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20-40-60 Etiquette: What's on dinner party menu for food-challenged pals?

20-40-60 Etiquette:I would like to have some friends over to my house for dinner, but everyone has their own food preferences. Should I find new friends who might like what I like to cook?
Oklahoman Published: March 10, 2014

I would like to have some friends over to my house for dinner, but I realize that everyone has big food preferences. Last time that I entertained I found out that one friend is a vegan, one friend eats gluten-free and I listened to another one tell about some food allergies and acid reflux. Should I offer a big selection of vegetables, a tray of meats, and no dessert because everyone is on a diet? Or should I politely find new friends who might like what I like to cook?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I do not expect people to alter a meal for me. That being said, my sweet mom and sister always make sure that I have something I can eat at family meals. Maybe you can ask your friends who have special needs to bring their favorite dish for everyone to try! No need to find new friends, as I am sure the ones you have are just great!

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I hope that your friends are just sharing that information with you because you are friends and not because they expect you to alter an entire menu for them. Maybe they simply want you to understand if they choose not to eat something. I also hope that you understand that food allergies are a big deal and in some cases can be life threatening, like allergies to nuts, which can cause a severe reaction in the smallest of doses. People with certain allergies have to be extremely vigilant and protective at all times, and obsesity can lead to another set of health problems altogether. It’s understandable when people watch what they eat, but it isn’t always polite to make it someone else’s problem. I wonder if it it seems more people have food preferences these days because science has gotten better at helping people understand why they are sick.

While you can be sensitive to life-threatening ingredients when people ask, you can’t always accommodate every bite of gluten, sugar and carbs. I think you go ahead and plan the menu you started with and try to offer a variety of foods on the side so people have something to eat. Don’t get too upset if people ask about the menu in order to protect themselves. And if you really like to cook exotic foods, find other ways to spend time with your food-challenged friends and then develop a different set of friends who love food in all forms without having restrictions. True friendship exists when both sets of friends understand and accept the challenges faced by the other, whether on the eating side or on the cooking side.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Athey
Freelance Writer
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a...
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