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cooking for yet another party of mixed food needs

I'm having a small dinner party for a group of people who have some overlapping but different needs and preferences. 8 people total. One is a dairy and gluten free pescatarian, one is allergic to onions and dairy, one eats everything but fish (just doesn't like it), one is allergic to shellfish. I want the meal to be summery, but feel special for a party. I don't feel that every dish has to be consumed by every person if I have three or four dishes. Any ideas are appreciated!

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  1. This sounds like a nightmare. Good luck.

    1. A Venn diagram might help here - and I am only half joking! This sounds like a good scenario for a potluck, with ingredient labels on every dish.

      Seriously, I suggest you post this on the V&V board since after the caveats, you're left with vegan. Mujadarra would be good except for the no-onion person. Grill/broil some monkfish or swordfish for those who'll eat it, make the Stir-fried roasted eggplant from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, subbing garlic for the scallions.

      Here's a good recipe from CHOW: http://www.chow.com/recipes/10960-egg...
      Omit the onion, up the garlic amount. This sauce cooks down a lot more than in the picture. I vary the prep by using my mandoline to make LONG julienne strips of eggplant, and slice the bell pepper into the thinnest rings (which break into strings in cooking). This makes a *meatier* texture for using it as a pasta sauce. (I do the onion like the peppers.) Adding mushrooms, particularly if they are dried, also makes it a heartier dish. This, and the stir-fried one mentioned above, can be served as a main or as a warm or cold side dish, or bruschette topping.

      1. Given the mix, I would avoid dairy all together. Some kind of whole fish dish would work and a ratatouille. More vegetables and another protein?

        1. This seafood rice salad would be good for your dairy-free, GF pescatarian guest. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/10.... It can be made in advance and served at room temperature. You don't necessarily need to use the precise seafood selection called for in the recipe. If I made it again, I'd probably omit the mussels but that mainly reflects my seafood preferences.

          Find some sort of poultry or red meat dish that does not involve any dairy products or onions, that will appeal to both of your 2 other guests with dietary issues.

          Then add a variety of sides, including a couple that are onion & dairy free.

          1. This reminds me of those logic problems I did when I took the GRE. Jane has to sit next to Steve, but Steve can't sit next to anyone having fish, a so on. I would do a bunch of veggie dishes and grill fish and steak.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SarahCW

              I love those logic problems! I found a set of Mensa flashcards at a museum once and bought them, they are mostly those kinds of puzzles. So fun to do! I'm sh!t at all other math, though. I never made it past pre-algebra in HS, and my Dad was a math teacher!

              1. re: schrutefarms

                That's funny, I also had a lot of trouble with math in school, but could just breeze through those logic problems. One year I was on the verge of failing geometry, but then we did a logic unit, and that pulled my grade up to a C-. Whew

                As for the initial inquiry--I'm vegan and I would be delighted if I was at a dinner party and ratatouille was on the menu.

            2. I think I'd make a bunch of "stuff on sticks"... shrimp, steak, veggies on separate skewers, so people could pick and choose what they wanted. You could do small skewers of some items, like little onions, mushrooms, and other veggies, putting the onions on skewers by themselves. Grilled potatoes (with olive oil instead of butter for the dairy-free crowd), a salad, maybe some sort of bread. You could also have skewers of cold stuff -- cheese, fruit, salumi, whatever.

              1 Reply
              1. re: onrushpam

                this was my idea! you can also make fruit skewers for dessert even!

              2. Is the person allergic to onions allergic to all alliums or just onions? Is garlic okay?

                Assuming garlic is okay, a few ideas:

                Taco bar with corn tortillas (soft and crispy). For the main protein, grilled fish for the pescatarian and grilled beef or chicken for everyone else. Skip the onions or grill them separately for people to add themselves. Might as well grill/roast up some corn on the cob too, sprinkled with salt, lime and chile. Those who can have dairy can have it elote-style with cheese. Maybe have dairy-free paletas/popsicles (fruit, coconut, sweet potato) for dessert.

                Or

                Skewer up some meats and veggies, make a few sauces to drizzle/dip into (hummus, roasted red pepper sauce, tzaziki for those who can have dairy, herb pesto, etc), serve with a rice pilaf (no onions), flatbread for those who can have it, and a side of fruit salad.

