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potluck etiquette


browniebaker
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This is no high dudgeon, but I am miffed. For a potluck two nights ago I baked three varieties of my signature brownies: chocolate brownies, marbled cheesecake brownies, and white-chocolate blondies. As you might guess from my online handle, I take brownies seriously.

The hostess, who had never tasted my brownies, asked me just before serving dessert, "Would it be sacrilegious if I serve Cool Whip on top of your brownies?" Yes, it would be a sacrilege! But I was caught off-guard, and I managed only to say weakly, "No."

Wouldn't you be offended, too? What if you went to a potluck and the hostess poured ketchup all over the casserole you brought, without even having tasted it?

Would you (could you?) tell the hostess, "Yes, it's a sacrilege! Please don't touch my dish."

Would you worry that the other guests might think you had actually brought the Cool Whip to serve with your brownies?

Yes, I know I will get over this, but I'd sure like to hear what you think on this question of potluck propriety.

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Just say no...tactfully. "Oh thank you anyway, but I really want everyone to be able to taste the different brownies without any other flavors. Maybe next time." or "Yes (with a smile), I really prefer to serve them as they are."

Or less tactfully, as you suggest go armed with a bottle of Heinz,"That's just fine. And I assume it wouldn't be sacrilegious if I topped your roast/casserole/brisket/whatever with a little ketchup would it?"

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I completely sympathize with getting caught off guard: My first instinct is to go over-polite too........

Perhaps a compromise could have been suggested: "What if we put the Cool-Whip next to the plate, so those who want it can serve themselves?"

Yikes! As a hostess of a pot luck I would *never* alter a contribution from a guest!!

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I've become midwestern nice. I'd have said "why don't you just open the cool whip and leave it on the side so people can dip (or scoop) as they want? Some people may have dietary restrictions."

(I have no dietary restrictions on good brownies, but serious dietary restructions on cool whip.)

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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This is no high dudgeon, but I am miffed. For a potluck two nights ago I baked three varieties of my signature brownies: chocolate brownies, marbled cheesecake brownies, and white-chocolate blondies. As you might guess from my online handle, I take brownies seriously.

The hostess, who had never tasted my brownies, asked me just before serving dessert, "Would it be sacrilegious if I serve Cool Whip on top of your brownies?" Yes, it would be a sacrilege! But I was caught off-guard, and I managed only to say weakly, "No."

Wouldn't you be offended, too? What if you went to a potluck and the hostess poured ketchup all over the casserole you brought, without even having tasted it?

Would you (could you?) tell the hostess, "Yes, it's a sacrilege! Please don't touch my dish."

Would you worry that the other guests might think you had actually brought the Cool Whip to serve with your brownies?

Yes, I know I will get over this,  but I'd sure like to hear what you think on this question of potluck propriety.

The proper response if it was me would be, If I wanted whipped cream on them I would have brought it. Leave them as they are. But, that would be me. :raz::raz::raz:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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browniebaker, pardon me for asking, but what kind of person was the hostess, as a hostess? Did you sense that she imposes herself a bit much? Were you thinking that she was implicitly "putting you down" with that question? Or perhaps the people she regularly has over at potlucks love Cool Whip on their desserts (or "need" Cool Whip on their desserts, if you know what I mean)?

IMO, the hostess should have deferred to you in the first place since YOU brought the dessert. Instead, she could ask these questions:

"How would you do want your brownies to be served? Do you need anything?"

If you have it within you, say nothing and give the hostess a cold, glaring stare like this: :angry:.

:laugh::laugh:

But seriously though, I would agree with herbacidal & Susan to tactfully say "No thank you."

Edited by rjwong (log)

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Or you could say what I thought when I read this: "Why on earth would anyone eat cool whip with brownies?"

I'd be really annoyed.

uh, second me on this one. I'd be :angry: , and that exact thought would be in my head.

Seriously. Is this a regional thing? I've never, ever had a brownie served to me with any sort of ...whipped topping... on it. Yes, if it's a brownie sundae, fine. But just brownie, solo? no.

(btw, since you asked: My reaction would have been similar to those above, regarding placing the Cool Whip next to the brownies.)

(oh god, this woman has irked me, and I wasn't even there. :laugh: )

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"Why, of COURSE! and do you have any of these little silver balls, and perhaps a couple of crystallised rose petals, and how about some sugar-coated almonds, too? Do you have any tater-tots that we can put around your roast, or some instant mash?"

I have a friend (of the rather forthright sort) who replied to a moderately similar question - of whether it would be okay to serve some cheap generic synthetic ice-cream with his grandmother's apple tart, which is, I can tell you, unparalleled in its beauty - with the phrase "yes, splendid idea... and while you're at it, why don't you just squat over the bowl and shit in it?"

I think his tact glands had been surgically removed just before puberty.

I can't believe the no doubt unintentional gall of the woman in wanting to put anything, never mind cool-whip, on top of the brownies; surely that's just arrogance in denying choice to the rest of the guests.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I would be more than miffed, but try to handle it tactfully. "No thanks, :biggrin: I don't even serve real whipped cream on my brownies."

