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Was I being offensive?

I was invited to a close friends house for dinner. I asked her if I can bring a side dish and dessert and she said yes. I asked her what she was preparing and she never ignored that text but replied to others. I made cake abn a salad. When I arrived she had prepared so much food, more than usual, and she had bought dessert. They didn't touch my salad and when dessert time came I told her save your cake for another time I will treat you guys today. She brought out her cake and ssaid " cake competition". I felt this was awkward and she had to run and asked me to serve the cake. I gave everyone a piece of each since she already cut her cake and I spent so long preparing this cake I wanted to serve it. I felt like she was trying to undermine me by serving her cake, not responsing and also not eating my salad. I feel hurt and I feel like since me and my boyfriemd have roomates we can't invite them for dinner so I try to help out and give my piece. When I offered to bring food it was for that reason, not to undermine her. She is afghani so maybe its a cultural difference? Help was I wrong?

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  1. Hey, why not talk to her and find out?

    1. Not every email that is sent gets received. I would put this down to either or both of you missing an email and not worry about it.

      1. Seeing as she is a close friend, i suspect this is more an issue of lack of communication than a cultural difference.

        That said, in many communities (and in this household), it is not expected that guests would bring food.They are guests, after all. In general, I might be a little upset if a guest phoned me and asked if they could bring food. Possibly, as a good friend, she didnt like to say don't bring anything.

        Perhaps the salad didnt suit their tastes and that's why they didnt eat it. Who knows.

        Linguafood suggests the best way forward - talk to your close friend. It'll be more productive than asking perfect strangers on the internet who know neither of you.

        1. Could you please expand on "she had to run"? :)

          4 Replies
          1. re: inaplasticcup

            Her husband asked her to help him fix the DVD player so she asked me to serve the cake. I personally find it rude to serve a store bought cake when your guest brought one. And the she did read my text because she mentioed when I got there that she forgot to reply. However the fact that she bought a cake when she normally doesn't means she knew . She knew I intended to bring something.

            1. re: cdes475

              Ok. So when you say she replied to other texts, does that mean other people also brought food? (Sorry so many questions. Trying to understand if this was a potluck type deal or if you're the only person who brought food to a dinner party she was hosting.)

              1. re: inaplasticcup

                I mean i sent her a text saying..."hey what are you making just to know what will accompany it" then 3 hours later i text and asked what time i should come. she replued...come between 6 and 7. Nobody else came just me and my boyfriend and her and her husband. it wasnt a formal dinner party plans were made that day.

                1. re: cdes475

                  Ahh. Ok. Well, given the fact set that's unfolded to this point, I think I might go with the people who think she had a hard time saying no to you (perhaps it's not in her culture to be so direct) when you asked if you can bring two things rather than asking if she'd like you to bring anything at all and possibly decided into the meal that she would like to assume more control over the evening. (Unless you guys always do it this way, then I'm with the people who think she was being *REALLY* passive aggressive.)

                  I don't think you were offensive, necessarily. Just might be an issue of differing culture and communication styles.

                  I can understand why you'd want to contribute given that you don't feel you're in a position to reciprocate at your place.

          2. I've got to say, I wouldn't appreciate a guest who offered to bring 2 complete dishes. I understand that you only intended to be generous but I would be annoyed and try politely to say no. As a guest, I wouldn't announce that my cake would be the dessert rather than the host's cake. Once you bring a gift of food, it's up to the host what to do with it.

            1 Reply
            1. Bringing food to an event is far more complex than it seems. Many many people consider it automatic when attending anything less than a formal dinner or catered event. Many many people are offended that someone is interfering with their plans and their menu.

              If she said bring dessert and a side (really? she said AND not OR?) then you did as she asked. It was inconsiderate of her to ask you to bring something then not serve it. But when she brought out her cake, it was your duty to keep your mouth shut and enjoy what was served. Seems like there is more going on here than salads and desserts. In short, yes you were wrong, and so was she. Might help if you start out with an apology and thus give her space to do the same, then find out what went wrong. I'm guessing it started with the initial conversation and that you pretty much insisted on bringing something. But take the time to find out.

