Thursday, August 27, 2009

Etiquette Challenge Workshop: The Picky Eater

Imagine you are a vegetarian or vegan and/or have a non-allergy originating food objection and have been invited to a dinner party in the home of a casual friend: Do you tell the host or hostess of your dining preferences?

If you are the host and receive that feedback, what would your response be?

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.


MG said...

As a hostess, I usually ask my dinner guests if they have any food allergies or items they will not eat.

Good thing I do, once I had planned to make an dish with lots of tomatoes/tomato sauce, and one of my guests is unable to eat tomatoes! Prevented a small problem the night of the dinner!

As a picky eater myself, I have learned to eat just a little bit before going to someone's house if I am not sure what they are serving. I've also been forced to try foods that I might normally not eat by going to others homes, the amazing thing is I have discovered that I really do like some foods that I thought I didn't like!

Suburban Princess said...

I always ask guests if they have any food allergies or anything they really dont like.

I dont eat beef but I always find something else as dinner I can eat if that is what is served.

Emily said...

Being a vegetarian for 8 years, I have had to deal with this issue in the past. Most often, close friends and family know this so they prepare accordingly. Other times, I can only eat some of the food but have never run into a problem where I have no options!

Marsha said...

When I host, I always ask if my guest has any food requirements or preferences of which I ought to be aware. This conversation can happen lightly and without awkwardness if one is careful and respectful but I do consider it a "speak now or forever hold your peace" situation.

If surprised by information in the moment (as when a guest brought someone other than I had expected - a new friend rather than the no-longer-girlfriend) I hope that I am gracious and let it be known quietly (no point making a big to-do about it in front of everyone!) that, with more information, I might be able help. Usually this takes the form of another course or side - produced on the fly - in which everyone can partake but that will also help satisfy the person who cannot eat whatever else will be on the table. I dislike serving a separate entree but find that another course slipped in somewhere is easy to navigate.

I once had a dinner party and discovered that 1) one guest wouldn't not beef and one would eat neither chicken nor seafood, 2) one disliked potatoes and another rice, 3) one would not eat green vegetables of any kind and another anything that wasn't green beans or broccoli, 4) one hated soup and anything that could be considered "ethnic", and 5) one would only eat chocolate desserts and others only low-fat.

I slogged through this one - it still gives me nightmares - and promptly went out and got new friends.

Deanna said...

Depending on how much the picky eater desires to attend this meal event would determine what's to follow.

If the invitation from the casual friend is given in person or by telephone, then immediately the picky eater could graciously thank the Host for the invitation and add the details about having allergies, illnesses and/or food preferences. See where this goes, if Host is quick on their feet and willing to accommodate the PE's condition, then you have a gracious Host for sure.

If nothing is said, then depending on how badly the picky eater wants to attend would mean the picky eater is on their feet if they gently reply that they would very much like to attend and would it be alright if a food item be brought so as to not go without...or simply attend the event with a full belly having eaten ahead of time.

Perhaps carry some nibble food in handbag if a lady or packaged light weight snack food in pocket if a gent. When in the away.

If the Host is gracious and compassionate toward a health issue, I believe they wouldn't mind telling the PE ahead of time that an additional dish to suit your situation would be prepared, or encourages a dish be brought along. If they get ugly acting about it or they say probably don't need this casual friend in your world.

Simply Thank them and have something else to do on that date.
Problem politely solved.

Always be considerate enough to reply with a yes or nay to attending event. Even if the Host is the rudest thang on the gracious and reply in person, by note, email, or phone call. Don't leave them in limbo.

They just might and I say that generiously, just might learn to be a better host by your reply.


mfielding said...

I am very allergic to crabmeat, which we in Maryland eat all summer. I thought my entire family was aware of this, but apparently my brother hadn't informed his wife. We were at a dinner there recently, and they served crabcakes. I had to pull my brother aside and tell him before dinner was served. said...

I'm a vegetarian and our friends know this so they tend to prepare food with that in mind. But if I've been invited by someone I don't know well, I just go and eat what I can. I don't say anything in advance because I don't like people to go out of their way. When I'm hosting, I always ask if people have any allergies, dislikes, etc. Great topic!

LindsB said...

Love this topic- being a vegetarian its hard sometimes to go places and not have many choices. I have learned to make due because I tend to not tell my hosts. I'm with Alex, I dont want anyone to go out of their way for me and there is usally somethign I can eat anyways so its no big deal. On the other hand I always ask my guests before hand of food likes/dislikes because I want everyone to feel comfortable.

Michelle said...

I find that if I really think about all the other cultures in the world and how/what they eat I can eat anything. My mindset is "other people eat it and they don't die so I may as well eat it too." I may not enjoy it, but I feel I am being respectful by eating what the host/ess has graciously prepared.

That said, I do try to know my guests likes and dislikes and prepare my menus accordingly.

bethany said...

Ooo, very hot topic!

I never tell hosts that I'm a vegetarian. I figure that someone has so very kindly invited me into their home or a meal, I would feel terrible if they went to the trouble of creating some tofu monstrosity, only to discover that I'm perfectly happy eating the side dishes they've prepared, and am actually quite frightened by tofu. :)

Like the others...I've never had a situation in which there was absolutely nothing else to eat!

However, I think the situation is a little different when it involves allergies or health/medical reasoning, and I don't think it would be at all rude for a guest to make those special requests!