As one who likes to have people over for dinner occasionally, I find myself tinkering with the menu more than I used to. That’s because people today are pickier than ever about what they eat. Some of them don’t like certain things and will not eat them ; others have religious restrictions that they have to abide by . And , of course , more and more people in my age group are on semi-permanent diets , for medical reasons or otherwise.
Consider this dinner that I host for two other couples every couple of months . One husband has heart and diabetes problems : thus red meat has to be avoided ,as also desserts sweetened with sugar. .His wife won’t eat yoghurt ( no particular reason, she’s decided that she doesn’t like it ). So, no yoghurt -based raitas, or appetizers or desserts. The other couple doesn’t eat pork . And m y wife just told me that she’s going to continue to forgo rice for another year. goodbye, pulaos and biryanis and fried rice , most noodles, and desserts containing rice.
All this is hell on the person planning the menu. Of course , all of them say , ” Don’t go to any trouble for me . I’ll manage. I’m sure there will be plenty of stuff for me to eat.” But , of course , I can’t do that. I will say though I’m getting pretty good at tinkering with the menu to suit everybody’s tastes ; it’s getting easier with time and practice.
I’ve known that people are allergic to certain foods but wasn’t aware of just how prevalent food allergies are. According to one source, the number of people in the U.S with food allergies has doubled over the last decade. Recently , I read of two friends with multiple allergies who decided to see how restaurants would cater to their special needs.
One lady , an interior decorator, was allergic to almonds , walnuts, pecans , apples, pineapples, pears , peaches, nectarines, apricots and eggplant, The other , a former cookbook editor , was allergic to tree nuts, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, buckwheat, seeds of citrus fruits and poppy seeds. Together the two friends dined out at three widely different N.Y. City restaurants — a Belgian restaurant , a four star French restaurant ( Le Bernardin ) and a Chinese restaurant. They had the least trouble at Le Bernardin where there were only a few dishes that they had to avoid. The biggest problems were at the Chinese restaurant where a lot of the Chinese and Asian ingredients were on the taboo list. It can’t have been easy catering to their special needs . No wonder that at the Belgian restaurant , the waiter said to them at the end of the meal , as he gave them the check ” Thank you , ladies – I’m relieved !”
One thing is for sure : I’m glad those ladies aren’t coming over for dinner at my house !