Did I do wrong?
Ok, I've search this board and the site and don't see a recent post on this one so, I'm going to go ahead with the post.
Did I make a major cultural faux pas? We are the den leaders for our son's Cub Scout pack. A while back we hosted a pinewood derby car carving/den meeting as we have a good size garage, tools etc. and, we're nuts to boot.
I made and bought cookies (nuts, no nuts, choco, no choco, eggless etc.) and cocoa and lemonade for the boys and akelas (moms, dads or guardians.) A Mom who I believe is Chinese, but I'm not positive surprised me when she showed up with a whole, ginromous, pumpkin pie from Sam's. Now I'm not dissing the pie source, but I was completely surprised that what was clearly intended as a hostess gift was a whole custard pie.
I offered profuse thanks, and discretely put the pie on the counter and then continued to help wrangle big and small boys with sharp tools. When snack time came, I put out the cookies and thermoses of cocoa, ptucher of lemonade and paper cups and napkins. I didn't serve the pie as, I don't have that many plates and forks to serve 20 people pie unless I plan ahead and have bought disposables or borrowed from family. Seriously! I have a fairly well stocked kitchen but serving up a gift pie was simply not on my radar.
Of course she didn't say anything but, now I'm wondering if I've committed a cultural oopsie. I don't think that I would have changed what I did, unless I knew in advance that I was committing a major mistake. Communication/language difficulties are also a factor here since I'm an English and Spanish speaker and not even a dabbler in the Asian languages.
FWIW: this was offered as a regular den meeting and never in the past has anyone been expected to bring anything unless they had signed up in advance for snacks or water. Granted those had typically been at school or at the park and this was our home. But still, I'd like to know for the future. So I can do better next time. And if she invites us to her home I want to be sure I don't show up without the appropriate gift or bring something that would be inappropriate.
Ok, we served the pie later that weekend for a family dinner and it was pretty awful. And my ingrate hubby said the cocoa was too rich!!! Yes, he did end up doing all the dishes for that one. I wasn't aware cocoa could be too rich. Too sweet yes, but too creamy?
You didn't do anything wrong! But consider calling the lady and thanking her, after all, it was a nice gesture, as was yours for hosting the event. It'll get it off your mind and provide an opportunity for clarification, if either of you need it.
I guess I don't understand why you didn't cut it into bite size pieces and serve it on napkins along with cookies? I've been known to eat a piece of pumpkin pie out of my hand. So I don't know if it was a cultural faux pas but if I had been her I would have been embarrassed which I am sure was not your intention. If it was me I would call and thank her as DPGood said.
I'm just surprised that you were serving snacks to 20 kids plus a dozen adults and you DIDN'T have a stack of paper plates ready to use? (I know you had cookies and napkins, but doesn't that just invite crumbs everywhere?)
It's pretty much tradition for Chinese families not to come empty-handed when they come to an event...
I'm also a person who's eaten pumpkin pie without a plate... but it's easier if you have something to put it on. I would have cut it into small wedges and served it up anyway.
Are you absolutely sure it was meant to be a hostess gift? A huge pie seems like an odd hostess gift, and much closer to something for a big group to share. Did everyone know you were providing treats? I guess you'll have to wait and see if she gives you death stares at the next event or not.
a short note might be better. explain you were caught by surprise by her generosity, but you greatly appreciate it. a note gives her a chance to 'translate' slowly, so the message she receives is the message you meant to give. and yes, you might have figured out how to serve it at the time, but with a garage full of excited kids, assorted akelas, and the assoiciated insanity you can be pretty much forgiven whatever you might have done faux pas or not.
re: hill food
Yes, KaimukiMan's suggestion is perfect.
I really respect your interest in knowing if you committed a faux pas and your effort to keep from doing so in the future. It is so easy to get caught up with our busy lives and to know that our intentions were good so why worry about the possible fallout of a misstep, etc. You must be a lovely person...not to mention a brave one! All those boys (big and small) and their knives!