What do you like to eat?

I was at one of those once-in-a-lifetime parties this summer when someone asked me a question that has been on my mind ever since. It was a fundraiser for my synagogue, and the host was a good friend who is both an outrageously creative and joyful cook and a whiskey enthusiast on another level (you can actually buy his whiskey blends). He designed the entire meal to complement different whiskeys he and his good friend had collected over the years. Every course was complex and flavorful and gorgeous. On a spectacular summer evening, I had what was, for me, the rare opportunity to eat a meal to which I had contributed absolutely nothing: no cooking, no prep, no decorating, no emotional labor, nothing. I just sat and waited as the food came to me. It was delightful.

Of course, there’s a wrinkle when it comes to me and food, or maybe a few wrinkles, not unlike my forehead as I contemplated how to handle graciously my food allergies and other dietary restrictions at an event like this. The host knew about me being a vegetarian, and about my fatal seafood allergy, and about my lactose intolerance. I also don’t drink alcohol very often. I’d been invited at the last minute, and my husband was helping out with serving that evening; I knew the company would be wonderful and that the food that worked for me would be outstanding. I weighed my options: go, and manage my discomfort over anyone making any kind of fuss about what I was eating; or skip it, and miss out on some fun. Continue Reading…

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