Dinner Guest Issues

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HongKonger
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by HongKonger » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:58 am

Harold wrote: As an aside, I just love that the mint jelly guy may have been demonstrating his low class mutton-eating status by such a request. A less polite host could have sneered maybe you eat mutton in your home, whose stench needs to be overcome with minty goodness -- but we serve high quality lamb in this house!
Erm - mutton is actually enjoyed by many cultures around the world and does not speak to a persons 'class'. I am sure many sheiks would testify to that.

Harold
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Harold » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:07 am

HongKonger wrote:
Harold wrote: As an aside, I just love that the mint jelly guy may have been demonstrating his low class mutton-eating status by such a request. A less polite host could have sneered maybe you eat mutton in your home, whose stench needs to be overcome with minty goodness -- but we serve high quality lamb in this house!
Erm - mutton is actually enjoyed by many cultures around the world and does not speak to a persons 'class'. I am sure many sheiks would testify to that.
I learned something new (and apologize if I offended). But one might think sophisticated (and well-mannered) sheiks, while enjoying mint jelly on their mutton -- would be aware that mint jelly isn't required for succulent lamb. The ill-mannered mint jelly complainer (presumably complaining because he knew the "right" way it should be served) seemed unaware of that distinction, which struck me as a bit amusing.

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dm200
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dm200 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:12 pm

Harold wrote:
HongKonger wrote:
Harold wrote: As an aside, I just love that the mint jelly guy may have been demonstrating his low class mutton-eating status by such a request. A less polite host could have sneered maybe you eat mutton in your home, whose stench needs to be overcome with minty goodness -- but we serve high quality lamb in this house!
Erm - mutton is actually enjoyed by many cultures around the world and does not speak to a persons 'class'. I am sure many sheiks would testify to that.
I learned something new (and apologize if I offended). But one might think sophisticated (and well-mannered) sheiks, while enjoying mint jelly on their mutton -- would be aware that mint jelly isn't required for succulent lamb. The ill-mannered mint jelly complainer (presumably complaining because he knew the "right" way it should be served) seemed unaware of that distinction, which struck me as a bit amusing.
Regarding "Mutton" and "Lamb". I could be wrong, but my understanding is that, many years ago, "Mutton" referred to meat from an older sheep, while "Lamb" referred to meat from a young (or very young) sheep - much like the difference between "beef" and "veal". At some point, however, there developed a stigma attached to "Mutton" (perhaps due to bad meat being sold). The solution of the "sheep meat" industry was to then call every type of meat from a sheep as "Lamb". So, it is my understanding that the very same cut of meat that, many decades ago, would have been called"Mutton" is today called "Lamb". The Goat meat people continue to look for a name for goat meat that would "sell" better in the US. I occasionally eat at an Indian lunch buffet that, on occasion, serves goat meat in one of the dishes and I like it just fine. BUT, many/most Americans would be turned off by the name "Goat". "Names" mean a lot in the food/restaurant business. How many people, for example, would order "Patagonian Toothfish" at a restaurant? Not many. BUT, when that very same fish is called "Chilean seabass" the orders go up.

sscritic
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by sscritic » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:18 pm

dm200 wrote:many years ago, "Mutton" referred to meat from an older sheep, while "Lamb" referred to meat from a young (or very young) sheep - much like the difference between "beef" and "veal". At some point, however, there developed a stigma attached to "Mutton" (perhaps due to bad meat being sold).
I believe that an older animal has a stronger flavor than a younger one. The stronger flavor has nothing to do with going bad; it just is. Some people like game for exactly that reason, a stronger flavor.
How does game meat differ from domestic meat?
Because their diets and activity levels are not the same as that of domestic animals and poultry, the meat of farm-raised game animals has a different flavor — stronger than domesticated species and milder than wild game. The factors that determine the meat's quality include the age of the animal (younger animals are more tender), the animal's diet, and the time of year the animal was harvested. (The best is in the fall, after a plentiful spring and summer feeding.)
From your United States Department of Agriculture.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Harold » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:31 pm

dm200 wrote:Regarding "Mutton" and "Lamb". I could be wrong, but my understanding is that, many years ago, "Mutton" referred to meat from an older sheep, while "Lamb" referred to meat from a young (or very young) sheep - much like the difference between "beef" and "veal".
That is my understanding too -- and the reason why when the earlier poster explained the origin of the supplemental use of mint jelly, it made total sense (given the reasons sscritic has outlined).

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by sscritic » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:51 pm

Don't forget the economic reasons for preferring older meat in many cultures. Slaughtering young females means you don't get new lambs through reproduction and you lose the milk production. Waiting two or three years before slaughter just makes more sense.

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dm200
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dm200 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:47 pm

Yes, "older" animals, are definitely tougher (and more flavorful, if you like the flavor). From personal experience (many years ago), I know that when hens were killed and eaten, after several years of laying eggs, the meat was definitely tougher (and had to be stewed for a while!). I believe that is the origin of the saying, "She was a tough old bird!"

