My grandmother (bless her heart) was crazy… Well, maybe she wasn’t
crazy, per se, but having lived through the Great Depression, she was frugal to
the point of institutionalization. This
woman (with the help of her two sisters) had collected, stacked, and saved more
empty Cool-whip and margarine tubs than Kraft has in their factory right now. She also used to take the sugar packets from
restaurant tables and slyly deposit them into her purse to take them home. My logic; “Grandma, you’re stealing sugar!” Her logic; “They wouldn’t put them here if
they didn’t expect you to use them!” One of my old crazy girlfriends had an even crazier mother who would ask for “Nothing but water, please” in a restaurant, then bother the waiter again for, “a plate full of lemon wedges please,” then use every sugar packet on the table to make her own “free” lemonade. She always thought she was putting one over on them, and she would scoff at those of us foolish enough to pay $1.00 for our own lemonade…
Right after college, I worked for a catering company. I learned how to cook, tend bar, clean, and
most importantly, I learned a thing or two about customer service and about
people. I love to watch people and I’m
never disappointed. For example, how
many of you readers out there would ask for a “to go” box at a wedding
reception? It happens all the time! I would “catch” Uncle Fred or whoever,
heading over to where the prime rib was being sliced with a Styrofoam box and a
pair of tongs, and I would be tempted to ask, “Are you aware that the bride’s
family paid for this and that they will take home any leftover food? Therefore, you’re basically robbing your own
family of food?”
I know it’s the
that a good portion of you will be traveling and eating, drinking, etc. Here are a few “Rules of Reason” to abide by
when it comes to food this year:
1) If you don’t bring food, don’t eat food. Too many people crash their corporate
pot-luck and sneak out with a free meal.
The fact that there are usually leftovers isn’t the point; the point is,
most of us have been blessed with enough food to feed more than our immediate
families, and we should give back when we can.
Bring a dish to share, its fun!
2) Don’t take food home from the buffet! This is a very simple rule and it make’s so
much sense. When you eat lunch at the
Chinese food buffet, do they have Styrofoam boxes for people to take home extra
food? Not if you sat down and ate at the
restaurant, they don’t! Why should a
meal at Grandma’s be any different? If
Grandma offers, that’s one thing. Don’t
assume the entire buffet is yours to deal with.
3) Buying something at the grocery store to take to the pot-luck supper
you were invited to is just “bad form!”
I know, I know, it’s cheap and easy and fast, but still… Macaroni and
Cheese made from scratch is ‘Comfort food.’
Cold Macaroni salad from the deli counter is just, well… ‘Nasty;’ particularly
if you don’t even go to the trouble to serve it on a nice plate. Dumping a plastic deli-tub full of potato
salad onto a pot-luck table during the holidays should be a misdemeanor. If you can’t cook, offer to buy some
ingredients for a fellow employee or family member who does, and together you
can come up with something spectacular!
4) No aromatics on the airplane!
I was onboard a plane recently where a woman brought a large casserole
dish of leftover lasagna with her to her seat.
I realize you can’t check lasagna, but it is rather annoying to expose a
plane full of passengers to the aroma of garlic, basil, sausage, cheese, etc,
without offering to feed them!
5) It’s a mainstream world. If
you have food allergies, or aversions to certain dishes, meats, etc, try to be
flexible. It’s unreasonable to expect
the entire office to hold a vegetarian pot-luck this year, when you’re the only
one who doesn’t eat meat. Polite inquiries
about the ingredients of different dishes are certainly reasonable, especially
when you have allergies, but expecting the entire buffet to be a “peanut-free
zone” is a bit much. By the same token,
preparers of meals should be sensitive enough to label dishes that are overly
spicy or that contain bizarre ingredients.
So what if you’re father’s chili recipe burnt the tongues of everyone in
not a reason to burn everyone at the office!
If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes,
etc, please call 1-877-49-EXPERT. Your questions will be recorded and Ken
will answer the best ones in his Ask
the Expert podcast show.