My husband's side of the family has behaviors around food that have taken me years to figure out. They show their love for each other through food. If there is not enough food of a good quality at an event, then all hell breaks loose. It means you don't love that person!! Oh my! And what defines enough or quality is a large discussion.
Case Study Xmas Dinner: Weeks before there are many phone discussions of menus (what kind of bird, stuffing ingredients, salads, side dishes, cold cuts, etc.) Then the week and day of there is hours of slaving over hot ovens and stoves with more endless discussions of when things are done, how long they should rest, stirring of this or that, etc. Appetizers and breads and cheeses are put out to munch on; all of which have to come from those special butcher shops and bakeries that only make the best.
When dinner is done, all the food is put out - the amount of which has to exceed the number of mouths by three or four. Everyone has to rave over the food and the chefs and eat way too much. Then the desserts are brought out. The number and variety exceeds the imagination. Everyone has to sample everything. Then coffee is made - espressos, etc.
Then when everyone starts to head home there is a mad scrabble of dividing up of food to take home, usually the desserts. And, the REST of the food comes out. The rolls of cookie dough, breads, chocolates, more desserts, and such that never even made it to the table.
I truly appreciate the work put into the food and the excellent quality of food. However, there is a huge emotional investment in the food. The subtleties of the interchanges are passive agressive and emotionally charged. I have learned to distance myself and keep my mouth shut as there is no way to decipher or participate in the 'I love you with food' dynamic - other than to eat.