pollymerase's Profile

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Party Early Birds

It seems to me that they abide by a different set of social norms and/or have confused being early with being prompt. My SO does this and we have had many discussions that arriving early to someone's home isn't necessarily polite. He thinks that if you arrive early and they are still getting ready it's not a big deal to sit inside and wait or help. My dad is similar and tends to show up at people's houses early in case they need an extra hand moving things or preparing food. His brothers and sisters are all the same. None of them mean any ill will or have any passive aggressive desires to control the party, they just like to converse and pitch in.

With that being said, it is a challenge when guests show up early, so if you otherwise enjoy their company be up front when you invite them and tell them that the party is from time X to Y. Tell them that you have a busy schedule prior to that and you will look forward to seeing them after X. If they show up early, politely let them know that you won't be ready for guests until X. If they say they don't mind or offer to help, insist that you are fine and will see them at X. Offer a near by alternative (i.e. the festival or shop) if they continue to insist.

Wasted food due to guest taking too much -- any solutions?

I think the key to patticakes's suggestion is that she is being upfront about it and offering to support her friend's health/weight loss in a way that may not further draw the attention of other guests. On the other hand, I think the friend may feel offended or slighted if she simply handed her a smaller plate while she gave everyone else larger plates. I'm sure the friend would wonder why she was singled out for a smaller plate, just like she would wonder why she was singled out for having her food portioned out for her.

Another option could be to set out plates of multiples sizes so that the friend may choose a smaller plate on her own. Using smaller plates is a common method of trying to eat smaller portions. The friend may be aware of this and automatically choose the smaller size. We frequently have catered events at work, and it is common for people to take the side dish sized plates so not to take too large of portions.

Aug 08, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Shucks, another tipping thread

I don't think it would hurt to simply ask how the tips work. If it is a local restaurant that you frequent often, maybe try to snag a seat at the bar close to the shucking station and say something to the bartender about how you find it quite impressive how the shucker is able to keep up with the volume of oysters being ordered. Then follow up with a comment about how you would like to show your appreciation and ask what is the best way to make sure he gets the extra cash you want to send his way. It might be best to find out if you can tip them directly.

Bad service (not horrible). Check adjusted. What to tip?

I'd probably tip 15-18% on the original amount. To me, the service described sounds adequate as opposed to bad. I don't necessarily consider these things missteps, but more a possibility that the server had not being properly trained for the level of service expected at the restaurant. Things I consider bad service include forgetting to deliver drinks, forgetting courses, being absent for long periods of time, being rude, not being familiar with the menu, etc.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a restaurant with a similar price point and we started with a round of drinks. The server had no idea what any of the cocktails or beers were that we ordered and we had to literally point to them on the menu so she could write them down. Our starters and 2 of 4 of our entrees arrived at the table at the same time, prior to our drinks. We had to ask 2 servers and eventually the manager about our drinks. It still took 5 mins after we asked the manager for them to arrive.

Aug 06, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Dinner music - the host or the guest decides?

What type of dance party was it? Lewd? Square? Flamenco?

Jun 26, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Burger Brawl Recap

Would you mind commenting on the event in general? Was it crowded? Long lines for food/drink? Well organized? Etc? I thought about attending this year, however I often find events like these (particularly beer fests with lots of breweries serving hard to find things) to be a giant cluster and ultimately not worth the time and money. Thanks!

Jun 09, 2014
pollymerase in Philadelphia

After slaughter, what happens to the unused cow parts?

Not necessarily, pregnant cows can be sent to the slaughterhouse. The fetal calves are also 'used', as their serum is collected and ultimately used to culture cells for scientific research.

I've been on the floors of a couple of different slaughterhouses to collect tissue for research. There are definitely cows/heifers and steers, but usually not too many bulls.

May 30, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

No call back on that reservation?

If a restaurant didn't call me back and confirm my reservation, I would assume that I do not have a reservation. I also wouldn't expect them to call me back and tell me I don't have a reservation. Most restaurants don't have a large staff, especially during hours they are closed. The people that are there are probably the owner or GM or their spouse and they are likely signing for deliveries, placing orders, preparing for service, etc and it's quite possible that my call is going to go missed or they simply don't have the time to call back everyone who calls them.

