Musings on a Friend’s Dinner Party with Vegans, Paleos, Non Red Meat Eaters, Non Fish Eaters, Non Dairy Eaters, Non Sugar Eaters
At a recent friend’s dinner party we had all of the above. I and my beloved are Paleo (me no dairy either), a vegan couple and the couple who hosted the evening, one doesn’t eat red meat and the other can’t abide fish. I don’t know what the other four women were or weren’t eating. Oh… and add to that that the vegans and I do not drink alcohol (not since that hangover that lasted all night and the next day!). Not to wonder, our hostess friend was starting to lose patience this time round. She had been very patient with her last dinner party, not showing any of the symptoms of fatigue from the lists of “I don’t eat…(put in anything you like here)”. I watched as one of our vegans asked for some barbecue sauce to go on the tofu burgers they had brought for dinner. Our hostess told her, “No, but I will have it for you next time”. I made the quip “make a list” (with a laugh), and she agreed but I was getting the feeling more and more that the idea of a next time was looking much more onerous to her. I live in an area of the world that is renowned for our picky and evangelical behaviour regarding many aspects of our lives, including food choices. As such, when seen kindly we are kooky and when not, we are just plain annoying. I know I feel the same way and I am one of “them”. I have encountered more than a few testy waiters at eating houses who are sick of our kooky ways! Our hostess got a bit confused when trying provide a dessert for us Paleos. The vegans and the rest don’t have a problem with sweet things, (oh… the vegans only eat agave syrup). Our friend kept asking us what we could have for dessert, bless her heart. The problem is there is absolutely nothing that is a dessert that isn’t sweet (except cheese and bickies but not for me) As a good hostess she felt responsible for giving us dessert. This got me to thinking about social eating and what I have learnt going through my many different incarnations of “I can’t eat that” because I don’t want to be left out or leave myself out of social gatherings. 1. I try now to bring food that I can eat and share that is yummy. It has to be good otherwise I will feel deprived and may make others feel uncomfortable. 2. I now try to make my food choice as ‘under the radar’ as I can. If I can, and this point is hard, I do not bring attention to myself. If someone asks why I can’t eat something I find a funny way of avoiding the issue. This really helps in not becoming a problem guest. 3. When going to a restaurant with friends, I make sure there is something for me to eat and I know what it is beforehand. Perusing menus, asking lots of questions of the waiter, whilst sitting with friends is not conducive to a happy meal. Being on a ‘special’ diet can be be a bit trying for me also, as it can and does preclude spontaneity as I have to plan the food part of all outings in advance. I have also more than once (this is putting it mildly!) felt a little guilty due to my lack of easygoingness when it comes to food choices. Far worse though is the long term effects of eating the foods that make me sick and the need to be well, now am in my late middle age, has overruled a lot of the need to fit in. I am sorry my lovely friends, waiters, waitresses and restaurant owners for my picky ways. I know I look like a complete pain, but for me it is a matter of either going out and eating anything and then feeling awful for days, not going out at all, as all outings with friends involve food, or doing what I can to go out and still have some fun. I want fun!!