Side dishes side-eye
September 19, 2018 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I've been thinking about the shade thrown at potlucks, where people judge one another on the way they prepared their dish – like, if someone has dared to put raisins in their rice pudding (or not.) Trying to come up with other examples.

This came to mind because of the recent strange-sandwich-combo and sandwich-cutting discussions. I remember at school and church potlucks/social suppers, there would always be discreet murmurs about the different casseroles and covered dishes people brought — along the lines of "Can you BELIEVE Phyllis puts X in her Y..." (or, "Well, SOME people might make X without Y, but I never would...)

Rice pudding with/without raisins is an example of that kind of thing. And of course there are the many styles of barbecue which are debated. I've been trying to remember other examples of this kind of thing – home recipes for which people have strong feelings about How Right-Thinking People Make This, and How Dare They.
posted by profreader to Food & Drink (80 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The many styles of potato salad come to mind.
posted by nathaole at 8:10 AM on September 19, 2018 [15 favorites]

This is the ultimate:
posted by heathrowga at 8:13 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

Fruit salad, I am very wary of the odd things people hide in there and it's shocking how many fruits look like other fruits when chopped up.

My mother makes it with copious sour cream and rainbow mini marshmallows and I used to hide potluck notices in school so I could avoid taking that disgusting mess. I would use my own allowance to buy a pack of cookies rather than let mom make her 'special' fruit salad.
posted by buildmyworld at 8:14 AM on September 19, 2018 [24 favorites]

I've gotten the passive-aggressive, "oh, I thought you were bringing crescent rolls." when I've shown up for TDay bearing biscuits.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 8:14 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Did you really add tomatoes to your guacamole? ARE THERE BEANS IN YOUR CHILI??
posted by annabear at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2018 [10 favorites]

According to some of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, sprinkle cookies are an offense.
posted by BibiRose at 8:19 AM on September 19, 2018

Stuffing: with or without celery. My extended family had a few hour-long fights about this. With celery is correct IMHO.

Raisins: Pretty much anything that they're in; there's someone willing to go to war saying that they shouldn't be. My wife has a shirt with a picture of a cookie with a bite taken out of it and the text, "Raisins ruin everything." And yet, because she loves me she sometimes makes me oatmeal raisin cookiess with 3x the cinnamon and 2x the raisins called for by the recipe.
posted by nobeagle at 8:23 AM on September 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

There are many regional variations on Scottish stovies. Often served around midnight during the dancing at a wedding to soak up some of the booze. You can imagine how that goes...
posted by sedimentary_deer at 8:26 AM on September 19, 2018

Bread crumbs on mac and cheese.
posted by General Malaise at 8:28 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Well there was that year I suggested very gently that we try making the Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with only one cup of sugar instead of two, and you would have thought I'd walked into the kitchen and told my family I joined ISIS.
posted by phunniemee at 8:30 AM on September 19, 2018 [34 favorites]

Not just bread crumbs on mac and cheese, but mac and cheese in general! Should it be baked casserole style or stove-top? People often have a strong preference for the "right" way it should be done!
posted by Blissful at 8:31 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

My east coast friend went to an upper midwest pot-luck Thanksgiving where she was told to bring green bean casserole. She brought green beans sauteed with slivered almonds in a casserole dish. I think the host pressed charges.
posted by nantucket at 8:33 AM on September 19, 2018 [44 favorites]

Do you like your pecan pie to be a layer of pecans floating on Karo goo, or pecans all the way down? Apparently some people actively like the Karo-goo version, bless their hearts.
posted by momus_window at 8:38 AM on September 19, 2018 [15 favorites]

In my family, there is only One Right Charoseth.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:39 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Vinegar- vs. mayo-based pasta salads and coleslaw
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:40 AM on September 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

Gravy? Wars have been fought over gravy preparation preferences. I'm pretty sure there is a Crimes against Gravy Tribunal in the Hague. There should be anyhow.
posted by some loser at 8:41 AM on September 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

Crunchy or smooth is a question that has plagued my family for generations in re: chicken salad, tuna salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and peanut butter.

