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Mar 5, 2009 03:12 PM

Social Delimma # xxxxx


I've really honestly had too many embarrassing moments to count in my life time but here's my latest social dilemma and I'll be interested to see how you folks would handle this situation:

My friend's husband was out of town so she said "Come on over, we'll order a pizza and just hang out"

I happened to have a stock pile of homemade sauce and meatballs which I was going to freeze so I offered to bring some of the sauce & meatballs if she supplied the pasta and salad.

Sounds good, right?

Well, I forgot to pack my hunk of Lucatelli, so I called her on the way and said "I'm going to be a few minutes late, I have to stop by the store and get something"

she: "what did you forget"
me: "the cheese"
she: "i have cheese - parmesan, don't worry about it"
me somewhat hesitantly: :Reeaal parmesan?"
she: "yeah - just come on over"

Whew - crisis diverted.....

UNTIL...we're setting up dinner and she grabs, I kid you not - A GREEN CAN of "stuff" out of the refrigerator.

Now, I realize that this isn't as bad as the frozen dinner with the mandarin oranges BUT...I spent hours making sauce, meatballs etc and she put green canned stuff on it?

Would you explain that this is not REAL anything except for maybe REAL bad? Or do you just let it go?

BTW - this happened once before with Garlic....I got handed a bottle of garlic powder - which was why I hesitated when asking the "real cheese question"

Maybe I should buy her a nice wedge of parm or romano, garlic and a cheese grater for a gift? I just take my lumps and remember the damn cheese the next time?

  1. To me, a gracious guest should not make the hostess feel bad about what she's providing - that includes not telling her that the green can stuff "isn't real cheese". At the time, I'd just deal with it - eat the green can stuff or just skip it, but don't make a big show out of it. I think the best way to "educate" her, if that's what you want to do, is to say something like - "Oh! I grew up with the green can stuff, but a few years ago I tried fresh grated parm and it was amazing. Now that's all I use! Next time I'll bring a wedge for you." or buy her a nice wedge and grater and give it as a gift and say something to that effect. The important part is to not make her feel bad or embarassed - she's not doing anything wrong, just trying to be a gracious hostess, so treat her like that.

    33 Replies
    1. re: akq

      Seriously! A friend invited me to dinner and I spent a great deal of time, effort and a little bit of cash to find a very nice bottle of wine to show my appreciation for the dinner invitation. When we opened that good bottle of red, she dropped an ice cube in it cause she likes her wine cold.

      What did I do? Toasted her and her dinner.

      1. re: janetms383

        I have many friends who like red cold ... just shrug ...

        1. re: kchurchill5

          I will bring a red to cellar temperature, but IMHO a good red wine should never be served on ice.

          1. re: janetms383

            Mine is always room temp for me, never chilled, but if guests want it, ice is fine for them

            1. re: kchurchill5

              There's a big difference between cellar temperature and room temperature.

              1. re: KTinNYC

                I've read, for those who don't have a wine refrigerator, that, in general, white wine should be refrigerated and removed 15-20 before serving, while red should be refrigerated 15-20 minutes before serving. I find that works well if I've planned ahead.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  True, FL doesn't have many cellers, lol Except for a few restaurants. Sometimes it is so warm and I don't like cold air conditioning, so room temp is probably hot :)

                  I do agree, different temps by far.

                2. re: kchurchill5

                  I think the point is not the temperature so much as the fact that the melting ice dilutes the wine. Which is fine if it's crappy wine to begin with, but adding water to good wine is waste of good wine. Not that people shouldn't be able to drink their wine any way they want it, but if I know they're going to plonk an ice cube in it, I'm probably not going to bring out the good stuff.

              2. re: kchurchill5

                Oh NOOOO
                never cold....noo

                That's worse than canned cheese IMHO

                1. re: NellyNel

                  I've been served chilled red wine in good restaurants in France & Belgium, where they know their wines. Certain types, like cru beaujolais, they consider best served chilled - not frosty cold, and certainly not on ice, but far cooler than any I've had in the US.

                  1. re: BobB

                    In the summertime, I will bring a Pinot Noir to about 70 degrees. Just taste better than room temp on a warm day.

