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The "Everyone at my office loved it" comment.

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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? ;)

                    1. re: Morganna

                      LOL........some just spell it BLAH

                  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).

                2. "Thank you so much that was very good" costs absolutely nothing and pays dividends beyond the simple act of kindness.

                  Jfood always compliments people who bring food to the office and jfood partakes of. Likewise he thanks people who show him baby pictures when he couldn;t care less about them, responds with a nice compliment if asked how their new outfit or tie looks, etc.

                  Jfood can only shake his head in amazement that people could have such little, correction zero, social grace that an act of kindness to others is beneath their threshold or personal interaction.

                  Oh to be a dog.

                  24 Replies
                  1. re: jfood

                    Jfood is my role model & very wise. I would like to live in a world full of Jfood's social graces and common sense!

                    1. re: jfood

                      I'm like that, too, "Nice haircut", What a pretty baby", "good cake!" It doesn't hurt to make people feel good. I would not, however, go overboard w/ compliments. And, I do take compliments, depending on how they're given, with a grain of salt but it still makes me feel good. But, I do appreciate the difference between "good cake" and "wow, that cake is a bite of heaven!" I think the little white lie can be a good thing ( vs. "why yes, you do look fat in those jeans..." ) but I've also been called Pollyanna.

                      1. re: jfood

                        While my dog doesn't complain about my cooking behind my back, she does eat out of the garbage can given the opportunity. I'd think twice about the benefits of being a pack member, Jfood, however polite the lifestyle! That garbage becomes appealing when instinct rules trumps social order, IMO.

                        I have learned a lot from my canine companions, though.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I agree. I guess I think, what's to be lost in complimenting someone? The important thing is that they made a personal effort on your behalf. That alone should justify a "What a wonderful cake!" more than said kake's actual flavor.

                          1. re: jfood

                            If it isn't all that good, I usually just say, "Thank you for making that - it was very thoughtful of you." A bit of a cop-out, I'm sure, but folks often put a lot of spirit and work into these things and just because it's not your cup of tea, so-to-speak, it may be good to others.

                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              friedclamfanatic, i'm with you. "that was very kind of you to make that ____ for us."

                              i'm reminded by my mom, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." -- a social graces protocol that i routinely breach. me-ow.

                            2. re: jfood

                              Well, you may shake your head, jfood, but I shake my head at people who contribute to the delusions of others by complimenting that which is not worthy of compliment. It dilutes compliments when you say them about everything.

                              What's the point? Is it really doing someone a service to lie to them? I don't happen to agree. I'm of the opinion that flat out lies like "this was good", in the aggregate, do more harm than good. It's not the preservation of any social graces, it's -lying-.

                              I wouldn't necessarily enjoy it if someone to said to me "Man, this sausage pie tastes like monkey's naughty bits", but if it did taste like that, I'd rather have someone tell me that than lie to me and tell me how good it was if it wasn't. I don't like perpetrating bad food on people. I make things because I want people to enjoy them, and I'd really prefer to know the truth. It's possible to convey that something doesn't taste good without being insulting about it. Like "I've liked other things you've brought more" or "There's a spice in this that I can't quite identify but it's making it taste a little strange on my tongue" or some other genuine criticism that is helpful without being snotty. I would appreciate that a whole lot more because it gives me the chance to improve and is honest and worthy of my respect, even as I'm feeling awkward at not having brought in something as delectable as I'd hoped it would be.

                              Because of people who will lie at the drop of a hat rather than extend to me the ultimate courtesy and respect for my intellectual maturity by being honest with me, I can't trust what anyone says about the food I bring. I have to rely solely on whether or not it all gets eaten or not on more than one occasion.

                              So you might see it as a social grace or politeness or kindness, I think it's disrespectful and demeaning (which is why I won't do it to other people). It gives me no credit for being a mature, sane individual who can learn from her mistakes without taking personal umbrage.

                              1. re: Morganna

                                Morganna, you're right! From now on there's going to be a new me and I'm going to step right up and ask, "Oh this sucks, what's in this, some sort of mud?" [I'm STILL ROTFLMFAO].