Pie crust: all-butter vs. Crisco vs. lard

Baking: the from-scratch purists tend to look askance at anything made from a box mix.

My mother side-eyes my aunt's macaroni and cheese because she (my aunt) overcooks the noodles.
posted by coppermoss at 8:44 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are a vegetarian, patient explanations to kindly well-intentioned cooks that no, you really don't eat chicken either. Or bacon bits, featured on many varieties of potato salad, which is my answer to your question specifically, since even when I ate meat, potato salad with bacon bits on it was anathema to me. (And then, as a vegetarian at a potluck, rendering your idea of how most dishes should be prepared moot anyway, when you sit down to eat, you get side-eye astonished looks anyway because you only got salad.)
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 8:48 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

My husband's family will make jello with pretzels and other shit in it and serve it on the plate as a side dish on the plate where the actual food goes. I don't like jello to begin with, but I'd be willing to accept it as a dessert. It has no business next to meat and vegetables.

I also agree that raisins ruin everything.

I have a strong preference for dressing like my mom used to make.... which is a box of Stove Top. (I know, I know. ) But I hate taking a bite of dressing and finding raisins or walnuts or leathery bits of bacon or other nasty surprises (like fucking salmonella because they tried to bake it in the bird and don't know what they're doing...)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:59 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

My sibling has great faith in their gravy- and mashed potato-making skills. They are wrong and our Mom would always provide a distraction so I could make the gravy. We have gluey mashed potatoes with excellent gravy. (make a proper roux to thicken it, use white wine or sherry, better-than-bouillon totally acceptable addition, pan drippings required)

I used to spend Thanksgivings with a cousin who makes stuffing exactly the way our Moms(sisters) made it. Celery & onions but no giblets, plenty of fat and good stock. I always make turkey and stuffing at home if I spend the holiday elsewhere because it matters. Raisins are Right Out, no bacon, apples, walnuts. It's acceptable to make a 2nd version of stuffing if you must get creative. Monster, pretzels in jello? hmmm. But you would love my stuffing.

boy, does this Ask.Me strike a nerve.
posted by theora55 at 9:02 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

Raisins and apples (and carrots and potatoes) in the Chicken curry. (YUM) but man I've upset people with that. I think maybe its an English style curry.

Mashed potatoes that have lumps (otherwise knows as "at least you know they are real") I hate whipped smooth pototatoes

Sausage vs bread stuffing.

Paprika does NOT belong in every dish (looking at your husband)
posted by Ftsqg at 9:07 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you like your pecan pie to be a layer of pecans floating on Karo goo, or pecans all the way down? Apparently some people actively like the Karo-goo version, bless their hearts.

Hey, chess pie/shoofly pie/crack pie is a thing - those are all goo with zero nuts, and they're great (in very small quantities). Me, I like my pecan pie with a decent amount of both nuts and goop.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have witnessed a lot of trash talking from otherwise very sweet people about who brought the best deviled eggs (based on what non-standard additives are in them).
posted by Candleman at 9:09 AM on September 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

Relish in the tuna salad: y/N
Diced celery in the tuna salad: Y/n
Torn up bits of American sliced “singles” in the tuna salad: 🤢
posted by easement1 at 9:11 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I went to a couple's house for Thanksgiving, and they had a whole turkey cooked in a traditional manner plus a turkey breast prepared in some exotic spice mixture, maybe North African? The couple told us that the one who was doing the cooking had wanted to do just one North African turkey, and the other one absolutely forbade it because how can you not have a traditional turkey at Thanksgiving?? I was in 100% agreement with that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:15 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Putting some kind of dairy into hummus.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:18 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

There’s a lot of preferences listed in the responses but I think a lot of that side eye is basically “that’s not how we do things HERE” which is different than do you like raisins in cookies (or just about anything.) the green bean casserole is a great example- canned, frozen or fresh green beans, Campbell’s cream of mushroom or homemade, the surface area of a dish and onion crunchies ratio. A lot of those also have to do with socio economic levels as well- availability of canned/frozen versus fresh etc.
posted by raccoon409 at 9:19 AM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

And cultural- see every joke about how white people don’t use seasoning. (Or something like being “worldly” enough to know that dairy doesn’t usually go in hummus, etc
posted by raccoon409 at 9:21 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

We went to A LOT of church suppers when I was a kid. Mom always pointed out the dishes we shouldn't take, because they looked like they might be made with home-canned food and she didn't trust the sterility of other people's jars.