              1. If you were invited to dinner, why would you ask if you could bring both a side dish and dessert? You were invited to come eat what she had available. You don't offer to bring 1/3 of the entire meal being served. I think she was being nice by saying yes, bring it, but I think you were in the wrong by asking if you could bring 2 things, instead of asking "Can I bring anything?" and allowing her the opportunity to say "No, I think I have everything".

                2 Replies
                1. re: boogiebaby

                  Because for the past two years of our friendship we have been unable to reciprocate by inviting them over because we have roommates. I think your right next time I will offer but not follow thru and one day maybe when we have a house i can reciprocate.

                  1. re: cdes475

                    Come summer, you can arrange a picnic outside of both houses.

                2. I don't know the history of your friendship, but I truly don't think she was trying to undermine you.

                  When you say "They didn't touch my salad," do you mean the hosts or the party guests?

                  In the future, I would ask specifically "what kind of side dish can I bring" on the telephone, so there is no confusion.

                  Also--just my opinion--I am honored to serve food in my friends' house. I take it to mean that they are treating me like family...like it is "my house", too.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: pinehurst

                    I've read the responses. I'm a bit on the fence because I think there are pieces of information missing.
                    I agree mostly with Pinehurst.
                    did she serve/present your salad or was it left in the kitchen unwrapped/unseen/unused?
                    how did 'your' cake go over or do you not know?

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      I am in the same place as iL Divo and pinehurst. I can understand that since you feel you cannot host, that you are somehow, trying to make up for it, by offering to bring a dish. But many people plan out a dinner party, and view it as a structured event. In fact, from other discussions on this matter here on CH, the hosts who had guests bring dishes were quite put out by that. Since you did not get a reply from your request, I wonder why you did not re-text/ask, to make sure and in view of not being sure, went ahead to make a dish. I think that is the first error.
                      Secondly, in the real sense, bringing food/wine/dessert can be viewed as a hostess gift. And as such, it makes it the hostess' item, to be used as she sees fit. Hostess gifts are not obligated to be served at the event.
                      I think you took offense, and then became offensive/defensive over the cake issue. I am sure at that point all in attendance must have felt uncomfortable.

                      When someone cannot host but does wish to reciprocate, there are other ways to payback the hospitality.

                      1. re: Quine

                        I think your somewhat right. It was just me my boyfriend and the, and the men didnt seem to notice any discomfort. When she said cake competition i assumed she wanted to put out both cakes and have people choose, and in order to squash that conflict i just served everyone both. I did all this out of the kindness of my heart then felt the awkwardness and realized mayb4e i overstepped my bounds as i am 23 not really educated on dinner party etiquette.

                        1. re: cdes475

                          Most men are quite skilled at not noticing any discomfort.

                          Sounds like she was threatened by your contribution in some way. I would take this as a cue to bring a candle or something next time, not contribute food or even drink again, and be completely over any guilt that you can't reciprocate.

                          It sounds like she took your offer as a criticism of her limited menu ... and in a way it was, though you were offering to provide the missing pieces yourself. It'll be interesting to see what is served next time ... but you can always have something waiting at home as a nightcap if you missed having something sweet or fresh with the meal ... like you could have fruit and chocolates.

                      2. re: iL Divo

                        She served my salad and the cake went over well because we served both and everybody seemd to like both of them but some said the store bought one was too sweet.

                      3. re: pinehurst

                        The hosts, me and my boyfriend were the only other guests. Sorry not really a dinner party more just friends coming over for dinner.

                      4. I've brought a hostess gift as I'm sure we all have.
                        but I've also probably over done a food item that I brought to someone's house at their request.
                        if I was asked to bring a salad I'm gonna bring a bomber of a salad.
                        if I'm asked to bring a pie it'd probably be 1 like I took to a small high school reunion at someone's house which was baked in a 14" cast iron skillet and was 5 fresh fruits combined.
                        if they ask me to bring chips and dip I'm gonna make a 7 layer Mexican dip.
                        it's not my nature to go small or average. but it could come across as trying to out do-not my intention ever but could be construed as such.
                        maybe part of that happened here but again details are lacking.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: iL Divo

                          Helllo, yes that is what I was trying to do. Me and my boyfriend love food and we often go there for dinner, and they never have dessert so I decided to bring some, besides its pretty overwhelming to make a 4 course meal and dessert all on your own, so i offered to bring some extra food innocently because we all love food, me not having my own house or having my own dinner party did not realize this could be seen as offensive. I think i would appreciate any extra food since i love diversity of food and i just love food in general.

