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And the award for the worst food at a Christmas party goes to....

My office seasonal festivities were held earlier this week.
We had to fill in a form beforehand, saying what we couldn't or wouldn't eat, any allergies etc. I put that I don't eat meat and I can't eat mushrooms.
So what were the choices on the day? Roast chicken or mushroom risotto.
I asked the waitress for an empty plate so I could just eat the veggies (boiled new potatoes and almost raw snow peas - there were carrots too I think, but I hate carrots).
Instead of an empty plate she bough me risotto without the mushrooms, with a suspiciously brown gravy. On tasting the risotto I could only assume that it was part cooked and was to be finished off with the mushrooms (I saw no-one else eating it so could not verify).
I went home and made myself a sandwich.
Bah humbug! As we like to say in these parts.

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  1. I think the blame goes to your employer.....not the restaurant or caterer.

    1. " I put that I don't eat meat and I can't eat mushrooms. "

      Many do not consider chicken to be meat.

      38 Replies
        1. re: linguafood

          yep. and fish is another one. if the OP had said vegetarian or vegan it might have been clearer. people read meat as red meat or 'mammal' (although that word is rarely used for foodstuffs.) Some even interpret meat to mean beef, but don't include lamb, pork, etc.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Nope - in the UK 'meat' ALWAYS includes chicken.
            Actually I put that I don't eat meat but I do eat fish, as otherwise people assume I'm vegetarian. ('Vegetarian' here means no meat and no fish).

            1. re: Peg

              "Flesh" as Ben Franklin put it when he stopped eating it, includes chicken and fish. As does "vegetarian." "Meat," at least in the U.S., usually excludes chicken and fish. One of those weird linguistic things.

              1. re: Peg

                The current "proper" term for a non-meat eater who will eat fish is "pescatarian".

              2. re: KaimukiMan

                That's just ludicrous. Meat's meat. FIsh's fish. Vegetables are vegetables. Not all that complex a concept.

                1. re: linguafood

                  I'm not disagreeing with it. I'm just telling you what kind of things I hear at restaurants, cocktail parties, etc. But if you look in the market, sometimes the meat section is separate from poultry. Meat is meat, fowl is fowl, and fish is fish. Why would fish not be considered meat if fowl is? Wonder where frog's legs and rattlesnake fit in?

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Well, anyone who eats fish, fowl, frog or snake is not a vegetarian.

                    I guess I find the definition of what it means to be a vegetarian (= does not eat animals) self-explanatory.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Folk who eat fish, but no fowl or mammals, call themselves "Pescatarians".

                      1. re: Michelly

                        Yes, a fine (made-up) word for further clarifying the random decisions about what's "ok" to put in one's mouth.

                      2. re: linguafood

                        From Wikipedia's entry on Vegetarianism:

                        There are a number of types of vegetarianism, which exclude or include various foods.

                        Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
                        Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
                        Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
                        Veganism excludes all animal flesh and products, such as milk, honey, and eggs, as well as items refined or manufactured through any such product, such as bone-char refined white sugar or animal-tested baking soda.
                        Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.[23]
                        Fruitarianism permits only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.[24]
                        Sattvic diet (also known as yogic diet), a plant based diet which may also include dairy (not eggs) and honey, but excludes anything from the onion or leek family, red lentils, durian fruit, mushrooms, blue cheeses, fermented foods or sauces, alcoholic drinks and often also excludes coffee, black or green tea, chocolate, nutmeg or any other type of stimulant such as excess sharp spices.
                        Buddhist vegetarianism (also known as su vegetarianism) excludes all animal products as well as vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, or shallots.
                        Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables.
                        Macrobiotic diets consist mostly of whole grains and beans.

                        Within the 'ovo-' groups, there are many who refuse to consume fertilized eggs (with balut being an extreme example), however such distinction is typically not specifically addressed.

                        Some vegetarians also avoid products that may use animal ingredients not included in their labels or which use animal products in their manufacturing; for example, sugars that are whitened with bone char, cheeses that use animal rennet (enzymes from animal stomach lining), gelatin (derived from the collagen inside animals' skin, bones and connective tissue), some cane sugar (but not beet sugar) and apple juice/alcohol clarified with gelatin or crushed shellfish and sturgeon, while other vegetarians are unaware of such ingredients.[4][5][6]

                        Individuals may label themselves "vegetarian" while practicing a semi-vegetarian diet,[9][25][26] as some dictionary definitions describe vegetarianism as including the consumption of fish, or only include mammalian flesh as part of their definition of meat,[8][27] while other definitions exclude fish and all animal flesh.[11] In other cases, individuals may describe themselves as "flexitarian".[25][28] These diets may be followed by those who reduce animal flesh consumed as a way of transitioning to a complete vegetarian diet or for health, environmental, or other reasons. Semi-vegetarian diets include:

                        pescetarianism, which includes fish and possibly other forms of seafood;
                        pollotarianism, which includes chicken and possibly other poultry;
                        "pollo-pescetarian", which includes poultry and fish, or "white meat" only;
                        macrobiotic diets consisting mostly of whole grains and beans, but may sometimes include fish.

