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The "Everyone at my office loved it" comment.

I read this statement a lot on Chowhound, in fact, I may have said it before myself. But it just got me to thinking...do they really love it? I know I've complimented many people at the office on food that just wasn't that good. It's often done to be polite and not hurt someone's feelings after they've put forth the effort. I don't doubt the effort is appreciated, but not so much the result...at least sometimes.

I had a co-worker would often make this cake of hers for office occasions...and it was awful, simply awful, but no one wanted to tell her. So it showed up again and again. And when it was left sitting without a lot of interest, she resorted to delivering pieces of her "famous cake" to friends in the office. Secretly, some of us referred to it as her "kake" because it had that fake krab like quality.

So, it leads me to ask. How many of us have said we liked things that co-workers bring in just to be polite?

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  1. >>How many of us have said we liked things that co-workers bring in just to be polite?

    Never. I've said nothing, but never falsely complimented 'kake' (I like that).

    1 Reply
    1. re: dolores

      I'd not usually be so blatant, but I've said "thankyou, that was lovely" in a polite manner. If I've really enjoyed something, I make sure they know I appreciate it.

      *edit* Hey, why don't you drop her a recipe?

      You could be like, "Hey Mrs Cake-maker, I have this recipe from a friend - I haven't tried it yet, but I thought of you and thought you might like to try it. Do me a favour and let me know how it goes if you try it". You then hand her a fool-proof delicious recipe. When/if she tells you about the recipe, say things like "gosh, that sounds gorgeous, if I made it, I'd probably mess it up!" and generally entice her to bring one in.

      If you then get people to proclaim loudly in favour of the new cake, then you get free delicious cake, and everyone is a winner. You could make it a Chowhound contest ^__^

    2. I don't do compliments that I don't believe in, but I manage to pull that off simply by having a reputation as being a little socially inept around the office (which isn't wholly inaccurate) when it comes to parties. I know plenty of people will say anything nice they can think of, and sometimes lie, about foods like this. I don't really trust what people say in situations like this. If I bring in the same recipe more than once, and the food disappears completely more than once, and I don't see half-eaten bits on people's plates or in the garbage afterwards, then I consider it a success. If the reverse is true, I stop bringing that recipe.

      Your coworker should have taken the huge hint given her by the kake's lack of disappearance, regardless of what people said to her about it. Some people don't know how to read the non-verbal signals that well, though.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Morganna

        "If I bring in the same recipe more than once, and the food disappears completely more than once, and I don't see half-eaten bits on people's plates or in the garbage afterwards, then I consider it a success. If the reverse is true, I stop bringing that recipe."

        Precisely, Morganna! It is very easy to tell what people truly liked, it disappears quickly, and if it doesn't disappear quickly because there has been too much food, then it disappears when people are taking leftovers. But as you point out, some people don't do non-verbal so well.

        I will always be polite and thank the person for their contribution. I will always make an effort to at least try a small amount of the food, especially in a smaller group where people notice what you eat. But you know I like something when I take seconds and I ask you for the recipe!! I try to be discreet though.

        I don't expect world class cuisine at an office pot-luck. I'm happy if the food is reasonably tasty and there is good variety. It's just not in my heart to be rude or overtly truthful in this setting. Anyhow, what purpose does it serve?

        1. re: moh

          Oh I didn't mean to say that I would be brutally honest and say "Oh this sucks, what's in this, some sort of mud?" ;) Just that I wouldn't say "This is good" to whomever brought it if I didn't think it was good. I might say "It was thoughtful of you to cook this for us, thanks" or more likely I'd just not say anything at all.

          A corollary to this is I try not to be really effusive publicly about someone's contribution. If I really like it, I might say it to them privately, and ask for the recipe, but I don't rave about it in front of everyone else, because to my mind that's as bad as sitting there dissing the foods I didn't like when I won't "fake rave" to make everyone feel good.

          In an office setting, I'm not good at the finer gradations in the human interactions, so I try to avoid them in group settings because I'm afraid of offending someone because I missed a more subtle group dynamic.

          1. re: Morganna

            "Oh this sucks, what's in this, some sort of mud?"

            So hilarious my stomach hurts from laughing and not being able to stop.

      2. Part of the flavor of any dish is the intent, effort, and love. A bit of these three ingredients and it tastes good to me - so I'll genuinely thank the person.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I officially nominate Sam for sainthood...

          I am in a bit of a bind when someone just buys a pre-made food item and puts it on the table, like a premade dip, or microwaveable canelloni or stuff like that...

          1. re: moh

            Oh yeah, that can be a tough one. On the one hand, at least they're contributing something! And I've been in a position where I've gone "AIGH, there's a PARTY today!" and rushed out to the store so I'd be contributing something. I didn't expect anyone to really comment on it, though. ;) Sometimes I'll actually apologize because I usually like to bring something unusual to pot lucks. My latest thing is sausage pie (quiche) a la my husband's Nana and that always ALWAYS disappears within the first half hour of our pot lucks.

            Though the ostrich chili didn't fly (heh) so I never brought that again. ;) Silly, really. It tasted just like any beef chili, and no one would have known it was ostrich if I hadn't said it. *shrug*

          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Sam the sentimental sap.. I could just (not) give you a big hug and a kiss!
            Very rarely is something so awful that you can't say "thanks".

          3. I tend to smile and try to say something appreciative of the effort, rather than comment on the food itself. That gets tricky sometimes!

            6 Replies
            1. re: amyzan

              In these situations its always best not to rave about something you don't like -- or you'll be faced with doing so again and again. A polite "no, thanks, Im watching my calories" is always a good excuse to back off on an unappetizing dish. But if you're the only "foodie" in the group, you're going to have to occasionally eat a bite of this or a piece of that to be considered a team player and not a snob.

              I used to work in a manufacturing environment, and found that the worst food (to my way of thinking) was always the most popular. A cheap sheet cake with grainy sugar icing would be inhaled in one shift, while my homemade florentine cookies would languish for days in the fridge (they were delicious!!) Go figure ...

              1. re: Cheflambo

                I'd snarf down both. ;) I love cheap grainy-frosting sheetcake. I don't know why, because I'm completely at home enjoying lovely things like your florentine cookies and other such foodie delights, too. :)

                I suspect it's something to do with my childhood. Like with some other of the foods that are guilty pleasures for me. I didn't get to have them when I was growing up, so they hold some charm over me now. :)

                1. re: Morganna

                  Fortuitously, you spelled sheetcake correctly!

                  I've had some that didn't quite make it up to that spelling

                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                    *grin* How do other people spell it? Chiiteeekaki? Queziptaqe? ;)

                  2. re: Morganna

                    ahaha I'm the same way, I begged for sheetcakes as a child and never got them so now I like them. I do appreciate and love a nice homemade cake though!

              2. Where I work, it's fairly uncommon to tell someone what you think of the food they've brought in. The true test in fact is how long it lasts. If it's there for more than 30 minutes, well, you've got your answer.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jnk

                  Yup. We had something -- I can't remember what it was now -- that sat around the office for days. It was really awful. The good stuff melts away as soon as the news hits the office grapevine (the worlds fastest known means of communication).