Service of Watch Your Menu & Words

July 28th, 2022

Categories: Diet, Food, Free Speech, Guests, Political Correctness, Political Divide, Religion, Vegan, Vegetarian, Words

When meal planning for guests we’ve learned to deal with gluten free, vegetarian and vegan requirements as well as allergies to citrus, a range of vegetables [for those with diverticulitis], and avoidance of garlic, onions or cilantro, on top of countless other foods distasteful to some.

Over the last few decades if you didn’t ask a first time dinner guest if there were things they didn’t eat it was at your peril if you wanted to be a considerate host. The focus on special food needs has exploded to the point at which it is a chore to mix friends. Some eat no meat; others only eat meat and dislike fish. Still others won’t eat plant-based concoctions or cheese and eggs and I haven’t touched on victuals on the NO list due to religious rulings. Yikes.

Now that we’ve learned to cope with food issues–meet at a restaurant might be easiest–words are today’s hottest minefield. We must filter them to get along. Here’s what I mean: I referred to another person’s son. You mean “child” I was corrected. The offspring in question is a they. And around atheists, watch yourself if you hear a sneeze. It has nothing to do with Covid-19. Never say “God bless you.” You’ll offend.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m so old fashioned or some would say without spine or principles because I welcome any greeting that’s said to please.

I wrote in March 2021 about the private NYC school whose guidelines admonished parents to use grown-ups, folks, family or guardians instead of mom and dad and caregiver instead of babysitter or nanny. That was just the start of their list of alternative words so as not to upset others.

A freshman dorm, “Big Haus,” at SUNY Purchase, a college in Westchester, N.Y., will change its name to “Central” because the original moniker, voted on by students in 1989, reminded some of prison.

I recently heard of an employee who quit after two days because she claimed those training her were disrespectful. She felt that in showing her the ropes they were speaking down to her. She said, “I am a college grad.” So are the two who were training her. Her leaving was a good move for all concerned as she wasn’t in a business that welcomed overly sensitive employees who expected to be able to do their own thing without direction.

How, when entertaining at home, do you handle menus when you’ve invited people with a range of food preferences? Have you learned to watch your words? Do you feel sometimes that you’ve lost phrases that represent your tradition? Do these requirements or demands to be super sensitive to others have the opposite effect and rather than bringing us together do they feed and/or set the stage for our seemingly insurmountable political divides?

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15 Responses to “Service of Watch Your Menu & Words”

  1. TC Said:

    JEANNE, GOOD ONE. AMONG MY PET OLD FASHIONED PEEVES IS PERSON INVITED TO WEDDING OR OTHER FAMILY EVENT PRESUMING TO BRING NON INVITED BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND. NOW JUST A REGULAR PART OF THE SCENE.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    That’s as bad as those who have accepted an invitation to a catered event, don’t show up and afterwards say, “Oh, I forgot.” Meanwhile the host has to pay for their nonattendance and thoughtlessness.

  3. Helen Said:

    This is so timely. I now have friends who eat poultry but not red meat….that’s an easy one. A friend who is a vegetarian, pretty easy too. A friend who is now a vegan…doable but not easy and a friend who is allergic to nuts. When I make my special salad(friends call it a Helen salad)I have chopped nuts on the the side and feta cheese on the side. Luckily my favorite dessert is vegan and I never knew it. Hermits…some folks in town call me the hermit goddess! It’s not as easy as it used to be but I want everyone to eat and have a good time. When we go out to eat we study menus carefully before going. It is what it is and I want happy healthy friends!!!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    What a patient and good soul you are. Before vegetarian and vegan were on the horizon, as now they are increasingly, we had trouble mixing the red meat eaters with the friends who shunned it. Now I feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air.

    My husband might have had a fit were he still here but it’s gotten so that if I want people over I let them chose from a menu and I order in. There’s still potential strife: “I don’t eat Mexican or Chinese or….”

    Hmmmm.

  5. lucrezia Said:

    Too much fuss proposed here. Friends don’t show up to be picky about the food and cause uncomfortable social situations. Should they do so, they’re not friends, they’re nuisances and unworthy of further invites.!

  6. Phyllis Stier Said:

    Phyllis on Facebook: A few years ago we had a Thanksgiving/friendsgiving. We had to prepare vegan, pescatarian, gluten free, & ‘normal ‘. Didn’t mind all the prep,shopping, etc…used every dish,pot,pan,counter space…was fun,& much appreciated. I do miss the casual “can you stay for dinner?”…

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Phyllis,

    Holy smokes! Over the top. Hello Mrs. Patmore!

