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Possible Double Standard Regarding Dietary Needs/Preferences

So I visited a very good friend this weekend and during a heated conversation she let slip that she finds it difficult to host certain friends of ours for dinner as there are now so many competing food requirements. While I can understand it is tough, I was a bit surprised by this as my friend is a very warm person who loves having people over. On further reflection I noticed that recently however she has been hosting less often.

It turns out she objects to two special dietary requirements that two of our friends' have come out with recently. One friend only eats halal meat (he is an observant muslim but only recently started eating halal) and another friend is avoiding wheat based products (ie. gluten) as she believes she is allergic. We have other friends who are vegetarian, celiac, and on weight loss diets and all these were ok with the host (let's call her X) but not the halal and wheat allergy.

As lovely as this person is I don't really get why some needs are ok and others aren't. If she was even firmer and said she didn't believe in accommodating dietary requests other than for the allergic then I would likely find this more logical, but in the end accommodating a vegetarian for me is no different than accommodating someone who chooses to eat Kosher. Both parties have special dietary needs based on an ethical/philosophical/religious belief, if one is ok the other is so as well.

The wheat "allergy" also gets to me a bit because we have a friend who is celiac and she really can't eat gluten, whereas I think the allergic individual read the book Wheat Belly and then discovered her allergy, but again if this person has made a choice not to eat wheat and I am having them over I'll accommodate.

To Ms. Xs credit she never said anything to anyone else or complained, she just stopped hosting, but for me I didn't get the line in the sand between what was ok to accommodate and what wasn't from her perspective. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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  1. Maybe Ms. X had it up to "here" with servicing so many needs, perceived and real, and felt unappreciated for all of her efforts.
    Maybe she just needed to vent, and needs a break.
    Many times, people as nice as she hold their feelings in, and are people pleasers, and tend to extend themselves too far.

    From your post, it sounds like the ratio of people to special dietary requests is pretty high.

    30 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      You are likely right, as I said I don't really blame her, I just didn't get why some seemed totally acceptable while others weren't. You are correct also that there are a lot of special dietary requirements to accommodate.

      1. re: delys77

        It's a lot of work to put on a dinner party, even when you have no picky eaters!
        Maybe the task is just too daunting to face more than once in a while.

        It sounds like the wheat "allergy" is really choosing to eat gluten-free.
        I really can't say anything about halal meat and Muslims choosing to eat non-halal.
        Maybe it's hard to get where she lives?

        1. re: monavano

          There definitely are halal butchers in her neighbourhood, but I think it may be as you all have said a question of the straw that broke the camels back. That said, it is possible that there is a value based judgement as well (ie. vegetarians are ok but these no wheat people are getting on my nerves).

          1. re: delys77

            i'm not that knowledgable about halal, but, iirc, she could have the halal people over at the same time as the vegetarian and expect the halal folks to share a vegetarian meal that she would be cooking anyway for the vegetarian.
            no?
            am i wrong here?

            i've gotten away with doing this for folks who are kosher.
            as long as there is no meat at all, they are pretty agreeable.
            they aren't the kind of kosher that expects special plates. . .

            1. re: westsidegal

              For sure, that is pretty much what I do. That or non shellfish seafood as I believe some shellfish are not halal. Switch rice out for any wheat accompaniment and we are good to go for my group.

              1. re: delys77

                I think all seafood is halal. I don't think they have any prohibitions against shellfish like Kosher does. However, even with a vegetarian meal you'd have to be careful not to have anything with alcohol in it, including vanilla extract!

                As far as your friend goes, I don't know why she thinks some kinds of restrictions are worth catering to and others are not, but maybe she just finds certain people less dogmatic or more gracious about it and, therefore, finds it more pleasant to host and accommodate them.

                I recently had occasion to host a vegetarian in a setting where we were going to be grilling brats and hotdogs for everyone else. We were going to make tofu dogs available to the vegetarian (which we thought was a great solution because we thought this person could still be a part of the fundamental activity of grilling brats and dogs) when the word got back to me through the grapevine (not even to me directly) that this person doesn't eat tofu dogs. (In my imagination, I perceive this person turning his or her nose up at tofu dogs, but that's just in my imagination.) No reason was given, but I guess this person now doesn't eat processed foods.

                And at this point, I throw in the towel with this person. I think some accommodations are reasonable, but I don't think every accommodation is reasonable. I think sometimes you just show up and be a gracious guest as best you can, especially when your host has accommodated you and it's not going to make you sick or violate your principles (sp corrected!) in any major way. I think it's okay to put your foot down and say, I'm a vegetarian, but I'm less okay with you putting your foot down and saying, "And in addition to that, I don't eat any processed foods." You eat that way at home, missie, but don't expect me to worry about your latest dietary taboo.

                And the more I feel like the guest is just making this up as they go along, and what was okay for them awhile back is suddenly not okay today by subtle shades, the more I feel like they should just be more gracious and less dogmatic.

                ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Agree completely. If a guest tells me they are vegetarian, or something else reasonable, I will do my best to accommodate. But please don't accept my invitation to a steak barbecue and then refuse to eat the grilled vegetables that I've prepared for you because I've brushed them with olive oil, or something else equally ridiculous.