Ooops! Maybe not so long on tact, but I could manage the smile. :raz:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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While I think it is a revolting idea, I'm surprised she asked. Why not just put the tub of cool whip next to the brownies on the table so that people can help themselves? Then you can judge the taste of everyone at the potluck and cross those not worthy of your brownies off your holiday baked goods list -- just slap a bow on a tub of cool whip and give them that! :biggrin:

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Of course, the Cool Whip should have been placed on the table next to the desserts, and of course, that's what you should have suggested.

But the real problem here is that although there are almost always many tactful ways to handle these things, when one is caught completely off guard, which I also would have been, one is too startled to think of any of them.

It reminds of something I read once about the definition of wit: The ability to eliminate the usual thirty-minute gap between first hearing something and then coming up with a snappy comeback.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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So, this lovely woman thought that Cool Whip would make your absolutely delicious brownies better :angry: Could you just drop her from the potluck rotation?

I would have been as caught off guard as you were.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I'm afraid I'd have said "Why on Earth would you want Cool Whip on a brownie?" before my civil self could stifle the 'other' self (also known as my evil twin).

But I guess I do okay. I still get asked to potlucks. And Crow and Cheyenne gatherings--the Plains equivalent of a potlatch.

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I think we should be careful here about trashing this hostess. We really need to know more about her motivations.

If she'd been the woman who is my best friend, she would have been asking out of a misguided motivation to be an excellent hostess. (Martha, Junior.) This woman, bless her heart, is always trying to think of ways to make guests more comfortable, or to put on little finishing touches to make something more special for a guest. And misguided is the word here. She means well, but ... oh, let's not go there. She's a wonderful friend otherwise.

If she'd been a certain family member, now deceased, she would have done it because she's a frigging control freak and she is furious because they wouldn't let her bring dessert, since everyone "knows" that dessert is her specialty and nobody does it better than she. (In her humble opinion.) She cannot stand to not be the center of attention and she WILL, believe me, have the last word. We still laugh about the time she was serving dessert at her house, and came out of the kitchen to ask, "Now can everyone eat a fourth of a pie?" Of course, no one did, and she was crabby and irritated all evening because she baked four pies for a total of ten people, and now she had all that leftover pie. And of course her feelings were hurt and she let us know it. After years and years of this crap, none of us felt guilty. RIP.

If she'd been one of my co-workers, well, her opinion is that anything sweet is improved by Cool Whip, and she just wanted everyone else to enjoy it as much as she did.

Of course, none of this changes the desired outcome: not to have Cool Whip on the brownies. And my suggested answer would be something like, "Well, I don't like brownies with Cool Whip and I'm not sure whether others do, either. Why don't we just make it available and let each person decide?"

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I am afraid that I would not have been as diplomatic as some. My usual reaction to Cool Whip is "Good Heavens! why would anyone want that chemical pap on Real Food?"

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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browniebaker, pardon me for asking, but what kind of person was the hostess, as a hostess? Did you sense that she imposes herself a bit much? Were you thinking that she was implicitly "putting you down" with that question? Or perhaps the people she regularly has over at potlucks love Cool Whip on their desserts (or "need" Cool Whip on their desserts, if you know what I mean)?

This woman is just plain tactless (called her husband a "unibrow" in front of everyone, making him obviously uncomfortable), and too simpleminded to be trying to put someone down with a Cool Whip suggestion. Besides, she and her family think the world of Cool Whip, always have a tub of it in the fridge, and put it on desserts you'd never think needed whipped cream. It's not a regional thing with her (she was born in Hawaii and lived in LA for a long time before moving to D.C.), just a personality flaw!

This was my first potluck at this woman's house, and there's no potluck circle that I know of, but I'll think twice next time (if there IS a next time) before going to any trouble to make a special dish for her potluck. As someone suggested, just a big tub of Cool Whip would do.

At whatever potluck I go to in the future, I WILL be armed with a ready comeback if anyone tries to adulterate my dish. I think your suggestions are all good, and which type I use will depend on how bad or good a mood I am in!

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What Susan said.

It reminds me of the time I brought Pavlovas to my parents for Christmas. My father told me they had lots of whipped cream in the fridge when I called before going up to Kingston from the city.

In fact there was no heavy cream but three tubs of cool whip. No one in the family could understand why I wouldn't use cool whip. I spent three hours scouring the Hudson Valley on Christmas Eve night trying to find heavy cream. I did find it finally.

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unfortunately some people consider coolwhip to be whipped cream.

some people consider whipped cream to be a topping for any dessert.

some people suck and are irrational and fussy and like "helping". not much you can do- but be polite, and try to explain why yucky things are bad, and yummy things are good.

ps it does not really sound like the hostess was trying to insult you, some people just have no clue. :blink:

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I have a friend (of the rather forthright sort) who replied to a moderately similar question - of whether it would be okay to serve some cheap generic synthetic ice-cream with his grandmother's apple tart, which is, I can tell you, unparalleled in its beauty - with the phrase "yes, splendid idea...  and while you're at it, why don't you just squat over the bowl and shit in it?"

Ouch, just snorted coffee out my nose. Thanks for that. :smile:

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