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by sscritic » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:55 pm

dm200 wrote:Yes, "older" animals, are definitely tougher (and more flavorful, if you like the flavor). From personal experience (many years ago), I know that when hens were killed and eaten, after several years of laying eggs, the meat was definitely tougher (and had to be stewed for a while!). I believe that is the origin of the saying, "She was a tough old bird!"
I can buy stewing hens in my grocery. They are much larger than those scrawny little chickens.
When a laying hen no longer produces what she was designed to do, it’s time to replace her. We see no reason to waste this opportunity. When you think of chicken and dumplings or a pot of chicken soup, what do you picture? Well, we see a hen that has had time to grow into a very nice sized bird and has developed great tasting meat. Slow cooked in a crock-pot, these hens make an absolutely wonderful meal. The meat falls right off the bone and the juice makes an extremely flavorful broth for soups or other dishes.
A ragu is good too.
A stewing hen has such deep chicken flavor to offer that is worth the lengthy cooking time required to tenderize its modest amount of meat. A stewing hen is an older laying chicken that is no longer productive. For the best quality, buy stewing hens from a farm that raises its birds on pasture. In this recipe, a hen stews with wine, herbs and tomato until falling-off-the-bone tender. The next day, the meat is picked and returned to the pot with the resulting tomato sauce to make a rich ragu.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by interplanetjanet » Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:36 pm

sscritic wrote:Don't forget the economic reasons for preferring older meat in many cultures. Slaughtering young females means you don't get new lambs through reproduction and you lose the milk production. Waiting two or three years before slaughter just makes more sense.
Don't forget wool - it was a true cash crop early on, especially before plant fibers became reasonably priced. But yes, there was economic pressure to hold off on slaughter.
sscritic wrote:I can buy stewing hens in my grocery. They are much larger than those scrawny little chickens.
They're great. They have so much flavor in them that you can simmer them to make a stock, and then cut them up and make a pot pie with the meat. The Asian markets nearby sometimes have stewing ducks which are similar except much larger and are tougher still.

I do miss roaster chickens, these have become harder to find. Larger than the normal fryers that you see everywhere, they come in at 6-8lb and are much more flavorful than the fryers while still being tender. A nice "in between".

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Lilly » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:44 pm

I must live in redneck country. We have a great circle of friends. We have a lot of potlucks, bbqs or bring a dish to share. And BYOB. You can call that beverage or booze. Host furnishes ice. It's a rare occasion that someone brings a bottle of wine. Some of us may have better manners than others, but we are all friends and it really doesn't matter. Maybe we aren't out to impress anyone. I don't know. I just can't see getting this upset about friends getting together to share a meal and conversation.

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Lily

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by protagonist » Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:30 pm

Lilly wrote:I must live in redneck country. We have a great circle of friends. We have a lot of potlucks, bbqs or bring a dish to share. And BYOB. You can call that beverage or booze. Host furnishes ice. It's a rare occasion that someone brings a bottle of wine. Some of us may have better manners than others, but we are all friends and it really doesn't matter. Maybe we aren't out to impress anyone. I don't know. I just can't see getting this upset about friends getting together to share a meal and conversation.

Best wishes,
Lily
I agree, Lily. Same here re: circle of friends. I host a movie night for friends and neighbors once a month. I provide the pizza and beer. I get the pizza I like and the beer I like, since it is my nickel. As in national politics, I provide an illusion of choice by having people vote on the movie, and I take their preferences into account, but ultimately I show what I want to show. Some neighbors bring stuff, others don't. Some of what they bring is yummy...other stuff winds up in the trash after they leave. I have no idea if they really like my pizza and beer or if they are just being nice. Everybody loves it, everyone is happy, and I do it because making people happy is fun.

sscritic
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by sscritic » Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:19 pm

I see the issue differently. It has nothing to do with whether you like to be informal or formal. In my mind, when a host invites you to his house, that invitation comes with certain rules attached.

I don't show up two hours early.
I don't show up two hours late.
When asked to bring dessert for everyone, I don't just bring a six pack and drink it myself leaving the party with no dessert.
When told it is a potluck, I don't come empty handed and sponge off everyone else.
If I go to a house where shoes are not worn inside, I don't wear my shoes inside.
If I go to a party this afternoon and the host does not have the tv turned on and tuned to football games, I don't turn on the tv to watch football.
If I go to a party this afternoon and the host has the tv turned on and tuned to football games, I don't turn off the tv because I don't like football.
If the host tells me his bedroom and private bathroom are off limits, that's not where I go to relieve myself.

In short, I follow the rules set by my host and don't expect the host to follow my rules. My guess is that at your informal parties, your guests follow your rules.

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dm200
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dm200 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:14 pm

sscritic wrote:I see the issue differently. It has nothing to do with whether you like to be informal or formal. In my mind, when a host invites you to his house, that invitation comes with certain rules attached.

