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Portion control at a dinner party

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We have friends who truly do engage in portion control at dinner parties - ie one piece of meat per person. A friend also reports that they are often invited to a dinner party and his wife says, Stan don't forget to take just one piece of chicken (otherwise the guys at the end of the table will be starving.

Went to visit a relative of Mme Zoe's years ago together with her bro and SIL. Mme Zoe's family are Danish and also very big eaters. Lunch was set for six and hostess had made Danish meat loaf about the size of a soup can accompanied by potato salad in a tiny glass dessert cup plus some homemade bread Danish style. Bro in law's eyes fell out of his head - we had a miniscule lunch, sat around "admiring" hosts really dreadful art and then took off to the nearest coffee shop. Still talking about this twenty years later.

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  1. Completely bizarre. If you are so poor you can't afford to offer adequate servings to your guests, then at least make it a pot luck or something. I have never seen this happen anywhere I've been a guest.

    13 Replies
    1. re: rasputina

      My husband and I were once invited to dinner by another couple who served one chicken wing per person. (That was not an appetizer, it was the entree.)

      1. re: Querencia

        sounds like my ex-MIL. She would buy cornish hens and have the butcher cut them in 8ths, serving one 8th per guest.
        When forced to attend a meal at her house, I always ate beforehand. She was a very good cook, but rationed the food and everyone always left the table hungry.

        1. re: bagelman01

          1/8 of a cornish game hen?? wow... that is some severe portion control!

          1. re: kubasd

            depression era baby and WWII Nazi victim survivor syndrome................
            Never enough money and food was always rationed and unavailable, lived on starvation diet for years in Germany, than 2oz of protein per week in Palestione before 1948. Came to USA in 1953 and never adjusted to this land of plenty when it came to food. Always served tiny portions and made just one portion per invited guest, no provisions for seconds or leftovers, ever. 8 people for supper, then 8 hot dogs, 8 rolls, one can beans, one can kraut, one bottle soda, one pie.

            1. re: bagelman01

              bagelman, I knew nothing of this. It makes perfect sense, emotionally and historically speaking. How sad. I am SO sorry this is part of your story, but in the here and now, you are a survivor and it's clear from your posts that you are capable of great joy and great food. Shalom Shalom, and much respect.

              1. re: mamachef

                not me, I was posting about my ex-MIL, I was born in the USA almost 60 years ago

              2. re: bagelman01

                This reminds me of one particular patient I nursed back when I was a student. This was an elderly woman who was in the beginnings of dementia and had quite awful arthritis in her hands. Every morning shift I would come in and set up her breakfast tray for her - open packets of cereal, butter toast, open milk, make tea etc. At first I couldn't understand why she would get so distressed - she would frantically be shovelling half the cereal back in its box, demand that I send her other piece of toast back to the kitchen for someone else later on, ask for her milk to be sent back to the kitchen for another day. I tried to explain that in a hospital we couldn't do these things and it was really ok for her just to eat what she wanted and not worry, but her anxiety would just go through the roof. I eventually clicked a couple of days later and made the connection. I learned to vet the breakfast tray before it got to my patient and make sure there was only one very small serving of food there for her.

                1. re: TheHuntress

                  not really my job, but have taken hundreds of geriatric patients to the bathroom...trying to get them to take more than two sheets of paper can be brutal

                2. re: bagelman01

                  My father's story is very similar (same age, same location, same experience) to bagelman's but he swung the opposite way. He pushed, pushed, pushed food on everyone.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    That's funny because my grandparents who survived harsh time during the Korean war do the complete opposite. because they were so deprived of food when they were growing up, the first thing my grandma says when i walk in is, did you eat? want to eat something and she would serve mountain and mountains of food even though i keep telling her I am not hungry.

              3. re: Querencia

                Wow, I hate wings. When I was a child, we would get one wing, and each seemed to have been picked over by an adult - no meat at all - just that little thing with pimples in the skin, but the skin was often gone by the time that we got it.

                At least it was better than a cup of gruel.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Have you had wings at all since that childhood of yours?
                  [Oh, wait, I guess wings are not the sort of thing you are served at the posh places you seem to go to pretty exclusively in your adult life or the high-rolling circles you seem to circulate in ;-) ]

            2. I find that completely strange. If I open my home to guests, the food will be plentiful and seconds and even thirds available. I "get" the Family Holdback and have done that when I held a fund-raising event at my house, per the kids who were hovering like vultures over the sweets table. "Don't touch it. Don't even think about touching it. If there are things left, you can have them after." But if people are coming for dinner, I have a built-in fear of not having enough, which spurs me to make more, more more.
              I really don't understand why that hostess didn't provide more! Was she unused to cooking for a group?
              Oh: I should mention that I do plate food in the kitchen when company is here, so I am in charge of the control part at the outset - but I plate generously, and always offer more. I do like buffets and potlucks too, but that's just what I do here.

              12 Replies
              1. re: mamachef

                Ahh, the differences of cultures. Having been caught, snagged, trapped, and bamboozled so many times myself, I am very sensitive to it.

                Given 20 years ago, my observations may still be pertinent. Was invited into people's homes in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Portions were far smaller than the U.S. norm. So were the plates. Given the taxes on alcohol, a bottle of beer was shared, and about 4 ozs of wine.

                Lunch was invariably flat bread disguised as cardboard with a smear and 4 to 6 small shrimp or some pate' or fish. Dinner was soup, about 4 ozs of meat, potato, and a veggie. I stress that I was always a guest and not "part of the family" as I was back home in Germany. Traveling in September made it much easier to meet locals, as opposed to fellow tourists.

                These differences and lessons are a major reason why I love to travel. Was not aware of many overweight, let alone obese, Scandinavians.

                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  That is very very interesting, IRF. I do know that in Europe and other countries, they eat much much less than we do, so I can see why that happens. I guess it's a me thing, since us Americans are conditioned to eat so much - I feel like I need to provide for it.

                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                    Indianriverfl, Wow that is interesting. My dad is from Norway and I have spent a lot of time visiting family there over many years. I agree with your observation that there aren't many overweight Scandinavians and I saw my family members eat in the kind of portions you described.

                    It was my experience (over and over and over and over again!) that when serving guests anything from breakfast to kaffe to middag meals, etc., there was plenty of food and it was pushed two, three, and four times again after the initial serving.

                  2. re: mamachef

                    mamachef, I am always nervous to plate in the kitchen because people are so picky.....I don't want to put things on their plates that they will feel odd about leaving behind.....Am I worrying too much?

                    1. re: sandylc

                      Most of the people I have to my house are just happy to be served a good meal, but if they are picky, can't they just push the offending food aside? Yes, I think you are worrying too much, we are talking adults right?

                      1. re: sandylc

                        It depends on the level of formality, sandylc. If it's just folks, dinner is indeed served family-style and people take what they want. But at home if I'm "having a dinner party" that seems too casual, and so I design my plating beforehand and plate in-kitchen because I have a pretty set idea about how I want those plates to look. As hostess, it's my prerogative and I really don't worry too much about what gets left behind. You can do your homework, and should know if you have a vegetarian to feed, or somebody who's allergic to fish, and plate accordingly, but beyond that, just relax and enjoy your evening. You have enough to worry about. remember though, this is just opinion.

                        1. re: sandylc

                          sandylc, I do things a bit differently, I suppose. I have a closed off formal dining room, so I cook in the kitchen, and let everyone serve themselves. I make sure there is a good selection and quietly point out the special options for those with special diets. That way, no one feels "singled out" if that makes sense, as in "Here, everyone, is your steak! And for you my vegan friend, here is zucchini ratatouille...". At my annual curry bash, I usually have a couple of vegetarians plus one person with an onion allergy which wreaks HAVOC on my dishes as onions are pretty integral. I make all dishes without onions, put some aside, then add the onions. Then, everyone serves themselves. I've had the feedback from those with special diets that they feel really comfortable because to them, they choose what they want without having a big deal made about it. And the best part is that there is really little food wastage, as what isn't taken is kept as leftovers instead of serving people what I think they should have, and then pitching out food that isn't touched. I've had guests ask to cut chicken breasts in half as they won't eat the whole thing and they don't want to waste food which is great IMHO as compared to throwing half of it out uneaten. Even though this method of serving is casual, we dine with full china, silver and crystal so it isn't really a totally casual meal. It just lets people pick and choose what and how much of everything they would like.
                          I always plate the desserts, though. They look so much prettier that way!