                                1. re: Morganna

                                  LMAO!!! Morganna, you're my hero!

                                  1. re: Morganna

                                    M

                                    Jfood agrees that you are perfectly entitled to say or act in any way you feel compelled to do. And if jfood responded to your post in the complete honesty you suggest the Mods would not only take down his comments in a nano-second but would probably send a nasty-gram to his email address.

                                    That being said, we are speaking of an event in an office setting where people are colleagues, not food critics. If there was a closer relationship than the person down the hall or one of the cubicles and it was one on one and they asked for an honest assessment off line that is one thing. But to say any of your suggestions in the open falls completely inside the definition jfood posted above.

                                    Could you imagine the embarassment of the bringer if someone were to say "I've liked other things you've brought more" or "There's a spice in this that I can't quite identify but it's making it taste a little strange on my tongue" in an open forum? If that makes you feel better, so be it, but it would make jfood want to crawl in a hole as either the bringer or a bystander.

                                    And jfood will ABSOLUTELY (all caps intended) stand by his assessment above "that people could have such little, correction zero, social grace that an act of kindness to others is beneath their threshold or personal interaction."

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      Morganna and jfood, you both seem to assume that there's a choice between being polite and being honest. As someone who is loath to tell even white lies, but equally reluctant to give offense, I can vouch for the fact that avoiding both can sometimes be like walking a tightrope, but it's always possible.

                                      Unless someone actively solicits feedback on a dish, a simple "thank you" is generally enough. If you need more, find something about the dish to praise: say "wow, that cake is beautifully decorated" and just avoid comment about how it tastes. If the dish has no redeeming qualities, complement the person who gave it. "It was so thoughtful of you to bring it in" or "that must have taken a lot of work; I really appreciate the effort you put into it."

                                      If the person who brought the dish pushes for detailed feedback, it gets much trickier. Generally speaking, the only way you can be both honest and polite is to be evasive - which borders on the impolite. But then again, insisting that someone discuss a subject they're clearly trying to avoid is pretty rude, too.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Actually, if you look at my initial comment, I was speaking about =my= abilities, and since I'm not particularly good at this sort of tight rope, and I know that, I tend to avoid the whole situation. I just don't say anything. :)

                                        1. re: Morganna

                                          Looking back at your posts, it's clear that you'd prefer to have people be brutally honest with you. You never indicated that you'd tend to be brutally honest with others. I apologize, and retract my statement about any assumptions you might have made.

                                          I guess the "some kind of mud" comment distracted me. I'm not sure my keyboard will ever be the same. Do you remove coffee that came out of your nose the same way as regular coffee stains?

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            *laugh* I think club soda...

                                            And thanks, Alan. :) You can be honest with me anytime. :)

                                      2. re: jfood

                                        Your comment "that people could have such little, correction zero, social grace that an act of kindness to others is beneath their threshold or personal interaction" seems to be implying that I don't think social grace or kindness are important in human interactions, that they are, somehow, beneath me, or that I, in some way, hold myself as superior to such lowness.

                                        Nothing could be further from the truth, and really, it'd be best if you could avoid decided what people's motives are for what they do, and accept what they're telling you.

                                        What I said, albeit not very concisely, is that I don't like lying to people, and more importantly, I'm not -good- at it. So to avoid embarrassing anyone, and to avoid making myself uncomfortable by lying, I choose not to say anything, either good or bad, in a public way, and if it's bad, I choose not to say anything at all, but that if I have something good to say, I might do it privately, and ask for a recipe.

                                        I'd like to ask you what that is if -not- social grace and kindness to those around me. I know my limitations, and I choose not to inflict myself on people because I'm not good at gauging things like this. How is that taking an attitude that being sensitive to people is beneath me?

                                        Not everyone is -good- at this sort of thing. And to assume that they are but choose not to be out of some sense of superiority is as lacking in social grace and kindness as you've been accusing me of being.

                                        1. re: Morganna

                                          Oh M.