I don't show up two hours early.
I don't show up two hours late.
When asked to bring dessert for everyone, I don't just bring a six pack and drink it myself leaving the party with no dessert.
When told it is a potluck, I don't come empty handed and sponge off everyone else.
If I go to a house where shoes are not worn inside, I don't wear my shoes inside.
If I go to a party this afternoon and the host does not have the tv turned on and tuned to football games, I don't turn on the tv to watch football.
If I go to a party this afternoon and the host has the tv turned on and tuned to football games, I don't turn off the tv because I don't like football.
If the host tells me his bedroom and private bathroom are off limits, that's not where I go to relieve myself.

In short, I follow the rules set by my host and don't expect the host to follow my rules. My guess is that at your informal parties, your guests follow your rules.
Very "logical" and common-sense indeed! Unfortunately, a somewhat rare commodity these days.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by hicabob » Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:26 pm

Harold wrote:
HongKonger wrote:
Harold wrote: As an aside, I just love that the mint jelly guy may have been demonstrating his low class mutton-eating status by such a request. A less polite host could have sneered maybe you eat mutton in your home, whose stench needs to be overcome with minty goodness -- but we serve high quality lamb in this house!
Erm - mutton is actually enjoyed by many cultures around the world and does not speak to a persons 'class'. I am sure many sheiks would testify to that.
I learned something new (and apologize if I offended). But one might think sophisticated (and well-mannered) sheiks, while enjoying mint jelly on their mutton -- would be aware that mint jelly isn't required for succulent lamb. The ill-mannered mint jelly complainer (presumably complaining because he knew the "right" way it should be served) seemed unaware of that distinction, which struck me as a bit amusing.

Mint sauce is soooo much better - just vinegar + fresh minced mint. The bright green cloyingly sweet jelly in a jar stuff is just nasty! :annoyed

AlwaysaQ
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by AlwaysaQ » Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:52 pm

Since many people find the strong taste of lamb offputting a kind host would provide some condiment to mitigate the taste.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by ataloss » Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:03 pm

I could cite a few more but I think I've illustrated the point. When we are invited somewhere we're glad to be invited, eat and drink what's offered and if we don't like something, consume it even if it's really onerous (never happened), grateful to our hosts for having taken the trouble to host us.

You have good manners. You expect that others will too so you are disappointed. If someone hosts pizza, beer and a movie they may be more tolerant since they likely didn't make the pizza, carefully select the beer for the entree etc. Having put in less personal effort they might be less likely to take offense when guests make inappropriate requests.

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bUU
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by bUU » Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:08 pm

AlwaysaQ wrote:Since many people find the strong taste of lamb offputting a kind host would provide some condiment to mitigate the taste.
Finding the taste of something off-putting would clue me in that perhaps I shouldn't be eating that something.

Just sayin'.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by stan1 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:24 pm

bicker wrote:
AlwaysaQ wrote:Since many people find the strong taste of lamb offputting a kind host would provide some condiment to mitigate the taste.
Finding the taste of something off-putting would clue me in that perhaps I shouldn't be eating that something.

Just sayin'.
The host should tell you the menu is lamb when the invitation is made so you can spontaneously schedule a poetry reading class or kids sports tournament that you can't miss.

AlwaysaQ
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by AlwaysaQ » Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:52 pm

I said lamb is strong tasting not that it is dangerous. If I knew that a friend was going to serve lamb at a dinner to which I was invited I might eat something before I went; food is only part of getting together.

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DR
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by DR » Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:14 pm

Do you live in Michigan? I'll come and not complain!

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ram
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by ram » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:53 pm

I work at a clinic and hospital in rural Wisconsin. There are a limited number of good restaurants in my town but we eat varied delicious food in people's houses.
At last count there were people originating from >50 different countries working at this place. Many of these are first generation immigrants. The culture and manners of this group are highly variable.
Based on the place of origin and religion the rules in the host's house may include.
-No alcohol allowed in the home.
- Alcohol never consumed by the host family but guests are allowed to bring their own and need to take away any that is left.
-No non vegetarian food allowed in the house.
-No beef allowed in the house. Other meats are OK
- No pork allowed in the house. Other meats are OK.
- No outside shoes allowed in the house. (Guests allowed to bring their own slippers that are strictly used within their house. The host usually but not always has a limited number of slippers available for guests)

Nobody really expects everybody to know every rule and it is common to tell the rules to anybody who is new to the group.

I once made the mistake of taking a bottle of wine to the wrong house. It was graciously accepted, not opened and the host who is now a very good friend told me that he simply gave it away later to somebody else.

As a host one should know the dietary requirements of the guests (asking directly is perfectly fine) and have adequate choices on the menu to accommodate everybody. This usually means there are typically 6 or more dishes on the menu.