                        2. re: mamachef

                          im purely incapable of plating food...if i have 20 people over, i make enough for 40...my stepmother is like that too...she came up with the idea of getting deli containers, and the college students and struggling artists are exstatic

                          1. re: katy1

                            I'm the same way. Can't plate, must serve buffet, and ALWAYS have more than necessary. Better to have leftover than restrict portion size. Last winter holiday I had 12 guests (besides my son and me) and made 2 briskets and over a dozen pieces of chicken thighs (along with starch, a huge roasted veggie platter and salad). I had enough brisket left over to portion out several containers to freeze and send home with my son, and this was after I made sure everyone had the opportunity to get a second (or third!) helping.

                            I think this trait is genetic, my mother was the same way. Always serve too much, and have left overs. She and my dad were on a very tight budget, and entertained their friends very well for years til Mom was too old to do so (and friends moved away).

                            1. re: alwayshungrygal

                              My stepmother got sick of her tupperware disappearing for good, around the time all the grandkids were going away to school, and the starving artists needed a few good meals. She instituted using deli style containers, and making sure the kids all had enough left over for at least one meal. The rest of us have followed her example. I certainly wouldn't make an extra couple racks of lamb, but i can make sure I have enough Teriyaki chicken skewers, rice, and grilled veggies to see a student through a day or two.

                              1. re: katy1

                                My cousin learned to show up w/his own tupperware containers if he wanted leftovers. The cook had to keep an eye out that he wasn't filling them before the meal was over or that he wasn't taking home too large of a share.

                                1. re: viperlush

                                  That's hysterical...but we have a few like that!

                        3. Years ago a friend was having a gathering and said he'd get "a bunch of Chinese food". Great!

                          We show up and there are 10-12 people (all invited by him) and our friend had gotten two entrees and 6 spring rolls.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                            Similar experience: We were invited to have dinner with a family of 4. I was told by my friend she would make a roast. I offered to make soup for the first course. I brought the soup, and a baguette to accompany the soup. That was dinner. She "forgot" to make the roast.

                            1. re: CookieLee

                              "She "forgot" to make the roast."

                              Maybe I'm very selective when choosing friends and/or family that I associate with, but I can never see anyone I know pulling a trick like this and other things people have cited. I'd be curious to know if these people are people you normally associate with or just acquaintances that you were indebted to have dinner with for one reason or another. I'm serious and no disrespect meant at all. Thanks.

                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                Indeed, we were quite shocked. No disrespect felt. I thought we were good friends. It was the start of a laundry list of awkward situations. We're not friends anymore.

                              2. re: CookieLee

                                LOLOLOL can you imagine? OOPS where DID I put that roast? I forgot!!!!
                                Soup and baguette and takeout on the way home!

                                1. re: freia

                                  I know it's around here somewhere........bahahahahha!!!

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Ah, blame it on the "Bumpus' hounds!"

                                      Normally, they only steal the turkey.


                                  1. re: CookieLee

                                    my grandmother forgot to turn on the oven once when making a roast. my parents had just told her that she was going to be a grandmother and she was so excited that it was a while before normal brain function resumed (arguable that it ever did, or was there to begin with, but thats another subject.) I wonder if CookieLee had the audacity to check the fridge or freezer to see if there was even a roast in there to start with. maybe the friend forgot to shop too.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      LOLOLOL "arguably that it ever did..."

                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                        hehe, I think she totally forgot that she was making the dinner! I didn't check, lol.

                                  2. Very interesting. In my circle of family and friends, having too much food on hand is the norm. (We are fortunate to live in an area where food is reasonable)

                                    I can only remember one time where a tiny amount of food was served and that was a rather strange NYE event where it was obvious the hostess had zero interest in providing food and even less interest in her guests. (Her husband invited a bunch of people against her wishes, it was a mess.)

                                    I don't remember going hungry at our German relatives homes. Portions where smaller but the was always multiple courses, plenty of breads, cheeses, sliced meats and such as starters.

                                    I do run off the teen children of our close friends, restricting their second until EVERYONE has a chance to have one piece of whatever. After the first round, they are free to eat the remainders. I learned this the hard way after they ate literally everything I prepared for dinner for 8 adults and 3 teens.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                      We always serve too much food. My husband and I both fear not having enough.

                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                        Mr. CB has a greater fear than I do. He wanted to make something like 15 pounds of mashed potatoes for 10 adults at Thanksgiving. We compromised at 1 pound per person and a huge amount was leftover, no surprise!

                                        I absolutely agree most Americans are conditioned to eat too much.

                                        For our family/circle, I caulk it up to living in an agricultural area.

                                        If a family didn't have a huge garden, their parents/siblings/neighbor did and I remember basements that looked like grocery stores - rows upon rows upon rows of canned goods. Every family had at least one chest freezer (we had 4 commerical sized ones) full of game and beef. So while there might not have been money in the budget for "fun" food, I honestly don't remember any family that didn't have plenty to eat.

                                        My father was an older child/young teen in Germany during WWII. They were on the verge of stravation most of the time. As a result, our cupboards were bursting and there was never a time when he didn't welcome friends and family to the table with an embarassment of food and drink.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          I always thought it was a jewish mama thing _ I guess it's an American thing. Whenever I have guests there is always too much. I am always afraid someone won't like something so I make alternatives.

                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            We always seem to prepare "too much" too. But I would be so embarrassed if we ran out of food with hungry bellies around. We usually make a list of people who are attending said dinner party and go from there. But some of our guests (who are usually good friends) sometimes (often) show up to dinner at our house with their tupperware containers in hand. We always send people home with food for the simple reason that we don't want to be eating the same thing for the next week! Our house is known for leftovers.

                                            I hosted a girl's dinner for 9 special ladies a couple months ago and made just enough food for everyone. The only thing we ran out of was wine... I guess 10 bottles wasn't enough! I ended up with one dish of gnocchi left over which my husband ate when he was allowed back in the house.

                                            Further to this, we once attended a dinner party at a friend's house where there wasn't enough food and it was a little awkward. There were 8 of us and the guy made a slow cooker pot of short ribs that he cooked in his garage because he didn't want his house smelling like short ribs. That was it. He asked me to bring a vegetable, so after I heard what the "menu" was, I bought a 10lb bag of potatoes and made my "famous" sour cream and onion mashed potatoes. There was no dessert. Needless to say, we ran into a fellow dinner party guest at McDonald's on the way home.

                                            1. re: ladooShoppe

                                              "But some of our guests (who are usually good friends) sometimes (often) show up to dinner at our house with their tupperware containers in hand."

                                              When I invite people over for a dinner party, I always send out this little blurb with the directions, time, etc.

                                              "No need to bring anything but your sparkling personality, a hearty appetite and some good conversation. We will supply the rest!"

                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                Ooh, that's some nice wording ttoommyy; I'm going to steal that!

                                                I should have clarified that the tupperware containers toted by our friends are always empty. People always fill their containers up afterwards. We usually send people home with food!

                                                1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                  Ah, I see that now that I read it again. Thanks. And feel free to use that line any time!

                                                  1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                    toommyy'ss comments could be interpreted as "leave your tupperware at home" so maybe he subconsciously knew what he was saying.

                                                    when a well known politician here realized that one ethnic group was noticeably absent in the voting booth said politician made a concerted effort to attract that vote. took a while for that group to realize that the buffet line was not a takeout restaurant. actually had to have the security guards screen supporters for tupperware before the entered the venues (aackk racial profiling.) and yes, the candidate did win another term in office.

                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                      Really? Some linky-links please! (or at least some clear leads)

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        a rather touchy subject, i sent you an e-mail. acculturation is an interesting process.

