Hosting a dinner party does require a bit of finesse. You’ve got to plan the meal, make the house presentable, shop for groceries, cook something incredibly fabulous and then greet your guests with a calm and cool demeanor that hides the fact the not 30 minutes before you were running through the house wearing nothing but a smile cause the blender exploded all over your outfit.
It’s often madness, and I love it. But today’s food preferences, intolerances and allergies have made it a bit more challenging. Etiquette doesn’t demand that you cater to everyone’s food sensitivities, but it’s nice to try and accommodate if you can. Besides, no Martha Stewart wannabe wants her guests leaving:
- nauseated and headache-y,
- so hungry that they have to stop and get something they can actually eat,
- mortified that you served veal,
- and/or needing to refill their EpiPen.
So, at a recent informal gathering of family, when I found myself faced with one vegetarian, one who is intolerant of gluten and an octogenarian who believes that every meal must contain meat, I decided to go the extra mile and make two soups.
A previous crowd pleaser, pasta e fagioli, was chock full of pork and gluten and appeared to be a good choice for the bulk of the group, so I set about Googling a recipe for my second entrée. I landed upon a slightly spicy Curried Coconut Carrot Soup that fit all the requirements and looked relatively simple to make, so I determined that this would be soup number two.
Guests arrived ready to get their soup on.
When dinner was served, over half of them headed for the meatless, gluten-free, low-fat, vegan curry. By the end of the night it was completely gone, and I was left with half a pan of the Italian soup.
After the guests left I pondered the outcome of the evening. Why did this unconventional party fare end up being the star of the show? I came up with a few answers:
- It had an eye appealing color.
- It was a little unusual.
- It was not as heavy as the fagioli.
- It was damn good.
It made me wonder what other culinary delights I might be missing out on by sticking with my previous successes.
Interestingly enough, if my menu hadn’t required tweaking, I would most likely have never made this recipe. Although I received kudos for hosting a fabulous event, it wouldn’t be right not to tip my hat to those couple of guests whose dietary constraints made it happen.
How do you handle guests who have dietary restrictions? —Karen