1. Strawberries should not be as big as yams. Strawberries should be the size of your thumbnail and not, for example, the size of a Spaldeen. If a strawberry is as big as a rubber ball, it will taste like a rubber ball.
2. Have you noticed that we live in a nation where special interest groups will defend the carrying of AR-15s into public spaces while a person carrying a concealed bag of peanuts onto an airplane will be put on the "No-Fly List?" (A no-fly rule is what the mayonnaise lunch needs, of course.)
3. Kale is overrated. Don't kid yourself. It's a fad. Next we'll be eating plankton, and they'll be telling us to sieve it through our teeth like whales. Have coffee and a bagel.
4. "Sustainability" is not another word for "deliciousness." Most things that are delicious in life can be scooped—think ice cream, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, stuffing, and butter. (NB: the scoop for butter is usually tinier.)
5. Speaking of butter: Butter is always the secret ingredient. You can sauté something in butter, along with garlic, salt and pepper, and it will be delicious. This includes snails, old sneakers, sheep's eyeballs and, perhaps, kale.
7. "Homemade," like "sustainable," does not guarantee delicious. Have you ever seen some people's homes? Have you visited their kitchens? Do you really want to eat stuff made there? The same goes for "made with love." Have you seen some people's love? Do you want that to be a main ingredient? Remember: There's a reason analysts call some relationships toxic.
8. "Grilled," like "sustainable" or "homemade," does not always guarantee delicious. Although some folks know what they are doing, some people just pour a half can of lighter fluid into a metal container, which happens to be on their decks, and they are not exactly master chefs. They might just be nascent pyromaniacs who found strip steak on sale. It might be good to bring along some potato salad just in case. Potato salad can be scooped.
9. Beware the midsummer picnic if it relies heavily on mayonnaise-based dishes. On a 110-degree day, chicken salad, shrimp salad, potato salad and egg salad can kill you outright. Uncovered for more than 35 seconds, even the fact that they've been scooped doesn't matter. While it's true that the flies and insects that land in the serving dishes will add protein, some people don't appreciate their exoskeleton crunchiness.
10. Rhubarb, while nice in a pie when mixed with small strawberries, should not be used instead of a floral centerpiece. Nor should it be presented as a bouquet, however decorative it seems when eyed at the Farmer's Market. Don't even think about using rhubarb in a corsage.
11. Not all desserts are created equal. Whipped yogurt is not ice cream. Frozen yogurt is not ice cream. Yogurt shaped into ice cream bars is not ice cream. If you are someone who serves any version of this on top of an actual dessert item and asks your guests whether they can tell the difference, they will say they can't. Be assured that they know and are merely being polite.
12. "Skinny" should never be used to describe anything appealing. Think of a "skinny dog" or a "skinny baby." Not appealing, right? A little unnerving, to be honest. "Skinny," when the world was sane, used to mean underfed and malnourished, which translated to unhappy, grasping and needy. A truly "skinny martini" is a bottle of cheap grain alcohol and a straw.
13. If you like anchovies, forging a lifetime partnership, be it professional or personal, with someone else who likes anchovies is useful — you will always be able to split the Caesar salad and order pizza with no apologies or explanations.
14. Sitting next to someone during a meal who says, "That's not really good for you" or "Do you really need that?" is worse for your health than a corned beef sandwich, two pounds of curly fries, a piece of blackout cake and a double espresso.
15. More cheese.
Adapted from IF YOU LEAN IN, WILL MEN JUST LOOK DOWN YOUR BLOUSE? (St. Martins Press)