                Or

                Japchae (korean noodle salad- the noodles are sweet potato/mung bean so should be gluten free, but of course check) tossed with lots of slivered veggies. Make one batch with veggies and tofu, mix the other with beef. To go with that, I love bindaetteok (savory mung bean pancakes kinda like potato pancakes) and they should be gluten-free and easy to make without onions. Maybe make some kimbap (often fish-free). Serve with some soju or sake :) Dessert could be shaved ice with fun toppings/syrups?

                Best of luck! If you can make a multi-component meal I think you'll be fine. It's so kind of you to take their preferences into account for this meal.

                1 Reply
                1. Thank you all for your suggestions and sympathies!

                  I'm really liking the taco idea. That affords me the ability to make all kinds of interesting choices, mixing ethnic influences, that nobody is locked into. That's a real contender!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: luckiestduck

                    Tacos are kinda perfect.... Corn tortillas for gf, lettuce wraps for low carb, and an assortment of fillings. Don't forget fresh cilantro. Tofutti makes a decent vegan sour cream if you want to offer that, just skip dairy free cheese its not great for tacos and most are kinda horrible.

                    Tomatillo based green salsa and pico de gallo with chips and raw veggies for nibbles.
                    This black bean corn salad would be a nice side
                    http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recip...
                    Mango and lime sorbet with chopped fresh mint for dessert, and/or fresh wedges of cold watermelon

                    1. re: luckiestduck

                      If you go the taco route, this Mexican Rice/Quinoa salad recipe might make a good side. It's just fine without the onion
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9799...

                    2. Nothing says summer better than an *awesome* BARBECUE party.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        Wish I could, but I live in NYC. No BBQ capabilities!

                      2. You might check out Flexitarian Table from the library if you don't own it. He has several dishes that can be made to accommodate carnivores or vegetarians.

                        Or, I suppose you could make it a potluck -- that way everyone could bring one dish that meets their needs, and the less restricted can try a little of everything.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dkenworthy

                          Thanks, I'll check it out. Though I'm definitely doing all the cooking for this one.

                        2. It might be a bit more "winter" than your current needs, but check out Ethiopian cuisine. Via Moosewood on Sundays, a couple of their 'Wet (stews) would work very well for this combo, as they are all vegan and gluten free. I've sautéed up some sliced chicken thighs to add extra "meat" to the omni's in the crowd.

                          1. I like the taco idea too, where people can just add their fixings. You could make fajita style veggies for everyone, and then a few proteins, including legumes. Super-ripe tomatoes hollowed out and filled with spicy black beans and corn can be festive. If you have a grill pan, why not do some stone fruit kebabs for dessert? Peaches and plums work great, drizzled with a little honey.

                            I don't know if you are doing cocktails, but if you make a pitcher or two of half limemade (store-bought is fine) and half watermelon puree, it is delicious iced over vodka and would kind of match with your food. You could garnish the glasses with some mint. Good luck, and I agree that this sounds kind of like a GRE analytical problem!

                            1. You can still make a fabulous summer meal. I would just not serve an entree, rather, 4-5 dishes that can be room temp and everyone can serve themselves. I'm not sure if your friends with allergies are like my friends with allergies-I know that nothing my friends are "allergic" to would send them into anaphalactic shock; therefore, I'm not too pyscho about keeping certain food items far away from others. They can just brush off something if they don't like it. However, you should probably find out how serious your friends allergies are-you don't want to send anyone to the hospital!!

                              I would do a large platter of roasted veggies (eggplant, zucchini, red onion, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes), a cheese/ charcuterie board, a large salad with cheese on the side (and make your own dressing to make sure there's no gluten in it.). I had a fab salad the other day with baby greens, peaches, nectarines, pluots, goat cheese, candied almonds and a balsamic vinaigrette. Very summery. I don't eat seafood myself, so I have no suggestions for that, but how about filet or London broil, made earlier or the day before, sliced and set out cold, with a chimichurri on the side? A platter of vegetarian stuffed grape leaves are great finger food, and would meet most of the guests restrictions. Maybe round it out with a farro salad, or, taking advantage of these great late summer tomatoes, a large caprese. Everything can be presented beautifully, and everyone will see how much care and time you put into everything. Fill the empty spaces with bowls of olives and nuts, and voila! Dinner party done! Dessert can be some wonderful late summer strawberries, with whipped cream and poundcake on the side.