                        Semi-vegetarianism is contested by vegetarian groups who state that vegetarianism excludes all animal flesh.[11]

                        1. re: PotatoHouse

                          Wiki. The be all and end all of definitions.

                          "Individuals may label themselves "vegetarian" while practicing a semi-vegetarian diet".

                          I've decided to label myself a red balloon for 2013. That doesn't make me one, now, does it? '-)

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Love your reasoning: can I label myself a size 4 and make that so?

                      3. re: KaimukiMan

                        indian recipe books -- in fact most all of any kind of cookbooks in my experience -- don't include chicken in the meat recipes.

                        i consider chicken to be a meat, but i agree that saying "vegetarian" probably would have been clearer.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Yes, that's true about Indian cookbooks and also in general when it comes to conceptualization of proteins. In some languages there is a specific word for meat that doesn't include chicken, and then a specific word for chicken. That is true with the Indian languages with which I am familiar (gosht vs chikin/murghi). There are also quite a lot of Hindus who avoid red meat and pork but eat fish and chicken.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            Many Indian cookbooks and restaurants divide the world into veg & non veg with vegetarian being the default category.

                        2. re: linguafood


                          I was a vegetarian for about 10 years in the 80's and I can't tell you the amount of times I was asked if I still ate chicken or fish at parties or gatherings. :)

                          1. re: mcel215

                            I still here people saying 'I'm a vegetarian but I still eat fish and chicken'. I tell them they are not vegetarian then.

                            1. re: smartie

                              Yup, I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for years, and was served chicken-broth based soups soooo many times, and the cook looked like I was the crazy one when I said I couldn't eat it. More people, however, assumed I still ate fish.

                          2. re: linguafood

                            Whenever I say i'm a vegetarian, people always ask, "so you eat chicken, right?" I say no, that's still meat." The next question is, "You don't eat fish, either? Thats not meat!" So annoying...

                            1. re: kubasd23

                              If you say "I don't eat animal flesh", maybe they won't need repeated clarifications. (More likely though, they'll think you're just being confrontational.)

                              1. re: dump123456789

                                yeah, they'd probably think I was being judgmental, confrontational, and elitist. Or at least that is the reaction some people have if i've said something of that kind. I'm not a vegetarian that tries to convert anyone, it's an individual choice to me, but I still get people thinking that, so I don't even try to explain it anymore.

                                1. re: dump123456789

                                  don't eat animal flesh, so clear broth is ok right? the flesh has been strained out..

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    Right, forgot about that one. At that point, I think the speaker is simply being passive aggressive about refusing to understand what "no animal flesh" means.

                              2. re: linguafood

                                Pardon me, but your arrogance is unjustified. 'Meat' is the flesh of a dead animal. Look it up. Implying that people do no understand this issue because they don't agree with your idiosyncratic definition of meat is very concieted. Chicken is a type of meat. So is fish.

                                Meat = Animal flesh, regardless of what environment that animal inhabits.

                                1. re: benjamin23

                                  I'm sorry, are you replying to someone else, perhaps? I don't read anything you're saying here that I didn't write further up thread.

                                2. re: linguafood

                                  You'd think so, but I have encountered people who have classified themselves as vegetarians who (in order of strictest to loosest definition)

                                  - eat nothing that comes from an animal and do not eat root vegetables (Jain).

                                  - eat nothing that comes from an animal and do not eat garlic, hot peppers, or onions (some types of Buddhism).

                                  - eat nothing that comes from animals (strict vegan)

                                  - do not eat meat, fish, chicken, seafood, eggs, or dairy, but will eat organisms such as yeast and aren't strict about things like white sugar (not so strict vegan).

                                  - do not eat meat, fish, chicken or seafood, but will eat eggs and dairy (ovo-lacto vegetarian).

                                  - do not eat red meat (beef, pork, lamb), but will eat some combination of chicken, fish and/or seafood. (semi-vegetarian, some health-motivated vegetarians).

                                  - do not eat meat, but will eat dishes that contain things like lard or chicken stock, if it's not too obvious. (non strict vegetarian)

                                  - will not cook or order meat themselves, but will eat it if presented with it, or who avoid meat to a large extent. (flexitarians).

                                  - count themselves vegetarian when eating out, although they will eat some types of meat if it is prepared according the the applicable dietary law (some Muslims and Jews).

                                  And, on the more personally eccentric level, I've met vegetarians whose rules were

                                  - would only eat things that they would be willing to kill themselves.

