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Jun 26, 2007 11:26 AM

Guests who tell you what/how to cook?

Recently, I invited a good friend and the new man in her life over to our place for a relaxed dinner at home. I regularly throw weekend dinner parties, so no big deal for me. My friend says she suffers from gluten intolerance, and I've learned how to cook around that (though I often wonder when she eats gluten-containing foods if she is truly intolerant). She is ALWAYS grateful for my cooking and enjoys her visits to my home.
This recent invitation was met with a list of qualifiers on her response. I was so taken aback, I've neglected to answer her as of this time, and will likely suggest that we just go out to eat. How would you respond to this?
1. If you make XXX, plain with just lemon, herbs, no fat/butter/oil, maybe broth, hard to say. Plain rice and plain chicken with nothing on it.
2. We could bring our own food, no problem, and you just cook for you and your husband
3. You can order out and we can just bring our own food

Frankly, I invite friends over because I enjoy cooking and entertaining. I dont' want to be told how/what to cook (unless we're looking to do theme-style entertaining, a different story...) And I don't want to sit down to a meal in my own home where I'm segregated from my own guests. I'm leaning on recommending a local restaurant (and separate checks!).

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  1. Time to eat out, sounds like her new SO has some real food issues. I'm all for reasonable accomodations, but when they start suggesting they'll bring their own food, huge warning signs.

    1 Reply
    1. It may be less aggravation on your part to assume one or more of them is going through an elimination diet, perhaps to pin down their actual intolerances or food allergies. Elimination diets are exhaustive, and a pain for everyone involved, and suggesting going out to a restaurant may not really help them -- lots of things make it into a dish by force of the chef's habit, even when he's been explicitly requested to prepare without them. At the very least, I'd suggest going out as an alternative and letting them choose the restaurant. If they are not being giant asspains on purpose, it may truly be easier for them to prepare their own food.

      I say this because willfully picky eaters are soon left out of my social circle; if one isn't adventurous about food, you're not likely to be adventurous about anything else, and then we don't have much in common. But picky due to a genuine dietary restriction, that, I think is worth making allowances for.

      1 Reply
      1. re: themis

        Plain chicken and plain rice. It definitely sounds like elimination diet to me. There are people with real issues pertaining to food. Please don't assume that they're just being difficult. I went through an elimination diet before. It was not easy -- I tried not to accept invitations to dinner during that time. Well, I actually hardly ate out during that time. Under normal situations, I'll be a gracious guest -- except while I was doing the ED.

        And about the gluten-intolerant thing -- there is gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. There are people who have fits of GI issues when they eat gluten. There are also those who don't react as violently, but have minor issues when they eat gluten. I'm not sure why you're suspicious that she's not intolerant, but she may have sensitivity issues.

      2. I would tell her that you will make it another time. Then either prepare a nice meal for you and your SO- or invite other friends. I frankly am apalled when I read posts like this.It is almost inconceivable to me that people can be so rude. If someone gave me a list of rules like that after I invited them into my home, I would tell them frankly that I was inviting them becasue I enjoy cooking meals for friends, that I had the menu planned, that I am aware of her gluten problem, and leave it at that. I think it rude to even ask what is for dinner when I accept- or extend-t an invitation. ( and I am not talking about ignoring food allergies- one of my brothers is allergic to nuts that grow on trees, and i make sure he is safe when he eats at my home.)

        1. I am fortunate that I do not have friends who are picky eaters. However when I do have invite people over for the first few times at least always check that there are no alergiees or aversions and am happy to provide vegetarian options if needed.

          In this case I would have to agree that, assuming you could find a suitable restaurant, going out would be the best option. Otherwise what would be the point of having them over for dinner if your cooking is going to be such an inconvenience for them. It might lead to resentment on your part. By going out to dinner, on neutral ground, might give you a better understanding of their dietary 'requirements'. This might make it easier for you cook; and invite them over once again.

          1. My fiance and I have dietary issues (some by choice). When going to a friend's for dinner, we ask what the main dish will be and, if necessary, bring a separate one for us (assuming they are cooking for a group, not just us). The sides are generally fine. We let the friend know that we are doing this and it is meant to keep her/him from having to do something extra for us (one example-they served ham, we brought fish) and provide the ability to enjoy time together. So far, no one has had a problem with it. If it was just the two couples, we'd explain the issues and suggest a restaurant might be better so THEYdon't have to jump through OUR hoops.

            3 Replies
            1. re: NewSushiFiend

              If your host wants to serve ham, and you don't eat ham, why come for dinner? Eat elsewhere and come for dessert or drinks, or get together with them another time.
              At restaurants everyone eating something different is OK. At a home dinner party it seems weird. Would you share your fish with other guests who say, "Hey, that looks good, can we try some?"

              1. re: Covert Ops

                My partner has very strong feelings about eating ham mostly based on slavery times when the slaves had to figure out how to make a meal out of pigs feet, tail, etc. (her ancestors were slaves). Our friends understand and don't bat an eye (especially since we told them we would have to do this and said ok). Other people accept the idea of dietary restrictions.

              2. re: NewSushiFiend

                I don't like ham, but I've adapted a way of eating when it's served. If plated, I eat a little of it, so as not to appear rude. If it's "family style," then I just don't eat any of it. The only one who really notices is my husband. Some of my extended family have gone out-of-the way to accommodate my dislike of ham, but I always tell them it's not necessary. I'll generally eat what is put in front of me.

                On the flip-side, I'm allergic to peaches, mangoes and the like. I have to ask people if certain foods have these ingredients, especially since they tend to be common flavoring agents in foods in Florida. I have to be careful. I offended a friend once because she served barbecued pork with a peach sauce, and didn't understand why I wouldn't eat it.