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      That is really beyond...! As a veg myself the first words out of my mouth after thank you for the invite are can i bring a vegetarian dish to share with everyone (my friends typically have very casual get togethers, no plated courses). Your consideration and special effort are waaaayyy above and beyond to get tofu dogs in the first place.
                      Gah! She is who give us easy going happy veggies a bad name!!

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Most of the vegetarians I know would not be comfortable eating something that is cooked on the same grill as meat and don't get the fake meat. Usually, they offer to bring something to share. If I'm cooking for family and friends, I use separate pans and cooking utensils.

                    2. re: westsidegal

                      That's what I do. I will not buy kosher or halal meat for my own ethical preferences, but would never tell a guest that. I just serve a fish or vegetarian meal.

                      1. re: phofiend

                        i've ended up doing the same thing.
                        over the years i've gradually changed my recipe file so that now all my guests expect that a vegan meal will be served.

                        this means that the halal folks, the kosher folks, the vegetarian folks, the heart-healthy folks, all get accommodated with the same food.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Now you just need some hard-core paleos and macrobiotic guests.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Lol I would have to hit the web for the macrobiotic as I'm not sure what that even means.

                            1. re: delys77

                              I haven't heard of anyone claiming to eat a macrobiotic diet in a long while, although I'm sure there are many people out there still doing so. A macrobiotic diet relies on whole grains as the primary foodstuff, supplemented by cereals and cooked vegetables (and fruits, can't recall if they get cooked or not.)

                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                  Well, there's the raw food cousin to macrobiotic.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Yup. The raw food vegans are just as zealous as the old macrobiotic adherents.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                "I am so sorry to hear that! We would have enjoyed seeing you. I hope you can join us another time."

                                I dare you.

                                1. re: Querencia

                                  I would, if I faced that situation.

                                2. re: Karl S

                                  Nah, lots of overlap with vegan and macrobiotic b

                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                    all i know is that there used to be a macrobiotic restaurant near me called M Cafe de Chaya that served the most delicious veggie burger in the world on the very best burger bun.

                                    i dunno what other things are eaten by people who are macrobiotic, but if they can eat that burger, i'm with them. . . .

                    3. re: monavano

                      This seems to me to be the most likely a case, where it just feels like bending over backwards to a point of the experience having lost it's joy.

                      Regarding the halal issue specifically - I can project on this in regards to how I relate to my mother's chosen practice of "kosher style". I'm fairly educated on Jewish dietary laws, and my mom is clearly just picking and choosing the aspects of kashrut that make her life have meaning. Fine in general, but it can be irritating to me when we have to plan meals, pick restaurants, etc. Now, if the Muslim friend is say only eating halal meat but then still drinking alcohol - I can see the moment of choosing the meat just feeling like an arbitrary choice.

                      When it comes to faith and lifestyle choices, I totally respect and understand that for different people certain things can be very meaningful while other things, not so much. And with other people, this really doesn't phase me - but with my mother - ah well. I'm just saying that I can relate to having frustration regarding one kind of 'pick and choose' lifestyle diet while not with another.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        For sure, one of my good friends was once vegetarian but would break down and eat meat relatively often as she said she felt that ethically she shouldn't eat animals but she didn't always have the will power to resist. Needless to say, sorting out a menu for her used to irritate me as well since I knew she often broke her own rules.

                        Again though, she went to the trouble of telling me she was trying her best to be vegetarian so I did my best to accommodate.

                        1. re: delys77

                          100% - in no way do I want to challenge or push how my mother has defined "kosher for her", but it can get under my skin. And while I don't mind sucking it up a few times a year when we do plan home cooked meals together - I wouldn't have it in me to do it more often if we lived closer.

                          What I will confess to though is that if I see her "eating into" a situation that I know breaks her own rules, I won't speak up. We were once at an Indonesian restaurant that had those "shrimp chips" on the table (which in fairness, I don't know if they actually contain shellfish extract/flavor or not), and as she started chowing down on them, I just kept my mouth shut.

                          1. re: cresyd

                            I knew a man who 'kept kosher' but had a special pot for lobster. Yet, when he was an invited guest, he made a big deal about not eating at my house since:
                            I am not Jewish
                            I don't keep a kosher kitchen
                            Finally, he did agree to eat some unpeeled fruit on a paper plate.
                            Never again.

                            1. re: Sherri

                              Yeah..my mother has occasionally used the "oh, I'm kosher I can't eat that" when the real answer is actually "I don't want to eat something that you specifically made".

                              There are definitely aspects of my mother's dietary choices that I do believe are apart of how she experiences faith. And then there's the rest.

                            2. re: cresyd

                              I confess I have done the same. One of my vegetarian friends was enjoying a "vegetable soup" made by another friend who I know makes his own chicken stock and I was 99% sure there was meat stock in the soup. Since she had already eaten most of it and I knew it would make her feel badly I didn't say anything. I did ask the friend who had prepared the soup if he used chicken stock and he replied yes and then realized his omission. He won't make the mistake again and she doesn't need to feel bad about it.

                            3. re: delys77

                              you are a good friend.

                              i normally try to control my calories and sometimes fail abjectly.
                              still, my good friends are kind enough not to confront me with my favorite lemon cake (with lemon curd between the layers) when i go to their house.

                              that would be like trying to set me up for failure.

