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A Non-Offensive Universally Acceptable Meal

I was just reading the thread with the title "How to ask guest to pay for meal/drinks at dinner?" Among other things that the OP was called out for: acknowledging that not all of her guests might want to eat the food that she wanted to serve. I can't think of any subset of my friends that wouldn't have problems with any single meal that I wanted to serve.

In this day and age, I was wondering if there was any meal in America that a group of your friends would ALL be happy to eat. I ask this, because I think that breaking the same bread together is a powerful shared experience. Not having a separate children's menu. No separate entree that is gluten free and one that is vegetarian.

So imagine just 15 of your closest friends coming to a meal and eating at one long table with joy in their hearts. What single coherent meal and beverage could you possibly serve to all of them?

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    1. re: jpc8015

      LOLZ on steak.

      Not a chance.
      Ewwww. That was killed and was a cow once and if grilled, has waaay too many carcinogens. Do you know what that would do to my complexion and life expectancy? Hahahahaha,

      Heck even with water, you'd have to offer tap water, sparkling water , fizzy water and even a few brands like Fiji to keep everone happy.

      Could "I" do a univeral meal for 15 of my friends, even if those included two that have shellfish allergies and one that is diabetic nevermind the picky eaters?

      Sure.

      But while foodie is the new trend, the "isms" like no-carb/low carb, special diet by choice,religious beliefs, etc. is the other side of the bell curve. Add in picky eaters, those that fear foods due to "control issues" or parental rearing of non-adventerous eaters and it's gets REAL murky REAL fast.

      I expose people to new foods, flavors and restaurants all the time, but for some, it boils down to a lot of anxiety.

      I'd go on but I;ve got to go find some "free-range" bologna and gluten free charcoal for this weekends party.

      Oh, and thanks thinks too much for the thread.
      It will be a CH classic. I feel it already. :-)

        1. re: Chowrin

          If my "friends" don't like that I am serving steak they can stay home. By the way, my steak is not grass fed, organic, or locally sourced. I got it at Costco.

          1. re: jpc8015

            That would be my source, too.
            Excellent selection- for eg. their flap steak is fabulous and could feed a crowd quite economically.

            1. re: monavano

              I think you all lost the fact that I was being "tongue-in-cheek" with my response if you saw my posts in the rest of the CH fourms.

              I find Italian based cuisines and summer American BBQ/cookouts the easiest to apease 14 friends.

              I don't even find that a challenge in my world.

              Add in work associates, and "loose" friends and yes, it can get iffy.

              As for steak? Hellz yes for me.
              But I;m back to my post above. Lots of food-based "isms" and restrictions these days for folks- religious, medical, allergy and "self imposed" and others.

              It can get fussy to the point of exhaustion as others have stated.

              Sorry you missed my point.

              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                Oh work potluck is impossible. Last Christmas I contributed money to 1) a Portuguese chicken order and 2) a Halal chicken order; baked 3) rum cake with nuts and 4) rum cake without nuts (the Carribeans ask for my white girl, white rum cake every year; one is allergic to nuts) and made 5) taco dip for the vegetarian, non-alcoholic yogini (the vegetarian Indians think this dish is exotic and really enjoy it). Thank god the Jains left our group, lacto-vegetarian with no garlic or onion just pushed me past the point of wanting to accommodate anyone. Which is why I started making the rum cake.

                1. re: julesrules

                  Whoah! Your generosity with your coworkers is impressive! I suspect i would have just given up and just brought a non exciting fruit platter.....

                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                    there are fruit platters, and then there are fruit platters.
                    some are made up of the tired, cut-up fruit that has been sitting in the fridge at costco for half a day

                    others are freshly made, beautifully designed, include berries from FORBIDDEN FRUIT, and fruit from Polito farm, Mangos, Papayas, fresh coconut slices, . . . .

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      And my mother and daughter are both allergic to strawberries (like many many others on this planet), so back down the "rabbit hole" ya go about the "you still can't accomodate everyone all the time" premise.

                      Sorry. :-)
                      :-P

                      1. re: jjjrfoodie

                        How about them apples?

                        While they can be boring and diabetics might have to limit their apple intake, I haven't met anyone allergic to apples , and they're gluten-free. Organic will keep the organic people happy. Also Fruititarian friendly.

                        1. re: prima

                          Me. Red delicious in particular, possibly other varieties as well.

                          1. re: LMAshton

                            Oh, too bad. While I haven't met anyone with an apple allergy, I didn't mean to suggest that apple allergies didn't exist.

                            1. re: prima

                              our allergist said he had a patient that only reacted to green apples but not red. I developed a severe allergy to nectarines and peaches in my early 30's that required an ER trip and several epi pens and steroids up the ying yang. i'm also orally allergic to mangoes and pineapple.

                              1. re: trolley

                                Strangely, I started reacting to red apples first, then green later. Now it's everything. I'm allergic to peaches and nectarines as well, and several other fruits. Really miss fresh peach pie.

                                1. re: jw615

                                  oh me too jw615! i miss nectarine galettes! luckily i'm still ok with plums which is no substitute for a fresh peach but it'll suffice. i'm sorry about your apple allergy. it's a weird one like peach but oh wells!