                                  - wouldn't eat anything with a face

                                  - vegetarian almost all the time, but once in a while has a big steak


                                  So you can see how it could get confusing. I have been in restaurants where the answer to "is X vegetarian" has been "Oh no, it's got onions in it."

                                  I personally think the chicken/fish vs meat distinction in Western society is a hold-over from when Catholic meat free days were common. The rules for what counted as meat and what didn't got pretty strange at times, and fish, of course, was definitely not meat.

                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                    love your list!

                                    saw a "fells point meat company" truck today
                                    and on the truck it read "meat -- poultry -- game"

                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                      People can define themselves as whatever they see fit, but that doesn't change the original meaning of vegetarian = does not eat meat (including chicken and fish and game).

                                      Yet another occasion where I'm digging my omnivorous ways...

                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                        The Muslims I know who follow halal dietary laws do indeed often choose vegetarian meals, particularly in catered situations (such as the one referred to in the original post). But they don't in fact 'count' themselves as vegetarian. They aren't vegetarian, and wouldn't say they are if you asked them. They eat plenty of meat when they can get halal meat (in private homes and in restaurants that serve halal meats.) the reason they eat vegetarian meals elsewhere is because a vegetarian diet (ie no chicken, no pork, no beef, no other types of meat) is by nature halal. There are no Muslim restrictions on eating vegetables and fruit, or on dairy. It is simply a safe and easy alternative for those who want to avoid meat not processed by halal standards because it won't contain any meat nor any broth made from meat, halal, haram or otherwise.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          "There are no Muslim restrictions on eating vegetables and fruit, or on dairy."

                                          Mostly correct.

                                          Yoghurt made with non-halal gelatin is not halal, cheese made from rennet which is not halal is not halal.


                                          Edited to add: Sorry, didn't realize this conversation was so old.

                                        2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                          Or if the right monseignor/ bishop; pope declared corned beef not to be meat if March 17 falls on Good Friday!

                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                            tastesgoodwhatisit, I know I'm replying to a year old conversation, but this is the greatest list ever
                                            I may add, that I think that the thought of equating "meat" to red meat only may be a generational thing, and/or an ethinic thing
                                            I've had conversations with my Dad about how my Uncle doesn't eat "meat" but my uncle has only cut red meat and pork out of his diet
                                            he still eats chicken and fish, he had heart problems and was advised by his doctor to modify his diet
                                            I've had the "meat" conversation with friends who are of a Hispanic ethnicity and they have used the same "meat" terminology when referring only to red meats and pork
                                            and I know that this is just anecdotal, but both sets of conversations were with My dad and someone who is around my Dad's age (mid-late 70's)

                                        3. re: KaimukiMan

                                          Oh, the freedom of definitions! My daughter had a little friend who claimed she was "vegetable-tarian except for bacon." Very sensible, I thought.

                                          1. re: elenacampana

                                            Daughter was a vegetarian except for cha siew and turkey skin!

                                            1. re: Sarah

                                              When I truly *was* a vegetarian (no animal flesh), I called myself a dessert-tarian, after Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes fame.

                                          2. re: KaimukiMan

                                            "You don't eat no meat!? That's ok I make lamb."

                                            1. re: melpy

                                              "Whaddya mean 'he don't eat no meat'?"

                                      2. I'd retain a high dollar attorney specializing in lousy office party meals. Bah Humbug!

                                        1. I was doing some contract work for a company about 5 years ago (fortunately not a full-time employee for this company) and I was in town working with them when their holiday party was held so I was invited and didn't really feel that I could decline.

                                          First of all they made a big deal that it was black-tie and everyone would have to dress up (I was traveling so, I got out of that). The event was held at a kind of run-down banquet hall in a strip mall. They insisted that everyone get there promptly at 6pm. However, at 6pm the restaurant wasn't ready and the only offerings were a couple of bags of potato chips and a few pitchers of ice water that someone set out on a side table.

                                          After about an hour they announced that the bar was open and it was a cash bar. There was only one, elderly, slow-moving, bartender so a line formed and it took another half an hour to get a drink. Then the management started their presentation which consisted of several "hilarious" skits making fun of various employees. After an hour or so of this, they opened the buffet (more than 2 hours after everyone arrived) and it was descended upon by the starving hordes, not pretty. I really don't remember the food, some gloppy pasta salad and horrific looking stringy meat in a chafing dish. Everyone was eating and saying how great it was. I just got out of there as quickly as I could and went to find some fast food.

                                          The weird thing was that the banquet hall was part of an Indian restaurant. If they had done an Indian buffet they probably would have had some OK food. The company decided to have them do an American menu and it was a failure.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: pamf

                                            That's what happens when they go "low bid".

                                              1. re: pamf

                                                OMG. Sounds like a worst nightmare situation.

                                                1. re: pamf

                                                  You had me laughing out loud, a black tie party at the POS Palace--and at 6 PM.

