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Apr 12, 2010 10:41 AM

Bring Nothing and Like It!


I was going to add to the post about not eating what you make when you've made a big meal but this is a little bit more complicated. I had a brunch yesterday, 18 people, all family. I bought two dozen bagels and assorted cream cheese and made two 9 x 13" stratas, one with sauage and one with just vegetables. I also made one pound of bacon and stuffed Roma tomatoes with parsley and provolone which I put under the broiler. I had OJ, champagne, coffee and tea.

Three of the guests asked beforehand what they could bring. I told one she could bring a fruit salad. I told the other two they could bring champagne (never going to go to waste). The first shows up with TONS of fruit salad in the largest serving bowl she owns. She also brought some leftover dips that she had made for a party the night before. WTF am I supposed to do with these? I didn't have chips and she didn't bring any. The other two brought more champagne, but one also brought a very large crumb cake. Huge. The other one stuck to just the champagne. A 4th guest brought a huge chocolate cake. Yet another guest brought two medium sized loaves of soda bread.

Needless to say, although everyone ate quite a bit, I am left with tons of leftovers. I resent that so much! So I spent a good while either wrapping up what I could save and/or freeze and tossing what I could not. This is the opposite of the guest that asks what she can bring to a dinner party and is told to bring a turkey. I think this may have occurred because they're family and felt more comfortable doing this but it's borderline offensive, implying I'm not a big enough girl to have people over for brunch.

    1. This is another one of those topics that seems to come up regularly and people get passionate about it :) In your case, from what you describe as YOUR menu, it sounds kinda skimpy. Eighteen is alot of people for brunch. I'd say that huge fruit salad sounds appropriate. A cup per person wouldn't be a terribly large serving. You didn't mention a dessert so at least one, maybe two, doesn't sound overboard. Nor does adding two loaves of soda bread. I loathe any bagel that's not a NY bagel and we live in CA! So I'd have eaten the soda bread in favor of the bagel. And since this was family, perhaps they've felt in the past that there wasn't enough food and rather than say anything overt, they just picked up the slack. And finally, it IS family and some of them (the older ones) will probably NEVER think you're grown up enough to do this all by your little self :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        I can assure you it was NOT skimpy. The bagels were from H&H, a pain to get down here and not cheap. I just reread my post, I knew the chocoloate cake was coming but was not prepared for the size of it, same with the fruit. the crumb cake came out of left field. It weas from Costco, not homemade. That bothers me a bit. I was left with about a quarter of the meat strata and a third of the vegetable. The birds in my backyard are currently enjoying the soda bread. Do deer eat chocolate cake? I guess what's bugging me is that all of their food, in addition to being wasteful, changed the dynamic of my carefully prepared meal that I spent quite a lot of time and money on.

        1. re: southernitalian

          I just reread your post and saw that you weren't asking a question, just venting. This happens often enough here that I think alot of us miss it and leap in making suggestions and giving opinions. Mea culpa.

          So really it was just the crumb cake and the soda bread. You do know that you're under no obligation to serve those things, don't you? You can't be taken advantage of if you don't allow it. Assuming you and/or you SO work in an office, send the crumb cake there (office workers will eat ANYTHING) and freeze the leftover bread and strata. And in the future, if you want to be in charge then you're going to need to speak up AHEAD of time not afterwards. I'm not trying to be harsh but if it bothers you as much as it seems to, then STOP THE MADNESS :) As a Chow-buddy said to me recently "My roof, my rules!"

      2. I wonder if it would help to tell them not to bring anything in the future. People who tend to overstep are a lot more likely to do so if you allow them to bring something. At the end of the day, bringing unwanted food has become a fairly common faux pas so you are not likely to escape it entirely. However, if you tell them pleasantly and firmly You are my guest, do not bring a thing it's our pleasure to entertain you! they may get the hint.

        For the record, I tend to agree with c oliver's assessment of the menu except that as a guest it is never my place to second guess the hostesses choices. We all attend gatherings, particularly family gatherings, where there is something chronically and in our view seriously wrong with the food/selection/quantity/menu and the only correct thing is to smile and compliment the chef.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kater

          And I agree with your attitude about how guests should behave. But I'm frequently astounded about how presumptuous some families can be. I think you made another good point to stop acquiescing to some and letting them bring things. It probably won't stop anyway but that might deter it.