                                          jfood's original statement that you alloude to was in response to the OP that he re-stated for emphasis in his second post, which was a response to your post. Likewise he starts out and still believes you are entitled to handle situations as you see fit and jfood will as he sees fit.

                                          But in fairness jfood was, and still is, being honest, a position that was so eloquently stated as a position you hold near and dear to your heart. But now when someone else stands by your edict, on comes the how dare you statement? Seems a bit against the goose versus gander concept.

                                          Jfood does not want to get into a dog vs cat fight and there are situations that both you and he avoid so as not to be placed in this situation. He did not eat anything at a pot luck lunch at work recently and when asked what was he to say, "No thank you the stuff looks like crap"? Nope he said he had a large breakfast and thank you very much. But once you take that first bite you cross over into the social grace trumps brutal honesty, in jfood's opinion.

                                          You and he may agree to disagree but the last thing he would do is hurt someones feeling. If the discussion can be avoided jfood totally agrees with you, but once the toe goes into the pool, you gotta raise the standards.

                                          Peace.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            I think there were some crossed wires because of how threading happens with these posts. :) Just to be real clear on this, I'd never tell someone "this sucks" or whatever. I'd just not say anything. :) I just won't lie about it and say "this is good" when I really don't think it is. I think we're both on the same page of being kind to folks, just differ a bit in how we go about doing that.

                                            Now if *I* cook something that sucks, I wanna know. ;) So I don't mind when people give me constructive criticism. Anyway, peace backatcha. :)

                                            1. re: Morganna

                                              Thanks M. yeah, you never know how these threads develop.

                                              BTW - what painting is your avatar from? Just cannot put a name to the face

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                I have several characters on various online (text only) games that are cooks (I LOVE cooking sooo much that I actually play games where there's a cooking craft, and I actually have contributed to the development of those crafts in meaningful ways ;) ). Anyway, in one of the games, it's a sort of medieval setting, and I did a search on the web for images of medieval cooks. Then I trimmed it to just her face, but in the painting she's plucking a duck, I think. I'll see if I can find the link again, so you can see. I think it was a cooking site for medieval recipes and I don't know that the name of the painting was there.

                                                Ok, I can't find the image on the web by trying to reproduce the search I did years ago that originally found it, so I can't tell you anything about the painting. However, I've uploaded it to my photobucket and you can see the painting in its entirety here:

                                                http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v25...

                                      3. re: Morganna

                                        Because of people who will lie at the drop of a hat rather than extend to me the ultimate courtesy and respect for my intellectual maturity by being honest with me, I can't trust what anyone says about the food I bring. I have to rely solely on whether or not it all gets eaten or not on more than one occasion.

                                        So you might see it as a social grace or politeness or kindness, I think it's disrespectful and demeaning (which is why I won't do it to other people). It gives me no credit for being a mature, sane individual who can learn from her mistakes without taking personal umbrage.
                                        _________________________________________________________________________

                                        When this thread first started, the first thing that popped into my mind was similar comments made about weddings thrown by the brides of past. There have been a few threads here on Chowhound seeking recommendations for suggestions about weddings and or caterers......and the comments from the bride are always something along the line of:

                                        People still talk about my wedding...
                                        All my friends still tell me it was the best wedding they have ever been too...

                                        So for all you brides out there... did anyone ever tell you something similar???

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          Yep! I have heard that several times about my own. But knowing some of the weddings I have attended with some of my friends, I can tell you with absolute certainty there was nothing phenomenal about the food at my wedding. It was basic wedding food - chicken. The setting though for my wedding was pretty spectacular...that I'll readily admit.

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Yes I heard comments like that about our wedding. But the best was a second-hand compliment. Our notoriously snotty friend finally introduced to his new out-of-town girlfriend, who he had met around the time of our wedding: "Oh it's so nice to finally meet you guys! P. is always saying you had the Best Wedding Ever!". Of course we had heard nothing of the kind directly from our too-cool friend.
                                            But it wasn't about the food either, it was definitely the people - score 1 for jfood.