                                                2. Our holiday party is a potluck and until a few years ago it was always an interesting mix of foods which were mostly homemade . More recently four of the staff of 13 have decided to go in on a party size bad pizza, always with lots of meat despite the fact that a third of the staff is vegetarian.
                                                  It makes me sad.

                                                  1. One food related and one not:
                                                    Potluck, and one employee (not a cook, obviously), offered to bring dips and crudites. Her cauliflower was the frozen kind, and not even completely thawed. Inedible.

                                                    The non-food: I was receiving a national award at the party, and had been told beforehand that my position was being axed, but keep it quiet. I had to stand there smiling, while thinking of what I'd make on unemployment. Glad I'm now retired!

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                      Now Pine Tree that was really, really sad. I am glad you are retired too. Geesh, how inappropriate they were to tell you before the award was given.

                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                        under those circumstances, i would have developed a blinding headache -- or maybe the 24-hour flu -- and skipped the festivities, such as there were.

                                                          1. re: sandiasingh

                                                            Yeah, I wonder if I'd be so compliant now--older, wiser, that sort of thing. I did whisper the upcoming axing to a friend next to me. The picture of us all is funny--I'm smiling, and she's looking at me, aghast.

                                                        1. Wow, our company only gets together a few times a year, and we just got back from our annual sales meetings with three nights in Atlanta.

                                                          Night #1 was BBQ at Fat Matt's with bowling afterward.

                                                          Night #2 was at Empire State South- we had our own private room and it was totally wonderful.

                                                          Night #3 was dinner at the boss's house with a chef brought in from the cooking school to do some Italian.

                                                          I *love* my job (and my bosses!)...

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Clarkafella

                                                            That likely won't qualify for an award for the WORST food at xmas parties.

                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                              I know. Just felt so bad for the original poster that I had to rub it in a little bit...

                                                          2. Does this count? Years ago, I was temporarily transferred from my company's DC office to the Hamburg office and was in Germany over the holidays. It was the heart of the dotcom boom and I was working 14 - 18 hour days. So one Thursday evening, around 6, I noticed people were starting to leave in a very festive mood. Finally, as one of the last people left the office, I finally asked where everyone was going and was told it was the office Xmas party which was at some sheeshy restaurant. Except no one ever mentioned it to me. So that night, one other guy who'd also been transferred to the office and I ended up eating some nasty coldcuts on stale bread and worked till 4AM, while everyone else partied the night away.

                                                            So, I not only had terrible food, I didn't even make it to the party. After that, I quickly reduced my hours so I could actually enjoy my first time in Europe and soon thereafter, asked to be transferred back to the States. But yeah, that was one depressing holiday "party" for me.

                                                            1. when the server brought the plate with risotto sans mushrooms, I would have said, "that is not what I requested. May I please have an empty plate so I can have some of the vegetables". Your request was in no way unreasonable or difficult to accommodate, and worth repeating as needed.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                and just to clarify, this would not excuse the not providing an alternative in the first place. Unfortunately, I think it is a bit harder to complain about a hosted event than either a non-hosted one or one where you are the organizer/host. Now, if it were an event where you paid to attend, I'd definitely send a note to both employer and caterer.

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  Knowing my employer there will be a detailed feedback form.
                                                                  I'm not going to 'complain' - in fact I found the whole thing rather amusing. I suspect the caterer actually kept a portion of mushroom-free risotto to one side just for me. It's just a shame it was inedible.
                                                                  I have to add that the starter was an excellent shared mezze platter. The dessert arrived at my table after I (and others) had left, and I'm told it was a chocolate mousse that was sadly too rich to eat.

                                                              2. Jeez, why can't they figure out to do it right or not at all...or simply as in a coffee with fruit and pastries and some nice music. I LOATHE potlucks...so we work all year AND we get to pay for our own party and drag all this stuff into the office, coordinate it and then wonder if your co-workers can cook or even refrigerated the food. Like the boss can't send for a nice take out platter or treat to a round of drinks at a happy hour. Bah.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: berkleybabe

                                                                  your boss sounds like my boss, we work like mules all year and she finds a rep to pay for a restaurant delivery. She won't put her hand in her pocket to buy 10 of us lunch in the office, oh and we have a White Elephant where all of us go to dollar stores and buy little knickknacks to wrap in order to play the game and she brings in crap from her house (unwanted gifts usually). In the Secret Santa a few years back she drew my name and regifted me something we gave her the year before (seriously). Any gift baskets delivered to the office are hers unless we manage to intercept it and open it to share around. Irritating when the card clearly says for the office staff!

                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                    OT but the kids (teens) are doing a gift exchange at their holiday hockey team lunch. Someone mentioned a white elephant - another parent asked what that was and when I told them said "why would I give someone my crap just to get their crap"?