                        2. As a -- ahem -- middle aged person, I might guess that it might be a straw and a camel's back thing. In my younger days I could have 6 people sit down at my dinner table and happily eat (or discreetly avoid) whatever I chose to serve. I gradually learned the food preferences of my closest friends, and happily accommodated their (unspoken) preferences. I, like many cooks, want to please the people I serve.

                          It seems, however, that nowadays, the preferences are (loudly) spoken when accepting the invitation. If there are more than 2 "special" (i.e., different than my normal diet) requests, I find it a little overwhelming. Sometimes it makes me feel like I would need to be a short order cook (with a well stocked larder) in order to break bread with friends in my home. So, I find I am less happy to host than I used to be.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dkenworthy

                            This reminds me when I was a kid and we would be invited for dinner. I would often ask my mother what we would be having and she would always laugh and tell me she didn't know and that it would have been rude to ask the host/hostess what they were making since whatever it was we were going to smile and eat it.

                            1. re: delys77

                              Indeed, one of my co-workers at a winery in Healdsburg back in the 80's always hated hosting guests at the winery because the food was so "frou-frou". He always had to stop at McDonalds on his way home to get enough to eat. To his credit, the guests (or the chef) never knew there was a problem.

                              1. re: delys77

                                And your mother was completely correct, delys77. I can be a "difficult" eater, but that's my problem, not my host's. I've told my child on more than one occasion that you will find something on the plate that you can happily eat, you will pretend to enjoy everything else, you will graciously thank the host, and if necessary, we will stop on the way home for something quick to eat.

                                Then again, we have no life or health threatening allergies or religious requirements in the family.

                            2. She reached the tipping point, that's all, and I don't blame her one bit. Maybe we all should just host potluck dinners where each guest brings what she or he can eat! Entertaining is tough enough!

                              1. Without hearing your friend's comments, I can't and won't judge her or her motives. However, as others have indicated, it could just be too much for her, whether it's the cost, inconvenience, availability of halal meat, or derision for the faddish and wildly unscientific Wheat Belly book.

                                Not a week goes by here on Chow that someone doesn't post about juggling the dietary needs (or preferences) of their guests in entertaining. This recent thread was complicated enough for one respondent to suggest the use of a Venn diagram. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/983986

                                I've read many of these threads, and I rarely comment, as I'm fortunate in having friends and family with minimal dietary requirements. If I had to parse a menu for an observant Muslim, a vegan, a pescatarian, two onion haters, and a dairy-free raw food eater, I'd just give up entertaining, stay home alone, and order a Pepperoni pizza, hold the anchovies.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                  -----------------

                                  . If I had to parse a menu for an observant Muslim, a vegan, a pescatarian, two onion haters, and a dairy-free raw food eater, I'd just give up entertaining, stay home alone, and order a Pepperoni pizza, hold the anchovies.

                                  -----------------------

                                  There's a darn good joke in there somewhere mcsheridan...

                                  "An observant Muslim, a vegan, a pescatarian, two onion haters, and a dairy-free raw food eater walk into a bar..."

                                  Nope. Won't work.
                                  Damn

                                  Walk into a "Dairy Bar".
                                  Nope won't work too.

                                  Double Damn.

                                  Pizza joint? I dunno, seems iffy. LOLOLZ.

                                  Walk into a salad bar--Hmmmmm.....

                                  I;m going to work on this one. I feel an answer is there.
                                  Somewhere.

                                    1. re: mcsheridan

                                      Or, give them a stiff sentence in Food Court.

                                      By Judge Bourdain?

                                    2. re: jjjrfoodie

                                      While you're at it, I was at a suburban Boston Starbucks last night with my knit/crochet group. Three Buddhist monks in saffron robes and sandals came in and ordered to go. I don't know what their orders consisted of but it seemed to me like the set-up for a joke.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        In my town you will regularly see Benedictine monks out walking around. It is always a good time when you see them in the bar.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          Buddhist monks can also eat at McDonald's. I don't see what there might be to joke about. Most people drink coffee, and they probably have tea at Starbucks as an alternative.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            Greygarious might have been thinking about this old joke:

                                            A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, "Make me one with everything."
                                            The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill.
                                            The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it. "Excuse me, but where’s my change?" asks the Zen master.
                                            The vendor responds, "Change must come from within."

                                            I'm sure she meant no offense.

                                      2. re: mcsheridan

                                        What...you don't eat anchovies! What a fussy eater you are!! :)

                                      3. The thing those two things seem to have in common is that they are both recent changes that the person with the restriction seems to have made all of a sudden. She may be more frustrated by someone who used to eat XYZ and now all of a sudden has decided that they don't eat X than she is by someone who has never eaten XY or Z as long as she's been cooking for them.

                                        Maybe the switch to Halal is part of a deepening of her one friend's faith, but if she's not a party to his religious thoughts and life, it may seem really arbitrary to her. With the gluten -- maybe that's a well-considered decision come to in consultation with her doctors, but it might seem to your friend like it's a whim based on reading a fad diet book.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                          Well reasoned in terms of the recentness of the changes, she did say that was part of the issue. For me however, whether someone has come to the decision last week that they feel strongly enough about XYZ to change their eating habits vs. someone who has been eating that way for years, I still don't see good grounds to make a judgement.

