Potluck Pest

This is where this situation is probably headed.

This is where this situation is probably headed.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

A mutual friend invited my friend and I (and several other ladies) to her cabin for the weekend.  The cabin owner thought the theme of the dinner should be Mexican and my friend offered to make chicken enchiladas.  I offered to make chile rellenos and the cabin owner stated she would make tacos.  The other attendees were bringing a salad, dips, etc.  My friend had a separate conversation with the cabin owner and told her not to make the tacos (she didn’t think it was necessary and belonged with her enchiladas). She later told me she will also make beans and rice which is the proper thing to serve with her enchiladas.

Issue:  My friend makes it very plain she thinks potlucks should be organized by the hostess and the menu should be very strict and match.  She hinted she didn’t think my rellenos belonged either.  I told her it wasn’t her party and she shouldn’t be telling the hostess how to handle.  I also told her one of the other guests was helping with the tacos and now what would they be bringing?  I don’t normally like beans and rice – never eat them in a Mexican restaurant (although my friend is a great cook and everything is usually good) and i personally enjoy eating potluck cooking from other individual’s kitchens.  I think my friend is showing poor etiquette by telling the hostess what to make/not make and would like your opinion.  She believes she knows the proper etiquette for all dinner parties because her sister owns a high end store in the San Francisco bay area.
Should I care?  Does it really matter who is right?

Sincerely,

Mexican Food Muddle

 

Our Take:

Jaya: Wow, this is more thought than I’ve ever put into a potluck.

Victoria: Hahahaha. Yeah, I mean, there are definitely two theories on potlucks.

One is that the host/ess guides the attendees on what to bring and that can even be like, assigning dessert vs side vs apps or whatever. Down to being very specific about theme and whatever each person should bring.

And then the other is that it is a free for all.

Jaya: Right

Victoria: And like… it doesn’t really matter, it’s kind of up to the hostess. And so for a guest to try to steer it is supremely rude.

Jaya: It honestly seems like the hostess had a handle on doing the first type? There was a theme, everyone else divied up the entrees/apps evenly

Victoria: Exactly. And um tacos and enchiladas go to together fine, this person is a loon.

Jaya: Yeah the whole point of potlucks is you have options!

Victoria: Also your sister owning a high end store in San Francisco doesn’t make you an arbiter of what potlucks should be like. Or etiquette. Declaring yourself an etiquette expert on the internet makes you the arbiter of what dinner parties should be like, obviously.

Jaya: So yeah, she’s clearly wrong here. However, does that matter? Would it be worse to confront her about this? Personally, I probably would say something. Even along the lines of like “hey chill out we just want a fun dinner at the cabin.”

Victoria: Yeah, or something like….”Jane the hostess, seems to have a handle on things and you should probably just let it go.” I mean part of the thing about group trips is it’s not always going to go your way and you have to compromise about mealtime (and everything, basically) and if the rest of the group is going one way…you just need to go along with it.

Jaya: Yeah, especially if it’s enchiladas v. tacos. This isn’t someone insisting on steak when half the cabin is vegan. Like I seriously can’t imagine a scenario in which someone has made enchiladas and another person puts tacos on the table and I’m like “well this is just not done.”

Victoria: Hahahah right?!?! It’s extremely nutty. And the question writer should care about this because clearly she is headed for a weekend away with an obnoxious control freak and should prepare herself for it. And yes, say something to your friend. And if you feel like it would help, say something supportive to the hostess

because it’s super annoying to be being really generous about inviting people to your cabin and then having them try to micromanage all your plans when they were fine plans to begin with.

Jaya: This is hard because the friend in question seems to be having a lot of independent conversations with people trying to orchestrate things, which is a sly move to keep everyone else from ganging up against her.

But, if this is a situation where everyone is on an email chain, an email in support of the original menu, or something generally positive with phrases like “let’s not overthink it” could be useful.

Victoria: Oooh yes, good call!

 

 

ED: Thanks to our question writer for this great question! If you have an etiquette question, please write to us at info@uncommon-courtesy.com!

Advertisements

Mindy Kaling’s Views on Wedding Registries

I mean, Thailand seems nice and all... [Via]

I mean, Thailand seems nice and all… [Via]

I recently listened to the audiobook of Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? which was delightful. I always recommend, for celebrity memoirs and essay books, if they read the audiobook, you should listen to it rather than read because the words sound SO GOOD coming out of their own mouths. Especially check out Leah Remini’s reading of her book about leaving Scientology. It’s amazing.

Back to the point though, Mindy has this great section about wedding registries that perfectly encapsulates my feelings about honeymoon registries (even though I will begrudgingly admit they are FINE to have. And there ARE certain circumstances like- you live in a completely different country than where your wedding is taking place and where all your guests live…but)

“There are few things that I have more ideological problems with than the concept of the “honeyfund.” Hear me out: I love the idea of giving my newly married friends a meaningful present. But I don’t love being asked to be an investor in a crowd-funded honeymoon. Here is why: it’s not especially emotionally rewarding to know that I paid for three of five nights of a yurt rental in Big Sur. It’s so transactional. Sure, everyone knows all wedding registries are essentially transactional, but at least they are transactional about objects, not about people and experiences. I know you say you have too much stuff in your apartment and what you really want is a killer honeymoon in Thailand. But I feel like, if you have every material good you want, you’re probably doing well enough to plan a honeymoon that is within your means. Because a honeymoon is, after all, a sex vacation you’re giving yourself after a massive party in your honor.”

She just puts it so well, you know? She goes on to talk about how a physical gift feels like a “souvenir of your affection” and is more about your relationship with the bride or groom or both than their relationship with each other. Which I feel like is part of the core of the issue of why many people still dislike honeymoon registries even though they’ve been a pretty common thing for a good ten years now (though, I suppose, there are plenty of people who go more than ten years at a time without attending a wedding.) People really do have sentimental attachment to the THINGS that they give to people. And I think that for people who don’t experience sentimental attachment to gifts given to others, it’s very hard to understand. But like, it definitely gives me a little thrill to see a friend using something I gave them for their wedding in a way that hearing them talk about the honeymoon I chipped in for doesn’t. And I think its equally okay to feel that way and for other to people to feel like they’d rather have a honeymoon than a set of china. But I think when etiquette fights break out, it’s because of a lack of empathy between the two sides.

Thoughts?