                              1. I agree with everyone who says avoid an entrée and let people make choices

                                think Tapas menus - enough room for everyone to choose and no commitment to a main course that may alienate someone

                                if you use shellfish/dairy/onions use it in a very obvious manner - like whole shrimp on a skewer, chunks of cheese - so you don't have to constantly be answering questions

                                make sure you fish/seafood options are gluten free

                                Summery in my mind means burgers, cold seafood, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and ripe avocados (ok avocados are all seasons for me) here are some ideas that are summery IMO and may help you brainstorm

                                quinoa/avocado/citrus salad with - oil/lemon dressing

                                Calamari Salad - there are so many options of how to do this (or calamari or shrimp on the side of the quinoa salad above)

                                hamburger sliders

                                Mexican street food style corn on the cob

                                DIY bruschetta - you can include some meat/cheese in available toppings - like fresh mozzarella or pate

                                Gazpacho (no onions? is this possible)

                                falafel balls with hummus/tabouleh

                                I find onions to be the hardest thing to work around of all honestly.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                  Me too regarding the onions! Hard to do without them!

                                2. Quite a bit to think about. I think really breaking it down makes the most sense. Ask the Dairy free if margarine or vegan butter is okay.

                                  Your Protein/ meat.
                                  Nix any shellfish and go for fish, since one is a pesicatarian and one doesn't like fish I think enough people would eat a baked or grilled fish. A grilled or baked fish with herbs, oil, lemon etc.

                                  A meat - BBQ Chicken, Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken, Steak, kabobs, burgers, you could do steak fajitas or any combo of things. Pick one or two.

                                  About the dairy and Onions
                                  You can always put them off to the side and have people add them if they like instead of just including them.

                                  Sides
                                  Rice
                                  Beans
                                  Veggie dish
                                  Potatoes
                                  Salad

                                  Dessert
                                  Grilled peaches drizzled with honey

                                  1. You have my sympathies. What did we do a decade before all this BS. I know allergies do exists but food exceptions have just got out of hand. I think in the near future we will see the end of the dinner party as we have known it. I will expect each guest to bring their own dinner to a dinner party in the future

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      What did we do a decade ago? We cooked food. We ate it. End of story.

                                      I will eat pretty much anything except seafood (just don't like it). That really only limits me from going out for sushi. Any other place that has seafood is bound to have something for me to eat. However….
                                      I have two besties. One is gluten free (celiac) the other is vegetarian except when she's craving meat (and she only ever craves a bite, as in "Are you getting the steak? I want a bite. I'm craving just a bite.") No dairy sometimes, gluten free occasionally, likes heavy, carb-y food, except when she's "not feeling it today". Drinks, except when she's "off alcohol this month…". It's always a fun game of "who's eating what this week" when we go out. Taqueria's are what we can usually agree on.

                                      1. re: schrutefarms

                                        I disagree. I was born on the 60's and, putting allergies aside, there was plenty of disordered eating out there. Maybe kids had to eat was put in front of them but adults? Not so much.

                                        My grandmother wouldn't eat any thing "fancy" or overly "spiced" and wouldn't attend dinner parties where she thought there might be "strange" food.

                                        My Aunt adopted every diet out there and would bring her own meals to dinner parties.

                                        A number of men didn't eat "bait" (any seafood) and god forbid you put chives on the sour cream.

                                        My dad was very adventurous in the kitchen and most of his friends, especially the wives, would refuse his dinner invites because he served "ethnic food that you can't pronounce". My mother, who loved his food, would often complain and say "couldn't he just cook a steak so she could have "real dinner party"!"

                                        Formal dinner parties the guests might shut up and push their food around but other than that you would get comments between the wives "Oh you know Joe! He only eat meat!", "I'll never get Mike to come if you serve that <insert odd ethnic food here>".

                                        For lunches you would get comments about "Oh that sounds good but I'm doing the cabbage diet". Hell my Aunt was doing Atkins in the 70's and would bring her own meat to dinner.

                                        We all like to look back with rose covered glasses but bottom line there just as many demanding folks out there. Probably the biggest difference was most people were not so open about it.