When I serve alcohol there are almost always some teetotalers. Tap water is the drink of choice for many but we also also have some store bought orange juice and punch and if teetotalers are the dominant group we try to make a fresh fruit smoothie. If one really wants to accommodate all people the alcoholic beverage list has to include scotch, preferably some single malts, beers and white and red wine. The menus are typically elaborate and frequently there is ethnic food ordered from restaurants more than 100 miles away. At other time people bring a dish each. People are typically flexible if by mistake any rule gets broken. Multiple repeat offenders tend not to make the guest lists after some time.

Some guests will not attend any dinner where alcohol is served. The responsibility of the host is simply to let the guest know that alcohol will be served. There is no need to change the menu. Invariably there are some physicians who are "on call". They therefore do not consume any alcohol and nobody gets offended if anybody declines the alcoholic beverage or any particular food.
Ram

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TxAg
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by TxAg » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:46 pm

This has been a fun thread to read.

I can be picky about what I eat or drink, but I subscribe to the "when in Rome" theory as well as reminding myself that I should be thankful for a free meal.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Fallible » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:00 pm

ram wrote:I work at a clinic and hospital in rural Wisconsin. There are a limited number of good restaurants in my town but we eat varied delicious food in people's houses.
At last count there were people originating from >50 different countries working at this place. Many of these are first generation immigrants. The culture and manners of this group are highly variable.
Based on the place of origin and religion the rules in the host's house may include.
-No alcohol allowed in the home.
- Alcohol never consumed by the host family but guests are allowed to bring their own and need to take away any that is left.
-No non vegetarian food allowed in the house.
-No beef allowed in the house. Other meats are OK
- No pork allowed in the house. Other meats are OK.
- No outside shoes allowed in the house. (Guests allowed to bring their own slippers that are strictly used within their house. The host usually but not always has a limited number of slippers available for guests)

Nobody really expects everybody to know every rule and it is common to tell the rules to anybody who is new to the group.

I once made the mistake of taking a bottle of wine to the wrong house. It was graciously accepted, not opened and the host who is now a very good friend told me that he simply gave it away later to somebody else.

As a host one should know the dietary requirements of the guests (asking directly is perfectly fine) and have adequate choices on the menu to accommodate everybody. This usually means there are typically 6 or more dishes on the menu.

When I serve alcohol there are almost always some teetotalers. Tap water is the drink of choice for many but we also also have some store bought orange juice and punch and if teetotalers are the dominant group we try to make a fresh fruit smoothie. If one really wants to accommodate all people the alcoholic beverage list has to include scotch, preferably some single malts, beers and white and red wine. The menus are typically elaborate and frequently there is ethnic food ordered from restaurants more than 100 miles away. At other time people bring a dish each. People are typically flexible if by mistake any rule gets broken. Multiple repeat offenders tend not to make the guest lists after some time.

Some guests will not attend any dinner where alcohol is served. The responsibility of the host is simply to let the guest know that alcohol will be served. There is no need to change the menu. Invariably there are some physicians who are "on call". They therefore do not consume any alcohol and nobody gets offended if anybody declines the alcoholic beverage or any particular food.
Thank you for a very interesting post that puts a somewhat new and broader perspective on this topic. I think generally speaking, a host really must know the guests' dietary requirements for many reasons, including health.
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by ShortInSeattle » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:20 pm

As a vegetarian, I always offer to bring a veggie main dish to a dinner party. I find that most hosts decline and are happy to offer us a veggie option, but I like to offer them an out.

We don't drink alcohol, but that never offends anyone. We keep some beer and wine on hand for guests.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by strcmp » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:51 am

I think some people out there need thicker skin and not be offended as much.
#1 and #2 are ok requests in my book if in the bigger picture they are appreciative of being invited to your dinner.

#1 is picky, but still somewhat reasonable. Perhaps they were looking for dessert wine or something sweeter for their taste.
#2 is not an issue at all? They asked if you had any and if you didn't, they will BYOB. I don't see what the issue is.

#3 is rude/crazy. Definitely would not invite them back.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dgdevil » Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:31 am

Do you think the people in Downton Abbey call ahead to issue drinking and food preferences, warn of weird dietary hangups and so on? Did we ever see Lord Grantham double over because he was allergic to -- alcohol, dairy products, eggs, nuts, wheat, shell fish, etc? We've become way too picky as a society. Just shut up and eat your (bad English) food. Or, like me, stay home alone and eat a bowl of cereal.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dm200 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:04 pm

We do not entertain much at all, but my views on the alcohol issue seems to be at variance with may posting here.

We consume alcohol and, generally, have no problem in settings where alcohol is served. However, there are many fine folks who do not serve alcohol, consume alcohol, not want it in their homes. I would never bring alcohol to a function where I knew the hosts did not want alcohol served or in their home. Many of my relatives are like that.

In a small function, while we might normally offer alcohol, we would not do so if we knew any guests were either offended or, perhaps more importantly, we knew that someone had a "problem" being exposed to alcohol. If, for example, "Uncle Charlie" was or had been a "problem drinker", the last thing I would want to do is facilitate his falling off the wagon - or get drunk and cause a "scene".