There was one lady who made her green bean casserole with Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup instead of Cream of Mushroom, and *everybody* liked hers better.

Mom always served mayonnaise with gelled salad instead of whipped cream. Some of her salads were savory, but she even served mayonnaise with the sweet ones.

There were always some people who liked mustard in potato salad and deviled eggs and some who didn't.

Once I made my favorite lower-sugar cookies for a school potluck. My sister, without ever trying one, harped for DAYS about how nobody wanted to eat "dietetic yuck," and made puking noises the whole time I was cooking. The cookies got eaten.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:22 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Google "chadwick boseman potato salad."
posted by praemunire at 9:33 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised you left out "store bought" versus "home cooked" as a cause of potluck side eye, but I've never been to a church potluck, only work potlucks. In the past I have used vacation days rather than go to work potlucks because I rarely cook for myself so I'm not about to cook for people at work. Fortunately, at my current job we can contribute cash towards a potluck in lieu of cooking, and that's great because it makes the potluck more inclusive.
posted by Rob Rockets at 9:44 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have been sassed for putting sugar in cornbread.
posted by Drosera at 9:47 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Chocolate chip cookies should use vanilla extract and not anise extract, and if you do make licorice flavored chocolate chip cookies at least warn the unexpecting populace.
posted by lepus at 9:50 AM on September 19, 2018 [28 favorites]

In our family, it's if you put eggs in your potato salad and if the potato salad is mayo or mustard based. (A good example of this would be how Publix grocery stores down south have many varieties or potato salad in their deli to choose from because of this!)

Also, deviled eggs. Some people use vinegar and finely chopped onions/celery for crunch in the mixture whereas others use relish. I'm weird about this; I only like the relish ones.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 9:59 AM on September 19, 2018

Cheese in lasagne (no).
Peas in shepherd's pie (no).
Carrots in Cornish pasties (no).
Minced meat in Cornish pasties (no).
Beans in chili (yes, f*ck it)
posted by pipeski at 10:00 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Drosera brought up the one: sugar in cornbread makes it cake! So says my father. I can barely eat the sugared kind myself.

For me, cold noodle salads, whipped cream salads, Waldorf salads, and Watergate salads are the worst potluck food.

And woe betide those who remove the skin from chicken before frying the meat. That's not real fried chicken! You can't promise you're bringing fried chicken and then not have the breaded, crunchy skin!
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:01 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Toasting a bagel.

Mayo on pastrami.

I grew up with Jews. Not judgy at all.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:06 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Google "chadwick boseman potato salad."

Just coming here to post that!

"Aw hell naw, Karen. Keep your bland-ass potato salad to yourself!"

I live in Vermont where there are people from different potluck traditions and side-eye at a store bought pie was definitely a thing, even though there are usually exceptions made to parents of very young children.
posted by jessamyn at 10:16 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, and what's up with people making apple pie without peeling the apples? That's not even up for discussion.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:19 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Speaking of green bean casserole --- We brought one to a Thanksgiving several years back hosted by my wife's cousins. Ours used shallots instead of the traditional french onions -- which apparently was not acceptable. My wife's aunt scrambled to pull together ingredients then proceeded to make another green bean casserole "the right way" in front of us.
posted by rube goldberg at 10:21 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Store-bought pie? Heresy! Maybe if it's the upscale pie, but the sad, flat pies at my grocery should be eaten at home, probably alone in front of bad tv. A Mrs. Smith's frozen pie, baked this morning, is okay, I guess. I admit that I use prepared crust, so I have no business casting aspersions, but that never stopped me.
posted by theora55 at 10:42 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sweet potatoes: with marshmallows? [no]
Watermelon: sprinkled with salt? [no thanks]
Brownies or fudge: nuts? [NO]
Pie crust: homemade? [yes]
Butter (on the table or in your baked goods): salted or no? [yes all of the butter]
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:43 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Aside from the fundamental vinegar vs. mayo coleslaw divide, there is also the polarizing question of raisins and/or apples in coleslaw.
posted by mhum at 10:48 AM on September 19, 2018

