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  • December 13, 2017, 01:14:41 PM

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Author Topic: When your host has made something to accommodate you but you still don't want it  (Read 2733 times)

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MariaE

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But what about my main question?  That is, if you are the guest and you know that the host accommodated you in some way, do you feel any more obligated than you otherwise would to have some even if you just donít want it for some other reason?


Yes :-( I was in this situation earlier this year. Due to an upcoming doctor's appointment, I couldn't eat dairy for a few days. Unfortunately this coincided with my BIL's birthday party, so I let him know about it, telling him in no uncertain terms that he need not make a special effort on my behalf when it came to dessert. I don't have much of a sweet tooth as it is (which he knows) and his cooking is generally so good that I'm totally full after dinner anyway, and couldn't eat any dessert even if I wanted to.

Well - he went ahead and bought a pint of dairy free ice-cream for me anyway  :-\ Now, had this been a normal year I'd have absolutely no qualms making my excuses and declining dessert or just having a small, token amount, as it's really not that unusual for me not to feel like any. But because he'd bought this especially for me I felt obligated to take a decent amount.
 
Dane by birth, Kiwi by choice

lowspark

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I am very lucky in that I can't even imagine myself as guest in this situation. I can and do eat pretty much anything so other than the off chance of a corn situation such as Toots describes, there's little chance that someone would make something specifically for me.

So trying to imagine someone trying to accommodate me in some way, and that effort backfiring, I'd probably just go ahead and choke down enough to make appearances. It would have be something that really really tasted bad for me not to be able to do at least that. But, yeah, that's just me. Like I said, I'll eat pretty much anything!

As host, I've been down that road and have learned what works for me.
My son and his fiancťe are vegetarian, and I'm familiar enough with their likes and dislikes to know what to provide when they eat at my house. I only make one meal a year where I have to go out of my way to accommodate them separately, and I have that down pat. The rest of the time, I just plan a veg meal, something that is naturally veg without any modifications, that everyone will like.

And that last sentence is how I approach most meals that I host. If I know someone has dietary restrictions, I plan the meal as something that naturally would fit the bill, and just serve that without making any kind of substitutions, and I make no specific announcement. If the guest asks if it meets their needs, I answer.

I did once host a party where the food was just finger foods, as opposed to a sit-down, and I made a couple of dishes which were specifically vegan for a friend who would be attending. She ended up coming just for a few minutes and those vegan dishes didn't get touched much. Lesson learned: make things which are naturally vegan (or whatever) that everyone likes. No more special accommodations. That way, there's no obligation on the part of the guest to eat it and no annoyance on my part if they don't.

So I actually think that it's more polite of the host *not* to make any kind of fuss or announcement. If you make a dessert that is naturally gluten-free as opposed to something that normally has gluten with substitutions, then it's easy for the guest to partake or not, as they like, because it's not so much of a case of "I made this especially for you so you must eat some!", whether that's specifically stated or just implied.
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rose red

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I can't have much sugar but its seems a lot of my friends don't believe me when I cay water is my favorite drink, or perhaps they feel they are not good hosts if they only provide water for me. So I'm stuck being gracious chocking down diet soda* that they got "especially for me." They are trying to be nice and I love them for it, but I wish they believe what I say! I looooove water! I also don't like flavored water much but it taste a bit better than diet soda.

*Diet soda does not taste the same as regular no matter what the advertizers claim :P

lowspark

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I can't have much sugar but its seems a lot of my friends don't believe me when I cay water is my favorite drink, or perhaps they feel they are not good hosts if they only provide water for me. So I'm stuck being gracious chocking down diet soda* that they got "especially for me." They are trying to be nice and I love them for it, but I wish they believe what I say! I looooove water! I also don't like flavored water much but it taste a bit better than diet soda.

*Diet soda does not taste the same as regular no matter what the advertizers claim :P

Maybe instead of saying you don't want sugar, say you don't like carbonated beverages. I say that because that's exactly how I feel. I don't like carbonation, even in Champaign! so I'm pretty much drinking water if I'm not imbibing adult beverages.
Houston 
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Cleargleam

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Interesting, thoughtful comments. Thank you.

