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Dinner Diets

6 years ago by

Dinner Diets

I’m moving into a new apartment this weekend and couldn’t be more excited to have an actual dining room in my new place (In New York! I know! I’m totally bragging!….well, in Bed-Stuy, so Brooklyn…but still!) and I can’t wait to start having friends over for big dinner parties.

But the other day I was talking to a friend about cooking for other friends and how complicated it can be to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions! I’m right there with being a complicated eater, and I’ve been in those situations where I can’t eat anything more than a roll at a dinner, so how do you deal?! My friend said she just started doing dinners where you can create your own dish (like tacos) or tapas, but this can be a lot of prep work, and a lot of ingredients, for each party. So how do you manage when you have restrictions, and what do you do when you’re hosting? I think the extreme of this must be at weddings…I can’t even begin to imagine!

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  • Luckily for me my guests have never had very complicated restrictions. I think you cannot make everyone equally happy and satisfied. If someone really has very special diet, maybe they can bring their own food… I really haven’t had this problem.
    I don’t want to be rude but I think that some people take their diets to extreme without a good reason… Just some people.


  • having a meal with friends is one of the best things out there! :)


  • When I moved to NY, I had a few dinner parties (this was before the foodie craze) and some people actually told me it wasn’t cool–that too many people couldn’t cook so it made everybody feel better to just meet at a restaurant.
    I have continued with dinner parties, in a number of different cities and countries since then, and facing different dietary restrictions. You can go with an airline kind of menu–chicken or pasta–that avoids most of the no-gos. It’s easy enough to have meat on the side so non-meat eaters can just skip it. Same with gluten. Personally I could easily forgo meat, but vegan? No butter, no eggs? That’s like 99% of French recipes (especially the most important course: dessert). If I had a committed vegan friend, I’d try to find a couple of dishes, but it would be impossible to do an entire menu.

  • So jealous of your new dining room! I hope you enjoy it very much. Have lots of wonderful dinners!

    Paula- http://www.livingpaula.com

  • mosaic_world March, 24 2016, 10:43 / Reply

    maybe do a potluck?

  • Très bonne question !
    Je mets du poulet sur la table, une salade composée avec des légumes, il peut y avoir un riz parfumé, des choses à grignoter dont du sans gluten, de la salade de fruits toujours… J’ai toujours du pain du beurre et du fromage à portée de main…

  • mademoiselle mauve March, 25 2016, 2:12 / Reply

    vegetables for everybody! :)

  • Lucienne Hemingway March, 25 2016, 2:23 / Reply

    My husband & I are huge fans of throwing a dinner party! I believe we have an unusually complicated set of friends that require food to be gluten free, fructose free, lactose free…they have egg & nut allergies & some don’t eat pork or shellfish, don’t like lamb or seafood & one even allergic to honey!!! I have no problem with people having food requirements if they have actual allergies to food but definatly get frustrated if they are having a moment of ‘oh we are not eating garlic this week’ !!! If you are given notice I find it no trouble these days to pop on a small pot of gluten free pasta for a guest alongside the large pot of your regular pasta! It is also very easy to cater for larger dinner parties going for multiple smaller dish’s that run along the center of the table so people can pick and choose what they want to eat – this also helps with less wastage as people will serve themselves what they know they can eat and you get to enjoy the left overs the next day!

  • Wendy Anderson March, 25 2016, 2:43 / Reply

    Just make sure salad and bread and cheeses are on the menu, I’m sure your guest /guests with dietary restrictions will find something in that, out of consideration for their host they should either bring a dish of food they like to share with others or eat a good meal before they arrive, eating is only a half of it ….sharing good company and alcohol the other

  • You’re right, hosting dinners can be really tricky. I live in a studio flat with my boyfriend, yet we like to have friends over for dinner. At first we tried to serve proper dinner – a starter, one hot meal and dessert but there was always a person who didn’t like certain ingredients/was allergic to something. This plus the fact that our kitchen is super small and serving more than 4 meals at the same time is a real challenge pushed us to changing a formula of our dinner parties.