                          1. re: cdes475

                            cd, you said what I was trying to say.
                            between you & me & our intentions, I think we're just doing what we think is right and also do what we'd like done as well.

                        2. It is very nice of you to have offered to make some dishes for your friend. Maybe she just had too much on the go. Next time you are invited to her house, just bring yourself and a bottle of wine and enjoy your time together.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ruthie789

                            Good idea next time I will do this.

                          2. I think it may very well be a cultural difference. Also, she didn't ask you to bring the items... you offered and she said yes. Some people have trouble saying no. I think her not responding when you asked what she was serving may have been a hint to dig a bit further ie/ call and ask her what she would prefer you to bring or not bring.
                            Your feelings of inadequacy (needing to bring something) are understandable, but do not outweigh her feelings or traditions about hosting. Also, you seem to assume your cake was better than hers and therefore should have been served. I'm sure it was better, but that's not being terribly gracious about your host's offerings.
                            The "cake competition" bit does sound a bit rude IMHO. She could have served both cakes and been more gracious about it. But telling her not to server her planned dessert definitely crossed a line.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: julesrules

                              Honestly i think she didnt want me to bring food but said yes, and i stupidly just brought it anyways. When she said cake competition i assumed she wanted to put out both cakes and have people choose, and in order to squash that conflict i just served everyone both cakes so there was no competition? make sense?

                            2. Why does having house-mates preclude you and your BF from ever hosting? Do they never leave for an evening? Are they so foul that despite sharing a house with them, you would not include them in a dinner party? I understand that extra people who you may not want to be super social with can add a challenge, but hopefully you have a good enough relationship that you can "reserve" the kitchen/dining areas for an evening. Or just have your friends over for dessert and a movie, or take them out sometime.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: babette feasts

                                Yes they do prohibit because our housemates happen to be very private people and we dont think they would get along with our other guests.

                                1. re: cdes475

                                  But just because they're private people it doesn't mean you can't have people over. Unless they own the house and have said that you cannot have guests over.

                                  But if you think they wouldn't get along with your guests, perhaps *they* could go out for the evening or they could stay in their room. That's what I did when I shared a house with 4 other women back in the 1980s. If someone was having guests over, they let the other housemates know the time, date, and when the kitchen would be used, and everyone else made other plans (unless we were invited to join them).

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    Perhaps you could ask your housemates if they have any future plans such as theatre tickets or travel plans. Explain that you would like to have friends over for dinner but don't want to intrude on your housemates' space by having a possibly noisy diner party when they're around,though of course you would love to invite them too if they'd like.

                              2. It's nice of you to offer to bring something but as a hostess, I always worry about not having enough food or variety of foods. I've had potluck type dinners where people bring potato salad or corn bread pudding for a "vegetable", not wrong but not my expectation so we didn't have a vegetable dish. And, there have been times when the person doesn't bring enough. So, now I always make sure to complete the meal and anything else brought is extra. They're friends, I'd go w/ the assumption that she's not trying to undermine you but trying to be a good hostess. She might think a store bought cake is better than home made. And, both were served which is how it should be. I think it would have been rude if you had only cut and served your own cake.

                                I do agree w/ others that your bringing a dish to someone's dinner party isn't the same as hosting your own. If you can't have people over, you can offer to go out but bringing a salad and cake isn't the same.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: chowser

                                  I think a dear friend can understand why someone isn't reciprocating with direct invitations whether to home or restaurant. But it's too much to ask them to understand implicity that the same guest must also be allowed to bring whatever contributions they want, because it makes *the guest* feel better about their situation.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I guess i just figured because her cake was so small she could have just saved it for later. Also the whole point here was that she NEVER serves dessert but did this time because i offered...

                                    1. re: cdes475

                                      If you know that she never serves dessert, it sounds like she has you over frequently. Do you normally bring food? Why the awkwardness this time? If you're that close, just have an honest conversation with her.