                                          1. re: delys77

                                            Actually, that's more than sufficient grounds for a host to make a judgement about how many special needs guests to have at a given dinner party. Most hosts can only handle one or two max, unless the hosts have staff. Unusual dietary needs raise sociability hurdles (that's being descriptive, not pejorative) because dining (as opposed to eating) is an inherently communal activity that presumes a fairly high common baseline. You should cut your friend a break. And then some. If you want to be a good friend.

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              Definitely not harshing her just didn't get why these guys were the tipping point.

                                              1. re: delys77

                                                Maybe there's no real connection, and perhaps, enough was enough.
                                                They just happened to be the one-too-many-hoops to jump through.

                                          2. re: Jacquilynne

                                            I agree; it might seem arbitrary but it might represent a reawakening of faith. My husband went through that (he was raised Hindu), and now won't eat meat (he will eat fish) and particularly beef...both of which he ate when we first met and were married. I guess the easy part for me is that he made this conversion after our children were mostly raised and out of the house...so planning meals for them was never difficult (well, except when they went through picky phases:-). Of course, I know and love my husband well, and I respect his religious beliefs even if I don't totally agree with them...so I would never dream of serving meat in our house now. Because I was with him when he went through this conversion, I understand that it is genuine. In return, he respects my beliefs and doesn't have a problem with me ordering meat when we go out to eat (even a good steak should I crave it:-), and is ok if I keep a package of ham in the fridge for my beloved ham sandwiches I make for lunch. Of course, he reserves the right to refuse to kiss me right after I've eaten that steak:-)

                                          3. Now I am not a psychiatrist but I play one on CH, LOL

                                            My only thought it was the last straw for her with those particular guests. It could be she thinking "OMG, he's halal now, why now? Oh and she is on yet another crazy diet but calling it an allergy like we don't all know its not…." (my examples only)

                                            Have you ever had a person in your life who you started distancing yourself without really noticing it?

                                            I have one friend who all of sudden just started annoying me about her obsession with something when I finally realized it really didn't have a anything to do with the her newest obsession but more about the cumulative annoyances that had building over time. I would see her number on caller ID and ignore. The sound of her chewing annoyed me! It made me realize that she was pretty toxic for me. Once I realized what was going on it was easy for me step back and figure out whether this was friend worth keeping.

                                            I say good for your friend for just quietly stepping back! I don't think there is a "line in the sand" but more that she may have had enough and realized that it wouldn't be fair/right/polite to accommodate some and not others.

                                            If you miss these get togethers why not offer to host or at least host a pot luck where you ask each guest bringing something to share so everyone can fid something the can and will eat.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                              I often host and so happily, and I also get a little peeved with changing requests fir accommodation, perhaps Ms. X is just comfortable enough with herself to recognize her own personal limits.

                                            2. Since no one will write about the elephant in the room, I shall:

                                              Your friend may have an anti-Muslim bias and does not want to patronize Hallal shops/butchers. I for one spend money only in businesses whose philosophy I support, and in this time of insurgency/insurrection in Syria, Gaza and many areas of the Muslim world I am not going to spend money that might support any of the factions.

                                              As for the non-wheat eating friend, you either have Celiac disease or you don't. I have a niece in law who has the disease and is also Vegan. I accommodate her medical needs and beliefs by making special dishes for her when she visits. I, OTOH often sneeze from white wheat flours. I can eat well toasted breadstuffs made from wheat, but give me one bite of a fresh Parker House roll or a biscuit and the sneezing starts. I don't expect a host to ccook/serve special for me, I just pcik and choose whatt I'm comfortable eating. It's only a meal, not a month's confined stay.

                                              39 Replies
                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                Elephant?
                                                That thought never even occurred to me.

                                                1. re: monavano

                                                  There has been a large increase in the number of Hallal markets/butchers in our metro area in the past 5 years. Unfortunately, some were fronts for funneling money illegally to insurgent/terrorist groups and were shut down by the authorities.
                                                  This is no different from "Irish" Bars in the 70s that collected for Noraid, but were actually funding gun purchases fro the IRA.

                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                    Within the last year or two, I listened to a program on NPR about a cooperative venture supplying meat to both halal and kosher customers, since the requirements are similar. Maybe identical, for all I know, which is *nothing*.

                                                    I also heard something recently about a brouhaha in the UK over a law that was being proposed (or already passed) requiring stun-bolting all mammals being commercially slaughtered for food. This was a humane issue. It was being protested as halal rules require the animal to be conscious when its throat is slit, if I recall the story correctly.

                                                    If that is the case, I would not knowingly buy, serve, or consume such meat. I believe it is a moral imperative for humans who eat animals to kill them as painlessly as possible. It's possible that the OP's friend shares this concern.

                                                    ETA: I poked around and found this BBC piece:http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/984109
                                                    Just so. Now I know, and have a new personal rule.
                                                    I'm crossing off my "round tuit" list a visit to a local halal meat shop to check out what cuts of lamb they offer. And am no longer mourning the demise of the Best Kosher Dinner Frank.

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      I know observant Muslims who consider kosher meat acceptable, but no observant Jews who find halal meat acceptable.

                                                      Meeting the bar for kosher meat in a commercial sense is higher, but I don't think that it would be impossible to do join kosher/halal production in a plant.

