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Ms. Elaine Kneeous

Jennifer is a one in a million stay-at-home mom. (More like one OF a million stay at home moms!) She graduated from a liberal arts college but there is nothing liberal OR artsy about her. She is married to Kevin Fischer of This Just In, and together they have a beautiful young daughter Kyla Audrey. In no particular order she loves dogs, wine, a good bargain, her family, pizza, and entertaining. Follow her blog of all things miscellaneous including but not limited to cooking and baking, entertaining and party planning, being a mommy, and homekeeping.

Culinary yes-yes #56

I read the following Miss Manners column last month in the Journal Sentinel and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  I can’t stop thinking about it for a few reasons:  I love to entertain, I love to eat, and I love my family & friends.  And I can’t imagine not hosting holiday get-togethers.  Truthfully I can’t imagine not hosting get-togethers period, but especially this time of the year.  Please read:

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I won’t be having my holiday dinner parties this year. And this makes me sad.

It seems as though everyone has become a special-needs person when it comes to being a dinner guest. Every dish is questioned as to content and nutritional value. “That is so bad for you,” and, “I couldn’t eat that; it’s not on my (Diet of the Month).”

One has always thought that a polite decline of any dish was enough. But some have to go into long explanations of why they couldn’t possibly eat something so horrible.

I cook with love and care, and only wish to entertain with delicious, nutritious food, to be a gracious host, and certainly not to endanger the lives of my guests. Has passively insulting one’s host become the norm? I hope not.

GENTLE READER: Indeed, hospitality has suffered greatly from the all-too-prevalent habit of food fussing. Miss Manners hates to think of your abandoning your holiday dinners, but she thoroughly understands why you would not be thankful to entertain a table full of childish ingrates.

Should you reconsider, she recommends your citing an old rule of etiquette that you will have trouble believing ever existed. So will any guests you might relent enough to entertain, which is why you can cite it as a curiosity that it would be fun to try.

That is a complete ban on talking about food at the table. And “complete” means that even compliments are not allowed. That part was abandoned to acknowledge the hosts’ efforts when the middle class no longer employed cooks. Eventually, the rule was forgotten entirely, opening the way for complaints. We badly need that ban back. Appreciative guests can praise the food in their letters of thanks.

 


 

Let me just say that in general, I am extremely fortunate to host parties for an easy bunch.  My best friend’s husband is the most basic of eaters that I will ever know.  So what do I do when they come for a party?  Well it’s pretty simple…  I know he’s not a salsa/quiche/layered dip kind of guy.  So I make sure there are things that appeal to him and then a la Emeril I “kick it up a notch” for those of us who like things a bit more exotic than salt and pepper.  Easy peasy if you’re a hostess who knows and loves your guests.

While everyone who knows & loves this man is aware of his penchant for plain, he would never in a million years say something to a host/hostess like “Oh, I don’t eat that.  It’s too spicy/fancy/saucy/seasoned for me.”  He would rather eat before he comes to the gathering or run to McDonald’s afterwards than insult anyone.

I also have two dear friends who suffer from Celiac’s Disease.  Truly suffer.  Not the “Let’s follow Dr. William Davis because it’s a cool thing” people but are truly diagnosed with a medical condition.  On an occasion that I had one of these lovely ladies over for appetizers & cocktails, here’s what happened:  I made a gluten-free hot dip and she provided her favorite GF crackers.  Which, incidentally, I fell in love with.

I realize we’ve been in the holiday party mode for a few weeks now.  But it’s going to extend a few MORE weeks and of course there’s always 2014.  So I’d like you to consider a few things.

If you truly have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain foods… please speak up!  The last thing I want is for my guest to need an Epi pen, or for them to go hungry.  I’m a hostess that wants everyone to feel loved, included, and pleasantly full.  So while I generally know that our group doesn’t have any medical issues, I think these guidelines could certainly be helpful.

Once again, legitimate food allergies and doctor-mandated restrictions are one thing.  Being picky and finicky is quite another.  How to handle?  Consider some of these ideas.

Finally, if you have food preferences that in some circles are considered peculiar…  Please think about your host/hostess and the other guests.  Don’t try to push your diet on them; don’t try to make them feel inferior; don’t sound the alarm that they will be dead in six months if they continue to enjoy certain foods.  Please go with the flow and realize that at one party you might be the star of the show; at the next gathering you might be considered the “problem child.”  I love the way this blogger handles her vegetarianism.

Now SHE’S someone I’d love to have at my next soiree.

Being flexible and appreciative when you are invited to another’s home?  Manners should NEVER go out of style, or be trumped by preferences.  Graciousness is ALWAYS a Culinary Yes Yes!

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