Yesterday, on Hoda and Kathy Lee, they posed the question “should a host cater to a guest with dietary restrictions?”. Obviously, that struck a chord with me. I know that some of what Hoda and Kathy Lee say on their show can be exaggeration for drama, but come on. For those of us with food allergies, sensitivities, and/or medical restrictions, it’s difficult enough as it is. I don’t know about you, but I hate not being able to just go and eat at someone’s home or at any restaurant that I want, but that’s life and it could always be so much worse. So, what should a host do? What should the invitee do? Well, it’s not just cut and dry as Hoda and Kathy Lee make it out to be. Sometimes it’s not an option to just push around the food and eat what you can, or just eat what the host serves. There can be cross contamination of the food and that can result in dire consequences for some.
Here is what I do: If I’m invited to a party or a large banquette dinner, I eat beforehand. If I’m going to be there a while and having a few drinks, then I will bring a snack. I don’t expect the host to make a change to a large event like that for me. I will tell the host about my allergy if they don’t already know, so that they aren’t offended that I’m not eating their food. If they are a friend or family member and they make accommodations for me on their own, I am touched and I greatly appreciate it. Most of my close friends know about my dairy allergy and will try and make sure there is something for me to eat. If it’s a party or dinner, I will offer to bring something. I think that it is a different story if I’m invited to someone’s home for dinner or a small dinner party. It is my job to inform the host of my allergy. I always feel bad about it, even though I shouldn’t. I hate being a burden. It’s not as if I have any control over my allergy. If it’s just dinner with another couple, I will offer to host the dinner in my home. Many people panic because they can’t conceive of cooking without dairy or that it can even be done. They often expect for the food to have no taste or to taste horrible. I’ve had some choose the option of moving the dinner to my home and I don’t mind. I love to cook and I do love their reaction when they taste my cooking (especially the desserts). “This doesn’t have any dairy in it?!?!” and then ask for the recipe. Some have asked me for suggestions and I happily supply them with a few easy options. I always offer to bring something. If you know the person’s dietary issues and you don’t want to accommodate, then don’t invite the person.
When you ask someone to your home for a meal, I think it’s downright rude to ignore their dietary allergies/sensitivities/medical restrictions. Even if a person picky, I will try my best to accommodate. I have a couple of close friends who have strong aversions to certain foods. I will avoid those foods/flavors. If it’s a party, I will make sure there are other items for them to eat.
I agree completely. I always accommodate my guests because I know what it feels like to have a food sensitivity and I want to make all of my guests feel welcome and comfortable. I always appreciate someone who offers to help bring something even if I don't take them up on it. I think you are right to inform others about your allergy and offer to bring something or host because it gives the other person some space to decide. Many people really don't know what to cook without dairy…or gluten. Thanks for the post!