                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                          I guess it's whatever environment you grew up in-neither of my parents dieted that I remember, none of their friends were vegetarians, etc. My dad won't eat mushrooms or olives; it wasn't talked about. We just never ate those. Once I got to High School vegetarians were the norm, but dairy-free (except those who are lactose intolerant), gluten-free, pescatarian, "cleansing" etc…I don't recall any of those when I was a kid, teen, or young adult. Not saying they didn't exist in some worlds, just not mine I guess!

                                          1. re: schrutefarms

                                            Your right in that it didn't often have names. My folks didn't diet either but there were definitely odd eaters out there. It was more of a whisper stream.

                                            What did your dad do if served mushrooms or olives? Most likely pushed them around. As I noted-the biggest difference seems to be that people were just not as open about their food issues.

                                            However in my moms world it was the behind the scenes thing. A friend might say, embarrassingly, "I am so sorry that DH didn't seem to enjoy the X, he just never enjoyed mushrooms". Or my mom might say "Joe didn't seem to enjoy the Y, was everything ok?". Of course that would only be to close friends. But my mom took note.

                                            My mom, always the hostess, kept a notebook of seating charts, what dishes were served, etc. She made note of what dishes were the most popular vs barely nibbled. Who was the most gregarious and the most shy. All of these helped her in her next party.

                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                              You're mom sounds like the hostess with the mostess!! We always ate at home, if we did go out it was either Mexican, Bob's Big Boy or Polly's Pies. I do remember him always making sure his salads (before his burger or beef stroganoff or whatever) didn't have olives or mushrooms. But that's just taste. Everyone has something they don't like, right? I hate dill. And marzipan. And seafood. But I certainly eat meat, and I do love my pasta and bread!
                                              In all seriousness, even though I think food sensitivity and special diets has reached a point that is bordering on the ridiculous (breatharians? Freegans?), I do welcome the many, many options that are out there. Whenever I get annoyed at friends for their many, many dietary restraints, I just try to think "eh, variety is the spice of life. That's what makes us individuals."

                                      2. re: scubadoo97

                                        which works too.
                                        i've been to tons of potlucks that have been GREAT

                                      3. Point of curiosity and inquiry: A generation ago, it was not usual for dinner guests to make special dietary requests to the degree they now do. A diabetic might discreetly bring what he needed, but gluten-free pescatarian or lacto-ovo people or just plain picky people listing what was acceptable to them just didn't happen. So my question is, when you now invite people to dinner, do they volunteer their dietary requirements or does the hostess invite them? I cannot imagine being invited to a dinner party and answering, "OK, I'll come, but I just want to tell you, I don't like(food X)". How has this situation developed? Not being snotty here, I hope, and I am truly curious. What in the world has happened? Are that many more people now allergic? Are there that many more medical situations? Do people just like to feel special? What?

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          We have a cornucopia of food nowadays (so why settle),
                                          and the rest is just plain old snobbery.

                                          1. re: Querencia

                                            "Are that many more people now allergic?"

                                            It seems to be so.
                                            http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databrie...

                                            http://fooddrugallergy.ucla.edu/body....

                                            But that's a different thing than pickiness. And I don't know if it's connected to pickiness, or if pickiness has increased. It seems to me like pickiness has increased as well.

                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                              I think it is safe to say pickiness has increased more than true allergies

                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                Pickiness and the willingness to verbalize it has increased but people are also much more aware of foods that are not healthy for them. More is known about long term effects of some foods. This might be anything from effects on your lipid panel, increased risk for cancer or some inflammatory diseases. Most people I know would just bring what they need to eat not wanting to trouble the host(ess). If I get too many "I don't eat ___"s from someone, I have them bring a dish they can eat. That way they can be sure it will meet their set of criteria which is sometimes fluid.

                                            2. re: Querencia

                                              I'm not sure if there are MORE food issues out there, but at this point, I'm always sure to ask potential dinner guests if there's anything that they WILL NOT EAT for any reason [i hate lima beans]. And i have to confess that I'll assemble a dinner party based on compatible eating styles!!! [have I gotten that neurotic??]. But really, most of my friends are flexible and more than willing to experiment with different foods and flavors. If there are some people who I think should meet but who aren't 'food compatible,' I'm prepared to cook something that's middle of the road so the adventurous won't be bored, and the timid won't be too terribly challenged.

