If you’re invited to a dinner party the safest thing you can do is to bring a salad. A run-of-the-mill, standard, non-flashy salad.
Most people aren’t shocked or surprised when they’re presented with a traditional salad. It may not be their first choice when it comes time to start serving food, but a salad is about as conservative as you can get when it comes to dinner parties. Or maybe some type of bread, or a glass of wine. There aren’t many allergies or food constraints you have to account for when it comes to constructing a salad (assuming you’re omitting nuts). A salad is a good “filler” food, it goes well as an appetizer or a side.
Of course the value of a good salad is equal to its offering: average compared to other food items which may or may not offer more in the way of flavor or pizzazz.
If you want to play it a bit more dangerously, you could bring something much more unique and fancy to the party. Maybe a ramen dish with slow grilled steak and a Thai-themed sauce, or a big bowl of spicy kimchi slaw.
The problem with a fancy food dish is that not everyone can or will want to partake.
There may be vegetarians in the crowd who morally object what you’ve brought, or someone who just doesn’t like spicy foods. Maybe the uncertainty of exactly what a “Thai-inspired” sauce entails is enough to turn people off from even trying it. You might not want people to reject your offering, especially if your goal is to make a good impression. And yet, a salad doesn’t make much of any impression, let alone a good one.
A traditional salad is just safe, little more.
Why? Because a standard salad doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It doesn’t create a memorable experience or deliver a punch of any type. It’s not the type of thing someone will want to discuss with their significant other on the drive home from the party.
If you want to fulfill the bare minimum requirements of bringing something to a dinner party, a salad is the way to go. But if you want to do something a bit more memorable, with a bit more flavor and a bit more of an impact on those who partake, a basic salad won’t cut it.
You’re better off experimenting.
The cost of bringing something other than salad to the table is, of course, you’re going to upset somebody. The trade-off for working on something not only valuable but also unique is that what you make won’t be for everybody.
If you want to be comfortable and blend-in, going with the safe bet is a great way to do just that. But if you want to stand out and do something a little more unique, you have to embrace the fact that you’re going to be uncomfortable doing so. Because the cost of valuable and unique is turning off somebody, somewhere, who doesn’t want to be uncomfortable themselves, or who don’t believe their comfort should be the cost of your grand idea.
Ultimately it’s up for you to decide. Is the party you’re going to every day at work or school or in your relationships the type where it’s best to prepare a salad? Or is it the type of party where you’ll want to make a splash, even if it means some people will be turned off because of it?