                    1. re: janetms383

                      It probably should be lower than 70 anyways. Keep in mind that "Room temperature" these days is warmer than it was back in the day. Most reds should be served ~60F (+/- ~5F)

                      1. re: jgg13

                        it probably is.... i'm not very good at guestimating! I know it's chilled

                        1. re: jgg13

                          very true - it was shocking to me when I went to Europe for the first time and the wine was served much cooler than what we get here in the US

                          I personally like my reds a touch cooler than room temperature

                          1. re: chicaraleigh

                            Definitely not the case in the UK where I worked in a restaurant, which was always FREEZING in the winter.We had to take the bottles of red into the kitchen before our shifts and place them around the stoves to keep them somewhat warmish! The cutomers would go crazy when the reds were the slightest bit chilled!

                            1. re: chicaraleigh

                              My experience was just the opposite. I was really surprised in Italy to see bottles of wine displayed on the street outside the little wine shops in hot weather. The wine shop here where I make about 95% of my wine purchases has their wine shipped all the way from the producer to the store at 56 degrees, and it's all held in the store at that temperature.

                              I prefer my red wine cooler than (average) room temperature. All too often, red wine I order in a restaurant is cellared and served way too warm.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                I prefer it cooler, too, and find that my hand warms up the wine too much by the time I've reached the last few sips.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  That's what the wine glass stem is for! ;-)

                                  1. re: pinkprimp

                                    When you have a white wine glass, yes, but with the red, my hand naturally goes near/around the bowl. And, what's up with the new stemless glasses?

                        2. re: BobB

                          I have had red chilled, but I really feel it has to be room temp to be fully appreciated..

                          Why would you bother with wine in Belgium anyway...the beer is just so extraordinary ?!

                          1. re: NellyNel

                            I'm not much of a beer drinker, never have been. Just not my thing.

                            1. re: BobB

                              Oh wow...
                              I wasn't either until I went to Belgium - it's a totally different experience there - much more like wine...
                              And the stuff they export doesn't hold a candle to the stuff they keep for themselves!...
                              oh well!
                              Ya - everything is a personal preference - we can't be judgemental of other peoples particular tastes ..(I have to remind myself!!) I put ketchup on steak!

                          2. re: BobB

                            Exactly. The European tradition is "cave temperature," which somewhere along the way, Americans interpreted as "room temperature." Not the same animal! '-)

                          3. re: NellyNel

                            Agreed, but I have friends that like it chilled, so they are guests and if they want chilled let them chill it.

                        3. re: janetms383

                          My post was about manners and not intended to start a debate on wine temp.....
                          If someone was gracious enough to invite me for dinner, it's my option to select a fine bottle of wine. Which I would do in appreciation regardless of whether my hostess shares my wine snobbery or not! And, if she chose to abuse the fine wine, I sure wouldn't call her out on it!

                          1. re: janetms383

                            And you did absolutely the right thing. We have an 85 y.o. friend who probably only drinks wine when with us. And she wants that ice in it and that's how it gets served to HER at our house. She's not going around the table adding ice to everyone's glass - just her own :) I love her so much she could mix with coke or milk and I would smile happily.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              HA HA HA..."Drink your big black cow...and get outta here."
                              --Steely Dan

                              Milk + Coke = Black Cow

                          2. re: akq

                            AKQ, I can't seriously consider any answer except yours. Perfect.

                            1. re: Sinicle

                              AKQ, I can't seriously consider any answer except yours. Perfect.
                              Are you in the belief the *friend* does not know there are different grating cheese available, or that she actually does own a grater? How about if the friend actually has had fresh grated cheese out in a restaurant, but she, and her family prefer the green can instead of any other cheeses available? Don't you think these are possible considerations with due respect to the friend in mind.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                If the friend hadn't said she had 'real' Parmesan on hand one might give her a reasonable doubt here. As I've said here I use both, but I wouldn't call the one in the green can 'real Parmesan' . All the more reason to find a way to handle the situation gracefully. I suppose the BEST way is to ignore the whole thing though. That way you can't make a mistake.

                                Isn't it great to spend time on this stuff when the guys in DC have to figure out how to save us all??? Cheese vs. the future of the country!!! Same, huh?

                                1. re: Midlife

                                  >>>Isn't it great to spend time on this stuff when the guys in DC have to figure out how to save us all<<<<<
                                  funny..... but in fact, green-can-parm-gal and the politicos are equally clueless!!!

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    I that's true we're all in deep parm.