                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                As a vegetarian my reply to any and all dinner invitations at someone's home is "Thank you so much- I would love to attend! I'm vegetarian and would love to bring a dish to share with everyone if that works for you...." Blahblahblah.
                                                9 times out of 10 the host(ess) has replied saying that would be wonderful and occasionally mentions what else is on the menu, so i don't bring something similar. And that 10th time was a vegetarian dinner ;)
                                                I've noticed that people with medical conditions and vegetarians are often less vocal and more likely to just go with the flow than those who are following a cult like militant diet fad of the moment.

                                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                  Ttrockwood, a wise and wonderful post. There is a vast difference between someone who has contrived a personal diet that he thinks will help him avoid getting cancer, and a person who actually has cancer and is coping with the side-effects of chemotherapy. Viva, your last paragraph.

                                                  And I love your gracious solution of offering to bring a dish to share.

                                                2. re: Querencia

                                                  Personally, I think it is the demise of the family meal. When I was a kid, my mom planned, bought, prepared and served about 360 dinners a year (stay at home mom). Our job (family members) was to try a little of everything, and say thank you for the meal.

                                                  Nowadays, it seems that everyone comes in from work/school and microwaves something of their own choice or chooses take out --everyone eats what they like/are in the mood for at that moment.

                                                  Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make entertaining a challenge!

                                                  1. re: dkenworthy

                                                    The other night right after I posted on this thread, asking really how much of this is truly medical and how much of it is trendy picky status, I went to another CH board where the same question was being discussed. I find the issue most interesting as a sociological phenomenon. A neighbor and I (we are both getting on in years) were saying that the dinner party as we knew it 30, 40 years ago seems much less practiced now---our sons and daughters do not give dinners or attend them as we did. On the other CH board, several people said they had quit hosting dinners because they were tired of trying to keep up with special requests. I wonder if there's a connection. Someone here used the word "generational". I think so, absolutely. Years ago it would have been unthinkably rude to respond to a dinner invitation with "Well, all right, I'll come, but you have to cater to me as I don't like onions, and I'm paleo, and I eat only Halal meat". If you didn't like what was served, you didn't discuss it, just messed it around on your plate and ate the salad. Isn't a lot of this fussiness about demanding recognition and about being special?

                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                      I think people wear so much on their sleeve these days that its hard to avoid knowing their issues food and otherwise - my facebook feed is full of who's paleo, who's vegan, doing Adkins, newly religious, obsessed with sourcing etc - all that info is already back loaded in my head.

                                                3. - a slab of bbq meat, think ribs, brisket etc, just omit the onion in the marinade/basting
                                                  - a salt crusted baked whole fish, think salmon, snapper, serve with sauce vierge and herbs
                                                  - a bowl of salad with no dairy or onions, think leafy greens with simple vinaigrette
                                                  - some crusty bread and gluten free bread for your starch
                                                  - some mango pudding (mango puree,coconut cream, sugar and thicknened with agar-agar) topped with lemon sorbet (generally gluten and dairy free) and assortment of fresh and/or dried fruits and nuts.

                                                  1. From the late Laurie Colwin: "An easy solution to this problem is to change friends immediately and find some red-blooded chowhounds with few scruples and no interest in health."

                                                    1. Speaking as someone who has food allergies that are all over the place--shellfish, bananas, avocados, strawberries, nuts, peanuts, cilantro, broccoli to name a few (okay, I'm not allergic to broccoli, I just don't like it!), it's awkward for me when people try to accommodate all of it. It never fails that someone will say, "oh, I made this dish JUST for you and your allergies!" And either it will still have something in it that I'm allergic to or it's awful and I have to force it down.

                                                      Sometimes when I have parties I put out deconstructed or self assembled food. Taco bars, a bowl of mixed greens w/a different salad items/proteins. Skewers that everyone can assemble and then grill.

                                                      Yeah yeah I know it sounds like I'm more trouble than I'm worth but I love parties and dinner parties and I still get invited out--I just always keep a protein bar in my purse. And please don't be offended when someone asks what the ingredients are in something. I've been stuck in the hospital over a reaction to a fish sauce that had shellfish in it--my fault for not asking to see the bottle. But really, I'd rather people just plan the menu they want and I'll work around it or dig into my purse for a protein bar.

