Saturday, December 3, 2011

the allergic life and dinner parties.

Several months ago I was walloped with a plethora of diseases and allergies that have made me the snobbiest Starbucks orderer ever (I'll have a soy half-caf no whip skinny vanilla latte. Thank you. You're so kind.) and also a highly difficult dinner party guest. I've been invited to eat at several friends' houses and at the sweetheart's parents' house, and had the joy of explaining my no gluten/dairy/high fat/tree nut/shellfish diet. In this conundrum, what does one do? Do you call ahead with a menu or just not eat? Well, I have some solutions! Whether you have gluten intolerance, or prefer not to eat meat, I have some ways to dine at others' homes with grace.

How does one be a courteous dinner party guest? First of all, RSVP! Whether its a buffet or a sit-down dinner, a proper RSVP is always in good taste. These two different dinner party types offer different solutions on what to do. If it's a buffet, I usually don't worry. There's almost always vegetables or meat skewers of some kind to fill you up. However, sit-down dinners pose the real threat. Assuming it's plated, I almost always feel an obligation to clear my plate (thanks for teaching me that one, Grandma). What I would definitely not do is call ahead and give a list of things you cannot eat. That's just overbearing. If it's a close friend or family, they are likely aware of your conditions/preferences, so you need not worry because they will probably cook something that all can enjoy. However, if you're headed to the house of a new acquaintance with a friend, or to your new significant other's parents' house, ask your contact to put in a word for you with your host about your dietary restrictions. A last solution is to offer to bring a dish or a plate. No one ever said it couldn't be allergen free! Some of my favorite websites for allergen-free yet tasty dishes are: (you can search by things you can't eat or by main ingredients),, and There are so many ways to both enjoy dinners at friends' houses (whether you want to be there or not) and still get enough to eat. And if you don't, you can always eat a PB&J at home. Gluten-free of course.

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