[A few comments deleted. Ok, let's reel it back in some, it's not a general chat thread about weird dishes you've seen or general potluck pet peeves. OP is asking about classic examples of specific "unthinkable to do it with x" vs "unthinkable to do it without x" divisions about a given dish.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:59 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

In England, some people make plain sandwiches with butter instead of mayo/mustard. That was a fun surprise.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:00 AM on September 19, 2018

Once I went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving, and he'd invited an elderly Southern neighbor. I brought Thomas Keller's recipe for Leek bread pudding, which started off "Use a Pullman or brioche loaf to make croutons" and ended up in a bath of heavy cream and butter. The elderly lady wrinkled her nose at my dish. "It's some kind of onion pudding, I don't think it sounds very good." She said loudly to somebody else.

Then she insisted on us trying her special cranberry sauce, which was half cherry jello.

There was a lot of side-eye that day in multiple directions.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:06 AM on September 19, 2018 [12 favorites]

Cheese in lasagne (no)

What? Cheese is the main ingredient in lasagna. I'd side-eye the hell out of a cheeseless lasagna. Maybe you mean ricotta but no mozzarella? But what a sad lasagna that would be!

My feeling is that no one should ever put nuts in anything meant to be served to a bunch of other people who aren't your family. A lot of people are allergic or just prefer their foods without nuts but I doubt anyone ever decided not to eat something because it didn't have nuts in it.
posted by Redstart at 11:06 AM on September 19, 2018 [13 favorites]

A lot of people are allergic or just prefer their foods without nuts

This may be getting in the weeds, but a big potluck division which is whether people with allergies and sensitivities fend for themselves or not. At potlucks at friends houses people are usually good about this (mix of veggie and non foods, clearly labelled nuts and gluten) but at church suppers this is a non-thing and people just have to track down the people who made the thing to ask about ingredients. And this is side-eye inducing.

Other stuff that is a little more cookout than potluck

- toasted buns or no?
- hot dog buns open on the side or the top?

And then yeah other potluck things that are more what I would think of as class markers/regional than anything else.

- whipped cream or Cool Whip?
- how much sugar in iced tea?
- dairy (like whipped topping or ice cream) in the punch?
- mix cake, supermarket cake, home made cake?
- deviled eggs (and their carrying cases!!) are a huge divider and then around here there's also whether they came from your own chickens
posted by jessamyn at 11:20 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

There are passionate advocates for pickle relish in mayo based things like egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, potato salad ... and then there are those who are equally passionate about leaving it out (which would include me and Mr. gudrun).

There are people who don't think brownies are brownies if they don't include chopped nuts/nut chunks, particularly walnuts, and then there is me and Mr. gudrun. I'm not allergic, but nuts in baked goods ruin them for me. I'm reluctantly willing to allow some almonds or pecans (and pecan pie is tasty), but please no walnuts in brownies!

Also, sweet bagels ... ugh, heresy. Save the sweetness for doughnuts.
posted by gudrun at 11:23 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I haven't yet seen this at a "potluck" per se, but boy howdy do New Englanders have O.P.I.N.I.O.N.S. about what goes in a lobster roll. Glares across the picnic table over whether it should be warm and buttery, or cold and mayo-ey. I, as someone from away, am fine with either as long as they're not using celery BS as filler (often encountered in the cold and mayo-ey versions), but that position is Not Acceptable. You're either Right or you're Wrong, but you pick one of those two variants, period; not being either Team Butter or Team Mayo is worse than being Wrong.

Also clam chowder. "New England" clam chowder is milk or cream based, "Manhattan" has tomatoes. Except that the last time I went to the Big E (New England states fair), Rhode Island was serving a clam chowder with tomatoes in it, too. Lots of WTFing all around, heh.