                                          2. re: Morganna

                                            OK, while your insults are priceless hilarious gems, I would find so few times to use them. I pretty much always like food that other people prepare. Part of it is that I cook all the time, for myself and others, and am always happy to eat someone else's similar effort.

                                            1. re: Morganna

                                              I'm with you! I don't want to be seen as dishonest or a insincere suck-up. Do you want to be responsible for perpetuating a lie? The oblivious or deluded then go and make 10X, and more suffer?
                                              You don't have to be hurtful and say it's like greasy, grimy, gopher guts... you can just say you don't care for it, or it's not to your taste. If they want to know more, you can tell them (and still in a tactful way).

                                              Neither do I sniff people's asses just because my dog will eat almost anything...

                                          3. The problem is that people are bringing food to share at work. This should be bizarre, but isn't. Work is work, social is social. Commingling of the two causes all sorts of problems. You should not ever have to comment on the quality of your coworker's cake. In Europe the custom of people bringing food to share to work would be considered insane. It is.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              *giggle* I love it when I learn about new cultural differences. There are all sorts of things that are European (well, particular to individual countries in Europe, like Biergartens (did I spell that right?) and certain kinds of festivals, as simple examples off the top of my head) that strike me as weird or uncomfortable situations. I often wonder how accurate the depictions or descriptions of these things are, or how "universal" they really are, when I'm watching travel shows (I love travel shows).

                                              I can certainly see how social gatherings at work might seem strange. I don't like really big ones with lots of people from lots of departments. I'm always really uncomfortable with them. But I don't mind small gatherings just in my particular IT group. It can be fun talking about superficial things that don't have to do with work, just to blow off some steam or the acknowledge a holiday of some sort.

                                              I'm wondering now how this difference in dynamics came about. Maybe I'll poke around this some more. :)

                                              1. re: Morganna

                                                Rest assured; there are many wonderful Biergartens in Germany, particularly in Bavaria.

                                                The Europeans are simply more formal than we yanks. You could spend 30 years working with someone, and still call him "Herr Schmidt" or "Monsieur Perrot." You'd probably know next-to-nothing about his family, as well. I think this is loosening up with the younger generation.

                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Yah, this is just bizarre to me. I can't imagine spending 1/3 of my life around someone and not knowing much more beyond his/her name.

                                                  I think I've heard that Europeans tend to be more into group social, or community social activities. Like, for example, biergartens in Germany. "Everyone" goes to them and hangs out and has a good time at them. But I have no idea how accurate this representation is. I've heard similar things about how "everyone" has a local pub in the UK that they'll drop by for "a pint" and a chat or something. The idea being that there's more community interaction going on in a wider scale than you usually find in the US. Again, I have NO idea how accurate or current these concepts might be. :)

                                                  In the US, I live in a small town in rural Vermont. The population is around 960 people. There is no "local place" where people gather to hang out together. There are a few activities that people gather for, like town meeting day (which is an interesting aspect of town government here in Vermont), and an annual harvest festival that raises money for town causes, but I think there's a small core of the population that go to these things, most of us don't.

                                                  On the other hand, my husband has an employee that we consider our best friend. He takes care of our cat for us, he went with us to North Carolina when we got our surgery (to take care of us). He's the guy listed as our secondary emergency contact... He's a great guy and we hang out with him weekly in our gaming group. :) We (my husband and I) tend to socialize more along subject matter lines, rather than based on locale. If that makes any sense.

                                                  This has me all curious about cultural differences again. :)

                                              2. re: pikawicca

                                                I find the custom bizarre. My company is having a holiday "luncheon". For some reason, my boss wants to supply turkey, roast beef and ham but wants everyone else to bring in sides. I can't get out of bringing in a side but have no intention of eating anything. I barely know these people (they work in different offices) and have no idea what their kitchens look like or what kinds of cleanliness standards they have. I've posted several times about a co-worker who regularly eats questionable food. I would never eat anything that he had his hands on. I'm considering being out "sick" that day.

                                              3. 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!!)

