I personally think it's fine and I never mind when someone does it at my house. I'm curious what you CHers think!

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  1. I would just call her up and ask. "Since I have a severe nut allergy, do you mind if I bring a chopped salad?" For me, it would be less awkward to just make a dish that everyone can eat, but that you can enjoy as well w/o fielding the questions that eating a separate dinner entails.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Mattkn

      I tried that and my MIL said no, just bring the wine. She has ordered a salad with grilled chicken from a local restaurant near her house. I don't know if I'll like that salad - I might - but i figured I have back up. I'm supposed to be on a special program for a diet and though I have been very lazy with it recently I could just say I'm on the program...and leave it at that.

      1. re: Bite Me

        Well, if you need an "excuse," you can perhaps say that you are concerned about cross-contamination from the salad as it's from a restaurant (the chicken could have been prepared with peanut oil, the lettuce could have been placed on the cutting board where there were nuts previously, etc.). And I find that some people, even though they are well-intentioned, do not really understand the extent of severe allergies and cross-contamination. I, for one, have an issue with one thing and have had a reaction, even though the cutting board was washed before my dish was prepared as I think the allergen seeped into the wooden cutting board and didn't fully come out with washing.

        If they totally understand about cross-contamination and assure you that they've taken the proper precautions, then I would just deal with that salad for one meal. It won't be the end of the world.

        And I probably wouldn't bring the salad without making sure it's OK with your MIL.

        1. re: Bite Me

          "I don't know if I'll like that salad".
          You don't, but she's hosting the party. As her guest, you should not bring something "just in case" you don't like what she's serving. That is most definitely rude.

          As jeanmarieok suggested, eat something before you head over to her house, in the event you decide you don't like/cannot eat the salad with grilled chicken she is providing. But bringing your own meal is rude.

          1. re: Bite Me

            Rude. Allergy, special dietary program that you aren't following and picky eater? Any other excuses to cause drama at this family gathering? Your question was answered twice by your MIL and it seems she has taken precautions and gone out of her way to accomodate your allergy, pickyness and special program. To bring anything other than wine would be insulting to your hostess.

            1. re: Bite Me

              Great plot for murder mystery:
              DIL can’t stand MIL; it’s mutual; MIL plans dinner party; DIL wants to bring own food because of allergies and diet, also to piss off MIL and/or embarrass her in front of guests. MIL tells DIL she’s ordered a specially prepared dish from local eatery to accommodate DIL. DIL, frustrated, writes to Chowhound to get the collective sense. Chastened by the “Don’t bring your own-it’s rude faction”, DIL gives in and eats MIL’s purchased dish, but MIL was already pissed off and didn’t tell local eatery “NO NUTS"!

              1. re: mnosyne

                That's the problem in a nutshell (pun intended). Thank you - you totally get it and you gave me a great laugh.

                1. re: Bite Me

                  Bite Me, if you think your MIL is out to kill you, your problems are so much greater than this chopped salad. May I ask: Is this the first dinner party she has ever hosted that you've attended and were severe, deadly allergic reactions part of those? Or is it still, as you noted in your first response, a sense that you just won't like the salad she purchased?

                  1. re: Lizard

                    Dear Lizard: No, I do not literally think that my MIL is out to kill me! Come on. But she admittedly forgets about my allergies from time to time, and apologizes after the fact, so I am careful. I did not say, as another poster said, that she is ordering the salad for me, with my allergies in mind. She is just ordering salad. Also, her girlfriends are making some dishes. So, who knows what will be. The salad could have peanut oil dressing on it. I don't kow what to expect. I take three different allergy meds daily which help reduce my sensitivies greatly, and I do carry benadryl and an epi-pen; I have chronic hives that can get very bad and my tongue can swell, but right now the situation is being managed with the meds under two doctor's supervision. (I add the medical info only to answer the doubting Thomas of another post, but I forget who it was.) I am most appreciative of everyone's responses, not matter how hostile, and regardless of a failure to fully understand my two original posts, which is probably a result of my inaccurate writing. I did not expect the level of hostility. I was surprised to receive the pyschoanalysis that was shared by others. I was always taught to critique the problem, but not attack the person who poses it. My post pushed a lot of buttons, I see.

                    1. re: Bite Me

                      With all that said maybe it would be in your best interest to bring a salad (or other dish) for everyone to share. Your MIL has forgotten your allergies in the past, others are bringing dishes to the gathering, and it appears that your allergy is not a slight one.

                      Maybe the best option is for you to bring a dish, get there early so that you can discuss your concerns with your MIL. If what she has planned works for you then your dish may not be needed. If what she has planned doesn't work than you have something. Any discussion/discomfort is not witnessed by friends or family.

                      1. re: Bite Me

                        BM, I'm sorry if our collective responses seem hostile; given your OP (with its lack of detail), I think most of us stand by what we said. However, we mean no ill will toward you or wish you any harm. I don't believe we were attacking you, the person, but more so questioning your behaviour since you solicited our thoughts.

                        However, now that I know how your MIL conveniently "forgets", if I were in your shoes, I'd either (1) politely decline or (2) eat before going and eat carefully while there (of course, inquiring about the ingredients first). Regardless of how low your MIL might stoop, I hope you stick to the higher road and play the gracious guest.

                        Good luck & report back!

                        EDIT: Even though she may have asked her friends to bring dishes, I would still stick to the wine she requested. (At this point, I won't second guess if she's being snarky or has a good reason for this.) If anyone asks why you didn't bring anything, simply be honest.