(On preview, everybody saying intact nuts Do Not Belong in baked goods, I'm on your team. I'll use nut flours for making flourless goods as needed for Pesach and gluten-free contexts, and nut butters are also fair game, but otherwise ugh.)
posted by Pandora Kouti at 11:29 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Spaghetti sauce ingredients = did you bring your épée?

Choice of pizza toppings.
The 'right' kind of teabags to make iced tea.
N'thing tuna salad.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:29 AM on September 19, 2018

Scottish church sales-of-work — probably no longer a thing after the small bubble of victoriana I grew up in evaporated — were all of the side-eye. It's where church-ladies competed for the sale of what they'd baked/sewn for church funds, and there was sometimes a best-of competition, usually with the minister adjudicating.

Much was made of the presentation: one might make the best tablet in the world, but unless the grease-proof paper wrapper was perfect it would be shunned. Similarly, another made meringues that looked like the very clouds of heaven, but unfortunately the puffiness and whiteness mostly came from salt. Yuck.

Mum would give us money to spend, along with little tips like "You might not enjoy Mrs. Brown's scones" which really meant "I see you buying anything from Mrs. Brown and you're disowned". One also had to spend just the right amount at Mum's table or there would be questions later.
posted by scruss at 11:35 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

Ms. Moonlight: Why on earth would you use mayo instead of butter in a sandwich?

Lettuce in Greek salad. Big no-no.
Coffee cake. Unacceptable.

Then there's the all out war over whether you put cream or jam on your scones first, only to be eclipsed by when one should add milk to one's tea.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 11:40 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Maybe this is just a German thing, but many folks here use Quark in Tiramisú or Tzatziki and it disappoints me so. I believe the reason is that supermarkets didn't stock mascarpone and Greek yogurt until more recent times and people use their old family recipes.
posted by Skybly at 11:58 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Chicken salad: with or without curry; with or without grapes

Cornbread: with (WRONG WRONG WRONG) or without sugar

Deviled eggs: with or without relish
posted by pecanpies at 12:11 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Once I made my favorite lower-sugar cookies for a school potluck. My sister, without ever trying one, harped for DAYS about how nobody wanted to eat "dietetic yuck," and made puking noises the whole time I was cooking. The cookies got eaten.

I made sugar cookies (using actual butter) for an event at my school and ended up taking them home because people prefer store bought bakery items, apparently. I supose it may be a "stranger danger" or allergy thing, tho.
posted by waving at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2018

One I vividly remember from my own family is "does sauerkraut belong with the Thanksgiving turkey dinner?" (Absolutely not). My aunt's use of sauerkraut, among other things, is a large part of why my parents have held a passive-aggressive Saturday "second Thanksgiving" with their own cooking for as long as I have been alive.

Re raisins; in my experience, the side-eye comes not from their mere presence, but from inadvertently biting into one when you expect something else. There is no sadder dessert experience than biting into what looks like a chocolate chip cookie and finding a stealth raisin.
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

My late mother-in-law used to put sugar in her deviled eggs. The first and only time I ate one I nearly spewed. I was not expecting a deviled egg to be sweet.
posted by Kangaroo at 12:35 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

There's also the whole sweet vs. savory grits issue, encapsulated in innumerable Twitter polls as "do you put sugar or salt on your grits?"
posted by mhum at 12:40 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm reminded of Laura and Mary from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, arguing over whether there should be sage or onion in the dressing for roast goose. Grown-up Laura talks about that story again in this 1916 column for the Missouri Ruralist.
posted by spelunkingplato at 12:43 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

There are those who think nuts belong in baked goods, and the rest of us who know better. Blech, random bit of nuts ruin everything. Carrot cake, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies are all better without nuts.

There's the people who put tuna in their macaroni salad, which is fine I suppose but some might disagree.

On the cold salad front, there's also the mayo vs. miracle whip divide.
posted by cabingirl at 12:52 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

after review:
DATE SQUARES YES [without nuts tho] [my god I miss date squares and butter tarts, brb moving back to Canada]
grits are sweet at breakfast and savory at all other meals including sometimes brunch, right? [disclaimer: not from the US South]
all I know about milk in first I learned from reading Nancy Mitford. I drink Earl Grey with no milk or sugar, I am sure that offends somehow.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 12:53 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

ctrl-F hotdogs in chicago no results?