                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                        I can't speak to commercial preparation, but I will say that my Muslim daughter, Muslim SIL, and their many Muslim friends all tell me that at least for them, kosher is halal, but halal isn't kosher. This is a good thing where I live, since (despite the fact that the small Muslim population in our town is considerably higher than the tiny Jewish population, and growing, while the Jewish population is not growing) most of our local stores stock a fair number of kosher items and absolutely no halal items.

                                                        No matter: When daughter and family come to visit, they often bring halal meat from their big city where it is available. When we go out, they generally eat seafood (they will happily eat shellfish), or go vegetarian. Or I cook meals with the meat they bring, or we go vegetarian at home, which solves a lot of dietary issues for a crowd, to be honest. or a combination of vegetarian and kosher hot dogs for the grandkids (easy to find almost anywhere, in my experience).

                                                        In short, I don't find it to be any harder to accomodate a halal diet than it would be to accomodate a vegetarian diet.

                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                          I completely agree with you. Someone who doesn't practice halal practices can relatively easily figure out how to prepare/serve a halal dish (the biggest difference with kosher is to make sure that no alcohol is being used in the cooking preparation).

                                                          That being said, I can relate to the moment of catering to a variety of restrictions where there's a moment of "no more!!".

                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                            i learned about the alcohol thing from a former boss who was a mormon.
                                                            he liked to go to fine french restaurants and would grill the servers about whether or not any wine/booze was used in the preparation/sauce of any dish.

                                                            PITA

                                                        2. re: cresyd

                                                          Whereas I know observant Jews who consider Halal meat acceptable, but no Muslims who would consider Kosher meat acceptable.

                                                          1. re: LMAshton

                                                            I'm surprised that you know observant Jews who consider Halal meat acceptable. But that is quite "off book" so to say.

                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                              Agree. I can't imagine any observant Jew eating meat that has not been certified as kosher…halal would not cut it for a truly observant Jew.

                                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                                Sure, and I'm surprised you know observant Muslims who consider Kosher meat acceptable.

                                                            2. re: cresyd

                                                              In some plants there is joint kosher/halal production. The slaughter is done by a shochet/kosher slaughterer under supervision with a halal supervisor present as well. The meat is processed according to the rules of kosher processing. In mammals the halal consumer gets all the hindquarters (not used for kosher consumers in the US). The kosher meat will have ceratin veins removed and be soaked/salted. The halal will broken down and to fresh boxed or cryovac packs for shipment to the retailers. In poultry production, all slaughter and processing is done to kosher standards with a hallal supervisor/inspector present as well. The birds are then shipped to the distributors. I have seen cases of frozen chicken which are distributed thru the USDA for school lunch programs to Jewish schools and Muslim schools which have both the kosher certification stamps and hallal certification stamps on the same carton.

                                                              Back in the 60s and 70s before the influx of Muslim immigrants to the US, the demand for halal meats was generally from the Black Muslim community. We would often see Black Muslims buying their meat and poultry at the kosher butcher shops in town. There were no specific halal butchers/groceries in the area back then.

                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                And that's the answer that I would rely on! Thank you for those details.

                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                  you're welcome.........
                                                                  As someone who has been in the kosher food business in the past, both a bakery, deli and a meat catering company under strict orthodox rabbinical supervision, I am absolutely perplexed by LMAshton's remarks that he/she knows observant Jews who consider halal meat acceptable. These would not be observant Jews, merely Jews who do not eat pork. Thus halal supervision ensures the absence of pork. It does not in anyway provide for the kosher slaughter and processing of the animal.

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    I know some "self-identified" Orthodox Jews, who when in Israel will eat at certain falafel only places with no certification. But I don't think they'd necessarily advertise that fact, and it definitely is more a case of "ok for them" rather than something they'd argue as "this is kosher".

                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                      But surely there is no meat being served by the Halal falafel place…a big difference from eating Halal meat.

                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                        No meat is served there, but kashrut covers more than meat. There are issues regarding the preparation of vegetables, who lights the pilot light, and follow the rules around Shabbat observance.

                                                                        For someone truly observant, all of these things matter.

                                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                                      LMAshton is not in the States. Perhaps in her part of the world Halal is the closest one can get to Kosher? Much like the Black Muslims bought Kosher when there was not a Halal option.

                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                        Kosher doesn't work that way.

                                                                        I know observant Jews who travel through parts of the Middle East with essentially no kosher food - and no matter how flexible they are, they never eat the meat.

                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                          I'm aware of that.

                                                                          I also know many Jews who live or have lived in places far from areas with enough other Jews to obtain Kosher things. Some end up modifying and doing the best they can.

                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                            Halal doesn't work that way for Muslims, either. The ones I know go without meat rather than eating anything that is not Halal.

                                                                2. re: greygarious

                                                                  Kosher and Halal are definitely not identical! Mostly they have the "no pork" in common.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                    greygarious - you sort of recall the British story correctly. We currently have a push to legislate that all animals should be pre-stunned, including those to be considered halal or kosher. The push is led by the British Veterinary Association which, I believe, accepts that, in fact, most meat for halal or kosher consumption is already pre-stunned. IIRC, the pre-stunning level is around the 90% of total

                                                                    It is an obvious tricky matter for legislators with the needs of animal welfare to be balanced with the needs of religious faith. I'm neither a legislator nor a person with any religious faith, so I'm quite happy to state bluntly that the remaining 10% needs to be brought into the pre-stunned category. These religious practices have no place in an increasingly secular society.