But what about my main question?  That is, if you are the guest and you know that the host accommodated you in some way, do you feel any more obligated than you otherwise would to have some even if you just donít want it for some other reason?


Cleargleam, I guess I wasnít clear, he does not have celiac disease, he is just a little gluten sensitive.

Anyway, this could apply very often to others, for example vegetarians.  Letís say you are a vegetarian and your host made a main dish that is vegetarian because they knew this. But letís say it also happens to be a fattening dish and you are on a diet, or it contains a flavor you donít like. Do you feel more obligated to have some than you otherwise would?

My point was more to the allergen issue; the celiac's was simply my reference point.  The son of a friend of mine is allergic to legumes (including peanuts) and eggs.  I could probably cook for them, although the ambient allergen makes me a bit nervous with respect to the peanut allergy. 

The thread recently about not wanting to go for dinner to another's house because of the considerable risk of incidental contamination (including skin contact on intermediary objects) was on my mind as well. 

And, sadly, there are people who say "Oh, it doesn't have tomatoes, it just has a little bit of ketchup!"  (Seriously.) 

There are friends I would trust to cook for allergen issues.  There are friends I would not. 

rose red

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I can't have much sugar but its seems a lot of my friends don't believe me when I cay water is my favorite drink, or perhaps they feel they are not good hosts if they only provide water for me. So I'm stuck being gracious chocking down diet soda* that they got "especially for me." They are trying to be nice and I love them for it, but I wish they believe what I say! I looooove water! I also don't like flavored water much but it taste a bit better than diet soda.

*Diet soda does not taste the same as regular no matter what the advertizers claim :P

Maybe instead of saying you don't want sugar, say you don't like carbonated beverages. I say that because that's exactly how I feel. I don't like carbonation, even in Champaign! so I'm pretty much drinking water if I'm not imbibing adult beverages.

I actually don't say anything at all and forget to tell people not to buy soda when I visit. I only remember when it's whipped out and then I don't want to say I dislike soda when they're being nice.

I need to remember to say something ahead of time for small gatherings, but I'm not saying anything for large parties since many others drink diet soda.

ClaireC79

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Personally I feel I need to have at least some if they've made it specially for me

Hmmmmm

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Lots of the comments highlights why a host should not pay too close attention to how much their guest's consume nor take what may appear as lack of interest too personal.

As a guest, I take some of everything unless there is a specific reason why I can't have a dish. If a plated meal, then I'll try everything on the plate. So if a dish is made specifically for me, then yes, I will have some. I will eat as much of it as I choose. My host should not be monitoring my consumption. And if they do and they get their feelings hurt because I didn't finish the dish, then it is on them for paying too much attention to my plate.

As a host, do I take notice of what people seem to enjoy or not enjoy? Of course I do. But I don't take it personally if they don't seem to appreciate a dish I served them. I know that my appetite changes on a daily basis and I grant my guests that same leeway.

But please, please, please.... if someone mentions they really enjoyed your wild rice salad once, please don't serve it to them every time there is a shared meal.

GardenGal

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This isn't exactly what the OP was asking about, but it reminds me of a charming story from 65 years ago.  I was about 5, and my family, who kept kosher (i.e. observed the strict Jewish dietary laws) was invited to eat at our new next door neighbors' house.  We sit down to eat and neighbor says to my mother that she knows we're Jewish and can't eat ham, so she made chicken.  She was so proud that she had planned what she thought was a perfect menu, and my mom didn't have the heart to tell her that we could only eat kosher chicken, not just any chicken.  Why this wasn't cleared up beforehand always made me wonder but, hey, it was what it was.  My mom said that she didn't have the heart to tell her we couldn't eat any non-kosher meat, and she was so touched by neighbor's kind efforts that she ate the chicken.  Eventually our neighbor learned more about kosher rules, and started buying kosher hot dogs and putting a little Jewish flag on them so my mom would know they were safe to eat.  She continued this as long as we stayed friends with the family, including many years after they had moved away.

