Whether you have food restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, etc.), allergies, or are just a picky eater, it can be challenging when eating as a guest. However, it can also be challenging for hosts. Here are a few pointers for guests and hosts dealing with food restrictions.
1. Does veganism fall under a “special guest” category?
A special guest is Pope Francis or the King of England, not a friend coming over for dinner. Every host wants to make their guests happy, but if they catered to everyone’s dietary restrictions, the meal would consist of bread and water, and even then, is it bread made with unbleached, almond, or rice flour? In other words: Stop with the special requests and don’t be high maintenance. If you think that meat or poultry might be served, don’t accept the invitation.
2. How should vegetarian guests treat hosts?
If someone can’t eat food containing meat, my best advice is to fake it or eat around the item unless you have a severe allergy. If a stew is served, you’re SOL. If you’re asked ahead of time if there’s anything you don’t eat, that’s your queue to tell them you’re a vegetarian so they can work around your dietary needs.
3. What should I remember when eating at a restaurant?
Even though a host at a restaurant might have a set menu, it’s much easier for a restaurant to accommodate dietary restrictions but within reason. It’s one thing to tell a guest you’re a vegetarian, but it’s another to say, “I only eat Kobe beef” or “I only drink dry pink champagne.” First and foremost, you are a guest, and it’s how you handle a sensitive situation that will ensure that you’ll be invited back to the next party.
4. How do I handle food allergies when I’m the host?
Because so many people are food-centric, it’s not a bad idea to send out an email asking if there are any foods guests don’t eat. While I normally leave it up to the guest, play it safe and ask specifically if anyone has a peanut or shellfish allergy, which tend to be the most common. The last thing you want to do is put your guest in the hospital or worse! P.S. guests: It’s rude to ask what will be served unless the host divulges–then it’s your time to speak up.
Vegan delicacy at Little Saint, Healdsburg.