TT: Label the food when you entertain

party fare

party fare

I promise that I’m not doing TT that are related to the Superbowl up until the Superbowl.  However since we did just talk about it, I figure this would be a good time to post this particular tip. :D

How many times have you gone to a party or perhaps a potluck only to face down an entire table of mystery foods?  You make your way down the line of food poking and pushing it around trying to figure out what it could be.  You ask the person in front of you and they usually end up not knowing as well.  If you’re lucky you can catch the host and ask them but you also run the risk of receiving an answer such as, “Oh Joanne brought that.  It’s fluff salad she said.”

Fluff, wha?!  The answer ambiguous enough that not only are you still clueless to possible ingredients you are wondering how something yellow and green can be called fluff.

I’m not an adventurous person when it comes to mystery food.  I’ll stick with things that I can determine what it is right away, like pasta salad and the veggie tray if there is one.  I stay away from meats especially if the dish has some sort of ground meat in it because I don’t know exactly what it is or where it came from.  I’m a meat snob I guess.  Staring down the table of mystery food has happened to me plenty of times and I will be honest when I say that it’s a big pet peeve of mine.

My TT is all about labeling the food you are serving.  The next time you are hosting a party with some nibbles, create some labels to place in front of each dish.  It lets your party goers know what the dish is and what make up the main ingredients.  If you want, you can even type out some of the basic ingredients under the name providing even more specific details.

Does that seem too anal or Type A?  Maybe but it’s a good idea.  Perhaps some of your guests are budding vegetarians or vegans?  Lableing the food will let them know not only what may contain meat or fish, but also dairy products.  It gives those who are lactose intolerant a heads up on foods that they will want to steer away from.  And just maybe one of your guests has a food allergy you are unaware of, labeling food could save someone from an unfortunate incident.

If you are hosting an event where others are also bringing food, ask them specifics about the dish so you can have that label ready to go when they arrive.  And don’t settle for “fluff salad”, probe for more details.

Let’s say you are hosting a sit-down dinner and not buffet style.  Typing up the menu is the way to go in that situation.  There are so many pretty fonts and printers can do amazing things, that a menu doesn’t have to look boring, you can give it some pizazzaz.  This allows your guests to see what wonderful things they can expect out of your kitchen.

The bottom line is prepare your guests.  It makes perfect sense to label foods, which results in the guests being informed about the dish. Because if it is not something they eat, they can just bypass it and move on to something else.  Otherwise the situation turns to them loading it on their plate only to toss it away later because it wasn’t until they were about to eat it, they realized it is not something they want.  I personally hate tossing away food especially if it is a situation that can easily be prevented.  Plus just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean everyone is the same way and I could be tossing a serving that someone else would have gladly eaten.

Make the labels easy to read so your guests aren’t squinting and bending over trying to figure out what it says.  I promise that if you do this trick you will have very happy guests.  Give it a try at your next party!

10 thoughts on “TT: Label the food when you entertain

  1. That’s a great idea. I’m trying to get people to do that for office pitch-ins.

    The other thing I wish people would do with potlucks is to provide a few copies of the recipe so that one doesn’t have to A) hunt down the creator and B) hope that s/he will remember to email it to you after they get home and sober up.

  2. I do this all the time. I’m always the one that brings the allergy safe dishes to potlucks and so I label things and even include ingredients sometimes. That way if there are other people with allergies they can better identify a safe dish.

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