                                  2. I don't think the host was trying to undermine you...lots of people don't want sweets around the house and I would have served both cakes just to avoid eating a whole extra cake as I am liable to do if left to my own devices. How long can you save cake for? Assuming you have the freezer space and are into that sort of thing. It's not like a bottle of wine....Seems like you are overthinking it.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: olyolyy

                                      Maybe...im starting to think i was in the wrong forsure...Next time i will just be a gracious guest. However doesnt help I was raised and so was my boyfriend to ALWAYS bring food .

                                      1. re: cdes475

                                        You had good intentions and good friends will appreciate that. Some people are open to others bringing food, others like to plan their menus out. Could it be that they're just not salad people? If you really do want to contribute, you could just put it that way, "We really appreciate your having us over and I feel bad that we can't/don't reciprocate. I'd love to help out in some way. Is there anything I can do?" That way, she'll understand where you're coming from and that would give her a chance to say, no, don't worry about it or yes, and tell you what would be helpful. If you're open, there will be less chance of misunderstanding and trying to guess what the other person is thinking. For all you know, your host might be thinking you hate what she cooks which is why you're always offering to bring things (don't laugh, my Mom brings things to my SILs because she doesn't like her cooking. I've told her it's rude but at least she phrases it like she's trying to help)!

                                        1. re: cdes475

                                          ". . . I was raised and so was my boyfriend to ALWAYS bring food ."
                                          So what did you bring to prior dinners, and did it cause any such distress?

                                          1. re: cdes475

                                            "I was raised and so was my boyfriend to ALWAYS bring food ."

                                            So it sounds like these close friends have hosted you both before - what did you bring the other times. Was there any problem then as well?

                                        2. One clarification. i do feel as though i overstepped my bounds here and possibly insulted her, it will be too uncomfortable to apologize but im just going to remember for next time. Also one point that i want to get across is that whenever we go there we have chicken and rice...and so i figured id offer a vegetable and a dessert because she usually doesn't make that. Well this time she had lots of veggies and dessert, and i felt she only made it because i offered to bring that. My offering was out of generosity not a hint for her to have more food which is how i think she took it. so she wanted to prove she didnt need me to bring anything, i wish she had just politely said no in the first place instead of this embarrassing situation.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: cdes475

                                            Kudos to you for coming to the board with a sincere desire to better understand your friend's position, cdes. It doesn't always happen that way (and I'm just as guilty of it as the next person).

                                            And I very much understand your frustration dealing with someone who might come from a more indirect and much more passive aggressive culture than do you. Being a first generation Asian-American, I straddle the line all the time myself, and it's a challenge to balance the two different approaches. :)

                                            1. re: cdes475

                                              You said she's Afghani - is she also Muslim?

                                              The Muslims friends I have would normally *not* eat anything which their non-Muslim friends prepare, for fear that the food is not "halal", i.e. not kosher for Muslim consumption. I, for one, do not deign to bring any home-cooked food into a Muslim friend's home, or invite Muslim friends for dinner at my place, as I *know* my kitchen is non-Halal.

                                              Maybe your friend was too polite to turn down your offer to bring something in the first place. I could be wrong!

                                              1. re: klyeoh

                                                Bingo; I innocently took a plateful of "hostess gift" food to a friend's house. I knew she was kosher, so thought I had made "okay" foods, but actually, since my kitchen/oven isn't kosher, no one ate from my plateful. Learned a good cultural lesson, and friend and I still laugh over this.

                                              2. re: cdes475

                                                cd, I've stopped trying to understand people and their situations that I can not figure out.
                                                it doesn't matter who it is, if they're friends, family or foe, my intentions are just trying to be helpful and pitch in-I know your intentions are as well.
                                                if it steps on toes because I'm making an effort > either say from the get go "no thank you" or be thankful. we could all accept invites where there is nothing lingering (like the need to fill a void on the menu).

                                              3. Maybe you could reciprocate by inviting your friends to lunch or brunch at a restaurant, if you can't have them in your home. That way you will feel you are doing your part, but not stepping on her toes during her dinners.