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How far do I need to go to accomodate special dietary needs ?

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POF:
I am hosting XMAS dinner this year for 20 people. I am having Baked Ham, Scallpoed Potatoes, Sweet / Sour Wax Beans , Lasagana , Chicken Marsala and some salads, rolls etc.  Other family members are bringing desserts / beverages and appetizers.

BIL is on a low/no salt diet. ( and has been for several years - not a new issue )

I added Chicken Marsala to my menu so that I could save out a few pieces - make them with no salt and add a no salt tomato sauce/gravy. I also plan to bake a sweet potato and a regular potato for him and will have a low salt salad dressing available. . This is pretty typical of what we do at family dinners. On occasion SIL ( his wife ) will bring his food.

The lasagna is  my "special secret recipe holiday" lasagna - which includes homemade meatballs / imported sausage and cheeses from the Italian Market is a favorite with the family. I only make it a few times a year - because it's a trillion calories and takes a lot of work and is expensive to boot. 

So just checking in with SIL last night and I told her what I was doing for BIL in terms of his meal. ( He is also very picky - no fish, few veggies etc. ) and she said to me - Can't you make your lasagna with no salt ? I said - well no - it has cured meat and cheeses and they are full of sodium - plus I don't think it would be very good without any seasoning. It's not something that I can easily portion off a side and leave out the salt. So she got into a whine fest about how he LOOVES lasagna .... blah blah blah..

I just said very nicely - but sorry I can't do that.  ( Good advice from EHELLDAME )

It just irks the heck out of me that she expects 19 other people to go low salt because he has to...... I also think it's rude to hijack the menu..... I think I made a very reasonable - very typical accomodation - and all I get is whining and complaining.

I know - actually it's common knowledge - that BIL manages this restrictive diet by having a "regular meal" once a week - which is usually a fully loaded pizza. So I suggested - that since he really wants lasagna - can't he use XMAS dinner as his regular meal day ?

SIL replies ... Oh No - he doesn't want to give up pizza night........ it's too bad that your so inflexible .....


I know what is behind this is mostly sour grapes. When holidays are at her house - it's a disaster - dinner is late by usually 2 + hours, everthing is unorganized - not enough seating, place settings , usually no beverages and some rather unpleasant bickering and fighting among her grown kids. It got to the point where other family members made there own plans or did other things. 

When I volunteered to host XMAS this year there was a nice response and some of the farther away family members are coming in. In fact her own kids ( in their 20's ) are all excited because they said I will have some activites planned and they like my cooking.

I think I did fine to accomodate his special needs. I made several reasonable suggestions and there will be food he likes that he can eat.

Thanks for listening











Chartreuse:
I think you're covered on the etiquette aspect of this.  You made some reasonable changes that would allow him to have a full meal.  You're not expected to completely change the entire menu based on his dietary issues.  As you've pointed out to his wife, he also gets one "eat normal free" card a week. It's his choice if he wants to apply it to Christmas dinner or if he wants to use it on the pizza.

Well, one thing I'll give your SIL...  she's got a lot of nerve.   ;)

BurninDinner:
Oh you're totally fine.  Good job, I'm proud of you.

POF:
Well - I learned my lesson once -  I went to a lot of effort to prepare no salt appetizers for a potluck. They were tasty - lots of crudites - healthy dips - crostini etc. At the party he scarfed down tortilla chips ( which his wife brought  :o)   and tons of salty stuff and rudely announced he didn't want any of that no salt crap. So I could very easily make a major accomodation and he will eat whatever he wants anyway .......

INLAWS and the holidays .........

Evil Duckie:
POF you did great in planning Xmas dinner with him in mind. You made an accommodation for him. You don't need to redo your entire menu just for him. He is an adult and can easily live without lasagna.

I know what is like to have to work around a dietary need. My youngest is allergic to dairy. He knows and understands just because he has a special dietary need that doesn't mean that doesn't mean that everyone will make all food safe for him. We let people know when he is invited to events, but that doesn't always mean there will be food for him. He will eat what he can and leave the rest without making a fuss.

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