                                          2. My husband always makes a lot of everything and it takes dinner guests a couple of visits to our house before they stop eating the first course (often an antipasto platter with homemade foccacia) and leave room for the rest of the meal. We now announce the menu when we sit down so folks can pace themselves. On the opposite side, there were many wealthy old families in New England that would have cocktail parties with very meager hors d'oeuvres but the liquor would flow like water--and it was always the good stuff.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              Your mention of the New England families made me think of a wedding my husband and I attended a few years ago. My friend comes from a well-to-do CT family and her wedding was at her parents' country club. We are used to the NY Jewish-style affairs where there is enough food to feed about a million people. We arrive, hungry of course, and we find, as you put it, "meager hors d'oeuvres"....some cheese cubes and crackers and some crudite. But the liquor? Plenty of liquor and then some. Unfortunately we are not big drinkers.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                Yep, that's the WASP way! Get 'em hammered but for heaven's sake don't feed them! I have no idea why this is, but it has been the case at every WASP wedding I've ever been to. However, I will say that what little food there was was very good, lobster, shrimp, beef tenderloin, etc. It just wasn't enough.

                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                  Hence, the joke (or observation):

                                                  How can you tell you're at a WASP wedding?
                                                  There's not enough to eat.

                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                    I'm a New England WASP and my reflex is to refute your criticism, but after ruminating a bit I think you are on point - good booze, and not enough of the fancy groceries. Surprisingly, they do better on second marriages - higher income bracket, a little guilt for another round of wedding gifts.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      We once went to a WASP wedding where the hors d'oeuvres were few and far between. We followed one of the empty trays to the kitchen and offered to help. (There wasn't much left, but we helped fill the serving trays and then they gave us a tray of our own and there were hugs all around.)

                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                        Guests went into the kitchen to help the professional staff/servers? Confused.

                                                        1. re: thegforceny

                                                          Yes, that's exactly what we did. But then we had already been served a couple of cocktails.

                                                2. I cannot bear the thought of running out of food so always have far too much of everything that I'm serving. In my dreams, I would like to plan so that I have about 25% more than I need so I have plenty and then a reasonable amount of cushion (and leftovers)!. In reality, it is always much more than that.

                                                  I also push food on people (nicely, of course) and then send home leftovers with whomever would like them.

                                                  1. I can see portioning out the centrepiece of the meal. If I'm cooking something like steak or lobster, it's on the assumption of one per guest, and some appetizers might be one per person. However, I'd have second helping of sides available for people to fill up on if they are heavy eaters.

                                                    1. My mother is awful at serving food. I always remember growing up and she would put out a very precise amount of food that was based upon what she believed was appropriate for each guest to eat ie. "You're grossly overweight, therefore I think you should only be allowed to eat one bread roll and any more than that is rude, greedy and completely inappropriate for your physical health"

                                                      I will never forget her pulling me aside at a gathering and whispering ferociously in my ear about a larger guest who had (OMG!) helped himself to TWO BREAD ROLLS! In her mind he should have counted how much bread there was and then asked all the guests (BTW if I remember correctly this was at my grandmothers wake) how much bread they wanted before helping himself to TWO BREAD ROLLS. I have since adopted an opposite fear of not having enough food (probably inspired by the hungry glint in guests eyes AFTER they had eaten) for my guests and will always overcater. Well fed guests and leftovers for the next day makes me happy.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: TheHuntress

                                                        Oh my goodness, Huntress, I would have been so mortified at your mother's method of serving! No wonder you make sure to have more than enough food now!

                                                        1. re: TheHuntress

                                                          Wow that is over the top huntress! Best/worst ones I have are from Thanksgiving dinners. My cousins' stepdads decided his step daughters were overweight and warned them to eat lightly on T day. He stared and glared at them the whole meal long.
                                                          More recently my friend told me that his mom served a tiny bowl of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner for eight people and they all fought over the potatoes. I thought Thanksgiving at least was supposed to be about abundance.

                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                            That's awful! I hate it when other people monitor my food intake, that's just so rude.

                                                            1. re: kathleen440

                                                              I think so too, kathleen, that's why I've always been appalled by my mothers serving methods - especially after having grown up with it! My mother always had a fear of me getting fat so I pretty much grew up on a diet of tinned tuna and iceberg lettuce. Looking back now I can understand why when I moved overseas for a bit that everyone used to ask if I was sick or had cancer.

                                                              I remember a few years back when I had to spend a few weeks at my parents house and I was forced to recommence the starvation diet. I begged to be allowed to cook, but to no avail. I ended up sneaking take away out of desperation, but learned to throw the rubbish away before I got home as I did get sprung when my mother started foraging through my rubbish. I don't think I really need to mention that I'm a grown woman with my own family LOL Yep, definite portion control issues.

                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                I came from the opposite type of family, I was force-fed. I over-eat to this day, I never feel full even after eating huge portions of food. My husband was raised the same way and we need to constantly check ourselves when it comes to pushing food on our son.

                                                                It is amazing how some parenting mistakes haunt us for the rest of our lives.

                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                  It sure does! I like to think it was all done in good intentions. I find now that I'm very relaxed about meal times - there's plenty if you want it, if you don't want it, that's ok. I quite often find with my 7 year old son that he doesn't want to eat a full dinner, but he does like to save half and have the rest for breakfast the next day. I'm hoping that by being more relaxed and going with the flow it will teach him that the appropriate portion size is what's filling for you at that point in time. He's a healthy, strapping young lad, so fingers crossed I'm doing something right.

                                                                  If not, he can post horror stories on Chowhound about nightmare family dinners in 10 years time :D I shall do what seems to be the parental thing and feign ignorance.

                                                                  1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                    You are doing the right thing. So long as he is healthy, don't turn it into a lifelong tug-of-war, control thing.

                                                                    1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                      Perfect. you are handling this very well.

                                                              2. re: givemecarbs

                                                                Givemecarbs, re: Thanksgiving story

                                                                This is the type of thing that causes eating disorders! That is embarassing for everyone, humiliating for the girls and totally inappropriate. What a jerk. There are other ways to handle those issues than doing something like that.

                                                            2. I always think if there are no leftovers I didn't make enough! Maybe it's a Jewish thing but God forbid anybody starves in my house.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                +1. I am another one who cannot bear the thought of not having enough food at any sort of dinner or event at my house and usually have twice as much as necessary.

                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                  I so wish there was a like button for posts like these.

                                                                  I'm the exact same way (I got it from my mom and we're not even Jewish :) )

                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                    +1 smartie! I regularly cook for a crowd, and the last thing I want to do is start cooking for my husband and I the next day, so I try to make enough to have leftovers. This usually creates a nice cushion in case we get an unexpected guest or 2, which unfortunately happens wayyyy too frequently for my liking.

                                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                                      My ex-MIL was Jewish (as am I) and there was never any food in her house. They practically lived on take-out when they didn't go out. I stayed at her home a few times and she never, ever cooked for me, or had anything other than deli meat (usually just turkey) in the fridge.

                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                        wow...we always have food...I can't imagine not having something to put in front of someone who drops by. I'm NOT Jewish, but I have kosher friends, and I can even get around this one using disposable plates and plastic knives with cheese, crackers, and veggies (cut with the plastic knives) OK, at passover I'm doomed, but otherwise no one goes away hungry

                                                                        1. re: katy1

                                                                          I remember my ex telling me he used to stop off after school and have a slice or two of pizza before he went home for dinner. I once knew a chef who learned to cook when his mom was a lousy cook, some people get pizza on the way home.

                                                                          I always have enough staples in my pantry and freezer so i can put a decent meal together if needed. Learned from my mother--she was always well stocked, even after all 4 kids moved out. We used to joke that you had to open the fridge door carefully as food would fall out. She was the stereotypical Jewish mom, always pushing everyone to eat, eat eat! Whenever I went to see her, she had to know what I ate on the plane! Sadly, she is in ill health and can't cook (hasn't for years) but I happily carry on her hospitality gene. Same as you--no one ever goes home hungry.

                                                                          Kudos to you for caring enough about your kosher friends to be able to serve them in a way that observes their beliefs.

                                                                    2. I usually calculate that our guests will take one piece of protein and do one or two pieces extra just in case. Invariably no one takes those piece and they goes to waste. We try to use the best quality Ingredients, have appies and dessert to satisfy appetites, but don't go crazy on the portions.