                                                Cheflambo you have hit the nail on the head! THAT is the specific reason I do not bring any homemade goodies into work. The folks in my office (back-office financial operations) look forward to the once-a-month employee birthday cake--just the sheetcake you described. The employees suck that "kake" up like Dyson's and Hoovers. I will keep the homemade goodies for family and friends--not co-workers.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: jarona

                                                  I agree.

                                                  My first job out of college was with a federal organization in Washington, and I was young and a foodie in a setting dominated by middle aged women and male supervisors. I learned very quickly that most people are not foodies. It's not worth slaving over a great dish for an office potluck because 1) most people won't appreciate the effort, and 2) the first dish to go will be the carryout fried chicken or pizza.

                                                  I particularly remember the first office party for there were several Asian women and they all brought delicious looking dishes, and being the newbie, I was one of the last served, and I prayed that some of the Asian dishes would be left by the time I reached the table, but when I did, the Asian dishes were untouched while the junk food was gone.

                                                  There's no evil here, no wrong is done, for it's just that most people do not have the same regard for food as many of us do, and prefer their familiar flavors over something new. Given a choice between a sheetcake or a carefully prepared patisserie from a good French bakery, guess which will disappear first?

                                                  1. re: Roland Parker

                                                    So I now take it that Morganna gets served mud cake because co-workers in the US are all food illiterates who prefer mud cake and because co-workers essentially despise each other? Sounds really grim to me.

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                      Hmm I think you're onto something there. ;) Maybe the OP's coworker was actually perpetrating an evil plan against the people she despised!

                                                      1. re: Morganna

                                                        By golly!! After all this time, the kake finally makes sense!!

                                                    2. re: Roland Parker

                                                      Not to hijack this post, but it has got me thinking...Hmmmmm *me with my hand on my chin looking up at the ceiling*.....
                                                      The folks here at work cannot understand why I never order take-out- or go in on the fast-food lunches-I think they think I'm cheap--but that isn't it...I cannot bring myself to live on a diet of Wendy's, McDonalds, Burger King greasy pizza and chicken wings. Believe me it has nothing to do with eathing healthy either. I just cannot stand that sort of food. As I get older, I would rather eat food that I cook myself...or if I AM going to spend money, I would rather save and go to a great restaurant for a dining experience--not to just eat. Am I a food snob? Nah...I'm just very particular about what I eat. Although my guilty pleasure just happens to be the bean burritos from Taco Bell. There is just something about those burritos........
                                                      ok..i'm done!

                                                    3. re: jarona

                                                      I like it when people do get around to tasting something I've made and then I get the "Oh! That's GOOD!". Because I guess they assume otherwise?

                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                        I used to work in an environment where different foods were celebrated & admired. I love the people where I work now, but their food tastes run to the very familiar. Italian food is about as far as most of them stray into world cuisines, but it's gotta be "their Italian". In other words they don't like anybody's macaroni's and gravy but their own.

                                                        A success at the office (or anywhere else, for that matter) is usually determined by the fact that the food disappears, and you don't see it sitting on people's plates half-eaten -- also by the number of requests for the recipe.

                                                        I wouldn't ever tell anyone that their food tastes like it belongs in my dog's bowl, I'd just show my appreciation thank them for bringing it. If I REALLY like it, I'll ask for the recipe.

                                                      2. re: jarona

                                                        Gosh, even some of my family and friends don't get 'the good stuff'! I know by now who in my life will and will not appreciate labour-intensive, high quality cooking, as compared to something picked up from the bakery section in the supermarket. I've made my peace with it, because I know it will break my heart if I feed a pie made with home made puff pastry to someone who says "it's good, almost as good as the pies I get in the cafeteria at work!".

                                                      3. I haven't worked in an office environment in a long time, so this hasn't been an issue. But I remember many years ago working in a department with a bunch of lovely women, and we had a Christmas party where everyone brought something. I was assigned to only bring chips, seeing as I was 8 months pregnant, 20 and not much of a cook at that time. My supervisor brought this great dip, that looked like it was some kind of avocado. Everyone liked it and it was eaten up pretty quickly. The other ladies kept asking her for the recipe, but she just smiled and said maybe she would share later. Afterwards I asked her what was the big secret. She said it was a spinach dip, and if she told them they wouldn't touch it. (This was back in the late 70's before spinach dip was all the rage.) I thought she was very wise.