If no one answered when I called, I would probably call back later or leave a message asking them to call me to schedule a reservation, party, etc. I wouldn't assume that I could call a popular restaurant on a Saturday afternoon and say I wanted a table that night at 8 and think their lack of getting back to me meant I had a table. It likely means they haven't had a chance to check their messages.

Unisex bathrooms in restaurants

It doesn't bother me in the least. The only time I have found it slightly irritating is if the seat has been left up, and that is something I have very rarely encountered. As for urine spots, I've seen plenty of them on the seats of restrooms used only by women. If anything, I am slightly happy to see a unisex bathroom because it means my wait will be less as men tend to be much quicker in restrooms then women.

Han Dynasty or another idea for 40th bday

The Univ City Han Dynasty location has a semi-private room (maybe the doors can be closed to make it completely private) attached to the main dining room. There are two large round tables with a lazy susan in the middle so dishes can easily be passed around the table. We've had a couple of celebratory work lunches there and it works really well. I think it would work well if you ordered the tasting menu. That location also has a really good drink/beer selection.

Mar 13, 2014
pollymerase in Philadelphia

Is this a legit gripe - asking for seating

My thoughts exactly regarding the comment that 'everyone wins'. Yes, the tippee wins because they just bought themselves a table, the staff wins, because they get extra money for giving someone preferential treatment, but pretty much everyone else loses.

Mar 07, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Catering to relatives who don't want "exotic" food

This comment really resonated with me: 'On my own birthday with just my wife, guess what, I don't necessarily go where I want - there are places I love which I know she would not enjoy - sure she'd "find something" and be gracious but I want her to enjoy the meal as much as me.'

Yes, this isn't the case in the OP, as the grandparents are not particularly gracious about the selection, but this is what it really comes down to for me.

Mar 03, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Catering to relatives who don't want "exotic" food

I echo the sentiment of the many others who have suggested having a non-'exotic' meal with the grandparents and another meal at the Thai restaurant.

My father is a wonderful cook and I love going home and being spoiled with the great meals he makes me, but he also doesn't like things that are 'too strange (i.e. exotic) or fancy'. It wouldn't occur to me to pick a restaurant that I know he wouldn't enjoy, on my birthday or any other day. I can go to my favorite restaurant with my friends or my mom or sister the next week.

Mar 02, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

How to handle uninvited children at a cocktail party

I think the question on everyone's mind is: was there lewd dancing??

How to handle uninvited children at a cocktail party

Plus it sounds like the brother and his family were staying at the house.

I agree that it would be irritating if one neighbor got to bring their kids because they didn't want to leave them, but all the other neighbors had to pay for sitters. But when it is the guest of honor's family who has flew in from across the country and is staying there, I tend to be understanding. (Assuming the kids are in another room).

Feb 16, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Captain comp'd the drinks, asked for cash

I don't think there is a really a correct answer, as it seems to happen both ways--I know I've had things show up on my bill marked as comped and I know I've not seen them listed on the bill. rrems and jred are probably correct in saying that the system is set up to be used in a certain way, but it doesn't always seem to get done that way.

The other important thing to remember is that not all restaurants use a POS system.

Feb 16, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Mandatory tab at a bar

Re: paying with cash. Did they specifically say you couldn't pay with cash? I'm guessing that when they said open and close a tab they are just saying that every drink needs to be paid for immediately, as opposed to someone ordering a few drinks over a couple of hour period and paying for all of them at the end. It sounds to me like they explained it to you as if you were working there, i.e. a tab will be opened in the POS, the drink order will be entered, and then it will immediately be closed with payment. It really shouldn't matter how you pay and I'd actually think they would prefer you pay in cash for dozens of transactions rather than be charged for multiple credit charges.

Feb 12, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #17/Finale Part 2 - 02/05/14 (Spoilers)

I'm not sure why there is so much focus on the ice cream machine. I don't think the lack of an ice cream machine is the reason she lost. Unless the producers specifically listed that as a piece of equipment she would have access to, it seems like she was taking a bit of a risk assuming there would be one as it isn't a piece of equipment that is in every commercial kitchen.