                                                                3. re: monavano

                                                                  It didn't to me either. The friend is/was an observant muslim before deciding to eat halal so its hard me see a sudden bias.

                                                                4. re: bagelman01

                                                                  Oh dear no, when I said double standards I meant in the sense of taking different requirements more or less seriously, possibly due to a lack of understanding or because some are more of a "hassle" than others. Definitely not a double standard in the sense of any racial or religious bias. These two individuals have been great friends for a very long time and I am 100% positive that it isn't due to any anti-muslim baggage.

                                                                  In terms of your comment about halal butchers operating as a front, while I don't know your area I find it hard to believe that there is some sort of conspiracy by halal butchers to funnel money to terrorist organizations. Of course it is always possible that an individual business owner might make donations to all sorts of causes, that is businesses owned by individuals associated to any religious, political, or ethnic group might have views counter to mine.

                                                                  If I disagree with Israeli settlements in the West Bank should I avoid all Jewish or Israeli businesses in case they may be funding or encouraging those settlements in any way. If I knew so for a fact perhaps I could, but until such time as I do know for a fact I wouldn't think it is ok to tar everyone with the same brush so to speak.

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    I wonder if maybe she feels uncomfortable going to a halal butcher. Many people I know won't shop at Asian grocery stores because of the sense of otherness- the sights and smells are different than an American grocery store, most patrons and nearly all the staff are Asian, a different language is being spoken, the merchandise isn't always labelled in English, etc. It can be overwhelming. Perhaps a field trip is in order.

                                                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                                                      It could be. Even then, I do think it is a great excuse to tackle something new and overcome any sense of otherness one might feel going into a new environment. I have always found staff in these types of shops are quite helpful, maybe it is the fact that they get to show off some of their culinary culture.

                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                        I don't shop at our local Asian grocery store, because it's super gross. I'm not talking about unfamiliar foods and labels - I love that kind of thing. It's full of flies, everything is covered in dust, and half the packages are clearly expired. The staff is unfriendly as well.

                                                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                          There's a Korean/Japanese/Asian market on Clay's Mill near New Circle that is very clean. DY Market I think. It's very clean and the people who run it are friendly.

                                                                          Bonus is the Korean restaurant in the back,

                                                                          1. re: chileheadmike

                                                                            Oh, the new one in Stonewall? I haven't been there yet. It's been Yu-Yu or nothing for so long and it SO gross there. I'll have to try the new place.

                                                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                                                        I think the assumption of halal butchers is about the same as saying "I won't patron Jewish owned businesses because they may support certain groups in Israel that support violence".

                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                            But it's relatively easy to eat halal by not visiting a halal butcher shop. A seafood or vegetarian dish will do, as long as there's no alcohol in it. But, maybe she didn't know that, didn't have time to research, and would rather not host than inadvertently offend.

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              In Canada it is also very easy to get halal lamb in many grocery stores. The ubiquitous frozen lamb from New Zealand is usually halal and marked as such.

                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                  I didn't know that! Good to know!

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Now I am starting to read that it may not be the case. Better check before inviting people over for Thanksgiving.

                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                      Whoops! Back to serving fish and vegetarian cuisine, sans alcohol. :)

                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                            2. < Both parties have special dietary needs based on an ethical/philosophical/religious belief, if one is ok the other is so as well. >

                                                                              Not necessary. Maybe your friend knows more or less recipes to accommodate one vs another. Some people do not like to eat wheat gluten and some people do not like to eat fish. I certainly don't believe these two diet restrictions require the same amount of care and work.

                                                                              <get the line in the sand between what was ok to accommodate and what wasn't from her perspective>

                                                                              It is simply a person choice. I don't think we need to really need to try to get deep down into. Maybe she likes people not on the same level and willing to do more for one person over another. Just so many possibilities.

                                                                              1. I can think of three reasons.

                                                                                One is that both these people have recently *added* new restrictions to the mix. They used to eat non-Halal meat and wheat happily, and have suddenly switched to a much harder to cook for diets.

                                                                                The second is that I find that the attitude of the person with the restrictions makes a big difference - some people are polite, apologetic, and keep demands to a minimum, while others email you a detailed list of what they consider acceptable. So maybe these two are particularly vocal about their new diets.

                                                                                Or, it may just be a straw and camel's back thing - it sounds like you've got a lot of dietary restrictions going on in your social group. Your friend loves to host, but has found that over time hosting has gotten less and less enjoyable, as she desperately tries to come up with something that her guests will be willing to eat.

                                                                                1. How would this friend feel if she knew you were talking about her like this?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                    I haven't said anything negative, I just said I don't understand drawing the line in the sand. It certainly wasn't my intention to hurt anyone, I'm just using this venue (one which I know none of my friends read) to discuss something without using anyone's name.

                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                      I hate this old chestnut... it's just so tiresome.

                                                                                    2. Hosting can be hard work (and harder when you have a lot of restrictions to accommodate). Everyone needs a break sometime and as the host she is free to choose what she wants to accommodate or what not.

