Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Allergy Etiquette

Recently, Mr. Burns and I have received a number of dinner invitations from friends. We are so blessed to have such wonderful and social people in our lives!

We gladly and I hope, graciously accept each invitation. But I wonder - what is the most gracious way to deal with my many and various food allergies? For me, the allergies aren't that hard to deal with - the worst part for me is putting my host or hostess in a position to have to accommodate me. I hate that.

Do I accept the invitation and then email a list of my allergies? That seems awful.
Do I offer to bring a dish, so that I have at least one thing that I know I can eat?

The best case scenario is a gracious hostess. I received this email from one of them tonight:

Are you allergic to chicken, cranberries, and/or goat cheese? I make a wonderful salad with hot chicken. Are you allergic to avocado?

Oh. How thoughtful! She remembers that I have some restrictions. But how to respond?
I composed the following response:

Oh... that salad sounds fabulous!! I am allergic to chicken - but if you add it last maybe you could just leave the chicken out of my salad... that would be easy, then everyone else can still enjoy it.

I really appreciate your concern for my allergies, though I hate to restrict my hostess! I'd be happy to contribute a dish that is TRS-safe so that your culinary skills can be free to shine for everyone else!

Below are my restrictions... but don't concern yourself too much with category two... I can generally eat around those and be fine.

Any thoughts? Is that proper? Is it in any way offensive?

Any ideas for how to approach a hostess who doesn't inquire about my food restrictions? If you were having me to dinner - how would you prefer it were handled?

While I'm at it... I just want to remind people to ask their guests about food restrictions. I know many people with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) or who are vegetarians who would appreciate the gesture.

My vegetarian friend recalls a dinner party when she was staying in a hotel in DC for a work trip. Her friend generously invited her to dinner knowing she was in town for a few nights. Then at dinner she served her a juicy steak. Predictably, my friend didn't touch it. (she's vegetarian mostly for dietary reasons, not ethical) Her hostess didn't even ask why the only thing she touched was her wine!!!

My friend went back to her hotel on the Metro - starving - a little drunk- and wondering where she was going to find something to eat at 10:00PM!!

Do remember that it is the mark of a good hostess to ask if her guests enjoyed the meal. If the plate is untouched, do ask if something is the matter. Don't be insulted, but give her a granola bar for the trip home!!!

Meanwhile, let me stress that my hostess is beyond gracious and accommodating! I quickly received this reply:

We’ll do something different- there’s a bunch of food you're NOT allergic too. Thanks for the info.

So kind, but I hate that I caused her to change the menu!! Argh!

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