                          3. Life is short... forget about it and move on.......oh yeah, and remember to bring the cheese next time.

                            The problem with providing gifts is people have long memories and in some cases wonder why you have given them such an unusual gift......if your friend figures out, or assumes you did not like the generosity of friendship extended to you by inviting you over for the meal and get together... and question the food offered to you.....she may become offended, and rightfully so in my opinion.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: fourunder

                              This is a social dilemma? Anyway, I agree with you that if she shows up with cheese and a grater, the reaction will be to feel bad, or pissed, about her can of cheese. It's like when my wife got holiday presents a couple times of baskets full of soap... she's SURE that she smells bad LOL

                              The only way to educate is to whip out the wedge and grater when she comes to your house... if she likes it, she knows what to get.

                              1. re: woodburner

                                It's like when my wife got holiday presents a couple times of baskets full of soap... she's SURE that she smells bad LOL......
                                Many years ago I was running a Nightclub/Restaurant and was in charge of a large staff. For Christmas, I received 14 bottles of Cologne from them....not one was a duplicate of any brand.....Do you think the staff was really trying to tell me something?

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  Hate to say it, but your problem isn't the green can of cheese.

                                  1. re: monku


                                    glad to report since that Christmas Day, I have received only a total of three bottles of cologne in the past 30 years......

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      I'm just envious because years ago when I was running a nightclub/restaurant they never gave me anything but a hard time.

                              1. If it was me, I wouldn't be upset. Hey, I'm a pretty damn decent cook, but some of my friends haven't got a clue. The green can says "Parmesan" on the label. And maybe one day, a long long time ago, it was. For me the most important thing is that a friend invited me over to share an evening. That's a very special thing. Even with a green can.

                                1. ya'll are right maybe I am just being too emotional about this but for some reason, it's still sticking under my skin.

                                  If I had dropped by the house and she said, here - have some pasta and handed me the green can, that would be one thing.

                                  This situation was different, I was bringing the majority of the meal (therefore my responsibility to ensure that the best meal possible was being put out), recognized my mistake and was more than glad to correct it (ie, stopping at the store) and was told "don't worry we got you covered"

                                  Again - can't really explain why this irritating me so much...I think maybe i am more venting than anythign else.

                                  You'll be happy to know that I didn't say one word about the evil green can when I was at her house :-)

                                  23 Replies
                                  1. re: chicaraleigh

                                    Forget about it and move on before it ruins your friendship.

                                    20+ years ago we all had that green can of cheese in our refrigerators.....she'll get it one day. Almost every pizza place you go to has that cheese on the table.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      "20+ years ago we all had that green can of cheese in our refrigerators....."

                                      I beg your pardon - in my household - NEVER!
                                      I grew up in Brooklyn - where even 40 years ago - we frowned upon that little green can!

                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                        There was a time - a long, long, time ago - where the little green can was exotic in the hinterlands of Idaho. We were 'gourmet' because we didn't grate the velveeta for our 'noodles' but used an 'Eyetaylan' cheese.

                                        I was very glad to leave those times and that place (apoligies to those still stuck there!).

                                        1. re: alwayscooking

                                          When I was a kid, my mother had that 'green can' in the cupboard... fresh grated parmesan was a total unknown - and I thought I HATED parmesan cheese because it always tasted like old socks! lol You just couldn't get fresh stuff in Australia until about twenty years ago - but now it's so ubiquitous I'm surprised anyone still uses the dried variety. Still, that's their choice. Just don't put any on your plate if you don't want it.

                                        2. re: NellyNel

                                          Yea, mom always had Locatelli Romano. But after she passed away Dad always got the green can. Mom was Sicilian and from the Bronx, Dad was Irish and from a small town in PA. LOL I grew up, moved out and got back to Locatelli and am much happier for it. :)

                                          Funny story: myself and some others were invited to a friend's place for dinner. We all worked in the resto biz. I teased the hostess for serving a bottled salad dressing. She's never let me live it down. I hosted our next dinner and she offered to bring the bread and showed up with a loaf of Wonder bread. We're a tough crowd that way and are a bunch of smartasses and sometimes brutally honest. Thank goodness.

                                          I understand perfectly, your thinking about the labor and love that went into making that sauce and those meatballs, Chicareleigh. But I guess sometimes you just gotta smile, chuckle to yourself and eat. And then, later on, u can bitch about it on Chowhound w/ us. :) Mangia!

                                      2. re: chicaraleigh

                                        "This is no social crisis...just another tricky day for you." --The Who

                                        There are way bigger fish to fry in this world. Let it go. To each (cheese) her own!

                                        1. re: chicaraleigh

                                          Well, she invited you for pizza, maybe precisely because she knows what a PITA you are about food and wanted to keep it low-key and easy, this time.