Nothing will get you a room full of side-eye quicker than putting ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago.

Nothing will get you a room full of side-eye quicker than assembling a Chicago-style dog *basically anywhere else*.

It's not technically a side dish I suppose, but people certainly Have Feelings About It.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:56 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Raisins in butter tarts. (Yes!)
Walnuts in chocolate chip cookies or banana bread. (No!)
posted by synecdoche at 1:25 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mock cream. Bad. Instant coffee flavoured mock cream on coffee cake. Diabolical.

Trifle with glace cherries - just no, and jelly must be red definitely not green. Not even on St Patricks. The rules for trifle used to be very strict but then the tv chefs started making fancy versions and now it's cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria.

Maybe it's just me but I would think a New Zealander who doesn't put kiwifruit on a Pavlova is unpatriotic.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had never heard of crunchy deviled eggs, and hope to never encounter one.

Also, tuna salad with whole olives in it is like biting into eyeballs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:45 PM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

Bread pudding with or without nuts, fruit, raisins inside - without
Bananas in fruit salad - no
Pineapple rings on the baked ham slices?
posted by Night_owl at 1:54 PM on September 19, 2018

Oatmeal raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies will get you uninvited to all future pot lucks. Same goes for the people that can barely manage to bring a bag of potato chips and still cheap out by purchasing the generic brand. Hey lazy ass, next time and at lease buy nice chips with your bare minimum effort.
posted by ShakeyJake at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this counts but we sometimes do hotdogs at our church picnic. IMHO hot dogs need to have steamed buns and the filling is coleslaw, raw onions and mayonnaise. Mustard optional. This is Quebec style and they are called steamies or 'ot dog. Doesn't matter what the dogs are - vegan, chicken, all beef - it's all the same.

Some people put walnuts in the turkey stuffing. Or walnuts AND celery. Some people ruin Christmas.

I have been to church youth group sleep overs where the teens made pizza. There are a lot of different pizza recipes. I do not consider ketchup and sliced hot dogs as the only toppings to actually be pizza, and tomato sauce and hamburger may be a step in the right direction but without cheese it's not pizza.

The day care my daughter attended once held a pot luck where all the parents were invited to bring a specialty dish from their ethnic origin. The took me aside and told me that since my daughter and I were plain white bread boring English speaking Canadians we had no ethnic specialty dishes, so we didn't have to bring anything or could bring anything, like a tuna casserole or something. I explained I was English. They said that since there were no English specialty dishes I didn't have to bring anything special. I brought an enormous trifle with three types of fruit and home made custard and cake and whipped cream and sprinkles on top. Nobody at the pre-school had ever heard of trifle. All of the the kids at the pre-school took one look at my offering and immediately decided it was their favourite. I arrived at pick up time to see all the other parents packing up left overs and was handed a well-scraped empty bowl.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:23 PM on September 19, 2018 [22 favorites]

IMHO hot dogs need to have steamed buns and the filling is coleslaw, raw onions and mayonnaise. Mustard optional. This is Quebec style and they are called steamies or 'ot dog.

A little side-eye... A Steamie isn't the toppings or what you do with bun - its just the cooking method of the wieners as they are steamed. When they are grilled they are called toasted or toasté. With those toppings its an "All Dressed" or a "Montreal style All Dressed". And it is usually mustard instead of mayo though that is optional.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:03 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Did you make your biscuits with Bisquick? If so, my mother had Words about it on the car ride home.

Did banana pudding exist somewhere within a five mile radius of the potluck? My mother has more Words about the tastes of the savage Tennesseans among which she had to live after she married my father. (To be fair, the amount of banana pudding consumed in East Tennessee in the eighties and nineties was quite ridiculous.)
posted by frobozz at 4:31 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I grew up in the South, so there was a lot of banana pudding shade. Either you are a right-thinking person who uses boxed pudding mix and Cool Whip as the National Biscuit Company intended, or you're Mrs. Fancy-Britches thinking she's too good for that and making her own pudding or whipped cream (or, god forbid, putting meringue on top).