I recall, years ago, that one of my relatives (non-drinker) would occasionally get gifts of a bottle of liquor. He was a farmer (raised sheep) and used it, somehow, giving it to newborn lambs or other young sheep. It did not go to waste!

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by englishgirl » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:28 pm

dgdevil wrote:Do you think the people in Downton Abbey call ahead to issue drinking and food preferences, warn of weird dietary hangups and so on? Did we ever see Lord Grantham double over because he was allergic to -- alcohol, dairy products, eggs, nuts, wheat, shell fish, etc? We've become way too picky as a society. Just shut up and eat your (bad English) food. Or, like me, stay home alone and eat a bowl of cereal.
[Discussion of medical condition removed by admin LadyGeek]

Our food supply is not the same as it used to be. This is not just about being picky. Sometimes, yes it is about being picky. But how do you know which guest is picky and which is trying to maintain their health?
Sarah

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:58 pm

dm200 wrote:We do not entertain much at all, but my views on the alcohol issue seems to be at variance with may posting here.
I also feel that the focus on alcohol differs from my views. My wife drinks socially, but I generally don't. I make an exception for a Guinness or Murphys when I'm overseas where it is local, but even then I'll only have a half pint which, if nursed, gives me the full tasting experience. If it's a very hot day, and/or my wife is having a beer which I'm not familiar with, I'll take a sip.

I frequently find that declining a drink outright gets me funny looks (I don't make a fuss about it, but request iced tea or water). There have been times when I've felt that I was better off having a sip of a beer in public, and then moving on to my preferred beverage.

My general feeling about alcohol is that, if it's going to make for awkwardness, hurt feelings, conflict with beliefs, etc., it is better skipped. I am reminded of the drug testing that we did years ago at a bank that I worked at. We told applicants that the test would discover marijuana traces for a month after use and that we could schedule the test for a convenient time. We didn't really care if the applicant occasionally smoked, but we were interested in knowing if someone couldn't avoid doing so for a month. Surprisingly, quite a few people failed the test, some of them quite comically claiming that it must have been the poppy-seed bagels they'd consumed :D In a similar vein, I think that if an evening with friends would be ruined without alcohol, there's a larger issue than manners or etiquette.
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Beantown85 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:27 pm

btenny wrote:Have manners completely dissapeared from young people and modern activities?

This theme has appeared throughout the thread. The idea that somehow these types of issues reside solely with "the young". My experience has actually been quite the opposite, although I don't have any false notions that only "the old" are rude. Do people out there really feel that this next generation is truly the beginning of the rudeness, or that somehow someone in their age bracket would never act that way?

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by ofcmetz » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:48 pm

This thread is really fascinating.

I think some of y'all would be appalled at one of our police parties. All are BYOB (bring your own booze) and potluck style. Host usually provides main course and everyone brings sides. Behaviors that are considered rude or uncouth are as follows:

1. Vomiting on someone's furniture.

2. Locking oneself inside a dog crate with or without the dog.

3. Leaving the party with someone else's date.

4. Making a pass at someone's spouse.

5. Behavior that caused the police to be called.

6. Taking ones clothes off for no particular reason.

7. Setting backyard objects on fire.

Although I think reason 4 was the only one that kept someone from getting invited back. :beer
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dgdevil » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:58 pm

"I've never turned blue in someone else's bathroom. I consider that the height of bad manners." - Keith Richards.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by KyleAAA » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:58 pm

ofcmetz wrote:This thread is really fascinating.

I think some of y'all would be appalled at one of our police parties. All are BYOB (bring your own booze) and potluck style. Host usually provides main course and everyone brings sides. Behaviors that are considered rude or uncouth are as follows:

1. Vomiting on someone's furniture.

2. Locking oneself inside a dog crate with or without the dog.

3. Leaving the party with someone else's date.

4. Making a pass at someone's spouse.

5. Behavior that caused the police to be called.

6. Taking ones clothes off for no particular reason.

7. Setting backyard objects on fire.

Although I think reason 4 was the only one that kept someone from getting invited back. :beer
Sounds like a party I'd like to be invited to.

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dm200
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dm200 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:07 pm

ofcmetz wrote:This thread is really fascinating.

I think some of y'all would be appalled at one of our police parties. All are BYOB (bring your own booze) and potluck style. Host usually provides main course and everyone brings sides. Behaviors that are considered rude or uncouth are as follows:

1. Vomiting on someone's furniture.

2. Locking oneself inside a dog crate with or without the dog.

3. Leaving the party with someone else's date.

4. Making a pass at someone's spouse.

5. Behavior that caused the police to be called.

6. Taking ones clothes off for no particular reason.

7. Setting backyard objects on fire.

Although I think reason 4 was the only one that kept someone from getting invited back. :beer
Several (1,4,5,7) remind me of some "parties" I often attended in the first few years after getting out of college. I recall relieving oneself in the back yard and/or off the back porch or deck would also be on the list. GLAD those days are many, many years behind me.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by porcupine » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:08 pm

ofcmetz wrote:This thread is really fascinating.