                                                                      1. As a host if you dont have leftovers it means you didnt make enough food.

                                                                        1. I'm always humbled by the generosity of people who truly do not have enough when they are receiving guests. I have eaten in the homes of people in India and Guatemala who were truly impoverished by American standards. Somehow they managed to have extra rice and beans for the visitors. I've felt so guilty that I had to find a way to get a gift to the them later that would make up for what we had eaten. Perhaps those who limit their guests so severely have more of a heart issue, than a budget or health issue?

                                                                          1. I went to a dinner party many years ago where exactly enough food was served. I was really impressed since I always prepare too much. Only later did I learn that the hostess forgot to serve the main course.

                                                                            1. I went to a dinner party held by our boss. There were 8 of us, including 3 young, strapping hungry lads. Dinner comes out -- pork chops! A plate of them overflowing with pork chops! So my colleague who gets the platter scoops 3 pork chops. Well, I'm looking and counting and I realize that a) this isn't a huge platter, it just looks bountiful as its small and jammed full of pork chops and b) there are 8 pork chops on the rather smallish plate. Since there were 8 of us, I realize there now aren't enough to go around. So I kick him under the table. He hisses "WHAT?" at me. I say "Dude, 8 porkchops, 8 of us, you have 3. PUT 2 BACK". He says "I'm HUNGRY!". I whisper back "I DON'T CARE PUT 2 BACK RIGHT NOW". Since his is a clean, untouched plate, he puts two back. Next colleague is watching and giggling, and he takes ONE. Followed by the third lad. So everyone has ONE tiny porkchop on their plates. Followed by 1/2 boiled potato (my colleague caught on and was counting and dividing by this time). And exactly 5 baby carrots. He whispers to me "GAWD there better be seconds"...and there WEREN'T!!! We stopped at McD's on the way home. Couldn't. Stop. Laughing!!!!!
                                                                              As a result, I definitely tend to overcook, especially on volume items like curry or dal or rice. If I can count the item as in bbqd chicken breasts, I count 2 per person plus 2 for the pot. Besides, leftovers are great the day after as there's no work involved!

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                LOL Sounds like my mother was serving.

                                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                                  Freia, you have the funniest stories... your town is overrun with crazy eaters!

                                                                                  Also, as a fellow curry lover, your Indian menus sound scrumptious :)

                                                                                  1. re: kathleen440

                                                                                    Seriously? My life is like a Far Side cartoon...I tend to see the bizarre in everything! And yup, I do rock out the curries if I do say so myself :)

                                                                                  2. re: freia

                                                                                    Folks, this is from a Mary Tyler Moore episode: Mary is having a dinner party, Lou Grant is the first to be served and takes a lot, Mary tells him he has to put most back....

                                                                                    1. re: nosh

                                                                                      Today, she would have whacked his face.

                                                                                      1. re: nosh

                                                                                        It was Veal Price Orloff...she had enough for one slice each, Lou took four.

                                                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                                                          Classic! That was a great show.

                                                                                          Try building a show around that premise these days without overt sexual references and something gross happening.

                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                            I look at the shows today and the amount of grossness and outright crude sexual comments makes me cringe----and I was in Berkeley in the late 60s so sex, drugs and rock and roll are no problem to me.

                                                                                          2. re: escondido123

                                                                                            But remember, it was that poisonous Sue Ann who was responsible for the skimpy servings. I know it was supposed to be funny, but gah, I hated that nasty woman.

                                                                                            I watched lots of MTM, but that scene is almost the only one I remember. It haunts me, actually, and flashes through my brain whenever I'm considering whether I'm serving enough food for everyone!

                                                                                      2. I tend towards the too much side because I've been bitten by over zealous eaters. Made 12 portions of chili in college for 6-8 of us. GENEROUS portions I should say. I was saving some for my boyfriend who was getting off work late. Well two of the girl's boyfriends helped themselves to seconds and third from the kitchen without mennoticing, and without scolding from the girls so that when I went to package up the bit for my boyfriend the entire pot had been scraped clean and we were out of corn bread. Now if those boys are coming over, now te husbands of these friends I count them as 2-3 people for portioning.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                                          This has happened to me too, but only with really close friends, so I can take it as a compliment. I learned the hard way to portion out "leftovers" into a Tupperware before I serve dinner, so that if my friends are licking the pot by the end of the meal I won't feel resentful :)

                                                                                        2. If you have to practice portion control, you aren't demonstrating hospitality. I always make sure there's PLENTY of what I make for guests.

                                                                                          The late Justin Wilson once related that, because his father was in state government, guests frequently were brought to dinner without warning to his mother. On those occasions she'd speak in code when she served the meal. If she felt that there was just enough food for everybody, she'd say, very quietly, "FHB" -- "Family, hold back." If there was plenty, she'd say, "MIK" -- "More in kitchen," which meant that the family could eat as much as they wanted.

                                                                                          1. I definitely tend to cook way too much for a gathering. I do have one question that pertains to this. Let's say you're cooking for a party and it will be a buffet. You're going to have lasagna and chicken cutlets and salad and rolls and maybe pasta on the side. Plenty of food, really, if you look at the sum total but if you have 20 people invited to you plan do have at least 20 cutlets? Or do you assume that because you are offering a multitude of things that people people will not eat an entire serving of a main dish? It tends to be an issue in my mind if the item is a "unit" (cutlet, etc.) as opposed to something that can be subdivided easily (lasagna, etc.)


                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: owen_meany

                                                                                              " if you have 20 people invited to you plan do have at least 20 cutlets?"

                                                                                              Yes. But I will say this. I host a Passover seder every year for about 16-20 people and I make brisket and chicken. The brisket is always the main attraction but some people like to eat the chicken, not instead of, but in addition to the brisket. So a few years ago, I had the butcher cut the insanely large breast pieces into smaller pieces so that people would still feel comfortable taking a piece of chicken but the piece is not so humongous that they are like "oh I don't want that, it's too big".

                                                                                              1. re: valerie

                                                                                                I'd go with at least 40 cutlets, but then would have the guests frisked as they were leaving, to make sure that some had not stuffed 3 cutlets in their shorts. That is why I hire ex-bouncers as servers. They can multi-task.


                                                                                            2. To say that unless you have "too much" you are not practicing hospitality is, to me, a very sad statement. There are some people who do not have enough money to put on a big spread but do the best they can. If they didn't invite people over they'd be characterized as mooches. It reminds me of a time in my 20s when a group of us used to get together frequently for cocktail parties--and our apartment neighbor, a woman in her 70s that we all liked, would also be invited. Although there was always enough food to go around, she always brought a paper bag with a sandwich because she didn't feel right eating when she couldn't reciprocate...she would also only drink one glass of wine and then water. We finally convinced her that she didn't need to abstain. We all knew she lived on a very small pension.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                  Reminds me of a party I had as a graduate student when money was tight. I had more of a reputation as a cook than I realized.

                                                                                                  Invited eleven people for dessert and coffee, letting them know I was going to serve cheesecake.

                                                                                                  All eleven showed, so the cake was cut into twelve slices. Happy group. No leftovers. Glad I had the large springform pan.

                                                                                                2. I think a host should make enough food for everyone to leave satisfied. Leftovers are a bonus! Of course, things like inexperience in planning for a crowd, a ruined/forgotten dish, or last-minute guests can change things pretty quickly.

                                                                                                  I always try to fill in the meal with extra sides in those cases, but somestimes even the best plans don't work. Once I bought a ham large enough to feed twice as many people as what was needed, and it - along with several sides and desserts - were completely consumed, and I think they would have eaten more if it was available. That was aftter a large breakfast and light lunch, as they were all overnight guests. It happens. (I triple that ham recipe now!)

                                                                                                  I also think as guests we should assume the host is giving us their best, and/or maybe having an off day. That's not always the case, but I think it usually is. If there's a limited amount of food I think a gacious guest will pace him/herself and be thankful for the hospitality offered.

                                                                                                  1. I quickly realized after hosting my husband's family the 1st time that whatever "normal" portions are, they eat close to 2x. I round up on quantities and consider leftovers my reward for 2 days of cooking. It's nice to have overflowing platters for the guests, but my dirty little secret is that I like to know I won't have to cook for a couple of days after!

