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NYT-"On the demanding guest diet"

Very funny article about cooking for guests. Well, funny I guess because it doesn't happen to me! Not that I can imagine allowing myself to be bullied like that...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/29/tra...

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  1. About the fussy eater aspect of the article:

    While some of the examples given are indeed over-the-top, I think some of the people involved in this article don't understand the depth of discomfort (and even dangers) faced by people with genuine food insensitivities. Please cooks, by all means sneak something I cannot eat into my meal. I'll then return the favor by locking you in the bathroom with me for the rest of the night so you can enjoy the reactions I get from something that is "all in my head".

    1. My feeling on the subject is that, if you're being a gracious host/hostess, then you have a responsibility to make your guests comfortable, which includes accommodating their diet/health issues. Of course, your guests also have a responsibility, which is not to spring such requirements on their hosts with no warning. I have a few serious food allergies and will always remind someone who has invited me at the time when I accept their invitation. For a special meal, when there will be a crowd, I will ordinarily just eat what I can and leave it at that. I would certainly not expect my hosts to prepare a completely separate meal for me. But if my husband and I are the only two guests, then I should think that our hosts would want to serve something he/she knows I can eat.

      1. The article was not addressing truly serious issues like the person with celiac disease who cannot eat even the smallest amount of gluten, or the child with the peanut allergy who will die if they eat peanuts. The stories given were nothing like that-they focused on trendy diets, fear of non-organics, and the like.

        And Bad Sneakers, I think you are right that people do often underestimate the seriousness of some allergies, but you have to understand how often it happens where someone tells us they absolutely cannot have dairy, wheat, etc, then when they see something that looks particularly good with those things in it, they say, oh, gee, I'll just have a little, I can eat this sometimes, etc. This experience is SO common and it does serve to discredit people with real and serious allergies, which is very unfortunate.

        1 Reply
        1. re: christy319

          If I had celiac disease or a child with a fatal peanut allergy, you can bet I would bring food with me if I were going somewhere for the weekend. Why risk your health and the life of your child by putting them in the hands of a person who may not understand?

          The article was about picky eaters and insensitive guests, not about serious food allergies.

        2. I've had dinner parties where a guest has told me "no seafood" and I go ahead and make a substitute for that course. Then, while discussing the dishes at the party, the "no seafood guest will say: "That shrimp dish sounds good. I guess I will have that."

          I think to a certain extent, dining in someone's home requires some flexibility. As the other poster mentioned, allergies (and I would add religious restrictions) are a separate issue. But a general unwillingness to try new dishes may be the worst trait a dinner guest can bring to the table (no pun intended).

          1. Genuine serious food allergies/medical conditions and religious obligations are to be strongly distinguished from palate sensitivities, food preferences and diets, and the article focused on the latter group, and the examples are ones that would have made former generations blush at the rudeness of erstwhile guests (if you are ever tempted to ape them, restrain the impulse, and if you cannot, fully expect never to be invited back again).
            Though I would admonish hosts not to sneak food, either.

            1. Allergies are another story, but the only people who get away with being picky eaters at my house are my inlaws.

              Oh, did I forget to mention that there was lard in the pie crust? Oops.

              1. That one lady who mentioned that she served caffinated coffee passed off as decaf? I would never stay with her. If you don't have decaf, fine -- I'll pass on the coffee. It's better than staring at the ceiling at 3am.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DanielleM

                  I learned my lesson back in college when I went home with a friend for the weekend, and they had NOT ONE THING caffeinated in the house -- no instant coffee, no tea bags, nothing. I about died until we left the house mid-afternoon and went somewhere where they had real coffee. Now, if I'm going somewhere where I think it might be a problem (like my friend's parent's house), I stick a little jar of instant coffee in my suitcase. If it is a necessity for people to have decaf, they should go prepared (although personally, I wouldn't try to pass off regular for decaf).

                2. Oooh, the Colemans give me the shudders.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hrhboo

                    OMG, the Colemans! I'd LOVE to hear the dissertation on why an egg yolk is less suited to pristine surroundings than a white.

                    1. re: danna

                      Yeah, just bizarre. Actually I thought the whole article was more about weird extremes than any general phenom. But I can't understand not wanting to make your guests just a little bit comfortable. Or at least give them fair warning.

                      1. re: danna

                        Seriously, this was my thought! If you're carting out eggs, get the real thing (unless you [or a guest] has a legit. health concern that requires whites only). Same thing for the butter in the baked potato. Who serves baked potatoes without butter? Or at the very least some sort of fake-butter-substitute (which I would say is probably worse for you than butter?)

                        HAF

                    2. We just finished a week-long living, breathing version of this article with our nine year-old niece. She's a truly lovely child, but her parents have allowed her to develop some very poor eating habits, and in our household, not being able to eat a wide variety of food is pretty antithetical to the way we live. So to accommodate her diet, we ate in lots of diners, consumed far too much pizza, and made pancakes six times. Yes, six. I'm ready for a few all-arugula days, I think.

                      Nosher

                      NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Nosher

                        For a child visitor you did THAT? The kid can always eat plain bread, rice, cold cereal, etc. I agree that kid visitors can be difficult - I remember taking niece and nephew to dim sum once and they didnt want to eat anything but so what? How will they ever learn?

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Except that this particular child doesn't much like plain bread, rice, or any cold cereal except Eggo Waffle Maple Crunch Turd Nuggets.

                          If we had her for longer than a week, we'd have smashed through some of her food barriers. As it is, we conquered one: she now eats fresh mint.

                          Tiny steps.

                          Nosher

                          NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                      2. I'm diabetic and wouldn't presume to expect my host/hostess to make any special dishes for me. I usually call to find out what is being served so I can plan my carb intake accordingly.