        2. Jfood would bring up a few items:

          - One pound of bacon and 24 bagels for 18 people is undermenued, in jfood's opinion. Jfood would have serve at least 30 bagels and 2-3 pounds of bacon. Heck he goes through a pound of bacon with 8 kids who camped out on a saturday night. Likewise jfood figues 8-10 slices of strata from that size dish, so it sounds light as well. But given your tons of food leftover comment, your crowd sounds like very light eaters and you probably know better than jfood.
          - It's a family gathering, lighten up on the control whip. So what is aunt gertrude brought a coffee cake, big deal if grandma esther brought some day old dips. Accept them, smile and say thank you.
          - if jfood is told he needed to bring fruit salad for 18, yup it's a big freakin' bowl.
          - The addition of the crumb cake and chocolate cake seemed like the right thing since you had no desserts planned from your menu. Maybe the two of them got together and said "everytime we go over SI's house she never has any cake and her uncle loves cake after bagels. and he adores your crumb bcake." Every time jfood aunt/uncle visited him from boston, they brought Zeppy's kichel. And jfood loved them for it.
          - No it is NOT borderline offensive. They thought you would appreciate their graciousness. Please do not turn it into n good deed goes unpunished.

          Be thankful they and their desserts are available for attending. jfood wishes there were relatives still with him to enjoy brunch and other meals.

          5 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            Thank you especially for that last sentence. I have no family left and would eat and enjoy any of their contributions...just one more time.

            1. re: jfood

              jfood, you know I always listen to your sage advice, and you've made me feel a bit guilty. But there were 26 bagels and 8 of them are in my freezer. Stratas are in the freezer, the fruit was barely touched and is in the firdge, chocolate cake is on the counter (3/4 of it), my husband polished off the crumb cake last night and soda bread is in the back yard. There was TOO MUCH food. I will point out, however, that there is only one bottle of champagne leftover so that may have had something to do with it.

              1. re: southernitalian

                I don't think the menu sounds skimpy at all, for what its worth. I mean I don't know anyone who can eat more than 1 H&H bagel in a sitting without there being some sort of consumption competition going on. Those things are substantial! Also, it's brunch, people. You eat a bagel, some eggs, a strip or two of bacon and have a cup of coffee! That's it. It's not like you'll never eat again. My husband and I recently got into a big fight because I had planned the lunch menu for my SIL's baby shower. He INSISTED I did not have enough food, so I went out and got more. Guess what! We had more than the extra left over and he apologized after everyone went home and he was stuck with 3 quarts of asian slaw and 2 pounds of leftover satay. The good news is that next time, I think my judgment will prevail.

                1. re: jenhen2

                  The main reasonjfood NEVER goes to buffets is the I have to eat everything syndrome.

                2. re: southernitalian

                  You should not and you should...

                  There are two points to the post

                  1 - Food and amounts (coming from a jewish perspective of if there is nothing left over on every dish there was not enough food)

                  As jfood said, you know your peeps more than he. If this were casa jfood there would be no bagels left, bacon would have been fought over the cakes demolished and the strata picked over. likewise there would be 90% of the fruit remaining.

                  2 - Guilt (coming from a jewish perspective where guilt is part of the food pyramid)
                  At least your hubby is happy :-)) although he is probably on the barca-lounger rubbing his belly in pain. the only thing jfood would ask you to either feel guilty or give some thought to is can eat leftover ar throw them out, but when relatives are gone, game over. If everyone had a good time and there is food left over, c'est la vie, that's a good thing.

                  Sound like the bacon and champagne were hits. :-))

              2. I was brought up with the lesson "never arrive at anyone's house empty handed", so it is hard for me not to bring something.

                The last brunch I went to, I asked the hostess what I could bring. She said "just bring a smile", which was hard for me to do.

                And I have been in your position before, getting way too much food and not knowing what to do with it. I have learned now to buy those cheap plastic containers and do doggie bags for everyone (or at least everyone who will take them), right before they are leaving.

                I am sure that the people in your family network are so much more important than to have a disagreement with on this subject.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mcel215

                  You should never show up empty handed. That does NOT mean that you bring a dish unless your host truly wants it. You bring a hostess gift - just a little token.

                  1. re: Kater

                    This is family and I see them all the time so there's certainly no need for a hostess gift. If they had to bring something, more champagne would have been the most appreciated go-to. And I am ALL for never, ever, ever showing up empty handed anywhere. I loved the thread a while back about bringing a bag of ice which, frankly, we could have used. But never bring something that's in any way going to clash with what the host plans to do or result in an enormous amount of leftovers that you then refuse to bring home with you. It's my home, it's my party. Show some respect and bring what I suggested (only after you'd asked), not what you want.

                    1. re: southernitalian

                      I'm trying to help you find a new way to handle this because the way that makes the most sense to you is not working. Yes, in a perfect world when they ask What can I bring? and you respond Champagne they should show up with Champagne.

                      This is not a perfect world.

                      But when I go visit family for a holiday meal or just a get together, I always bring a hostess gift.

                    2. re: Kater

                      I love to cook, so yes it's hard for me not bring a dish! But now I bring a hostess gift.

                      Our Brunch was in February and it was an unusually sunny and mild day here in Boston.
                      I brought the hostess a lovely coral colored scarf, knowing her love for them. We were going shopping afterwards and she put the scarf on over her coat. She was thrilled with her gift and I was happy to have made her smile.