                                2. re: trolley

                                  My condolences. Being allergic to mangoes, peaches, and nectarines (and i'm guessing apricots, too) would break my heart right in half.

                                3. re: prima

                                  Oh, I didn't take it that you were suggesting apple allergies didn't exist. I just thought I'd chime in as someone who was, well, contrary. :P

                              2. re: prima

                                Well, hello.

                                We haven't met in person, but I'm allergic to apples. Last time I came in contact with them (a preschooler accidentally got some applesauce on my face, and I inadvertently got a bit in my mouth) I got to stab myself with the pen and ride in an ambulance.

                                1. re: prima

                                  I'm allergic to apples. A serious allergy in childhood, confirmed by an allergist. I can tolerate them to some degree as an adult, especially if they are cooked (apple pancake) or fermented (cider).

                                  And I have no problem whatsoever with strawberries, or any other berry.

                                  1. re: lagatta

                                    it's a weird one as it's not in the top 8 but it exists. my husband gets oral allergy with strawberries. my son is allergic to all nuts and peanuts. we are a fun bunch.

                              3. re: Ttrockwood

                                Yeah it was a series of bad decisions on my part including going along with my boss who feels obligated about the halal order and then downloads the obligation to his junior managers. I enjoy making the easy, crowd pleasing cake and dip so I'll stick to that next time. I make the dip primarily for one guy who can't eat the cake but has his mother make the most delicious punjabi sweet rice, which is mostly on my request because people mostly avoid it because either they don't know what it is or it's *too* familiar/ homey for them.
                                Yup, work potluck. Impossible.

                          2. re: jpc8015

                            jpc,
                            I love costco steaks. Lean is good!

                      2. Gluten free pasta with marinara sauce (vegan)? If you can expand a bit, you could always add a side dish of meatballs for meat lovers, and cheese for vegetarians.

                        Then again, if you go that route you can do so with a lot of other options as well. Taco bar, salad bar, etc.

                        I guess the only single universally accepted beverage would probably be water. Or maybe sparkling water.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                          Along this line, grilling out where you can provide meat/vegetarian/vegan options along with various side dishes. But in terms of a plated meal - nope.

                          And with my friends.....I think we could get away with serving wine and water. But I'm not 100% sure.

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              Damn, bionda! I forgot about that. Well, the salad idea might still work.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                if you serve ratatouille along side, many low-carbers can work with that.

                              2. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                This carbaholic has no interest in GF pasta or vegetables pretending to be pasta or gluten (such as the tragedy of the cauliflower pizza crust).

                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                  Yes, I think that whole idea is idiotic.
                                  If you want gf, eat Rice.
                                  If you want fiber, eat oatmeal.

                                  Find foods that you like, that are doing what you want.
                                  You'll be happier than trying to say "I want to be Normal!"

                                2. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                  Just water for me, please -- I hate sparkling water. ;)

                                  1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                    WATER?! As W.C.Fields said, 'Fish pee in it!'

                                    1. re: mwhitmore

                                      I believe the phrase was "fish f*ck in it" At least that's what my dad told me!

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        "fish f*ck in it"

                                        You are correct, sir. And even worse, my original answer that the only universally acceptable food would be water - is wrong for a reason I knew already. How could I even have considered a meal that excluded W.C. Fields???!!!!???

                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                            "the fatal glass of beer."

                                            OMG that might be the greatest movie ever made. 'And it ain't a fit night out for MAN nor BEAST...."

                                  2. Honestly, probably nothing. I have vegetarian friends and vegan friends and paleo friends and friends with allergies.

                                    Closest we could probably do is a make-your-own taco bar type thing.

                                    That's why most social gatherings are informal and potluck style.

                                    1. I've got no vegans or completely gluten-free people in my closest circle, so Italian-American vegetarian (lasagna, eggplant parm) would probably work if I ever had to actually do this for some reason.

                                      1. Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and green salad. I don't think there's anyone who object to your basic spaghetti unless they're celiac...

                                        or else a good old-fashioned roast chicken and roasted root veggies... (I'm assuming that the attendees are not vegetarian)

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                          " I don't think there's anyone who object to your basic spaghetti unless they're celiac..."

                                          or Paleo, or on Atkins or imagine themselves gluten sensitive - you are basically providing a carb fest - Public enemy # 1 is wheat lately so unless its quinoa pasta and spelt bread your in trouble in my hood

                                          1. re: JTPhilly

                                            I'm low carb because I'm diabetic., Wheat, quinoa, spelt all nfg and unsafe. My husband eats low carb because he has no health or weight problems and wants to stay that way.

                                          2. re: Kajikit

                                            Some of my husband's Sri Lankan relatives. His mother doesn't like pasta at all, nor do some of the others. Roast chicken would only work if it was super spiced up.

                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                              Sorry, I'd probably be sick the rest of the evening. Not diagnosed celiac. And please don't bother with GF pasta; I get the same GI response. But I'd come and hang out with you, and eat salad. And not make a fuss. So please don't be offended if I ask whether or not you used breadcrumbs in the meatballs, and merely nibble on the spaghetti and garlic bread.