Dos and Don’ts: Accommodating Dietary Needs at Dinner Parties

by in Entertaining, March 7th, 2012

dinner party
So, you’re hosting a dinner party and one (or more) of your guests has a food allergy. What do you do? How do you manage this? Some people do not accommodate special dietary needs at their dinner parties. And while I understand the frustration with the myriad of food needs out there, the question I would ask before I make that decision is: Do I want all my guests to feel welcome? If the answer to that question is yes, then here are a few dos and don’ts to help you navigate this social minefield:

Do:

• Share your menu plan (including a full ingredient list) with your food-allergic guests. If you are using prepared food, like sauces or spice mixtures, save all the ingredient lists for those as well. Ask them to bring up any concerns they might have.

• Ask them if they have any suggestions on making the food safe for them. How concerned are they about cross-contamination. (i.e., How allergic are they? Do you need to buy new sponges? What if a spoon from the pasta dish touches the soup — is that okay?)

• Be flexible (within reason). If you can make small tweaks to a recipe to make it safe for your allergic guest, please do (many recipes call for butter when olive oil can be easily substituted).

• Ask them if they want to bring something to the party, either just for themselves or for the whole party. My personal preference is to bring something, like a dessert, for everyone to share.

Don’t:

• Be insulted if they bring food from home or choose to eat before they come. Having food allergies can be very difficult socially, and for many people, preparing their own food is the best way for them to relax and be able to enjoy your company.

• Be afraid to ask them for help or guidance. Planning a party is stressful enough; they will not be insulted if you ask them to help in making the food safe for them. They will be grateful that you care enough about their health and happiness to ask.

Lillian Medville makes grain-free, dairy-free, cane sugar-free, and soy-free recipes for the very first time on camera at Lillian’s Test Kitchen, an online comedy cooking show.

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