Solve Your Dinner Party Dietary Dilemmas This Season
If you’re the sort that enjoys throwing a dinner party for a few close friends — then you’ve likely encountered the problematic issue of how to feed guests with diverse dietary considerations. Some of the various food restrictions we’ve come to accept as a normal part of our daily lives and those of our friends include: lactose intolerance, various allergies, Coeliac disease, vegetarianism and vegan sensibilities, and even friends who are looking to improve their health with a special diet plan.
At some point, you realize that you won’t be able to craft a menu fit to please every guest. This epiphany may come in the wake of an increasingly frenzied search for appropriate dishes that contain no ingredients prohibited for anyone. This can lead you into some interesting territory, if you happen to be a nutritional anthropologist or a glutton for punishment. While the far-flung cuisines you encounter may make for interesting anecdotes, they will not make your culinary experience easy.
Quite the opposite, in fact. It may call for specialty ingredients that aren’t available at your local shopping venues, leading you a merry chase in the kitchen when you attempt to prepare foods you cannot pronounce, much less produce with confidence. How’s your Urdu? It can be an uphill battle to attempt to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs, sapping you of energy, taking the joy out of entertaining, and resulting in some unusual menus. But there are ways to cope without giving in and adopting the lifestyle of a hermit.
The Joint Effort
If you entertain friends with a wide array of dietary needs, one of the best ways to keep the tone of your party light and easy is to share the work. Invite those of your guests to bring along a special dish they can eat and would like to share with everyone. This removes the burden of accommodating special allergies or food considerations from your shoulders and places it upon the guests in question. Plus, suggesting that they bring a dish to share puts a positive spin on the request.
Your friend from work who is a dedicated Vegan can bring a special dish to introduce other guests to the dietary decision they made. Plus, they’ll now have something they enjoy eating, even if everyone else only has a taste. This approach works for every course—from soup to desserts—and can actually set many people at ease. Individuals with allergies or autoimmune disorders begin to avoid social gatherings, because it can be difficult to explain why they haven’t touched their food.
The Extra Portion
If you don’t feel the need to adopt a potluck-style menu, another approach can be just as effective. Make extra portions of items that you know everyone will be able to enjoy. For example, if you’re serving steak and have a guest who doesn’t eat meat, make a vegetarian side dish like pasta tossed with pesto, spinach, and tomatoes. Try cooking with quinoa for guest that don’t partake of gluten for health reasons, and be sure to use dedicated utensils to avoid contamination.
Create a delicious risotto or stuffed mushrooms, which are incredibly easy to make lots of and keep warm. Serve dinner with a beautiful salad and a suitable soup. If that’s too many courses to consider, you could also prepare either an appetizer or a desert aimed to please the guest who can’t eat the main course. They’ll know you tried, and think warmly of your effort.
A Substitute Education
A third option for the intrepid kitchen warrior, or just because you’re a caring friend, is to learn about substitutions in the dishes you like to prepare for special occasions. Read up on using nut flours in place of wheat flour. Experiment with tofu, or a crafting a Minestrone that is to die for. This is one of the special touches you can offer your friends that shows you went the extra mile without travelling to the far reaches of the earth for ideas. It makes your dinner party a special event that will be remembered fondly, and will encourage others to reciprocate.
Cooking for a guest list peppered with diverse dietary considerations need not be a headache. With a little creative thinking and perhaps a bit of extra prep work, you can please everyone at your dinner table. Your friends don’t expect you to craft a menu centred on their particular needs, and will appreciate your efforts, whatever form they assume.