Viva La Difference . . . No. 4

13 March 2009

Now, this is one of those differences between England and Australia that I think every Pom who lives here has misunderstood at some time.

When an Australian invites you to a party and asks you to “bring a plate”, it DOES NOT mean that they’re short of crockery.  They want you to bring a plate WITH FOOD ON IT – ie a contribution to the meal. 

The first time it happened to me, I was able to not look too stupid because another guest asked me beforehand what I was going to take.  So I turned up with something to eat, as opposed to just taking an empty plate (and I was intending to take a knife and fork as well as I presumed they were just lacking enough place settings!).

I’ve no idea what the British equivalent of this is, or indeed if there is one, because I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to a party in England where I’ve been asked to bring food, other than for community functions.

Except for one memorable wedding I went to . . . but that’s another story. 



  1. Yes, “bring a plate” has caused quite a few embarassments, I’m sure. “Pot luck” is, I’m told, the US equivalent.

    My mum arrived from England in February. Towards the end of the year she went to the grocer [before we had supermarkets] to buy ‘mincemeat’; she was told to go to the butchers. Of course, she wanted to buy ‘fruit mince’.

    When WM and I were in England, the biggest surprise for us [apart from queues; don’t ever try to jump ahead, even accidentally] was that purchased sausage rolls were cold and that we had to pay extra to have them heated! Oh and warmed beer!! WM just couldn’t come at that!

  2. We used to have a ‘fuddle’ at work, especially at Christmas time. Everyone would bring something. Except the men. We always assumed the men wouldn’t and never expected anything from them. They could always eat plenty though, especially the young ones.

  3. Yes, “pot luck” is common in the US, also “Bring a covered dish, please.” I think that usually when one is invited for a dinner party, one presumes that the host(ess) is providing. But it may be different here with large gatherings.

    I used to have LARGE family picnics, with perhaps 45-60 in attendance at lunch time. Then they played outdoor games, swam in the pool, etc, and (Oh, damn) were all hungry again, so the food was dragged out, grill fired up again. I’ve had family members still in the pool at 11pm, and hungry once more. Feeding that mob that many times is too much for one person, and too expensive – I used to get other ladies to help out with salads, side dishes, desserts. (They are all easy prep, but SO time-consuming when you need so much!)

    Never heard of a “fuddle,” though.

  4. Do tell them about the wedding – it’s a classic!

  5. I agree “potluck” or “covered dish” are the terms in use in the U.S. I think it’s a regional thing about which one is in use where you are. Here in Missouri, it’s a “potluck” where everyone brings a dish of something to share. Sometimes the hostess will work out a menu and ask you to bring a specific thing. Other times, caution is thrown to the winds and everyone is just asked to bring a dish and whatever you end up with is what you have. I remember one picnic where we ended up with about four or five pots of baked beans and no other sides to go with our hot dogs.

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