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: BeeZee

                                                                                                      Yes! When I'm planning a menu, I do consider how well a dish will keep and if/how I can re-purpose the leftovers. I don't rely on having leftovers for my weekly meal plan, but I will hold off on shopping/cooking for the days after the party until I know how many leftovers I have to use. Sometimes is works out well, like when I have a weeks worth of homemade pita chips and hummus to snack on at work. Sometime it isn't so great, like having a pound of leftover Brussels sprouts, and only two days to use them before leaving town.

                                                                                                    2. Hosting my first dinner party when I was about 24 years old, I was standing in front of the poultry case, having no idea how much to buy. So, I turned to a group of firefighters next to me who were shopping for their group meal, and asked them how much they buy per person. Didn't occur to me that my friends were about half the height/build and burn 1/2 as many calories each day compared to those guys. I had LOTS of leftovers. I always like some leftovers, but try to gauge it better these days.

                                                                                                      1. Guests first, family second, cook last... BUT there should always be enough on the table for everyone to be satisfied even if they fall on the food like a bunch of starving wolf hounds! Ideally there's enough for everyone to have seconds. If protein is limited through cost or the amount that the host could get hold of (lobster, prime rib, one of the chickens turned out to be nasty when the packet was opened so it was discarded uncooked), the host can serve that part of the meal out to make sure everyone gets their fair share but you need more sides freely available to make up for it. And make sure the guests are aware of it. 'I'm sorry everyone, there aren't any seconds of the jumbo shrimp... but I've got tons of potato salad and chicken if you'd like some more.'

                                                                                                        BTW courteous guests take SMALL first helpings to make sure that there IS enough for everyone... and then go back for seconds after everyone else is served.

                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                          I have found that none of my friends wants to be the first to take buffet servings, nor does anyone want to take the last from a platter. I need to scoop out or take a bit to get the party started and also need to refill containers so I won't have a ton of leftovers....

                                                                                                          1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                            That's how my friends are, too. I let everyone know when it's time to eat, then start things with a small plate for myself or a child if no one moves to begin right away. It seems half the time the food is unfamiliar enough that they want to see how we eat it first.

                                                                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                              I am apparently fundamentally incapable of being the first to take servings at a buffet. We have two or three buffet style events at my office every year, and somebody always comments on my reluctance.

                                                                                                              For six and a half years, I was on staff at a small liberal arts college with a FTE staff of 11.5 and all adjunctive faculty. The staff consisted of uniformly awesome cooks, and every staff member was given a buffet lunch for his/her birthday. The deal was the birthday celebrant didn't cook, but did wash the dishes after. The president's assistant (the .5), a delightful youngish grandmother, helped me with the dishes one year and said slyly, "You really hate this don't you?" "Washing dishes? No, I actually like that." "No, I mean you really hate being the center of attention and having to go first in the buffet line." Caught.

                                                                                                            2. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                              "BTW courteous guests take SMALL first helpings to make sure that there IS enough for everyone... and then go back for seconds after everyone else is served."
                                                                                                              Tell that to my brother. When we have family buffets, he's the first in the line, and because he is picky, feels justified in taking heaping portions of the things he does like (anything with meat, potatoes and no greens or most other veggies). Don't even get me started on the fact that he contributes little, while my sister and I do the cooking and our hubbies do the cleaning.

                                                                                                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                                My wife's father, brothers, uncle, and cousin are the same way. The day she graduated college (BSN, magna cum laude), my fathe-in-law to be took everybody to an all you can eat brunch buffet at a ritzy local joint (an uncharacteristic act of generosity from him). They ate all the shrimp. Not all the shrimp on the buffet -- all the shrimp in the restaurant, which seated about 400. As we left, the waitstaff were placing white adhesive tape on the dinner menus over every item that contained shrimp.... My wife was mortified.

                                                                                                                1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                  an uncharacteristic act of generosity from him


                                                                                                                  Well, at least your wife's father he got his money's worth out of that lunch.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                    Wow. Just wow. I'm so sorry, but I find that appalling. Just my opinion.

                                                                                                                    Many years ago my work group had a temp worker en route to med school, who was taking a sort-of part year off in between for "industrial" experience. He was also one of his high school's football players. Pretty big guy. I never did eat with him when the company cafeteria had their occasional AYCE buffets but I heard back that by the third time or so of his turning up at lunch on those AYCE days the cafeteria manager was hovering around him and sort of strongly suggested to him that he cease and desist... :-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                      I'm sure they weren't the only diners in the restaurant to enjoy shrimp with their buffet brunch - but they might have been the straw that broke the camel's back! I've never quite understood the popularity of cold shrimp (they're okay but not worth raving over) but everyone makes a beeline for it as soon as they see it on the buffet table.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                        There was a restaurant in RI many years ago that had an all you could eat buffet that included lobster. Folks would just eat the tails, toss the claws away and go back for more. It got so bad the place had to stop serving lobster and eventually closed...all because of gluttons.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                          It sounds like those folks weren't just the "straw", the impression I got was that they were the steel beam that fell and crushed the whole house.

                                                                                                                  2. Growing up Italian American we always had "food for days" whenever my mother hosted a holiday dinner. When I went out on my won I did the same when I had people over. Now that I am older and wiser, I have successfully conquered my fear of not having enough on hand and make enough to feed everyone well and have a just a portion or two at the most left over. For years I thought I had to overcook and serve too much or people would think I was not a good host. Boy was I wrong. I must confess that most of the time now when I have people over it is a formal sit-down affair with 5 courses. By the time dessert roles around, I dare anyone to say that I did not serve enough.

                                                                                                                    1. Embarrassing story...a couple of ours invites us over for dinner, says its a quiet night, could you bring some dessert? I say sure, make a smallish cheesecake, very decadent. We get over there, and there are 14 people for dinner. And its a sit down dinner. Formal. And mine is the only dessert. And they all LAUGHED at me when they saw the dessert I brought. The host says "what, did you miss PAYDAY? How's that going to feed 14 people?" I felt like an ass. But had I known enough to think that a quiet night implied a formal sit down dinner for 14 guests I would have brought enough for 14. I didn't think to ask for how many because the definite implication was it was dinner for 4 of us. TOTALLY embarrassed...now I ask specifically FOR HOW MANY, are you SURE???.Needless to say, no leftovers. And I've never been invited back to that house for dinner. Just as well, IMHO.

                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                                                                        Why in the world would you ever *want* to go back there? It's a host's job to make guests feel welcome, not to laugh at you. It was up to them to get back into their cupboards and see if there was something to augment your cheesecake.

                                                                                                                        Many years ago while living in a house with 4 young men, I made a chicken for dinner. I put it out on the table, went back into the kitchen to get the broccoli, and returned to the table. The chicken was gone - the four of them had eaten the entire thing in 1.5 minutes. I don't know how they did it. Clearly, portion control is relative - you have to gauge your diners' capacities.

                                                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                                                          They laughed at you??? Personally I don't like anyone to bring anything to my dinner parties, but when we have casual get togethers, I always assign dessert to a few people (my friends always want to bring something).

                                                                                                                          Who in their right mind would only ask 1 person to bring dessert to a dinner party for 14? You are lucky that you never were asked back!!!

                                                                                                                          1. re: valerie

                                                                                                                            I know. I was mortified, and then fumed all the way home. I felt set-up, in a way. I know I should have asked, but really, who has a quiet evening for 14????? DH was seriously pissed, and it turns out that this is kind of a habit for this couple. They go through friends like crazy -- meet people, get to know them, then the inevitable happens like what happened to me (seriously, I wasn't the first), and they lose friends. Their jobs keep them moving around so they really don't "get" it because by the time they've alienated the vast majority of people around them, they move to another city! And the cycle repeats itself. This couple moved on, a couple of hours north of us (Ottawa) and we haven't heard from or about them for years. :)
                                                                                                                            And ya, I was the butt of a fair number of jokes throughout the evening .. "good thing we didn't ask Freia to bring the main course!"..."wow that's a tiny piece of cheesecake, we're going to have to go OUT for dessert!"..."so, are you always this cheap with food?". Not kidding. Made for an uncomfortable evening for sure, but meh, live and learn! Personally, if someone didn't bring enough DH would be sent out STAT for an emergency run to the grocery store to get something quick and easy, and the dessert would have been met with grace and thanks. And that was the best part of the evening, the lesson on how to be a graceful host AND how to be a graceful guest I think?