                                                                      1. re: Linda VH

                                                                        I feel the exact same way. Why bother? Save the wrapping for somebody you're giving a
                                                                        real present to.

                                                                        1. re: Linda VH

                                                                          We just had one a work. I gave away an atrocious (to me) cat motif purse. Turns out it was a Laurel Burch design and the cat lady set at work were fighting over it.

                                                                      2. re: berkleybabe

                                                                        I'm fairly new at my company and everyone has told me about how wonderful their company wide Christmas party used to be. They stopped having it 2 or 3 years ago so each department has thier own little shin dig. This year someone above us set up a lunch time potluck and invited about a couple departments totalling around 200 people. It is going to be held in the company cafeteria. Additionally we have a few people in our group who are planning on attending and bringing store bought cookies or nothing (I told them this was tacky). If our dept. is any representation of the population we are going to be going out to eat after the potluck!

                                                                        We can't say no to this (the "high ups" planned it) but luckily our department is having our own little get together so we can have an actual celebration. I have NO CLUE what they are thinking with the potluck! 100% of people would rather take the time spent at the potluck and leave early without spending any $$ or cleaning up!

                                                                        1. re: Foodapotamus

                                                                          I agree. We have a half day at work and the admins want to have a potluck lunch and present exchange and then spend the rest of the afternoon working. Most of us just want to go home and start the holidays. Unfortunately, it's either participate then work, or just work extra. Blah!

                                                                      3. This is not really about bad food (well, part of it is....) but more about presentation and choice. Or maybe its about the fact that I have a bad cold and that sort of tainted my experience at the party I went to last night. It was a latke (Hanukah) party that is an annual event at a friend's house. The party and the latkes are justifiably famous...and the host has a new job and apparently a lot of new friends....the house was literally SRO....the party has been busy before but never like that. and that is the basis of my complaint....I think the hosts invited everyone they knew; folks were their usual poor selves about replying, guests were told to come "anytime after six" and the hosts were overwhelmed. The latkes were delicious as usual but the production could not keep up with the demand. She had one fry pan going and probably 75 hungry people in the house at one point (including hungry children....). They were literally disappearing as fast as they were made....folks were snatching them from the plate she placed them on to drain before they even made it to the serving platter on the buffet. I found myself becoming increasing annoyed at one woman who sat there eating straight from the draining platter and who must have eaten six or seven latkes before anyone else even had one.....

                                                                        Which brings me to my real complaint: the food other than the latkes was designed to be mostly quick and easy....there were some delicious meatballs in a crockpot, and a lot of Costco finger foods. Unfortunately, just about all of them contained meat of some sort (red meat:-) and hubby won't eat meat. There was one tiny plate of pre-cut veggies and dip (the kind you get in the grocery deli) and some hummus and pita chips. Hubby doesn't like crowds (and the house was very crowded; think of your typical 1500 square foot house with that big a crowd!) and the buffet table was packed. He had found one of the few comfortable chairs in the living room; was seated next to one of the few people he knew and was happily chatting, and made it clear I was to find him something to eat...:-( So when I quickly realized that there were few veggie options I found myself doing exactly what I had criticized that woman for: snatching latkes from the draining plate while they were still there...latkes were one of the few things DH would eat....and they were the only truly "home-made" item there....

                                                                        Except the desserts. There were ton of delicious-looking desserts.We didn't eat any; my cold had taken away my appetite, and hubby just doesn't like sweets all that much. But the kids present seemed to be satisfying themselves on sweets....some real sugar highs going on there. We finally stopped one poorly-supervised child who looked about four years old from snatching chocolates from the dish left on the coffee table near where we were seated. We were seriously concerned that he was eating so many so quickly that he was going to throw up....poor kid was probably hungry, and those chocolates were readily availalbe....

                                                                        Oh, and one final complaint (I really hope the hosts don't read chowhound; I think they are lovely people who just were overwhelmed with the success of this particular event...): there was plenty to drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. But despite there being several lovely bottles of wine on the table, I couldn't find a cork puller and didn't wanted to bother the hosts to ask for one...so I settled for beer. It goes better with latkes anyway:-) In fact, as we were leaving I noticed the dozens of lovely (unopened) bottles of wine and other booze that had been brought as gifts and thought to myself that maybe *I* should have a Christmas party to replenish my cellar :-)

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                                                          jane, what do you think would be the response from the hosts at this LatkeFest if you casually mentioned that you had a miserable time? And asked if they did also?

                                                                          I'm posing that question because I know if I hosted an Open House that blew up in MY face, I'd be mortified, crestfallen and crushed.