So, the thought does count, but the execution may not be perfect.  I think my mom should have made her dietary needs clear before that first dinner, but maybe she felt she didn't know the new neighbor well enough to do that.  They did become good friends over the years.

If there was a food restriction that was important to me, I'd let the host know when I first got the dinner invitation, so she/he could prepare accordingly if possible.  It's a shame for the host to put a lot of effort into something that I still can't eat, and it should be on me to try to avoid that extra work my host is putting in.  So, something like, "Thanks for the dinner invite - I'm looking forward to spending time with you!  I need to tell you that I'm allergic to shrimp and I hate zucchini, but anything else would be lovely!  And if you're planning on making shrimp, no worries, I'll just eat lots of veggies and it'll be just fine."
"No matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Banzai

Cleargleam

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This isn't exactly what the OP was asking about, but it reminds me of a charming story from 65 years ago.  I was about 5, and my family, who kept kosher (i.e. observed the strict Jewish dietary laws) was invited to eat at our new next door neighbors' house.  We sit down to eat and neighbor says to my mother that she knows we're Jewish and can't eat ham, so she made chicken.  She was so proud that she had planned what she thought was a perfect menu, and my mom didn't have the heart to tell her that we could only eat kosher chicken, not just any chicken.  Why this wasn't cleared up beforehand always made me wonder but, hey, it was what it was.  My mom said that she didn't have the heart to tell her we couldn't eat any non-kosher meat, and she was so touched by neighbor's kind efforts that she ate the chicken.  Eventually our neighbor learned more about kosher rules, and started buying kosher hot dogs and putting a little Jewish flag on them so my mom would know they were safe to eat.  She continued this as long as we stayed friends with the family, including many years after they had moved away.

So, the thought does count, but the execution may not be perfect.  I think my mom should have made her dietary needs clear before that first dinner, but maybe she felt she didn't know the new neighbor well enough to do that.  They did become good friends over the years.

If there was a food restriction that was important to me, I'd let the host know when I first got the dinner invitation, so she/he could prepare accordingly if possible.  It's a shame for the host to put a lot of effort into something that I still can't eat, and it should be on me to try to avoid that extra work my host is putting in.  So, something like, "Thanks for the dinner invite - I'm looking forward to spending time with you!  I need to tell you that I'm allergic to shrimp and I hate zucchini, but anything else would be lovely!  And if you're planning on making shrimp, no worries, I'll just eat lots of veggies and it'll be just fine."

One of my more mortifying moments was while I was in high school.  I invited a couple over for dinner (I don't remember how we had a social connection, but there was one.) I knew that they were Seventh Day Adventists, but I didn't know that part of practicing that faith was to keep a vegetarian diet.  I made beef stew for dinner.  <blush> 

They were very nice about it, and I don't know if they told me at the time, or if I learned it later.  I think they just served themselves carefully from the soup pot. 

cross_patch

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This used to happen to me, not with celiac (though that's an issue now), but with stuff like corn, etc.

My MIL likes to cook people their favorite foods. So she found out I like corn (and I'm from Iowa, the Tall Corn State, so she thinks that's even more of a reason I should like corn--it's not, though I do like corn). So she'll buy frozen corn on the cob and point out to me that she made my favorite.

Which is (unfairly, I freely admit) infuriating.
Because frozen corn on the cob is watery and unpleasant.
And because it's boring (she used to do this every single meal we ate there. Not kidding).
And because I feel like I've been reduced to some stereotype.
And because maybe I just didn't want corn that night; with other foods that are on the table for the meal, I don't feel bad about not eating them. But when the food is made especially for me, and no one else is really going to eat them, then I do.

But I do feel that I have to make a big fuss in return. And yes, eat the food. Even if it's watery.

Which sometimes I resent as well. I don't like forced gratitude, and I find gratitude in general uncomfortable. I don't like excessive generosity, because I feel manipulated (therefore resentful) and rude (therefore guilty) all at the same time.


Quote
That is, if you are the guest and you know that the host accommodated you in some way, do you feel any more obligated than you otherwise would to have some even if you just donít want it for some other reason?