                                                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                                                              That person was so out of line, I would have stood up and said something. I know it would not be the polite thing to do, but I have a big mouth.

                                                                                                                              That said, I would be mortified to run out of food. Men are especially big eaters, at least in my circles, so I make sure to have enough < and> make something filling for them, no fussy salads or tiny portions of seafood. Over the years I have also noticed that men regard meals and buffets in a different way then women. Women will always take smaller portions or refrain from something to be sure "there's enough" whereas men seem to think well, it's there and it's time to eat so I'm taking what I want. I'm not saying they're being inconsiderate, it's just that they view food in a different way.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                Men are 16% larger than women, and yes, we eat a little more. You make us sound like swines....

                                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                  Not at all. Besides, my men are probably more than 16% bigger. I love my men, which is why I always make sure they have enough to eat. I also believe men need a good arm chair. It's all about keeping them happy!

                                                                                                                                  I don't have an answer as to why the men I have observed eat that way at buffets, I just think it's part of their go out and hunt down the meat, yom yom nature. And I think it speaks more of a woman's nature to nuture and be sure others are taken care of, even if she sacrifices a bit herself.

                                                                                                                              2. re: freia

                                                                                                                                It is amazing how many "problems" some people have to deal with at dinner time.

                                                                                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                  oh no freia! sorry they did that to you! I always keep a spare box of nice cookies or some candy on hand in case a guest forgets to bring a dessert, or we end up having some unexpected guests. It is soooooooo the host's responsibility to have a plan B in this case.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                                    Aw thanks PotatoPuff...I think we all have stories about dinner parties if you go to enough of them! Sometimes its nice to share them and have a giggle?

                                                                                                                                  2. re: freia

                                                                                                                                    This is such an old post but I just saw it now and I was cringing at what happened. It speaks to you being a generous person that you didn't say anything and humiliate your host.

                                                                                                                                2. re: freia

                                                                                                                                  Wow. Just wow. What a bunch of tossers (sorry, but there is no better way to describe someone displaying that kind of behaviour). We're pretty relaxed on this side of the pond and don't have the same formal process as many Americans seem to have with our dinner parties, but that is just way out of line. A quiet night to me implys a dinner with the other couple, not a formal sit down dinner for 14. And if they had the audacity to laugh I think I would have put my cheesecake away and taken it home. No treats for you!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                    It's not your fault - the hostess was very inconsiderate not to tell you that a crowd was expected! A 'quiet night' implies a group of no more than six or so, not 14. And they were even ruder to call you on it!

                                                                                                                                  2. I've had that happen, twice, by the same friends. First time we got about 3 tablespoons of soup and some bread - the excuse was "I didn't know it would cook down like that!" Second time was the world's smallest chicken portioned to feed 10 people. Had to hit a drive through on the way home both times.
                                                                                                                                    I tend to over cook for company, and send people home with leftovers.

                                                                                                                                    1. depending upon what i'm making, i generally try to make just a bit more than needed. that way, no one feels awkward "finishing something off." with certain guests, i know i best have enough for seconds and thirds. i love nothing more than to send guests home with "a snack for later" or "lunch tomorrow."
                                                                                                                                      certain meals, i expect and plan to have leftovers - ie if i roast a chicken, i'll make one larger than i need so i can have leftovers to play with for the next couple of days. same with sauces, esp scratch enchilada sauce.

                                                                                                                                      my mom notoriously always orders/prepares WAY too much foods. then pawns the leftovers on guests (family/friends) because she and my stepdad "have to be good again." (i've seen my stepdad negotiating to keep "just a piece" of something.) one year for thanksgiving, i was doing chickens. she had me make 3 - 5 1/2 lb birds for 8 or 9 people... i think we got through about 1 1/2 birds total. the other thanksgiving issue is making sure we have plenty of gravy. my stepdad is a FIEND. last year, i made gravy, but after speaking with mom, was afraid i hadn't made enough. she told me she had bought a thing of gravy because she wasn't sure how much i was making. and just in case stepdad didn't care for mine... well, he LOVED mine. we didn't even finish mine. and the other one went unopened. sigh.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                        Was forced to cook Tday dinner at SIL house this year, our rental was too small. Made the normal amount of gravy, didn't realize there were gravy fiends invited and we ran out. Was mortified, but hey, I didn't know these people would require a quart each.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                                                                          I have a big can of gravy in the garage; it's been there for years, but someday I know I'll need it!

                                                                                                                                      2. My parents were WASPS. That said, they were also raised in farm families. My Mother helped cook for the "hired help" and they could eat! Anyway, my Father always insisted on a large meat dish, two vegetables, potatoes and a salad at every dinner. If I came home with a friend, no problem always plenty to eat. Consequently, I always have more than enough no matter the occasion.
                                                                                                                                        Years ago I was invited to T-giving dinner at a Home Ec teachers home. She made enough for everyone to have a "small" portion. DH was not happy but was glad that we were on the other end of the table as the food was passed. We assumed there was more in the kitchen but no...... At the time we were very poor students so we went home and had eggs and toast.

                                                                                                                                        1. Just want to chime in here, for what it's worth.

                                                                                                                                          I think how much a host serves is really up to the host -- and there is no such thing as too much or too little. We all have different expectations of how much a typical meal should be.

                                                                                                                                          Take the converse situation. Let's say a host served up a Cheesecake Factory portion of whatever, then if the guest doesn't like the food, there's pressure to at least make a respectable showing of "eating" the food, which in and of itself can present etiquette issues all on its own -- i.e., is it "rude" for a host to serve so much food that it puts pressure on the guest to eat it all and not waste it?

                                                                                                                                          I say when a guest at someone's home, just be happy they serve you any food -- be it alot or a little. You should be there for the company anyway, not the food.

                                                                                                                                          Just my petty 0.02.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                            Interesting point...I've always as a host served "buffet style" -- meaning in the kitchen, everything is layed out and my guests can serve themselves and take what they like. I used to "plate" mains for guests and found it was either too much or too little, even if it was plated/sapportioned appropriately aka 1 large steak, 1 cupish potatoes, nice serving veg...and there was either a dry plate with seconds or all the veg left or half the steak. I don't like food waste, so I let people serve themselves. If they want to cut a chicken breast in half and have only half, EXCELLENT. Because that leaves leftovers for me! Desserts are different, I always plate those because I tend to not want leftovers of that, unless it is a selection of squares and things.
                                                                                                                                            Having said that, I think guests have a reasonable expectation of having a filling meal as a guest and it is up to a host to make sure guests are adequately provided for, and erring on the side of too much may be better than too little. However, if there isn't enough, guests should be polite enough to not complain, go with the flow and eat elsewheres afterwards.

                                                                                                                                          2. Yeah this happened to us often at an ex-friends. The last straw was she called us ahead, told us her husband had wanted to grill steak but she decided we'd rather have hamburgers, and wanted to know how many each of us would eat. Although i guess this could be considered polite after the other stories here. Then when we got there she took some commercial burger patties out of the freezer and nuked them to get them going, took some frozen veggies out and did the same right in front of us, and served some canned baked beans on the side, which I can't tolerate. It was definitely an insult kind of thing, they have LOTS of money and she always tried to make us feel like peons, plus considered herself a "gourmet cook". Oh well, water under the bridge. I guess there's as many reasons as there are hosts.

                                                                                                                                            1. I used to date a fella who was very concerned about never having enough leftovers. Whenever he'd have me over for supper or we would entertain his family or our friends together at his apartment he was very fixated on not having enough leftovers from what was made. I would get so frustrated as a lot of times I would be providing some of the items we served and he would be almost hysterical in his concern that he wouldn't have any leftovers for his lunch. We would always make enough for everyone to eat and enjoy seconds but he would inevitably comment whenever someone took a second helping, "Wow! you must be really hungry!" I used to get so embarrassed when he would say that and when he'd say it to me I'd get pissed as a lot of times I was bringing the food over. Needless to say after I met his Father I saw where he got this habit from. I can happily say we no longer see each other and he can now have all the leftovers to himself....

