Independent George wrote:
That actually makes me less tolerant of people who insist on trendy dietary restrictions without sound reasons for them. For example, people without ciliac disease who insist on gluten-free menus for whatever reason. It's hard enough to get by if you really do have a medical reason for the restriction; I feel personally affronted when people make a choice to do so. It's almost Munchausen syndrome.
Years ago, but many years into my choosing not to eating animals, we were at the home of a Frenchman with a first name like Jean then a hyphen and a 2nd name, and his wife. They were aware that I didn't eat animals, we'd dined with them elsewhere on other occasions, and he had prepared a delicious meal for me. They had a lovely, and extravagant offering of fish cheeks and one of the others, an omnivore, just refused. It was a bit maddening. I watched an acclaimed scholar in his field act like a small child in response to the host's request to just try it. After that, I decided there was one more role of the host, and that was to ask the guests not only about allergies and dietary restrictions, but also about darkest and strongest dislikes or if I don't want to ask, I'm never offended when someone takes a pass on coleslaw, or braised cabbage, or boiled peanuts in my home.
They don't like it they don't like it and I don't take offense.
I have many thoughts on this, having been on both the requesting end and the receiving end of special requests. My attitude: I don't expect anyone to bend over backward to accommodate my needs and I will go out of my way to make things as easy as possible for them. On the flip side, I'll bend over backward to honor a request if I like you or if you make it in a a respectful way. But if you're a pain in the neck, I might not be gracious about it.
This summer, for example, I was experimenting with a variety of diets to see if they had any affect on some GI issues I was experiencing. At various times I was eating vegan (or "vegan on days when I'm not eating pork belly," as I put it), low dairy and no dairy. The only thing I didn't try was gluten-free, thank goodness, because my symptoms didn't match up with its classic presentation. A few times while on these low/no dairy diets I was a guest in other people's homes. The first thing I did upon arriving or en route was to purchase almond milk for my coffee or cereal...that made breakfast pain free. Beyond that, my mantra is, "Don't go out of your way or change what you're cooking. I'm sure there will be something on the table that I can eat, or I'll fix myself a snack if I need to." And then I just did the best I could. Yes, there were a few meals where I'm sure I got some dairy. For that particular situation--I could simply start the experiment over again the next day--it wasn't the end of the world.
I realize, however, that I'm fortunate--I only have one true food sensitivity. (Eating bell peppers is guaranteed to cause unpleasant and sometimes painful side effects.) But even then I still have difficulty. My own father includes them in his paella recipe & has a "pick them out" attitude. That's fine, except that it's impossible to separate the juice of a cooked bell pepper from the other cooking liquid, so even if I never put an actual pepper in my mouth, every bite of paella would have other ingredients which cooked in the peppers' juices.**
On the flip side: I cooked my own paella recipe for 14 people at another friend's house for New Year's Eve. One friend--who I adore--is the pickiest eater under the sun. So even though we didn't arrive and start cooking until sometime after 7 pm, I still managed to serve a glorious seafood paella to 13 people and plate of plain roast chicken and white rice to my picky friend. And I was happy to do it, despite the someone hectic and stressful cooking environment.
**And try explaining that you're allergic to bell peppers when traveling around the world. It's a food sometimes known as capsicum, pimiento, green pepper (regardless of the color), chili pepper, sweet pepper, etc., in various cultures and languages. I can't tell you how often I've been served dishes with no black pepper seasoning but with bell pepper. My Mom's suggested that I take to carrying a photo of the offending plant on my cell phone.