                                                                                      For me, I will openly admit I do not know much about being halal at the moment but I know quite a bit about being a vegetarian so my comfort level of making a vegetarian meal vs a halal dish would significantly differ.

                                                                                      Sounds like her dinner parties are fun (and will be missed since you are writing about it) so hopefully she gets her mojo back soon (and maybe someone else can host once in a while for now!)

                                                                                      1. Other than family get-togethers, we have given up having people for dinner. It's no longer fun and much better to go to a restaurant where people can just order to their preferences (or not come). Family get-togethers are bad enough with the various food constraints - it means we end up with lowest common denominator meals. I hate them with a vengeance and would prefer these to be "eat out" occasions as well - but then there's the family members who can never afford to pay their share so it becomes an expensive proposition with all the costs usually falling on just a couple of family members.

                                                                                        1. I have immense sympathy for X. In my wife's family we have an untold number of different diets and arbitrary self imposed restrictions. It got to be too much to try and accommodate everybody so we just stopped hosting. We'll do potluck at our house now but we can't afford to make 15 different meals.

                                                                                          1. I think that at some point we all have a limit of how much bending we are willing to do. My willingness depends on many factors:
                                                                                            How much I want to have this person share a meal with me and my other guests/family
                                                                                            How much this person contributes to the happiness in my life and brings the happiness to the table
                                                                                            How willing is this person to make sacrifices for others, i.e. is not so self-absorbed as to ignore others with needs

                                                                                            I have a hot button for the misuse of "allergy" as well. A true food allergy is serious; using the term for personal convenience is a cowardly lie.

                                                                                            OP states: "To Ms. Xs credit she never said anything to anyone else or complained, she just stopped hosting".
                                                                                            While I do not have guests with the myriad dietary constrains of Ms X, I too have cut waaaaay back on hosting. Also, I am much more selective about who shares my table and less likely to do the "payback" thing knowing that it can result in an endless cycle.

                                                                                            Yes, entertaining is a lot of work.
                                                                                            Yes, it is expensive.
                                                                                            Yes, it can be a lot of fun.
                                                                                            As birthdays have accumulated, I notice that I have less tolerance for self-absorbed individuals and have reduced my obligatory entertaining. I do what I want, when I want. Ye Gods, that sounds like a bratty toddler and I must clarify lest I be thought of as a very old three year old.

                                                                                            No longer do we host dinner parties for the sake of hosting dinner parties. Many factors have contributed, not the least of which are the dietary restrictions of guests. I have very little patience for those who change their restrictions at will, expecting the hostess (me) to conform to their fad du jour.

                                                                                            With all my disclaimers, I sound like a crotchy geezer. I am not. We love to have people at our dinner table and do so reqularly - twice last week. I have kept a "Guest Likes and Dislikes" file for as long as I can remember and try to adhere to it. I guess what I am saying is that we all have our 'line in the sand'. Ms X may have reached hers; I know when I reach mine. A gift of maturity is knowing when to say "No" and mean it. t's time to be good to yourself.

                                                                                            1. This really sounds like the two new dietary requirements simply were the straw that broke the camels back.

                                                                                              Not everyone finds menu planning easy. Some reach the point where it is just too much of a chore.

                                                                                              I generally love to cook but living alone and eating smallish meals means I have less opportunity to try new recipes. So it may take awhile before I can test an idea to serve to a friend.

                                                                                              Between no onions, nothing weird, no nightshades, gluten free, no pork, no beef, only seafood caught in a certain way, nothing with bones in it, etc. I simply don't have the energy to attempt a dinner party for a group. I can deal with a few issues for a meal so tend to just host two to three people at this point.

                                                                                              1. It may be a double standard, but I don't see anything wrong with it. This is a permissable form of discrimination, particularly since it is within her private affairs. I wouldn't want to host an event which included a lot of high-maintenance diners. But I would accomodate one close family member who happens to be a vegetarian simply because she is more important to me than other potential guests.

                                                                                                1. This subject has already been beaten to death. I personally have no problem preparing a meal with about four components that could cover just about all known restrictions. I ask first.

                                                                                                  1. have to agree that the restrictions being new and seemingly perhaps reading to "X" as surface deep could play a big part. Honestly it would for me - newly subscribing to a religious statute previously ignored and discovering sudden "wheat allergy" could get a bit of a roll of the eyes from me too depending how I perceived the sincerity. Does the Halal eater comprehensively follow all Halal restrictions or is the meat issue cherry picked? Did the wheat allergic have any symptoms before picking up a copy of wheat belly - do they still say drink beer or eat the occasional...too tempting cupcake? It is one thing to honor someone's health or faith based needs it is another to humor their latest whim.

                                                                                                    It could also be how the specific individuals "wear" their restrictions. IME most people with really deeply held belief or true health based restrictions don't make a big deal over expecting to be accommodated and are adept at working around their restrictions.

                                                                                                    1. One minute ago I came here from another CH thread on this very topic--a dinner party hostess had been besieged with special dietary preferences. I made the point that a generation ago it simply wasn't done to respond to a dinner invitation by laying down the dietary law to the hostess and I wondered what has happened. Are there really that many more medical situations? Are guests volunteering their likes and dislikes ("I eat only Halal meat" or "I don't like onions")? I readily concede that this may be a generational thing, but some of it sounds to me like social posing rather than biochemistry. Opinions?