I think some of y'all would be appalled at one of our police parties.[...]Behaviors that are considered rude or uncouth are as follows:
[...]
5. Behavior that caused the police to be called.
[...]
[...]
Do the hosts ever get invited? :oops:

- Porcupine

iceman
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by iceman » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:03 pm

As others have said, this has been an interesting thread to read. A plus to read on bogleheads, because the level of discussion is more civil than other forums.

I write software for a living, and when writing code to a well-accepted protocol (example: how your browser communicates with bogleheads.org using the hypertext transfer protocol), the rule of thumb is: be strict with the protocol in what data you send, and be lax with the protocol in what data you receive. The idea is that you should try and implement the protocol to the exact spec, but if your program is communicating to another program that is not following the spec, you should be as lax as you can so that your program doesn't fail.

I apply a similar thing to etiquette. Etiquette exists so that people understand how they should behave (and can expect how others will behave) in social settings, which helps everyone feel comfortable. The latter part is the important aspect - if someone breaks a "rule" of etiquette, I will not hold it against them unless their action left me feeling insulted or hurt in some way. My reaction will deflect away any sense that I feel a "rule" has been broken - this helps make the other person feel comfortable. But, I will try and follow etiquette rules as best I can, so that I am not perceived by someone as being rude.

To touch on some points in the thread:

If I am invited to someone's house for dinner, I will assume that they have put thought into the meal and what they are serving. Perhaps it is an old family recipe. Maybe it is a dish inspired by somewhere they traveled. Perhaps they have had it before and know that a certain wine or beer goes well with it. Whatever the circumstance is, I will assume that they have put thought and effort into serving a pleasurable and tasty meal. I would not want to do anything to make them feel that I don't appreciate this effort (because I do!). Thus, I personally would never:
  • Bring any drink with the expectation that my host would open it to serve with the meal. Further, because I know that some people are not sure what they should do when presented with wine/beer as a gift, when presenting it to them, I will make sure to phrase it along the lines of "This is a gift for you, thank you for having us over."
  • Refuse to open something that a guest brought and asked to be opened. This is the being lax part of the protocol. I want my guests to feel comfortable - if I did something to point out that they broke a "rule" this would immediately make them feel uncomfortable, so I would open the bottle. I would not feel the need to pour any for myself.
  • Caveat to the above - I would never bring and open a bottle of something thinking that the host might not have as "nice" of taste as me. If someone did this to me, and I got wind of the reason (that they questioned my taste), I would feel personally insulted and would not invite that person over again.
  • Tell my host not to open something I have given as a gift. Again, even though they don't have to, to try and point that out would just make them feel uncomfortable. If they think what I have picked for them would go well with the meal/event and would like to open it then and there, I feel flattered.
  • Ask for a condiment/accessory that is not on the dinner table. (This includes salt and pepper) Asking for anything can be taken as an insult to the chef's cooking, in my opinon; though again, I would not take insult if some requested it of me.
  • Feel insulted if a guest turned down anything, including an alcoholic beverage. There are many good reasons people do not want to consume alchohol; I don't want them to feel uncomfortable declining. I'll always have a non-alcoholic option for this reason. I also won't feel insulted if someone doesn't care for mashed potatoes (or whatever) and doesn't eat them.
Other points on this topic:

A previous post in this thread said that it has never been unacceptable to bring wine/beer of your own to consume anywhere in the USA. This is not true because I can say that it is not what I learned growing up. I cannot say though that the opposite is true, because I haven't been everywhere in the USA.

If someone has food allergies or other medical issues, I will bend over backwards to accommodate. It is polite, if hosting, to ask guests ahead of time; it is also polite as a guest to offer that information if not asked. Again, the point is to make people feel comfortable - as a host, if I neglected to ask you about food restrictions, I would feel extremely bad/embarrassed if you showed up at my home and I was set to serve you something you couldn't eat. Thus, I am happy when people provide this information even if I didn't ask.

Some comments on the thread have speculated that views on this topic are influenced by age. FWIW, I am 31.

I think some comments have alluded to the fact that people who follow rules like this can be snooty themselves. I don't believe this to so; I think if I showed up to a casual dinner party where BYOB was the norm, or if people helped themselves to things in the fridge, I wouldn't stand out at all. I'd also sense the style of the party and would know not to make any kind of waves about anything - because again I want people to feel comfortable.

And that line of thinking can actually explain a lot of "fussy" etiquette things. Why are bread plates always to the left and glasses to the right? So that no one accidentally uses someone else's bread or water, creating an embarrassing situation. And so that people don't spend the first two minutes after sitting down asking about which one is theirs. Because it is something that everyone supposedly knows, you can feel comfortable sitting down to the table and immediately taking a sip of water, not having to timidly wait for the first person to do so, so that you know what to do.