                                                      1. Thanks for all the suggestions! I love the conversation this started!

                                                        I'm going with a sort fusion taco bar. I'm making this pulled pork recipe:

                                                        http://relish.com/recipes/garlic-pork...

                                                        Fillings:
                                                        -black beans
                                                        -guac (plus some plain avocado slices for the non-onion eaters
                                                        )-salsa
                                                        -spicy asian pickles
                                                        -some sort of quinoa salad, undecided on recipe
                                                        -queso
                                                        -cilantro

                                                        Salad:
                                                        -kale, mango, jicama, avocado, cucumber with lime dressing

                                                        A guest is bringing dessert, but I'll also have some watermelon slices.

                                                        If you have a brilliant addition; let me know!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: luckiestduck

                                                          Yum!! That sounds like an awesome idea!
                                                          Do you have a mandolin or food processor? This radish salad has an asian influence, you would need to multiply it and could stir in or serve over cooked quinoa
                                                          http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2012/0...

                                                          Otherwise I dunno that you need the quinoa salad since corn tortillas are good for gf people....tacos are usually just served with rice and beans, salad sometimes, and beer :
                                                          )But i would add something like sauteed bell peppers and zucchini, shredded lettuce, and chopped tomatoes as taco toppers.

                                                        2. My first reaction was suggesting to turn your dinner party in a game of Clue and kill the pescatarian in the lounge with the candelabra but I feel that would put a damper on things.

                                                          After sleeping on that thorny riddle, I might have a better idea.

                                                          Why don't you have an indian curry special? Indian curries are somewhat exotic to western dinner guests and that helps hide the fact that a lot of them are actually vegetarian. If you are lucky you'll find a few Jain recipes (their religion excludes all meat, onions and garlic... see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_veg...) None of that tofu dog nightmare... a selection of various curries, flavoured basmati rice, flatbread or Naan breads and a soup to start everything and you'll transform your culinary game of twister in a discovery of delicacies of the indian culture.

                                                          I suggest looking at the site "Manjula's kitchen". She makes a lot of dishes in a kitchen that could resemble our own and her recipes are pretty easy to make.

                                                          My favorites are Palak and Shahi Paneer (for the Shahi paneer I like the "show me the curry varian... careful, paneer is actually cheese although you could try the recipe with tofu)and Chola.

                                                          http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/
                                                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DqFA...

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: CaptCrunch

                                                            I nearly busted a gut at your first sentence. Very witty

                                                            1. re: CaptCrunch

                                                              "Jain recipes (their religion excludes all meat, onions and garlic"

                                                              A good suggestion. Some forms of Hindu practice also exclude all alliums. When the OP first mentioned an onion allergy, in fact, I almost suggested a substitution of asafoetida, as is done in non-allium Indian cooking. But it is kind of a pain to work with if you aren't going to use it on a regular basis, and when the OP accepted roasted garlic as a substitute, I assumed the the allergy was to onions only and not alliums generally.

                                                            2. Grill and make tacos.

                                                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                      Yes! It was a hit! I made a delicious pulled pork, simple pan seared fish, beans from scratch, quinoa with herbs and garlic, pico de gallo, guacamole, plain avocado and tomato for non-onion eaters, corn/tomato/jalapeño succotash, Asian pickles, pickled jalapeño, kale/mango/jicama/cucumber/avocado/hearts of Palm salad, with lots of different hot sauces,fresh cilantro, cheese and crema. Everybody raved and went back for thirds. The only thing that I wished was better was the tortillas. I didn't have time to hunt down really good ones, so I had to go with some generic and too dense super market tortillas. But nobody seemed to mind and we had a great time. Loved this thread in preparing for the party!

                                                                1. I would have a fruit platter, what could be wrong with fruit? I don't know what you can safely serve as your mains.

                                                                  1. I have a similar situation coming up soon. 2 are vegetarians, and the other couple are too but will eat fish and seafood. I'm mulling over ideas and have been considering a number of Vietnamese dumplings and Ban Xeo maybe some summer rolls some with shrimp and others not. I have been weighing Mexican ideas too. I want it to be summery and I am serving watermelon martinis for cocktails and I may make Gulab Jamun for dessert or Strawberry Gelato. I don't have to decide today but I need to get started in a week with anything I can do ahead.