“Is there anything on this buffet that is gluten free, anything at all!?”
I paused for a moment as a chill ran down my spine.
I had forgotten to provide a gluten free alternative and now my militant guest was calling me out with shrill, Verruca Salt-like attitude. I scrambled for a box of gluten free crackers, uncontaminated fruit, rock candy (maybe a little past the expiration date, but rock candy doesn’t go bad right?!). I looked for anything, ANYTHING, that would suffice in this entertaining emergency. How did I miss this? I finally found something and quickly prepared a small plate for my guest.
But I’ll be honest, after catching my breath I became slightly irritated.
Allergies can be deadly, so as a host or hostess we want to be made aware of all dietary restrictions and my guest seemed to have forgotten to inform me of her condition. The goal of any good host or hostess is to provide and cater to their guest’s every need. However, sometimes people take their guest status a little too far. Instead of taking offense, take note – and learn from it!
I make sure I always take into stock comments I hear during the event. Then after all the guests leave, I do what the military calls a “hot wash,” or an ”after-action report.” I mentally go over the good and the bad, the successful and unsuccessful. You understand! It’s a great way to make sure at your next event you don’t find yourself in a hard place between a gluten-free guest and a gluten-full table.
“I hate meatloaf but this is actually good.”
“How long do we have to stay?”
“Does she actually drink wine out of this?”
Think I’m kidding? Even the most refined officer and polished lady of state can accidentally leave their mental filter at home.
“I hate this champagne, it is ca-ca.”
“Oh nothing for me, we leave for Hawaii in a week and I am dieting.”
“I don’t eat vegetables in my dessert.”
That last one? Foreign military – bet you never thought of that!
“Doesn’t she have any wine glasses that are bigger?”
“I know I said I couldn’t make it but surprise, I’m here!”
“I used the cream in your fridge.”
It was breast milk for the baby.
I brought the baby because I knew you would want to hold her.”
“You wouldn’t be able to mix up a few martinis would you?”
“Those directions were terrible, who wrote them?”
“I hate the colors red and green.”
At a Christmas party!
“I don’t eat off of buffets, I am afraid people have touched all the food.”
“I drank the last of the Jack…”
“I hate Mexican food.”
Guess what was being served?
“I think my boyfriend is drunk…”
“Can I turn the game on?”
“Oh, when are you due?”
Well the only thing due that night was the electrical bill, so unless you’re at her baby shower, do not ask a lady when she is due…
Too, too funny but all true.
I listen to the polite complaints, I watch for food left on plates. It all holds value as a visual after-action.
The truth is my wine glasses were too small and the champagne may very well have been cheap. Lesson learned.
I also take into consideration how people were raised.
My first generation, immigrant mother has often used the word “obbondanza” which is Italian for abundant. Everything must be abundant, mounded butter, mounded salad, mounded pasta, eat, eat, and eat! I once attended a dinner where the hostess prepared an absolutely delicious meal. She served each guest one portion then removed all of the food back to the kitchen. Waaaaiiittt I thought… I am a third-helping type of girl.
Rude perhaps, but as I got to know her it became evident she had been raised in a home where they were on a very tight budget and was now running her home the same way.
Another example is when (in an effort to be fancy) I started using cloth napkins. They are chic and classic, yet I failed to consider the fact that if my guest didn’t care for whatever they were eating it was going in the cloth napkin! Needless to say, I have thrown away a few good cloth napkins.
Don’t overestimate (notice I did not say underestimate) your guest’s desire to try new things. I once served liver pâté and ended up placing a small trash can next to the buffet because so many people spit it out (into my good cloth napkins)! Hysterical.
Whatever happens at your event, just remember your guests came because they like you and want to get to know you better.
Be patient and gracious and like they say in the movies, “smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”