Feb 06, 2014
pollymerase in Food Media & News

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #17/Finale Part 2 - 02/05/14 (Spoilers)

The finale hasn't been the same format every year. In the past I believe the proteins were pre-selected or they have only had a sous chef for a limited amount of time. Last year it was live in some strange iron chef style. If I recall, this is the first year that they have had to do a full service, as opposed to a set number of plates.

I don't mind that there are fewer gimmicks in finale. Keep it simple, who can make the best meal? All of the finalists have the same amount of time to go home and prepare, so that shouldn't be an advantage to anyone.

Feb 06, 2014
pollymerase in Food Media & News

Serious Eats website

I also love SE. Like HillJ, I don't think the two are really comparable as SE is very much a blog that has some message boards. For whatever reason, I don't think of Chow (i.e. the non-message board part of this site) as a blog, but rather as a food site.

I do agree that the comments on SE can be quite nasty, but I'm not sure if that is all that much different from other blogs with a large audience. I do remember that some of the articles on Chow tended to get some nasty comments, but maybe I'm just thinking of those old etiquette columns where people would slam the writer.

I've only glanced at the message boards on SE a few times, largely because it seems like a small community and not as active as Chowhound, so I'm not sure what the culture is like there.

Jan 22, 2014
pollymerase in Food Media & News

How to handle uninvited children at a cocktail party


I think there might be a large discrepancy in what people are considering 'adult' parties. This is why I was curious about what is happening at some of these parties. I'm in my early 30s, but it has been many years since I've been to a party where there has been 'lewd' dancing. I've just not seen that happen since I've become what I consider to be an 'adult'. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but in my experience in attending parties hosted by people my age, those younger than me, those older than me, co-workers, associates, bosses, friends, etc, I've not seen 'lewd' dancing or other 'off-color' behavior (and yes, I would certainly classify 'lewd' dancing as off-color). I have seen such behavior occur at bars, clubs, lounges, etc, but never at someone's home. Is this behavior appropriate for children? In my opinion, no.

Don't get me wrong, if people want to have crazy parties, by all means, have them. If consenting adults want to pound a bunch of shots and then go hide in a dark room with the neighbor, go for it! However, in my experience, this isn't something that seems to be very widespread/common, and presumably why many people don't see a problem with children in the same house where there are adults drinking.

How to handle uninvited children at a cocktail party

Some of the comments in this thread have left me scratching my head and wondering what the hell is going on at some of these parties. I understand wanting time away from the children, but I'm having a hard time recalling anything I've seen at an 'adult' party that is so outrageous. Occasionally there will be an obnoxious drunk, but they seem to get vetted out fairly quickly.

What are your remedies after eating too much?

I have a friend who's parents were born in Russia. They swear by a shot of vodka after an overly rich or indulgent meal.

I've tried it a few times and I've found it works quite well.

Jan 06, 2014
pollymerase in Not About Food

What is proper if Im paying for drinks and invites are paying for their own dinner?

I have been to weddings and parties where there was no alcohol. They were still 'good' parties.

There are plenty of reasons not to spend five figures plus on a wedding. In fact, I think one could argue that it is more responsible to invest that money in property or some other type of resource over throwing a party that will be over within a day. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if people spend their money on expensive weddings, that's their decision, but I don't think it is fair to judge people or make blanket statements about people who make other choices regarding how much money they have or how they choose to spend it.

If I do a quick head count on the people I've known who have had small, punch and cake type receptions (because they had no money) vs people who have had open bars, multi-course meals, large dance, and a breakfast bar after the dance, more of my friends who had weddings on the smaller end are still together. Again, not saying there is anything wrong with extravagant weddings, but there is also nothing wrong with small receptions.

Dec 09, 2013
pollymerase in Not About Food

What is proper if Im paying for drinks and invites are paying for their own dinner?