                        1. re: Bite Me

                          Given the severity of your allergies, its certainly makes sense that you would be concerned. However, your OP and another post seem to focus more on your pickyness and the fact that you may or may not like the salad. Judging by your posting history, you've been around long enough to know that many CH'ers aren't especially tolerant of picky eaters which may have led to the hostile responses. If you're truly concerned about your allergies, then by all means bring something along. If you're using the allergies as a crutch for your pickyness, then I say its rude to bring your own food.

                          1. re: Bite Me

                            And you might want to ask your self "how will my MIL feel if I can't eat anything because she once again forgot my allergy?". And think back to other meals when she has forgotten about your allergy. What was her then reaction and how was the situation dealt with?

                            It's not clear if she is just absent-minded (even after 5 yrs my mother will occasionally forget that my SIL is a vegetarian and will cook her eggs in bacon fat) or if she is being passive-aggressive with her forgetting.

                            It is hard dealing with family and sometimes what might be rude in other settings, might be acceptable when it comes to family when invitations are harder to decline and not going isn't an option.

                            1. re: viperlush

                              "...when it comes to family when invitations are harder to decline and not going isn't an option."

                              Fortunately, I have no problems declining invitations from family. Sometimes it's better not going and skipping the family drama altogether.

                              1. re: viperlush

                                VL, your Mom/SIL story reminded me that it took 20 years before my own mother stopped offering me anything with fruit in it. When I'd remind her that I didn't eat it, she would be honestly embarassed/horrified that she forgot. Nothing passive-agressive, just didn't register with her.

                                1. re: gourmanda

                                  And that is why it might be okay for the OP to bring their own dish. Might save the MIL embarrassment in front of her other guest of her not being a "good MIL".

                              2. re: Bite Me

                                You know, now that you've gone into more detail about your allergies and previous episodes with your MIL, I'm thinking maybe you're right to bring something for yourself in a small cooler/bag. Maybe leave it in the car? Then, once you've scoped out the dishes on offer (and asked a few questions of those who prepared them?), you can decide whether or not to bring out your fall-back.

                                I don't *think* people meant to be hostile - they were reacting more to the "picky eater" thing than to the allergy issue. We 'hounds have little tolerance for that, it seems.

                                1. re: Bite Me

                                  Apologies, Bite Me. It seems the button pushing was all mine-- I was amused, not angry. And yes, a bit curious about these dynamics...

                                  1. re: Bite Me

                                    my ex MIL was a witch from hell and whenever she invited us over, especially when the kids were little, she would make wierd foods full of ingredients I specifically would not eat such as pork, ham and shellfish, and foods that young kids would not touch or not be able to eat due to them being so young. She also served the food so late at night my kids were almost asleep.
                                    I learned to eat before we went and fed the children at home first.

                                    1. re: smartie

                                      Smartie is indeed smart!

                                      BM needs to stop playing victim. Many of us have MILs from down where it's hot; either BM's husband needs to step up and put his foot down or BM needs to learn how to let it roll off her back.

                                2. re: Bite Me

                                  Is the mutual dislike possibly related to the cycle of her trying to accomodate the killer combo of "picky eater, special diet, allergy" and you not being sure there will always be exactly what you want to eat on any given day?
                                  My sister changes her dietary requirements regularly. I can't keep track of whether she is not eating meat or sugar or dairy at the moment. Because of our other relationship issues, she may take it as a personal affront if I don't accomodate her, or she may get embarassed when I obviously *have* tried but failed due to ignorance of the latest diet developments. While having her bring her own food might be a solution for us at this point in our lives, I would never, ever try that with my MIL, who would be hurt and insulted. Why add issues to an already fraught relationship?

                                  1. re: julesrules

                                    For some reason my mother-in-law got upset, 35 years ago, when I set a large, sharp hunting knife next to my dinner plate when she served her brick pork chops. Go figure.

                            2. re: Mattkn

                              Eat before you leave for the dinner party, if you don't think you'll be able to bring yourself to eat what's provided. It is rude to bring your own food, especialy after the hostess is already accomodating your allergy.

                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                Best advice yet. Beyond that, have your spouse deal with MIL.

                            3. I just think it's rude. It's one meal. If she has addressed your allergy, whether or not the salad is the most fabulous one you'd ever eat is not the point.

                              When I was a very little kid my family had a huge falling out with people dividing up and taking sides and not speaking to the other side for literally decades, because one member of the family insisted on continually bringing her own food to family gatherings where another member did all the cooking. The cook finally got really insulted, they got into a huge fight, and it created a huge, decades-long rift in the family. Is it really that important to have your salad?

                              1. Yes, it is rude. Presumably you have informed your MIL of your nut allergies, and if you've been married long she's probably aware that you're a picky eater, too. In the name of family peace, at least pretend to eat her food - take small amounts, cut it up, move it around on the plate, etc. And as another poster suggested, eat before you leave home. If anyone notices that you're not eating and mentions it just tell them you're not hungry right now or something innocuous like that.

                                1. Sorry, I have to weigh in with the "Don't Do It" crowd. If your MIL is aware of your allergies and is accomodating them, you should not bring your own dish to the party if it has been offered and declined. Eat a little bit prior to the dinner and then take small amounts of food to try. You can always wait for dessert or have a sandwich at home for after the party.

                                  Just because you don't mind it at your house or some of your friends tell you they think it would be ok does not mean that someone else would be fine with it.

                                  1. I am with all the others. Eat before you go and don't embarrass her. It would look as though she did not accomodate your pickiness/diet deliberately and everyone would feel uncomfortable. You can survive one evening of taking a plate of food from her table and not eating much or any of it and saying how nice it was!