Again, the point of hosting dinner is to invite guests over to have a good time and to present them with a nice meal - you give the gift of the meal and enjoy their good company in return. Everything you do, whether it is a "rule" you follow or happily break should be motivated by making your guests, and yourselves comfortable and happy.

protagonist
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by protagonist » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:15 pm

ofcmetz wrote:This thread is really fascinating.

I think some of y'all would be appalled at one of our police parties. All are BYOB (bring your own booze) and potluck style. Host usually provides main course and everyone brings sides. Behaviors that are considered rude or uncouth are as follows:
ofcmetz wrote: 1. Vomiting on someone's furniture.
No problem with this rule. In fact I sort of like it, given that I will probably sit on the furniture.
ofcmetz wrote: 2. Locking oneself inside a dog crate with or without the dog.
No problem with this rule. None whatsoever.
ofcmetz wrote: 3. Leaving the party with someone else's date.
What if she comes on to you? (I suppose if you all work in the same precinct and are armed, this is a good rule of thumb to follow...)
ofcmetz wrote: 4. Making a pass at someone's spouse.
No problem with this rule. That's basic man code. Girlfriends too.
ofcmetz wrote: 5. Behavior that caused the police to be called.
Funny. like marijuana smoking for example? Where I live most cops I know smoke marijuana, and that is not Colorado or Washington. After living there for 30 years and getting to know them, they let their guard down.
ofcmetz wrote: 6. Taking ones clothes off for no particular reason.
I might take issue with this one. Especially if you live somewhere hot and have a pool, or somewhere cold and have a hot tub.
ofcmetz wrote: 7. Setting backyard objects on fire.
Seems reasonable. Especially given that the host, and owner of said objects, could arrest you for arson.
ofcmetz wrote: Although I think reason 4 was the only one that kept someone from getting invited back. :beer
Let me know when you are having your next shindig. I'll bring hot dogs and beer. You might also invite Lily. Though she may be a troublemaker.

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ryuns
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by ryuns » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:26 pm

Such an entertaining thread. As a rule, I think guests and hosts should try to be as low key and gracious as possible. I want to have a group of friends who want to have parties, whether that's a semi-formal dinner party, a potluck, or ordering in, and I want them to invite us. My girlfriend often overplans for any gathering we have, but I'm always pleading that, unless the expectations are that it's a formal gathering or we want to make a particular impression, we want to set the stage for lots of low key events among our friends, and don't want it to be a lot of trouble. In that way, we've offered up our house for a lot of gatherings before that simply involved appetizers and take and bake pizzas, followed by board games. We've also had nicer dinners and I never heard a complaint. (Granted, at our house, even a nice dinner involves a folding table and folding chairs because we don't have the space for an 8 seat dining table, so maybe the expectations are automatically lowered.)

The "beer" conversation was pretty interesting. It's usually beer at our house with a wine option rather than the opposite, but for decent meals, we usually offer wine. That seems like the polite and "normal" thing to do. But we may be getting to the point on the west coast and in certain circles around the country, that offering a nice 750 mL craft beer as a guest is just as socially acceptable as wine.
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iceman
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by iceman » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:33 pm

iceman wrote:Refuse to open something that a guest brought and asked to be opened. This is the being lax part of the protocol. I want my guests to feel comfortable - if I did something to point out that they broke a "rule" this would immediately make them feel uncomfortable, so I would open the bottle. I would not feel the need to pour any for myself.
I've thought more about this and have changed my mind - I would have one glass of what was opened. I think it would make my guest feel bad if he/she asked about opening it and then I declined to have any. I wouldn't feel obligated to finish it if I didn't care for it.

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Random Musings
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Random Musings » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:50 pm

Aren't guests just thankful for the opportunity to be invited in a social gathering and enjoy the evening?

I guess just an extention of the "entitlement" disease that still in growing.

Next time, just serve mint whine.......

RM
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roymeo
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by roymeo » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:39 pm

sscritic wrote:
bottlecap wrote:Alcohol is a luxury, often reserved for guests as a gracious accomodation....most people offer beer or wine.
I have never had a beer in a fine french restaurant, but I have had beers in bars in France. I can't remember a time when someone invited me over for a sit down dinner with china, linen tablecloths and napkins, and silver flatware and the host served beer. Do you pour your beer into your crystal beer glasses or just leave it in the can?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/fashi ... istry.html
http://www.mossonline.com/product-exec/product_id/45949
You might not exactly be with the times on beer for the post-craft beer boom in the mid 1980's has made beer more than a low-brow drink. There are restaurants with beer as well as wine in their cellars; some pretty exclusively. I know I'm still occasionally in a 'fine dining' restaurant with a crappy beer list but that's less and less common.

You'll also be somewhat less behind the times with the can-beer comment, as in the past 5+ years many fine craft breweries do put their beer in cans for a variety of reasons (including quality and greener recycling); you'll never have a fine craft brew from a can that has been "corked".

roymeo
(Any monkey can find mead in a tree, wine requires gathering, but beer production requires the advancement of agriculture.)
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Dealmaster00 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:09 pm

Reading this thread is making me hungry. Just another 1.5 hours till dinner!!!!!!!!!!