                                                                                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Munkipawse

                                                                                                                                                Hopefully he found someone with the same mindframe, there's someone for everyone!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Munkipawse

                                                                                                                                                  There are definately people out there that cannot control their complusion to take/steal/hord food paid for by someone else.

                                                                                                                                                  A close friend of mine tells amazing stories about how her siblings and spouses steal food at the holidays by sneaking into the kitchen and packaging up plastic container and hiding them in the car before the meal is served.

                                                                                                                                                  I hosted an event at my house years back and there was a large quantity of the main course leftover. One of the guests picked up the serving platter and walked out the door. When I tried to stop her, she said, over her shoulder, that she was saving me the trouble of cleaning up, got in her car and left. I learned that she served it to guests at her house two days later. Truth story.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                    Wow. That's a jaw dropper. Did she at least return the platter?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, it was returned.
                                                                                                                                                      I have brought up the incident several times (the first being when my serving piece was returned) and she claims to have no memory of it. (it is a family member)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                        Make sure you have your camera or video recorder readily at hand whenever she visits henceforth. Always.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                          LOLOLOL *wipes eyes* sorry but it IS kind of a funny story...
                                                                                                                                                          So sorry that happened to you...at least it was a family member, in a sense, because this kind of "familiarity" would be odd coming from a relative stranger.
                                                                                                                                                          Glad you got your platter back, nice and clean!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                            "I have brought up the incident several times (the first being when my serving piece was returned) and she claims to have no memory of it. (it is a family member)"

                                                                                                                                                            Was she drunk, on some type of meds or a combination of both? Or maybe needs to be on some type of meds? Seriously.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                              Nope, definately not drunk or on meds.

                                                                                                                                                              She is known to be a "non-cooker" and I really think she took it specifically so she didn't have to cook for her pending guests. Pre-meditated food theft!

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                          Oh my, that is unflippinbelievable. I had someone show up with a cooler and tupperware containers and then sneak into the kitchen to pack up Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. I was absolutely appalled, especially at the sneakiness of her behavior. But to be brazen enough to pick up a platter and walk it out the door with an excuse like that?! Wow!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                                                            I had someone show up with a cooler and tupperware containers and then sneak into the kitchen to pack up Thanksgiving dinner leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                            Family or friend?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                              So-called friend. She is now off the list, thankfully. She was the wife of my husband's good friend. I never really warmed up to her (for a good many reasons ...don't even get me started on how she neglected her poor kid), so was not too sad when they divorced. Happily, husband's friend recently remarried a very sweet woman who has lovely manners. It appears she is helping our friend un-learn some of the bad things he learned while living with #1.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                            That was sweet of her. She helped you clean up and prevented you from wasting food. Obviously if you truly wanted it you would have chased her down and tackled her before she could have escaped. She even cleaned the dish before returning it.

                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for sharing this story, I really needed the laugh.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                              Cleo he was definately a food hoarder. His cupboards overflowed with cans and cans of food. Most of which were 3-4yrs expired. And whenever we'd attend a party, BBQ or buffet he made a point of piling his plate with just meat and the pricier hor douves. It was pretty obvious to others what he was doing and I would just get so embarassed. However the last straw for me was when he'd bawked at me when I would take seconds of anything. :-(

                                                                                                                                                          3. "Lunch was set for six and hostess had made Danish meat loaf about the size of a soup can accompanied by potato salad in a tiny glass dessert cup plus some homemade bread Danish style."

                                                                                                                                                            I think that's just rude of someone to do that. What do they expect people to do and how can they think the guests won't be embarrased?

                                                                                                                                                            Our DD was with her boyfriend visiting his family during Thanksgiving. There was boxed instant mashed potatoes that the mother asked our daughter to prepare at the parents house, a 1 1/2 lb canned chopped ham and canned green beans no butter, no pie, no regular food for the holiday, they never even mentioned it being Thanksgiving. But that seemed just fine with her boyfriend and said a lot about him to her. The relationship went south real quick.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                              This thread continues to fasinate me. Maybe BF came from a eat to live family? (I don't blame her for moving on)

                                                                                                                                                              One of my favorite books is A Place in Normandy by Nicholas Kilmer. He lives in NE and his family owns an old farmhouse in Normandy that they visit in the summers.

                                                                                                                                                              In it, he writes about how when they are in France, their meals consist of peanut butter and crackers carried along from home (America) and he get so annoyed (in a funny way) by their guests because the guests have the nerve to want to eat real French food, experience the markets and visit restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                I wonder how many pre-marital counseling sessions mention food compatibility? That might sound kind of funny, but it's pretty important, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                              2. another time we were asked to friends house for dinner.
                                                                                                                                                                we got a babysitter and stopped for a bottle of wine to bring them on the way.
                                                                                                                                                                we called and said we'd be late, they kept asking how late. we'd never been to their house before, it was about 45 miles from our house and we'd not been to that area in the mountains and got lost. no cell phones back then, had to find a pay phone and call them a few times saying "really, where do you live? we're at the cross streets of _ and _." our friend the husband said in his typical sweet self that there was no problem theyd'd see us when they saw us.

                                                                                                                                                                dinner was pathetic, a mouse could and would require more food and the it was an awful night.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I have a funny story about me, that we still laugh at years later....I'm usually the hostess and pretty good at it, but this one time:

                                                                                                                                                                  It was a rainy weekend and I was bored so I decided to make a big pot of tomato sauce. I found out my friends were at their marina near our house. Since it was rainy I told them to come for dinner and spend the night (so they wouldn't have to sleep on thier boats in the rain or drive all the way home since the next day was supposed to be hot and sunny.) I conviced them it was "no trouble at all" since I already had the sauce made and "all I would have to do is boil water." I asked them to pick up a loaf of bread on the way so I could make garlic bread.

                                                                                                                                                                  Then I looked in the fridge and saw I was low on cheese...so I txted them to pick up cheese. Then, I realized I didn't have 3 lbs of the same pasta, so I txted them to pick up an extra box of rigitoni. Then, I thought "you can't just serve pasta, so I txted them to pick up salad stuff. And, finally, I txted and said "if you want dessert you might want to get that too."

                                                                                                                                                                  So...yea, I invited 8 people over for dinner and didnt have food. LMAO. These are my closest friends who come over for dinner all the time, so it wasn't a big deal at all...but we still chuckle when we retell the story.

                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: spcnj

                                                                                                                                                                    Great story spcnj. Sounds like something I would do! lol

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: spcnj

                                                                                                                                                                      But hey, you had a large pot of tomato sauce! I love it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: spcnj

                                                                                                                                                                        And then they created a thread on Chowhound about it!

                                                                                                                                                                        (I kid. It's good to have friends where stuff is not so Serious all the time).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: spcnj

                                                                                                                                                                          Kind of a real life spin on the story, "Stone Soup"!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for letting me share. My friend's son is a chef and begged me for my marinia recipe that night :) so all was good. And, I do entertain my friends so often that this was a total funny with us.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. This happened to some friends of mine: They were invited to the house of some old friends. Two families together, four adults and six kids, four teens and two children (not tots). For the main course, the hosts serve a one-pound baby canned ham and slice it with an electric knife.

                                                                                                                                                                          I loved reading these responses!

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Angela Roberta

                                                                                                                                                                            What I want to know is this: Is anyone out there reading these things and thinking it's normal/O.K.? If so, please tell us why!!!

                                                                                                                                                                            EDIT: Yes, I know there are those who are poor. We are not talking about the less fortunate here, so please don't attack me on that point.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Here's a funny story from my parents, both now gone.

                                                                                                                                                                            Some time in the early '80s, Mom and Dad were invited to dinner at the home of two of their closest friends, another couple, both previously divorced or widowed; Mom and Dad had actually introduced them. The invitation came about two weeks before the date.

                                                                                                                                                                            On the day in question, Mom and Dad went over to Eddie's house. They had something to drink, and sat around talking. Dad said later he wondered what was for dinner, because (a) Edie never went into the kitchen and (b) he couldn't smell anything cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                            After an hour or so of conversation in the living room, Edie excused herself and went into the kitchen. Ah, thought Dad, here we go at last. She came back in carrying a tray of cheese and crackers, which she placed on the coffee table. As Dad later told the story, "'OK', I thought. 'Maybe we're having soup.'"