Yes. Though, with my MIL, it happened so often that I decided I needed to provide some negative feedback. So I said, "Please don't make me corn all the time. I only like it when it's in season; otherwise I don't. I don't just like corn, I like other stuff too."
   Then the next time, I didn't eat it. (because it was watery, not because I was making a point. And sometimes I didn't eat it because I wasn't in the mood. And occasionally I reminded her that she didn't need to make me corn all the time--I was perfectly happy to eat other foods, and it made me uncomfortable to have her make a dish that was pretty much only for me.

Eventually she tapered off.

She does, however, point out to people (and to all the other guests) that she's made them that dish she knows they love so much. It's a focal point of the conversation, briefly. And every now and then it slips out that she has made some "beloved" dish even though the smell of it makes her sick. (That's WAY more than I will do--I don't cook food unless I'm going to eat it too.)

    So I feel like she doesn't play fair.
    Because of course you have to be appreciative, and then she thinks she did a good thing, and she does it again and again.
    I know this from my own experience w/ the corn.


In your situation, were I the guest, I might feel obligated to take some even if I was avoiding fat.
 
If a host said, "Oh, hey, by the way, I experimented w/ nuts on this cheesecake crust, so it doesn't have gluten, in case you want dessert," I might not feel I had to.
Or, I'd feel that my obligation to take a sliver was a result of my own standards of guest-itality. Being firm about my diet is my responsibility, not my host's (but don't pressure or guilt me, of course).


    If you went out and bought, or made, gluten-free cookies or something, I'd choke one down, but I wouldn't enjoy it. And also, there I'd be: touched that you went to the effort, and annoyed because you went to the effort and the cookies are lousy.

I make it a point to people, "Don't bother trying to get GF desserts--just don't. I don't like them at all well enough for you to spend the tiniest bit of energy or money getting them. Please don't. I would rather not eat them at all."

You are/would be annoyed someone went to the effort to do something kind and inclusive for you?

Dragonflymom

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From the host's perspective, as somebody who has many friends and family members with food issues, rather than making a gluten free version of a normal dessert, I usually make a dessert that is naturally gluten free - like a fruit salad, or coconut tapioca, or rice pudding, or something like that.  Then it's clearly safe for the person who needs a gluten free dessert, but they don't have to feel like I made it just for them.

From the guest's perspective, if somebody makes a big deal of telling me that they made this vegetarian or seafood thing just for me (I'm pescatarian) then I'll feel obligated to eat a fair amount of it.  But if they just happen to have a vegetarian or seafood thing present, I wouldn't feel any of that pressure if it was a thing that I didn't really care for.
"By swallowing evil goats unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach"  Winston Churchill

TootsNYC

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Quote
I actually don't say anything at all and forget to tell people not to buy soda when I visit. I only remember when it's whipped out and then I don't want to say I dislike soda when they're being nice.

Since soda doesn't go bad, I would be a little more inclined to say, "Actually, I'd rather have water."
Because then I'm not "training" them that they should buy soda. They get accurate feedback.

catwhiskers

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One of my more mortifying moments was while I was in high school.  I invited a couple over for dinner (I don't remember how we had a social connection, but there was one.) I knew that they were Seventh Day Adventists, but I didn't know that part of practicing that faith was to keep a vegetarian diet.  I made beef stew for dinner.  <blush> 

They were very nice about it, and I don't know if they told me at the time, or if I learned it later.  I think they just served themselves carefully from the soup pot.

This reminds me of the first time I cooked for future SIL. OH had told me FSIL is pescatarian, so I made a fish pie. What OH hadn't told me was that he himself hates everything that lives in water apart from cod and haddock, and as I'd seen him eat fish and chips numerous times I didn't know fish might be an issue for him. So my fish pie, which included salmon and prawns as well as cod, came as a bit of shock to him. ;D

Kiwipinball

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I absolutely feel obligated to eat if a host has gone to special trouble. This isn't uncommon - I'm a picky eater so it's not unheard of for someone to try to avoid one thing I don't like and hit on something else.  I force myself to eat some. I obviously wouldn't if it were an allergy or something like that.