                                                                          1. re: RedTop

                                                                            Well, I don't think they *did* have a lousy time, or at least their facebook posts were positive. Remember, I said that I wasn't feeling well that evening (bad cold) and that may well have totally tainted my experience. Besides, I would never want to say to someone that I had a miserable time at their house....especially to people who have a very positive attitude about life, as this couple does (much more so than I do, btw...:-). I just came home hungry from a party where I hoped to get full with good food, and that was such a disappointment. I guess I'm too much a chowhound:-)

                                                                            1. re: janetofreno

                                                                              btw, an update: I recently received an invitation to this year's party, and instead of an evening event it is now a Sunday afternoon open house from noon to six, or something like that. I think that is the hosts' way of recognizing that last year's event was a little too hectic/crowded: hopefully people will come at different times and spread out the crowd a bit....Besides, this way we can arrive mid-afternoon (they live within a mile of us, so travel isn't an issue), plan on having a few latkes and a glass of wine, and plan on dinner elsewhere....:-) Win-win!

                                                                              1. re: janetofreno

                                                                                Maybe bring your own bottle opener this year too?

                                                                                My friend who does a big latke-fest open house makes hers in advance, freezes and reheats in the oven. I have to say they taste pretty great even tho I've always sweated over a hot frying pan for my fix. Plus, she actually can mingle and enjoy her party, which is always lovely and great fun.

                                                                                1. re: janetofreno

                                                                                  Further update: the open house format worked MUCH better....the house was crowded but people did come and go, and because it was afternoon and not too cold some folks spilled over to the back deck. Also they opened up their "casita" (that's what they call a mother-in-law apartment here in the southwest) for tv and crafts activities for the kids....so that helped keep them occupied AND kept down the crowds....

                                                                                  I also decided to volunteer as a sous chef, since she clearly still had her in work cut out for her in making all those latkes. And that turned out to be a smart move: not only did I pick up a few good latke-making tips, but I was able to have first choice of fresh out-of-the pan potato goodness! Actually, DH and I went not even planning to eat, as we are going to another party this evening where there will no doubt be food, but we left so stuffed we are hoping that its just drinks and snacks and not a full dinner! ) The invitation was to a birthday party at a sports bar that serves food, and its for a birthday and not a holiday event, so who knows?!

                                                                                  Anyway, I think they will keep with the open house format in the future...it really does make sense. It also turned into an impromptu cookie exchange, as once again the deserts were a close second to the latkes! :-)

                                                                          2. Worst I've seen:

                                                                            Potluck style at our office (years ago) produced some rather wonderful home made dishes. One fellow decided to buy taco bell hard tacos as his offering. They sat there untouched and he couldn't understand why no one ate them. Man, they looked disgusting..

                                                                            Catered food another year left me with the scrapings of the bottom of an incredibly salty pasta dish. No turkey, veggies or buns left. The director of communications (who put the order together) was busy barking at the caterers for the lack of food. When one of my co-workers approached her and told her there were still 3 of us left in the lab that hadn't eaten yet she blamed us for not showing up at Noon to eat (we got there at 20 after). We were up to our eyeballs in samples that had arrived that needed to be logged in and placed in the freezers. (Never mind the fact that if it wasn't for the lab and us running these samples there would be no reason for any of the office jobs out front). When my friend came back and told me there was no food and what the communications director had said to her, I stood there...finished logging in the samples...and cried. I was overworked and had lost my father the month before. I just wanted some Christmas cheer and some good food. My boss found out and took us out for lunch the next day. He was (and still is) a good man :))

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: livetocook

                                                                              Next time you get stuck in lab send one person down to fill the plates as soon as the lunch is set out. My bf learned this lesson the first potluck at his company. By the time that he was able to get out of the lab only two dishes remained. One was a jello dish and the other was kugel. They had more eaters than contributors that year. This year he remembered to leave the lab and was able to enjoy all the food. Though this year they had more contributors than eaters (he thoughfully remembered to bring me home a plate of desserts).

                                                                              Your boss does sound like a good man.

                                                                            2. I just remembered another one... a previous employer took us all to a Chinese place at Christmas. He had pre-ordered the food and it was placed in bowls on the rotating platform in the middle of a big round table. I checked the food and the only meat and mushroom free dish was a king prawn and vegetable concoction - and I said cheerfully that I'd be happy with just that and some rice. One of the company directors then took ALL the prawns for herself.
                                                                              I sat eating a bowl of plain rice when the boss noticed and said he'd order whatever I liked - and he called a waitress over and told her (without asking me) to get me a bowl of tofu with no mushrooms. So I got to celebrate Christmas with a bowl of plain rice and tofu with onions. Edible but tasteless.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Peg

                                                                                Peg, LOL. I think your naked rice and tofu tops all of my vegetarian-without-food-options stories. Except for the wedding (when I had clearly marked vegetarian on the RSVP) when I got a giant piece of uber-raw standing rib roast. I quietly slid my plate over to a meat-eating friend and I drank more champagne.

                                                                                1. re: Peg

                                                                                  Peg, so sad at the time but a great funny story to retell.