                                          You then said that you happened to have some leftovers you could provide - that's how I interpret "meatballs and sauce headed for the freezer". Wonderful leftovers, but leftovers, something already prepared, not especially for this dinner. So you already perhaps overcomplicated this meal, in her eyes, and deprived her of pizza. And maybe she was just plain HUNGRY.

                                          1. re: julesrules

                                            I see it the same....and my Dh, who was a Hound when I met him, had a can of the green cheese and it took me about 8 years to break him of the habit. I had my wedge of fresh in the cheese drawer, he had his can. One day the can was gone.

                                            1. re: julesrules

                                              second, she was probably starving.
                                              if you weren't friends with her for her culinary expertise, then don't de-friend her because of her lack thereof

                                            2. re: chicaraleigh

                                              I grew up with the green can of grated cheese. Sometimes the name brand and sometimes the off brand. I thought it was just fine . . . until I went to an Italian restaurant where they grated fresh parmesan cheese on my pasta! Sent my taste buds into over drive. I even had to ask for more as I ate my meal. Actually I think I could have been happy just eating that cheese and forgetting the pasta, LOL! So, in the case of your friend I would say it is a case of "ignorance is bliss." She just isn't fortunate enough to know any better, so invite her over, as others have said, and introduce her to the world of REAL cheese.

                                              1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                From your friend's point of view, it's not an evil green can; it's what she puts on her pasta. What the heck, if your gravy and meatballs were spectacular, a little green can cheese isn't going to hurt it. If that's the worst social dilema you have with this friend, chersh that friendship. I'll let you in on a secret. There's probably something about YOU that drives your friend buggy.

                                                1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                  I won't admit here how I know, but believe me, the stuff in the green can really won't kill you.

                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                    I love you, LOL. No, I am not a fan and don't like it, I love fresh, but there are some who love it and hate fresh, so I have both ... also I have it as back up. I made pasta a few weeks ago, swore I had parm ... well I had mozz, Well make a great simple fresh tomato sauce with mushrooms so I used the dreaded green can .... Nooooo not the green can ... and I'm still alive, :) I didn't love it but it was better than none. It was 10 pm, dead tired, no money on hand, didn't go to the store and gone for 2 days. That is why it sits in my fridge. Healthier than than Double cheeseburger down the street with biggie fries and soda...

                                                    And Midlife ... I'm still alive too

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                      When I was a kid I would notice which of my friends' families didn't save glass bottles for the redemption value. It became a measure of who was 'rich'. I'm thinking that checking for whether or not a household uses only fresh Parm is a pretty good measure of who's a chowhound. I also measure Chinese restaurants by what kind of broccoli they serve: standard florets = Americanized; Gai Lan = give the place a chance.

                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                        I still can't figure out why someone would love the jar better, but hey, a ongoing blog some love red wine cold and endless others we debate. I just try to please all. So since I have lots of company ... I keep everything on hand.

                                                        Had a ravioli party 2 months ago ... all fresh made with pasta and wontons, some tomato sauced, some butter, some sweet, some white sauced. Had fresh parm on the side and I was asked by 3 out of 45 if I had the other parm, (I had fresh grated) they wanted the dried green stuff. Also I had fresh goat cheese, Probably 5 couldn't touch that and 3 or 4 others couldn't do the crumbled blue. I'm wondering what they do eat for cheese other than orange cheese slices. But just me.

                                                    2. re: Midlife

                                                      Hey, I was raised on the green can and I agree it's harmless. Also pretty much tasteless, but harmless. Except for that one time when I was at my dad's house, years after my mom passed away, when he brought out a green can that had passed its sell-by date by at least a decade or two. There comes a point at which even being composed of 50% preservatives doesn't help!

                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                        too funny! I was at my Mom's and asked her if she had parmesan. She pulled out a can that had expired 4 years previously. I said, Mom, throw that out. She looked at it and said, it's not black or anything. I left it on the counter, and sure enough, she put it back in the fridge.

                                                          1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                            And I don't know why she wants to save it since she obviously doesn't use it !!

                                                            1. re: janetms383

                                                              Well, she needs to be able to offer it to guests, like you! ;-)

                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                          Let's see: We have one, "really won't kill you" and one, "it's harmless". Excellent! Not referring to the cheese.... but your ringing endorsements!

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            Not surprisingly, my sense of humor once again goes unappreciated. :o|