And how dare you put or not put relish in your deviled eggs? Or use any kind of mustard but the only right kind, which is either French's Yellow or Dijon.

Mayo vs. Miracle Whip is also a holy war.

And folks have already covered most classic American Thanksgiving expectations, but here's another from my mom's side of the family: does Thanksgiving gravy necessarily have giblets, or are giblets a vile adulteration of the beautiful art of gravy? If there are giblets, is it such an obvious given that you don't have to call it out, or must you specify that you'll be serving "giblet gravy"?
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:16 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Going along with thanksgiving, I was home (like, in the states) for thanksgiving for the first time in 18 years last year. 18 years of making thanksgiving in a country without giant ovens in every kitchen. I did what I always do, and dismembered the turkey so a) I could use the carcass to make stock for gravy and stuffing, and b) I'd have better control over how the meat would turn out (all done, all juicy, as opposed to "still raw here, like sawdust there"). I thought my aunt was going to kick me out of the house. Words were actually had. Explanations were given, and at the dinner table, begrudging and backhanded compliments were given.

So yeah, cooking the turkey in parts, or whole bird thanksgiving, people have opinions (the whole bird is pretty/traditional), or are armed with science and experiment and trial based results.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:38 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Herbed ricotta vs bechamel in lasagna. Also people who insist that boiling rice is correct and steaming is wrong.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:00 AM on September 20, 2018

Sugar in cornbread is a polarizing one which tends to break along racial lines in the southern US.
posted by winna at 4:27 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Would you like one from another country? Paella in Spain is an extremely sensitive topic, everybody has an opinion about what belongs in it. Somebody just told me the other day that their mother, from a small village in Valencia, swore up and down that paella could only be made with rabbit, and if you put shellfish in it may be delicious, but it CERTAINLY was not paella.

Everyone agrees that Jaime Oliver's version with chorizo is a hysterical abomination, tho.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:50 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

British examples:

Sandwiches are usually made with butter/margarine, and which is used can get some serious side-eye.

Coleslaw. Oh, coleslaw. Cabbage and carrot are agreed on, but then it goes into 100% side-eye territory. Onions? Either essential or heresy. Grated apple? Raisins? And that's before you get into the dressing. Mayonnaise or salad cream? What sort of mayo? And do you add anything to it?

What you put on your chips (fries). Partly, this is regional - salt and sauce (brown sauce diluted with vinegar) is unique to Edinburgh and surrounds, and enthusiasm for curry sauce on chips also varies by area. But there are debates within areas, which can result in side-eyeing from the rest of the queue in the chipper.
posted by Vortisaur at 10:12 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

What you put on your chips (fries). Partly this is regional
Pies also. Pie and mash with liquor (a parsley sauce) is an East London institution, although one that is dying out sadly. There are few proper pie and mash shops about now, Manzies on Tower Bridge Road is a holdout, long may it last. Northerners, quite rightly, will expect gravy. I grew up in NZ where a pie always comes with tomato sauce.
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 5:05 PM on September 20, 2018

Stuffing: with or without celery. My extended family had a few hour-long fights about this. With celery is correct IMHO.

My wife and I have disagreed about stuffing for more than thirty-five years. I am of the "everything goes in the stuffing: especially giblets but also apples, raisins, celery, corn, mushrooms, small mammals and whatever else strikes my fancy" persuasion and she is in the "stuffing is that croutons in a bag thing and butter and and maybe a little orange juice if you're really feeling Out There" camp. Raisins and giblets are the worst, apparently. I usually try to chop the giblets into small enough pieces that she can't actually point at one, and some years I'll try to make two batches if I'm really feeling accomodating. If I'm feeling less nice, I'll say I made two batches...

I make a huge pot of turkey broth ahead of time and reduce it by at least half because you need unlimited umami in the stuffing. And lots of gravy. Well, anyway, it is most definitely A Thing. So just celery/no celery seems blissful.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:34 PM on September 21, 2018

Putting sour cream or *gag* mayo in guacamole is a cardinal sin.
posted by chara at 4:31 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

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