                                                                                  I guess we are out of phase but the bosses buy a lunch about every quarter (employees choose one place to order from and order individually from the menu) and we try to have a potluck about once a quarter. The potlucks are outstanding and overflowing. While we don't have any true vegetarians, there are always several salads and usually a bean dish.

                                                                                  We have one coming up in ten days and I've been asked to reprise an Indonesian cucumber salad

                                                                                  Many little things can make employees happy.

                                                                                2. Our company holiday party is this Thursday evening. I'm sort of nervous because we were asked to sign up to being either an appetizer or a dessert. It's from 5 - 7. They'll be providing the alcohol, which is very generous...but I don't really care for pot lucks. It's like food roulette! I'm on the picky side (I don't care for spicy foods, certain cheeses/vegetables I don't care for). At catered events the food items are usually labeled. Also don't get me started on appetizer & dessert parties that are held over the traditional "dinner hour". :-)

                                                                                  1. I work for the government (LA County) and we won't get any $16 muffins, I assure you.
                                                                                    we are having a breakfast tomorrow, in the conference room, for about 200.
                                                                                    not expecting much.

                                                                                    1. Well I am not sure how this is this going to turn out, our office cocktail reception is this Thursday and being that I used to Cater and I now work part time cooking at my friends restaurant I have been “elected” to prepare the food for the reception (5.30-7.30). I tried to back out, but no such luck…I must keep things simple and it will be nibble food, it is a cocktail reception after all. Here is the menu … I am not sure if this is going to fall in the worse category, I sure hope not! Remember I am under tight budget restraints

                                                                                      Bermuda Fish Chowder (which is a given, husband is fisherman and Bermudian)
                                                                                      Brie and Caramelized Onions on ciabatta
                                                                                      Asian Beef topped with scallions and sesame seeds on ciabatta
                                                                                      Roasted Tomato and Red pepper with Basil and topped with a Balsamic glaze (yes on ciabatta)
                                                                                      Smoked Salmon with pepper cream cheese, capers and pickled red onion served ton top Pumpernickel

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                                                                                        Ooooh can I come?
                                                                                        My invite must've got lost in the post. Maybe you didn't send it airmail...

                                                                                      2. I worked for an attorney who rented space in a larger law firm. For christmas he would throw a catered lunch for the office. The first year I was working for him he asked my advise, I said I was kosher and would appreciate at least a vegetarian option. He wound up having soul food, needless to say I could not eat anything (he couldn't understand why I wouldn't eat the greens).

                                                                                        The next year he promised me kosher - so he ordered from a deli - sadly there was ham and cheese on the platters. Once again I had to serve everyone without getting to eat anything.

                                                                                        1. Wait! You all get a company party? You're one up on me. Company doesn't do anything for the holidays, except make us work. No expense spared!!! *grin*

                                                                                          Worst Christmas party food not related to a company party has to be a different thread. Oh the horrors!!!!

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Dee S

                                                                                            It"s a "Client" Party...all staff has to work, which is fine with me...I will be in the kitchen ;)

                                                                                            1. re: Dee S

                                                                                              haha same here! no xmas party either. we do get a lunch with cafeteria made sandwiches. and this year we were given coupons...exciting stuff!

                                                                                              1. re: pie22

                                                                                                We're getting nothing whatsoever and our meager bonuses were eliminated.

                                                                                                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                                                  yup, no bonuses here either

                                                                                                  i am always jealous of the few friends who get real holiday parties, outside the office, fancy or casual (i'd prefer the casual, honestly)

                                                                                                  1. re: pie22

                                                                                                    DH doesn't get a christmas party or a bonus either... he doesn't even get an OFFICE. Not that that's bad - he gets to spend more time at home with me. But 90% of his contact with his co-workers is over the phone. About four years ago his supervisor threw a dinner for everyone and paid for it personally, but that was a one-off thing.

                                                                                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                      haha, the lack of office and working from home can also be seen as a perk to some...i have a nice balance of office and work from home.

                                                                                            2. I am happy to report that our Holiday Breakfast yesterday (posted upthread) was a great success. Fried turkey, biscuits, gravy; ham; pork sausages; beef sausages; home made tamales; several egg dishes; potato dishes; and a bean casserole (I think it was beans); fried chicken; and tons of fruit ~~ melons, pineapple, bananas, apples, oranges, etc. bagels and cream cheese; juices; and someone thought to bring chocolate milk!!

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                                                wow, that IS wonderful. I'd love to eat THAT breakfast any time.

                                                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                                                  alas, I also work for a public institution in California, and I am quite jealous of that breakfast! Our institution-wide holiday party was this afternoon and consisted of eggnog (poured straight from a carton), sparkling water, hot apple cider, and various types of cookies, little cakes and candies. As if I need more sweets this time of year...Interestingly, there was a table of gluten free items (which was nice in theory, although I tasted one, and thought it was dry and tasteless). Not much of a party, from my point of view, particularly in the afternoon when I usually crave savory, not sweet.

