Sunday, October 2, 2011

refusing food advice from the NY comments

How Do You Refuse Food at a Dinner Party Without Offending Your Host?
If the food in question is meat and you're a vegetarian, then you're in the clear. Likewise, if you have an allergy, your host will never want to put your health at risk. People on diets are also given a pass. But those of us whose reasons are more nebulous would do well to flat-out lie.
Being gluten-intolerant, without having celiac disease, I've often found myself in the position of having to launch into a tedious explanation that no one wants to hear. Gluten won't kill me, but the symptoms are serious (if boring to hear about at a dinner party), so I try to avoid it at all costs. I've discovered the solution: I call it an allergy. This saves face for me and offends no one. I take my cue from a friend who loathes brussels sprouts. When the host of a recent dinner party served them (halved and browned in butter and tossed with bits of bacon), my friend left them untouched on her plate. As our host cleared the table, she paused over my friend's shoulder. "You don't like these?" she asked. My friend looked up at her with a perfectly placid smile. "I can't eat them," she replied. Enough said.  From NY TIMES 10/2/2011

My take... Come on, you can't eat brussels sprouts tossed in butter and bacon?  OK. But do you make your child eat/drink outside his/her taste preference range? Do you refuse to listen to the pre-selected radio stations in someone else's car?  Feel free to re-program blue grass for country, which you might think isn't a big difference unless you're privy to some of my family's 3+ drink debates on "How can you like country but not blue grass?"  "How can you like blue grass but not country?" Don't like the hospital's brand of sanitizer? Forego using it, right? You like single-malt scotch with a heavy peaty taste, which you think licenses you to scoff at non-peaty, blended scotch when your Academic Dean's (boss's) wife offers it to you on the heals of your tenure proposal decision.  You get the idea.  Eat the damn brussels sprouts--at least 2 of them.
On the other side of my tirade is the host who asks for a full report on what remains on your plate.  I've done that. I've done that recently.  No good comes of it.  I recently asked a family member why she didn't eat the mashed potatoes and relievedly accepted her excuse that she was just too full on the other yummy creations I'd whipped up.  Without thinking, I imagine, she then proceeded to accept dessert (which I didn't make).  Frankly, it serves me right.  Cooks and hosts need to let it go.  Provide.  Offer. But don't demand.

And if the NY Times Mag is looking for a contributing writer, please, refer them to this pithy commentary.

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"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf