There was a time when I loved reading the wedding announcements in the Sunday Times. What’s odd about this is that I have never been particularly wedding-y but I enjoyed reading about how people met, looking at the photo to see if the couple seemed “evenly matched”, hearing whether these strangers had married or divorced parents. It’s amazing what you can surmise form a couple of paragraphs. A few years ago I realized that many of those taking the plunge were younger than me. All of the brides and bridegrooms (weird term) were five, seven sometimes over ten years younger and then the wedding pages started to depress me. So I moved onto the “Modern Love” column and only glance over at “Weddings/Celebrations”, hooray for the rise in gay weddings. On July 1, an article in Sunday Styles caught my eye before I could turn to “Modern Love”. It was called “The Picky Eater Who Came To Dinner.”
The main premise of the article is that people adhering to all different eating regimes (you notice I didn’t say diet…yet) can make socializing a challenge. “Our appetites are stratified by an ever-widening array of restrictions: gluten free, vegan, sugar free, low fat, low sodium, no carb, no dairy, meatless, wheatless macrobiotic, probiotic, antioxidant, sustainable, local and raw.” While I would argue that probiotic and antioxidant were added so that the author could make her list longer (who calls themselves probiotic?) the point is that this is a lot to think about if you’re the one hosting.
The first question is whether it’s up to the host to cater to everyone’s restrictions or preferences. I always feel that guests need to air on the side of not making waves but the article suggests “the locus of responsibility has moved from the eater to the hostess.” I’m not sure if I agree with that “locus shift” but what happens if the host asks about your eating? How much should we divulge? I know the stress eating around a nutritionist can evoke. If I ever said “ I don’t eat wheat, I only eat organic produce, wild fish and grass fed meat friends would rightfully run the other way. I think it’s fair game to state any allergy and give one “no” if asked “I don’t eat meat” or “I can’t have gluten” shouldn’t be off putting. It’s good to follow it up with “but I’ll be fine with anything”, even if untrue, or “please do not worry about me, I would never have mentioned unless you asked.” Manners and healthy eating can coexist.
For me, restaurants are a different case. I cannot tell you how gracious and knowledgeable chefs can be. From gluten free pasta at Maialino to a tuna burger prepared sans wheat at Atlantic Grill, honoring a dietary request goes a long way for customers and is somewhat expected. Whether at someone’s home or out your eating regime, rules or diet (ha!) shouldn’t get in the way of you or your dinner companions having a good time. People will have plenty discuss after you say goodnight, who wants to be remembered as picky? And the way things are going it’s only a matter of time before our eating preferences make the wedding announcements. Sally Smith, a vegan from Vermont, and Paul Perello, paleo from Portland, were married today…now that’s modern love.
Do you inform a host what you do or do not eat? Do you think that’s acceptable or rude? Are restaurants different? Do you read marriage announcements in the newspaper?