                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                        Totally agree. If you are allergic to something, and will be made physically ill by eating it, you owe it to your host (and yourself) to make this clear in advance. If you are a vegetarian, kosher, halal, or just are a fussy eater, depending upon your relationship with the host you should either make this known in advance, or decline the invitation. It's totally unreasonable to expect a host to satisfy dietary needs other than those dictated by medical needs unless they can easily be met. Similarly, if it's a religious requirement that cannot be easily solved, either bring your own food or decline the invite.

                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                          If a guest has something they absolutely hate and wouldn't eat for all the tea in China, I want to know- especially if it's the centerpiece of the meal, or the one and only dessert.
                                                                                                          As long as it's not some long list, I'm ok with it.

                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                            I am the same. I often ask guests that I don't know as well to please let me know of any food preferences, this way I won't make something they hate.

                                                                                                        2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                          I think there are a number of reasons.

                                                                                                          One is cultural mingling. In the past, people were more likely to stick to their own group, so a non-Kosher person having a Kosher person over for dinner wouldn't be very likely.

                                                                                                          Another is a combination of a genuine rise in allergies and an increase in the diagnoses of allergies and sensitivities. Plus, increased visibility leading some people to self diagnose sensitivities.

                                                                                                          A third is the rise of stringent 'personal' diets - ie, dietary choices that are individual rather than cultural, often health or ethically based - vegetarian, organic/free range food only, carb free, low glycemic index, paleo, raw foods, gluten free, and so on.

                                                                                                          An finally, I think there is definitely a cultural shift towards the accommodation of personal choice over conforming to cultural norms (or refusing to inconvenience people.) So in the past, where someone would either choke it down or be discreet about avoiding it and eat before or after, now they email the host with a list of requirements.

                                                                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                            Your comments on personal accommodation and cultural norms reminds me of a recent sociological study that tries to quantify a tightness v looseness quality of a society.

                                                                                                            http://www.pnas.org/content/early/201...
                                                                                                            Tightness–looseness across the 50 united states

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              Interesting! Thank you for sharing this.

                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                          2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                            I have recently moved to a new city and have been making new friends. One girl I've met recently is self identified as 'very very picky' with food. I really like her - and if I were to host an event, I'd really want to do anything possible to make sure that she felt like she had something to eat. But I can't imagine wanting to do that frequently.

                                                                                                            In terms of generational issues - I think that growing food "issues" has also contributed to changes in how get togethers are "hosted" in restaurants. As it can often be too big of a headache to host at home and meet everyone's needs - it's become increasingly easier to put that burden on a restaurant that is designed to cater to individual's needs. However, instead of saying "this is my treat to my guests" the understanding is we all pay our way as the burden of hosting has become just too great.

                                                                                                            Whenever there's a post saying "how do I organize an event and clarifying x regarding money" - there are always posters who reply saying "you can host cheaply at home and should just do that instead". But I think in certain social groups and structures, this really has become the norm. If I went to a birthday dinner in a restaurant that I was invited to and was treated to the meal, I'd be stunned.

                                                                                                          3. A PITA's sense of entitlement should stop at your door.

                                                                                                            1. I was procrastinating by reading this thread earlier, then met a friend for lunch who coincidentally started complaining about another friend who went high maintenance on a dinner invitation if kosher wouldn't be served. Anyway, she asked if I'd read today's Miss Manners, and I thought I'd share it here, though not exactly in response to the OP, but perhaps to some of the ensuing (and elsewhere on NAF) discussion -- it's the second letter: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifesty...

                                                                                                              ETA: if nothing else, please enjoy above run-on sentences.

                                                                                                              1. I don't know your friend or how much she knows about halal foods and halal requirements. My husband is Muslim, so this is something I've been learning a lot about over the last eleven years. There's more to it than just halal meat. Other foods that raise concerns are anything where alcohol, gelatin, or cheese are added for example, but even some seasoning products made from animal sources are potentially not halal. Cheese made from animal rennet where the animal was not halal are out, microbial rennet is okay. Yoghurt may have gelatin added, so that's a problem. Baked goods may contain vanilla or other flavouring extracts which are not halal. Alcohol can be added to so many things including ice creams and even salsa.

                                                                                                                With halal requirements, food shopping can suddenly become very complicated and confusing if you don't know what you're looking for. I sympathize with your friend.

                                                                                                                Added to the halal issue, my husband and I have many allergies & sensitivities, me much more so than he. So, yeah, we can be a bit difficult, but on the other hand, we mostly just make do with whatever's available that we can safely consume and skip the rest.

                                                                                                                1. I'm confused...wouldn't the celiac and the wheat allergy person eat the same thing? Regarding the halal guest, is it really so hard to serve beef, chicken or seafood? If you are grilling out, it's not uncommon to serve more than one type of meat...why not serve whatever type of entree you want and also have some type of casserole for those that prefer something else? I have done this in the past and it was well received.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: stclajm

                                                                                                                    Celiacs' typically avoid many grains other than wheat, such oats, rye, and barley. In terms of halal guests, typically those who are eating halal abstain from any meat that has not been slaughtered in accordance with halal dietary laws.