LynnC
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by LynnC » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:07 pm

prudent wrote:I guess I've been guilty of one of those. I do not like wine, and if offered it I decline. I am perfectly satisfied with tap water if that's the alternative. I mean no disrespect to the hosts and do not make a production of it, but I am not going to drink wine. As I truly do not want to offend the hosts or be a bad guest, how should I handle this?
I am with you on that one! I just say, "Oh, thank you, but water is fine."
Not everyone likes wine or alcohol, but it can be said in a polite manner.

LynnC

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dm200
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by dm200 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:20 pm

LynnC wrote:
prudent wrote:I guess I've been guilty of one of those. I do not like wine, and if offered it I decline. I am perfectly satisfied with tap water if that's the alternative. I mean no disrespect to the hosts and do not make a production of it, but I am not going to drink wine. As I truly do not want to offend the hosts or be a bad guest, how should I handle this?
I am with you on that one! I just say, "Oh, thank you, but water is fine."
Not everyone likes wine or alcohol, but it can be said in a polite manner.

LynnC
With all the many, and varied, reasons that individuals would have, today, for abstaining from wine (or any other alcoholic beverage), I find it puzzling that any host would take offense at a guest declining wine.

Mr Grumpy
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Mr Grumpy » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:23 pm

No, but # 2 doesn't seem unreasonable to me. In fact, it may even be considerate, but of course, it all depends on tone. I'm an alcoholic - some know and some don't so I'm used to questions like that, but in fact my wife always serves wine during a meal when adult guests are invited( but we usually don't keep any beer around).
On #1 and #3, it would just blow their comments off - if not them.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by edge » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:41 pm

I have a large formal dining room that has been expensively decorated by my wife (wood paneling/wainscoting floor to ceiling, decorative tray ceiling with hidden lighting, expensive light fixtures) and has expensive European furniture. It has probably been used a few dozen times.

This thread reminds me of why. Formal dinners are a PITA and typically we host friends/family 'informally' in our large eat-in kitchen. Which was also ridiculously expensive but far more practical.

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by Rodc » Wed Jan 02, 2013 7:44 pm

Very situational.

If someone invites you over to listen to an opera they love and you spend the evening talking over it about football that is rude. If you don't like opera decline.

If someone invites you over to watch the super bowl and all you talk about is opera to the point your host can't follow the game that is rude. If you don't like football decline.

For some people putting on a fine dinning experience is like putting on an opera. They very carefully choose the menu and the materials and spend hours preparing so the tastes, smells and textures are all in deep harmony. All on a very tastefully set table. A culinary work of art as it were. Just like not everybody really gets and enjoys opera (or football) not everyone really gets a fine dining experience. Pouring ketchup all over it is just rude (or many other modifications discussed in this thread) just like talking over an opera (or football game). Really, if you can't appreciate the dinner or pretend to appreciate the dinner just decline. If you are really a pot luck or BBQ type there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (generally more my speed, but I can swing both ways. :))

And if you learn you have friends who don't appreciate that sort of dining, either go less formal if you want to entertain those friends, or invite someone else who will enjoy it. No need to court hurt feelings by putting people in positions where they are not comfortable. And if you get invited to what you know is a formal fancy dinner decline if you can't go along with the ride.

Unfortunately (to those that like such things) fine dining is becoming a lost art. For those who don't really do fine dining, it is probably a good thing.
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by leonard » Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:55 pm

Why get this worked up over leisure time activity. Solutions are easy - either tolerate the natural variation in people (BTW people the host judged appropriate to invite in the first place) or don't invite people over.
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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by guitarguy » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:02 pm

When we get invited or we invite friends for dinner the couple that's invited always offers to see what we can bring. In my circles it's not necessarily wine but a side dish or dessert or something usually. And whoever's hosting says "we'll have beer and pop" or something like that if they're supplying drinks. Otherwise BYOB is no biggie. I guess we just tend to keep things pretty informal around our house. Black tie parties are rare.

I don't think I've ever been asked to bring something specifically for dinner though...that's rude. We'd love you guys to come over for dinner Friday. By the way can you bring a salad? :oops:

My dogs never complain about what's on the dinner menu or need a Dasani rather than tap. The more people I meet, the more I like them. :D

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Re: Dinner Guest Issues

Post by HornedToad » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:39 pm

prudent wrote:I guess I've been guilty of one of those. I do not like wine, and if offered it I decline. I am perfectly satisfied with tap water if that's the alternative. I mean no disrespect to the hosts and do not make a production of it, but I am not going to drink wine. As I truly do not want to offend the hosts or be a bad guest, how should I handle this?
I have the same issue with wine offerings. I'll always ask if there's something else: soda, juice or if not then water. I do the same when we host parties, offer a couple wines but then make sure to have soda, juice, sparkling apple cider etc. for myself and anyone else who doesn't like wine.

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