                                                                                                  On a more positive note, my boss does host a holiday party (on a weekend night) for our department, at his home, and food, wine and company there are always quite enjoyable.

                                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                    When I was a manager, we'd plan a "manager as chef" pancake breakfast for employees--always a hit. The managers bought all the ingredients, schleped in our our griddles, Mickey Mouse waffle irons, ruffly aprons, and cooked and fried for nearly 100 employees. Great fun.

                                                                                                2. I work for a huge organization where, to attend the Holiday party every year, the employees each have to buy a $25 ticket. Fortunately, the higher ups don't notice if I skip and my immediate boss doesn't care (he doesn't go either). They have a party at another time of the year also, and they charge for that as well.

                                                                                                  It's a non-profit, so I understand there is no money for a party, but I'd rather just have no party. If I have to pay for a dinner, I'm going to spend it with my family, not with a bunch of suits!

                                                                                                  1. A couple years ago we had a Christmas staff party at a restaurant that does a lot of that sort of thing. We're "civil servants" so we had to pay for the event ourselves. I asked in advance whether they could accommodate my vegetarian diet, and the restaurant said yes. The cost of the meal was $40 per person, and my meal ended up being three pieces of spinach ravioli. No vegetarian appetizers were served (not even a basket of bread!), there was not soup or salad, and my plate had three pieces of ravioli... I wouldn't be surprised to learn they were from Costco or something.

                                                                                                    I haven't bothered attending a Christmas party since. I see my colleagues at work every day anyways, and I'd rather take forty bucks and have a fun night out- complete with food I can actually eat- with friends.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                      Unless there was a lower price for a vegetarian option, in your scenario you will get a raw deal every time. You are paying for others to eat meat.
                                                                                                      As to the OP's complaint about "worst" food - roast chicken and mushroom risotto would rarely make a "worst" list- she simply didn't want to eat it.

                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                        Hi Veggo - I was referring to semi-cooked plain risotto as 'worst food', not the poor options on offer.

                                                                                                    2. Some of these are shocking! I was just congratulating myself on having escaped such horrors, until today I was handed a voucher for Christmas lunch at the site canteen. I work on a big construction site and the food tends to be geared towards big burly men who do hard physical work all day - lasgne and chips, shepherds pie and chips, roast turkey and chips?! I had a sausage sandwich from there once and it tasted like licking a pig's arse. I'm really not looking forward...

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: gembellina

                                                                                                        just re-gift to a big burly man who likes that food.

                                                                                                      2. Not a great plan especially for a holiday party.
                                                                                                        When you have that many specifics better to go potluck!

                                                                                                        1. A few years ago we would have a catered holiday party at a local hotel, a fancy-type affair, where so's were invited and encouraged to attend. It would be a knock 'em down, drag them out night that often ran well into the next morning.

                                                                                                          Now, we have an inter-office party, held in our cafeteria, starting after work, around 5pm. They serve app-type stuff, which is usually quite good, and the beer is free, but nobody sticks around past 6:30 or 7. Sad state of affairs.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                            free beer? wow. most offices I know of stopped that years ago for liability reasons... or were told to stop by their insurance carriers.

                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                              Well, we are all attorneys, so I guess liability is taken care of. The last few years of this practice several colleagues and I have pre-gamed at a local bar, or in a partner's office, then get together afterwards at the bar to wrap up the night. Not a huge departure from the previous protocol, but it's different not having everyone around getting crazy. Stories from parties gone-by remain classic. Such no longer exists. The mayhem is private now.

                                                                                                          2. At my old job...three years in a row...Olive Garden.

                                                                                                            I think I win.

                                                                                                            1. Our department party is actually pretty nice. The department chairs each contribute part of their annual bonus to pay for the party (clinical faculty get bonuses, staff and non-clinical faculty do not). They probably each kick in $1000-$2000. There is an open bar (beer and wine only in the past, but the bartenders were mixing drinks this year). It's an afternoon reception, so the food is light bu very good. My only complaint is that they have a carving station with very tasty roast turkey and pork, but it's a stand up event, and it's very difficult to cut meat while juggling a plate and drink.

                                                                                                              1. I knew I shouldn't have started reading some of this, as the premise makes my heart sink. I don't consider my co-workers "suits" as someone said above, and I enjoy the chance to hear funny stories about their lives and kids. So what about the food. If it's good I'm psyched and it gives us something else to talk about, if it's not then I don't consider it the point anyway.

                                                                                                                1. Someone brought a whole baked 'Pink' salmon to our Christmas party. 'Pinks' are the cheapest nastiest salmon there is. The flesh was actually gray. The awful stink from that fish filled the kitchen! Not even fit for pet food IMO.