I get that it sucks to have people take advantage of your hospitality, but I'm confused why it matters that some people have weddings that don't have 'food or drink to reciprocate what you provided'. Isn't the spirit of hosting to provide something that is within your means? What if the guests don't have the funds to pay for an extravagant wedding with open bar and spectacular food? Perhaps they would rather spend their money on something else? I'm sure that I won't be able to have as nice of wedding as many of my friends. Or maybe I could, but I would have to have a smaller guest list and some of the people who's wedding I've attended wouldn't be on the list. Or perhaps I'll never gets married. Should I have declined their invitations with the reason that I would not have been able to reciprocate at the same level? Should I have only drank coffee and tea and declined the meal because I won't likely be able to afford such a dinner?

I thought the point of hosting a party and having guests was to provide for them a comfortable and good time, not try to pay off some debt I owe them for those fantastic passed hors d'oeurves from three years ago.

Thanksgiving disaster!

I'm really impressed that she had a freshly cooked, piping hot turkey at the ready when she had been at your house for a couple of hours. What would have happened had you not left the kitchen and she hadn't burned your turkey? That would have been one burnt bird!

Dec 05, 2013
pollymerase in Not About Food

Guests ducking out for Black Friday (Thursday?!) shopping

I'd suggest going on with your holiday exactly as you had originally planned. Prepare and server you meal at 4pm for the people who are planning on being there. If your BF's mom would rather go shopping, so be it. That's her loss. Tell her to stop by when she is done for dessert and whatever leftovers may remain.

She's an adult, so if she decides that shopping is a priority over sharing dinner with the family, that is her decision. She hasn't asked you to change any of your plans, she's just informed you that she won't be there. Yes, that stinks, but it doesn't seem like anything personal, just that she has different priorities.

If she had asked you to move your meal time up or back to accommodate her, I think it would be a different situation.

Significant exposure to BPA increased miscarriage risk by 80%

BPA is certainly nasty stuff and numerous studies suggests that it affects fertility/development, however I think the title of this piece is rather misleading.

They don't explain how they got the 80% figure. They state that the median level of BPA is higher in women who miscarried, but without knowing more metrics about the population they studied.

Most importantly, this isn't peer reviewed data. It's data that someone is presenting at a meeting, which frequently does not pass inspection by peer review. This happens to be a reputable conference, but that doesn't mean that once other people actually look at the data and methods that it will be considered valid.

I'm not saying the findings aren't valid, important, or won't hold up to peer review (and I certainly think BPA is bad), however I think numbers and stats (which are incredibly easy to manipulate to support what your hypothesis/agenda is) are being cherry picked to sensationalize the study.

Our cooking intimidates friends.

I like this idea. Mix up the menu a bit with something really casual so they can see that you are comfortable with and like all types of foods, dinner parties, and get togethers. I don't think you should eliminate hosting the types of dinners you are accustomed to, as it seems like you greatly enjoy preparing such meals, but next time make something you think they might feel comfortable making so they can see you enjoy that as well. Hopefully they will follow the lead as they get to know you better.

Oct 06, 2013
pollymerase in Not About Food

Table Hogs and Coffee House Etiquette

Aside from the last 9mo, I have spent my entire 30 years in the midwest and I can say that in my experience it would be unlikely that someone wouldn't provide a seat for a handicapped guest at a handicapped table.

I also have experienced in numerous places, people allowing others to share a table with them. I wouldn't find it strange for someone to ask if they could share a table with me. I find people on the east coast are much more likely to just sit down, while in the midwest people are more likely to ask if it is okay.

However, I have never experienced or observed a group of people (i.e. more than 1 person) ask to sit down at a table occupied by 1 person they do not know. Typically people will ask to sit at your table if they are doing similar activities, i.e. if someone was working on their laptop, reading a book, etc, people would only inquire to take a seat at the table if they were doing a similar 'quiet' activity. I've never had two people sit down at my table with the primary intent to just chit-chat. Usually if I were working/reading in a coffeeshop, the vast majority of patrons were doing the same, so it was the culture of the establishment to be rather quiet. Even if a group were to come in, sit at their own table, and be more noisy than others it might draw the ire of other people already there.

Regarding going to a library, while I was writing my dissertation, I can say with certainty that most of the coffeeshops I would go to were much quieter than the public library. I remember being incredibly surprised at how loud and ill-mannered people are at the library. I found independent coffee shops and the cafe at barnes and nobles to be much more of a quiet, focused place to work.