    I think that the fish and vegan guests should have brought their own dishes. If I had special requirements pretty sure that’s what I’d have done with enough for others or made a lovely meal of sweet potato, cranberry sauce, salad and dessert.

  8. Phyllis Stier Said:

    Phyllis on Facebook: Jeanne Byington oh….did I mention the Downton abbey dinner I made for their last season? 6 courses from their cookbook. 🦸‍♀️I’m just now recovering from that…

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I’m not making this up. Take a look at Phyllis Stier’s comment re Thanksgiving.

  10. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: If they have such specific requirements that will ruin my budget, I will allow them to bring their own food and enjoy the company. I can only be so accommodating. Perhpas my event is not for that guest. Oh well! LOL 🙂

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    In addition people have only so much time and in some cases space as well. What happened to guests being happy to be included?

    Would you expect a vegan to serve you Turkey on Thanksgiving?

  12. Deborah Wright Said:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Your query about food issues and the proper correctness of language is spot on. I am seventy-four years old. I know I am a people pleaser and I try to accommodate my guests when they visit. Yesterday, I served a friend an iced tea that I bought especially for her because she doesn’t like the lemon tea that I usually have. That type of fix is easy. The same with vegetarians. I provide enough choices that anyone can eat. So, if I am cooking chicken, I might have deviled eggs or a cheese and cracker tray. But that’s it! This pickiness about onion or garlic or parsley is rude and annoying. I know one child (not a they) who needs to be genuinely gluten free; she has celiac disease and it has delayed her development and physical growth. Okay; if she comes to my house, there is cauliflower pizza and gluten free brownie mix, etc. But for all the self-centered folks who are so selective, I feel that they should bring their own dinner.

    The examples you cited about political correctness taken to extremes is laughable. Tell these folks to read Fahrenheit 451. It was written in the 1950’s by Ray Bradbury. Books are burned because people might be offended by what is in them. And the pronoun issue of “they” is absurd. No one should be corrected if an individual is saying he or she. All of this is very petty. It seems in the examples that you cited that these people are spoiling for a fight or want attention or a chance to put you down.

    If this sounds like I am an old curmudgeon, so be it. The fuss-budgets should remember that we are lucky to have food to eat and safe water to drink.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deborah,

    A million years ago I gave a brunch for my mom to celebrate an important birthday. I had all sorts of foods and the centerpiece was chicken salad I’d made from scratch. The morning of the event mom called and said “Don’t forget your uncle can’t eat herbs.” I was suddenly single and this was my first gathering and I’d been up since dawn making the dish that was chilling in the fridge. In the “old days” I’d have asked my ex to dash across the street and buy more chicken and I’d make a special portion for this beloved relative. That’s how I operated. But with all the little things I still needed to do before guests arrived this was impossible. I told mom that there was a ton of other food for him to eat and that I’d steer him away from the chicken salad but “no can do.” Like you, I am a people pleaser and this killed me as I remember it so clearly all these years later. I recently bought for visitors diet coke and a certain brand of beer that aren’t in my larder. But there are limits to how much I will tailor what’s on the menu.

  14. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: I have a large extended family that I love to entertain,….two do not eat meat, but do eat fish. I can always accommodate that by offering both a meat protein and a fish for dinner. With that said, I am more frustrated with a few that ask “what’s in this” before they eat something because they think they might not like it…..admittedly I sometimes fib! I do hold on to saying God Bless You, …even to strangers.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    I feel if you set a beautiful table, such as the one in your photograph, you should be able to open a can of soup and your guests will feel honored that you went to trouble on their behalf. That’s now. For years I thought if I didn’t prepare everything from scratch I couldn’t have anyone over. Change of circumstance–a microscopic kitchen for example–changed my standards. [I don’t like canned food…but I tap into all the wonderful places nearby and order in.]

    My mother used to find out–and make–the favorite dessert of our boyfriends, fiancés or husbands. I had no luck with the floating island my husband loved but she’d make a magnificent one.

    My motto: what they don’t know won’t hurt them so I smiled at your fib remark. The exception: allergies or diseases that I’ve always respected. A friend had an allergy to all things vinegar [which she learned, years later, wasn’t true], and a few basic other things. When she’d come for dinner I was so careful to serve vinegar-free food–and have a substitute for other things she couldn’t tolerate. As I finished making the guacamole minutes before guests were expected I realized I’d added some Worcestershire sauce to give it zip. There’s vinegar in it! So she munched on the corn chips with before dinner drinks.

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