                                                        I really don't like sheetcakes with the crisco frosting at all, and if one was put in front of me, I would simply say that I don't eat cake, but it sure was nice of you to bring it. Sometimes you, as the "bringer" comes up with something that you think is really good, then you get there and it really doesn't jive with the other stuff. I made a nice pate for a gathering one time and you would have thought I had put a pig head on a plate! The french onion dip went quickly but the pate was barely touched. Oh well, I had lots to bring back home, and it was good. Maybe if I had put food coloring in it to make it a pretty color they would have liked it.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: danhole

                                                          eh, yeah, dani, then you get to bring it home. ;-)!

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Come to think of it, maybe I should bring that to gatherings more often. Mighty tasty!

                                                        2. If someone brought something to work, and it was yucky, I would say "It was so nice of you to bring a treat in for everyone, thanks!" And even if something was really yucky I think it is a nice gesture and a nice break from the work to nibble on a treat together. That said, the only one one who brings a treat to work is me. boo hoo.

                                                          1. Life is a little too short to not to be polite about this sort of stuff.

                                                            1. I don't, thank god, have to work in an office anymore. I do, however, volunteer quite a bit in a culture that expects food contributions. I've brought in various quick breads, brownies, etc., and none have been passed by. I think that baking efforts are easier than cooking ones.

                                                              1. I try to be polite, and avoid eating things I know i won't like. But everyone knows I cook a lot, so I sometimes am approached by people who want my validation on their cooking efforts. Totally not what or who I want to be, but often when offered something to eat, the cook will watch me very carefully as I eat, trying to gauge my response. Which makes me really uncomfortable! And then you have to try and 'walk the line', being polite but at the same time honest, which is often really difficult. I try to balance out constructive criticism with compliments, as though it's a fun challenge we're working on together, rather than this massive opportunity for me to upset someone. Something along the lines of: "Gosh, this cake is so moist. And is that cinnamon I'm tasting? I really like that. If you wanted, I think you could make it a little more chocolatey if you added some melted chocolate to the batter, before adding in the dry ingredients. And have you ever tried adding espresso? It gives the chocolate flavour quite a kick. It's something I've been trying when I make chocolate cake, and I'm quite amazed by the result".

                                                                I know some here might say it's dishonest to do that rather than say, "This chocolate cake is a bit bland. It needs more chocolate". But I know that I made some flops in my time, especially when I first started baking. At the end of the day, I think when people genuinely want their food to taste good, giving suggestions and tips is the helpful thing to do. I want to encourage others to care about food, to develop their palates.

                                                                Learning to eat appreciatively and learning to cook skilfully are not finite achievements but continuing journeys.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                  I find that people look for validation from me, too, because I like cooking. I don't give suggestions unless asked. I'm afraid it's like that scene from the Joy Luck Club where the mom is modestly (some might say passive aggressive) putting down her specialty and the new boyfriend says, "It's okay all it needs is a little soy sauce!" and dumps the bottle on it, much to everyone's chagrin. I'll bet it's a cultural thing for me, psychologically (haven't thought of it in detail), that people have this forced modesty or you're considered impolite. So, they're looking for validation that theirs is good, not for suggestions. Kind of like "This old thing? I just put it on when I don't care what I look like!" (seasonal analogy).

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    Great point about the cultural thing. In some cultures such as Japanese, if I were to serve something I made or bought I'd apologize saying it wasn't my best because was unable to find that one special obscure ingredient or I messed up making the blah blah...
                                                                    In my culture I am to serve it with a smile as if everything's fine, because it would insult them if I were to imply they were not deserving of my best effort!

                                                                    1. re: Leonardo

                                                                      If someone goes out of their way to prepare a dish and offers it to you, what other response is appropriate than thank you. We can get bogged down with ingredients and preparation techniques, and forget that most important part of why we chow together or even talk about our enjoyment. The meal is always better when shared.