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Dinner Party Food Dilemma

We are having a dinner party of 22 people total to meet my son's fiance's family. We were told that their family are strictly "meat and potatoes" people and would rather eat steak and macaroni and cheese than anything else. No one in my entire family eats meat, but we do mostly eat fish. They don't like fish. We are all also vegetable lovers, even the kids...it's just how we grew up. Their family doesn't like salad or vegetables, but they like potato salad, macaroni salad, etc. I wanted to make this easier on myself and just make large batches of a few things. But now I feel like I have to make one dinner for my family and an entirely different dinner for their family. Does anyone have ideas to make this easier on a food level?

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  1. What about pasta? I've thrown dinner parties that were half meat-eating vegetable-phobes and half vegetarians. A big batch of pasta with two sauces -- one meat sauce, one vegetable sauce (maybe a pesto or a roasted red pepper?) and some salad and garlic bread--is pretty easy.

    Or you can do a 'make your own' taco bar and make a big batch of meat as well as a big batch of beans and maybe even some fish?

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmarya

      The make-your-own-taco bar sounds like a winner. Have Carne Asada (grilled beef), Pollo Asada (grilled chicken), and pescado (fish) available with plenty of fixiings.

    2. Remove some of the mystery - ask your son and his fiancé to help set the menu. Tell them you want it to be more about socializing than losing time in the kitchen and that you'd like some or most of the dishes to be something they think others will enjoy. Even better, attach a story to it.

      Neither family could or should have a problem if the choices are ultimately theirs. If so, ignore them.

      If you don't want to do that, make a roast and ham for the meats and sides that your family would prefer. Don't bother making potato salad - bake them, mash them, or buy po-sal premade.

      1. You didn't specify if you are vegetarian, or just not into red meat. What about chicken? You could do roast chicken with a variety of vegetable and starch side dishes so everyone could pick and choose what they like. Put out a basket of good bread and butter and maybe some olives or little appetizers at the beginning, and everyone will fill up on that as well.

        1. Are you planning to serve this as a plated meal or a buffet? If it were me, instead of trying to find one main that would please everyone, I'd do two - sort of a surf and turf approach. A big prime rib roast for the meat eaters and a roasted salmon for the fish eaters. Keep the sides simple with a big green salad, a vegetable side, and a starchy side (mac and cheese or a potato gratin would be perfect). Make large enough portions of everything to make sure you have enough if some people want to sample everything, and you're set.

          1 Reply
          1. re: biondanonima

            A great approach, since there will be so many people.
            Salmon can be done on the grill to free up oven space

          2. If you could make it a casual, picnic style meal....you could do roast chicken or grilled flank stead, then also poached or grilled salmon....and some side salads that would please everyone. Not really two meals....just a couple of main course choices.