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11 foods you'd better not serve at my summer barbecue

Chef, entrepreneur, baker, reluctant cupcake master, cookbook author, humorist/memoirist/essayist (writer), public speaker, raconteur, wife, mother,

What not to bring to the potluck picnic — and what to bring instead

Planning to bring something to that holiday weekend cookout? Fantastic. Just don't trouble us with America's Least Wanted Dishes.

Flag cake

Nobody thinks you’re clever.


Do I look like I came here to fuck around? Your barbecue invite means I have to spend two hours in traffic. When I walk through that door, I’m heading straight to the grill, putting a hot dog inside a hamburger and dunking that bitch in ranch dressing and potato chips. I came to win. I don't need your passive-aggressive baby carrots looking at me while I'm doing so.

Simple grilled vegetables

There will be those people who eat nothing but grilled vegetables at the party to keep up appearances and be forced to suffer as they watch everyone else have a good time with hot dogs. Parties are not supposed to be real life. Force your perpetually dieting friends to live a little. And make them get some carbs into their system, because those people are going to be the ones hitting that vodka-soaked watermelon hard.

More: 21 grilled chicken recipes in flavors you didn't even know you want

Your world-famous whatever

It’s not world-famous! You don’t get to decide what’s famous! Someone, get on Twitter right now, and be like, “Hey, Russia, you guys ever had Dave’s dried-out chicken wings covered in Goya adobo? He says it’s world-famous.” How’s it going to feel when you get schooled by your 12-year-old nephew with an iPhone, Uncle Dave?

Warm French lentil salad

So you think you’re better than me now?

Anything covered in barbecue sauce

I hate being sticky. I hate having barbecue sauce all over my face. I hate having my face attacked by bees. I hate running in circles in your yard while trying to eat chicken when I’m not screaming at the top of my lungs that I’m being murdered by bees.

Food made to look like bald eagles

You’ve already failed just by thinking you’ll be able to pull this off.

More: 16 struggles only condiment addicts will understand

Deviled eggs

Why are you putting hard-boiled eggs in the hot sun? Better question: Why are you giving people copious amounts of alcohol in the hot sun, then feeding them hard-boiled eggs?

Slow-smoked pork shoulder

Unless you are a professional or a serious hobbyist, you do not know how to do this. You will spend two weeks on Facebook hyping this up and then stage a countdown the moment the first guest walks in the door. It will taste like ashes burning, and everyone will be forced to pretend they like it. You know it’s terrible and that you’ve wasted eight hours of your life, and you will know everyone is lying to you. They will all talk about how disgusting it was on their way home and how sorry they are for you. You will sit up that night, alone, eating the leftovers, hoping to make the experience worthwhile. Every bite is a reminder of your hubris, your failure. You can hear everyone laughing at you in your head. You head into the living room and turn on the television. A program about competitive barbecues is on Travel Channel. You cradle your face in your hands, trying to muffle your sobbing so as to not wake the children.

Fireball Jell-O shots

Goddamn it, you’re not in college anymore, Uncle Dave! Put your shirt on!

Orzo salad

Oh my God, why? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you making a salad with teeny-tiny pasta and itsy-bitsy vegetables, then giving it to me with a flimsy-ass paper plate and a plastic fork and expecting me to eat it off my lap in a lawn chair. It is not 2003 anymore, so I know your ass has attempted to do this at least once, and you’re kidding yourself if you think this is not going to end up on my pants. Then again, maybe that’s what you want. Maybe you’re pissed I rock a side dish better than you. So we’re starting the party like that, are we?

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Bring this instead

Hamburgers and hot dogs

This is what I expect when I come to your barbecue. You want to get fancy with a grilled lobster-stuffed lamb breast, go right ahead. But the hot dogs and hamburgers had better be there, or I'm making my husband pee in your bushes. I'd do it myself, but you know how it is being a chick and having to squat and bushes being pinchy and all. I'm incredibly jealous of dudes' ability to pee on things. You people are probably lucky I can't do this.

Grilled shrimp

It shows you’re willing to spend the extra money on me because you care. I love that about you.


Whatever amount of guacamole you were intending to make, please make 10 times that amount. There’s nothing worse than getting to a party and learning you missed the guacamole. In fact, if all you made was the hamburgers, hot dogs and 46 gallons of guacamole, I’m pretty sure everyone would agree that it was the best barbecue ever.

Happy summer cookout, everyone! Eat well.

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