I've had an ongoing debate with someone about etiquette concerning bringing food to invited parties/dinners. I'm hoping you guys can help me out. The debate centers around etiquette on the part of the bringer and on the receiver.
Here's the situation: Receiver (host) invites bringer to a party/dinner. The host does not forcefully state or make it truly explicit that you should (e.g. potluck) or should not (catered event) bring food.
Think of the Seinfeld episode "The Dinner Party"
ELAINE: Oh listen we should stop off on the way and get a bottle of wine or something.
JERRY: Yeah. (pointing at Elaine as he goes into the bedroom)
GEORGE: What for?
ELAINE: These people invited us for dinner. We have to bring something.
ELAINE: Because it's rude, otherwise.
GEORGE: You mean just going there because I'm invited, that's rude?
GEORGE: So you're telling me instead of them being happy to see me, they're going to be upset because I didn't bring anything. Ttst --You see what I'm saying?
JERRY: The fabric of society is very complex George.
GEORGE: I don't even drink wine. I drink Pepsi.
ELAINE: Ya can't bring Pepsi. (Elaine starts putting on her coat and gloves)
GEORGE: Why not?
ELAINE: Because we're adults?
GEORGE: You telling me that wine is better than Pepsi? Huh (snort), no way wine is better than Pepsi.
JERRY: I tell you George, I don't think we want to walk in there and put a big plastic jug of Pepsi in the middle of the table.
GEORGE: I just don't like the idea that any time there’s a dinner invitation there's this annoying little chore that goes along with it.
JERRY: You know, you're getting to be an annoying little chore yourself.
Here are my questions:
1.) Bringer: When invited to a party, is the general norm to bring a food item?
2.) Receiver: When receiving a food item from a guest, should you always make it (at least seemingly) available to the rest of the party? You dont necessarily have to force the brought item down guests' throats...but at least make it appear that the item is available.
3.) When food is brought to the party, is it now in the ownership of the host? In other words, is it not appropriate for the bringer to take back the leftovers of the food he brought to the party? (imagine one scenario where you brought the item in a plate...half of the item has been eaten and you need to take the plate back. Who gets the half eaten item?)
If the answer to one or all of these questions is "it depends", can you detail when it is and is not appropriate? I
I grew up in a different cultural environment than in the U.S., so the answers to my questions above may be different...and i want to gauge what the chowhound universe feels about these issues.
thanks in advance