                                                                                                                                                                            They ate cheese and crackers and talked some more. After a while longer, Eddie got up, looked at Edie and said, "Well, we better go." They turned to Mom and Dad, thanked them for coming over, and said they had to leave to meet Eddie's son and his family for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                            Apparently they'd remembered Mom and Dad were coming over, but completely forgot that it was for dinner!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. When I make something like gumbo or paella for my extended family, I will "annouce" that there are X number of shrimp, pieces of chicken, etc., per person but I wouldn't do that
                                                                                                                                                                              with other guests. As mentioned in one of the earliest posts, another alternative is plating
                                                                                                                                                                              in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. was reminded earlier talking with a friend about a wedding i was in some 8 or so year ago... was a bridesmaid. she wasn't an incredibly close girlfriend of mine, but i guess she didn't have a whole ton of them. (i was actually surprised, but flattered when she asked... until i saw the dress and the price for what i deemed the "Cinderella's Godmother Was Drunk" design, but i digress...)

                                                                                                                                                                                she was young, and they didn't have a lot of money. she was actually moving to join her husband on his airbase and finish college in another state. they held it in their church gymnasium... food under one basketball hoops, presents under the other. they served pre-packaged cold cuts on grocery store rolls, along with some salad poured out of a bag (her mom filled the bowl when we got there and replenished it as the guests were moving through the cafeteria style line)... i couldn't eat the sandwiches, so i was just having salad. she put one fork/spoon tongs worth on my plate. i asked for a little more, as it barely filled 1/4 of my plate. she said, "no we won't have enough." i went home hungry. very hungry. i understood but...
                                                                                                                                                                                (i often wonder what happened to her though!)

                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember a wedding where the sparkling juice (for the toast) was served in little plastic shot glasses. There was just the barest amount, enough to cover the bottom. My husband didn't believe it was for the toast and kept looking around for real booze and more of it. Money was not the issue, this family just didn't want to spend it on food/drink for the guests. The worst part was one of the wedding party brought a keg and liquor for the wedding party only, no one else was allowed to drink it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                    see, now the last part really gets me. cheap, i don't get, but i get it. but bringing a keg and alcohol for just some of the guests... or apparently the VIP's? ...in what universe is that okay?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, we didn't get it either. I knew both of the families for years and I was really surprised by drinks-for-a-select-few method of hosting a reception.

                                                                                                                                                                                      What makes it even stranger is in the area where I grew up, cash bars at receptions were pretty much standard until the last 10 or so years. (this wedding was nearly 20 years ago) They had it a popular reception hall (fire company social hall with a full bar) so if they didn't want the expense of the booze, they could have just had a cash bar and no one would have thought twice about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And no, there were no religious or recovery/addiction issues at play in their decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                      Shut. Up.
                                                                                                                                                                                      That's F****** unbelievably rude, whether it's booze or....I mean, did the wedding party also get different food? Steak, when the guests got chicken?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think the wedding party got different food but I am going to need to ask one of my friends who was also at this wedding. I do know the wedding party table was "served" while the guests went through the buffet line.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I always hire servers, to go along with the chef, and the bartenders, plus a sommelier. The servers are ex-bouncers, from local night-clubs, or police officers, on their off hours. They police the portions, as we have had some guests take 3 whole Maine lobsters, in their first pass.That is just not right. I instruct them to only let a guest take ONE Maine lobster, until all have been fed. Then, they can have another, but no "doggie bags!"

                                                                                                                                                                                    One cannot afford to feed a family of 16 for a month, at a dinner party.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Same with my "special wines." No "go cups!"


                                                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                      Wait, what did I miss? Who is taking home 3 lobsters? Was this at your house? I have had family members steal food but there were underlying issues at play.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, someone made off with leftovers from a luncheon I hosted.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The short version of the story is I had intentionally cooked a large amount of food. The plan was to send the leftovers home with my elderly relatives, little goodie boxes so they had a nice meal the next day, stuff they would never make for themselves. Everyone, including the thief, knew this was the plan. It was a multi-generational female relative event at my house with aunts and cousins helping prepare the food that I bought.

                                                                                                                                                                                          As the party was breaking up, I see this person walking out the door with a huge bowl of pasta, I attempted to stop her but she ran out to her car and drove away, shouting about she was saving me the trouble to packaging up the leftovers. It was like something out of Seinfeld.

                                                                                                                                                                                          A couple days later she tells me how so-and-so were over at her house and how much they enjoyed that pasta. Then it clicked, she took it so she didn't have to make anything for her guests, it was pre-meditated!

                                                                                                                                                                                          To this day, she claims to have no memory of the incident. (I have brought it up several times) She was going through sort of a bad spot in life (nothing to do with money) so I dropped it and thankfully, it has never happened again.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                          Three whole Maine lobsters? Unbelievable.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I hired a caterer once who was more worried about her help being fed than my guests...
                                                                                                                                                                                          I found out later she'd allowed them all to split, between them, the leftovers (including the filet mignon) and take them home.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                            Common practice to let catering staff divvy leftovers - but ONLY with the okay of the person paying for them.....

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                              I remember attending a wedding where the bride and groom let the caterer know that all leftovers were to remain at the reception site, which was the groom's family farm. It was a weekend affair and they intended to use the leftovers the following day. This was a fancy $$$ wedding for our area - whole tenderlions, carving stations, lobster tails, shrimp, etc. What was to happen to the food was clearly outlined because the caterer was charging them for the storage containers and made a big deal out of the fact he would count them.

                                                                                                                                                                                              About 4 hours after the meal, the groomsmen (including Mr. CB) were hungry and went in search of the leftovers, only to find the catering crew loading the containers into the vans, along with the full cases of champagne (paid for by the groom, not provided by the catering co.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Much yelling and pounding on vans later, the containers (and cases of champagne) were unloaded and the caterer raced away. Being fairly drunk and very hungry, they sort of behaved badly.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The odd thing was, the caterer was someone we all knew, who had been in business a long time and had a good reputation, it was like he just couldn't help himself from trying to get away with taking such good leftovers back to his restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Further proof that some people suffering from an uncontrollable urge to steal "free" food.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                                That is crazy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                This catering/wedding tangent reminds me of a wedding where portion control was a matter of perspective, it seems. It was a backyard wedding so they didn't have room for a sit-down meal, but they went all-out with buffet and passed heavy appetizers (including lamb chops, for example). I was pregnant and therefore sober and feeling entitled to eat A LOT. And in my memory I did, eating pretty much non-stop for several hours. I also remember seeing catering staff with trays chase down not-so sober friends who were basically hiding in the garage (so they could smoke). Basically in my version, I ate copiously and watched many friends get drunker and drunker while turning down lots of food. Come to find out over the years talking to friends, that some guests privately blamed the lack of food at the wedding for their drunkenness, and the bride wondered angrily why the caterers held back so much food leaving her with tons of leftovers. And this crowd usually loves to eat (as well as drink, obviously!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                                                  My favorite memory of that wedding was sitting under a huge oak tree with the bride and group and all our friends, drinking champagne straight out of the bottle and eating cold beef with our hands. Our men had provided!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I thought of another funny portion control story - I had just stared a new job. The company was hosting an after-hours business event, cocktails and appetizers. These events were an every other month type of thing and it was my first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was talking with clients and a slightly senior co-worker came up and said to me "don't eat the shrimp because they are expensive."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was very confused because I wasn't eating shrimp and even if I was, why would it be any of his business?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This bothered me enough to corner him later on and question why he was concerned about my potential shrimp consumption.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This employee had taken it upon himself to spend every event telling employees not to eat too much. (this was a publicly traded company, not some small town mom and pop business) He was so strange and we never really got along after the shrimp scolding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                                    haha..don't eat the shrimp because they are expensive...puhahaha...i can't stop laughing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Monica

                                                                                                                                                                                                      And neither could my best work-friend when I told her the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is a lot of wacky food/drink stories associated with that office. There were some odd ducks that worked there.....