    Now we make sure to provide a variety of dishes, but most of them are things that can be prepared in advance and either served cold or quickly re-heated. Everyone composes their own plate in the way they like. I make sure there are some hot dishes (recently it’s been cous cous with veggies, hot tortilla bites and bacon rolls), I provide a couple of salads, fruits and cheese plate.

    Anyway, I’m happy for you on moving to a new apartment and looking forward to seeing some pics!


  • I feel like it’s always safe to go the plant-based route, to make delicious food everyone can enjoy that just happens not to have any meat or dairy (or at least very little, where needed). For example, if a dish is supposed to have a Parmesan garnish, just leave it on the side and guests can garnish their own plates :)

    I love the idea of a taco bar! There are so many possibilities there.

  • Adiosalabascula March, 25 2016, 10:48 / Reply

    Si quieres consejos sobre adelgazamiento, mira esa direccion. Todos los días se actualiza con sugerencias sobre nutricion, ejercicio y recetas bajas en caloriad.
    Seguro os sera de ayuda para hacer una alimentacion más saludable y equilibrada.

  • Heu… Je suis Française donc j’aime cuisiner. Et les personnes difficiles , je ne invite pas ! C’est tout simple. Pourquoi s’emmerder?????

  • Jane B. Root March, 26 2016, 7:02

    Exactement ! Les emmerdeurs et les empêcheurs de bouffer et picoler en paix, dehors ! Ou alors ils amènent leurs Tupp’ et font pas iech.

  • Tout-à fait d’accord! Je trouve cela très impoli de refuser complètement de manger et de faire la/le difficile comme si c’était un insurmontable effort de participer au dîner (en dehors des allergies bien sûr)…Pourquoi même venir si c´est pour tout refuser?

  • Attention quand même ne pas confondre restrictions fantaisistes et véritables allergies. Dans le cas d’un souci médical, la politesse veut que, en tant qu’hôte on s’y conforme. Près les intolérants, genre tel aliment leur donne mal au ventre, là ça se discute.

    Idem pour les restrictions religieuses à mon avis.
    Ce qui complique effectivement les choses, mais je ne me verrais proposer des pâtes à mon amie cœliaque et des lardons à mes amis juifs et musulmans, de la viande à un végétarien.

    Donc oui ça complique mais c’est jouable. Dejà du riz quasi personne n’est allergique, des légumes c’est OK et la viande à côté.

  • Tu prépares un plat principal et quelques bouchées, ainsi que des cocktails et mocktails. Tu demandes ensuite à tout le monde d’emmener un plat à partager. Les gens se serviront de ce qu’ils peuvent et ça te coûtera moins cher.

  • I have so many friends/family with food issues/allergies and it’s just not a problem (unless of course someone is so allergic to peanuts that they’re going to go into shock). It’ seems everyone is vegan/paleo/low carb/sugar free/high protein/low protein etc etc and forever changing on any given day. People love to come over and be entertained — have flowers, music, alcoholoic and nonalcoholic beverage. Big salads, fresh veggies, pastas, proteins on the side for people to take as they wish. And dessert — definitely something decadent plus fresh fruit and sorbets. No one is coming to your amazing new apartment because they think you’re Julia Child; they’re coming over because they love you and they want to spend time with you. Create the ambiance, the rest will fall into place.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff…

  • Jane B. Root March, 26 2016, 6:59 / Reply

    Tiens, personne au studio ne nous a encore parlé du chou-fleur, qui serait selon les bobos, le “nouveau” chou à lapin, que certains s’obstinent à appeler kale.
    C’est passke ça donne des gaz et que ça fait péter ?

  • Living in London, there will always be someone at the table who is some weird form of vegan/pescetarian/gluten-free. How I deal with it is by always making many vegetable dishes that are easy to make, but also extremely delicious (I draw inspiration from Middle-Eastern cooks such as Ottolenghi). Or if it’s a girl’s night, I’ll make the whole dinner vegan, which with the help with Deliciously Ella can be extremely yummy !

  • Georgiana March, 28 2016, 12:01

    Ottolenghi is great! I referenced Plenty this afternoon. So many lovely vegetables!

  • Alors là, sí on est plus capable de se mettre autour d’une table et de partager un repas… C’est le début de la fin, sans jeu de mot!

  • Great post :)


  • Sarah P March, 28 2016, 4:13 / Reply

    I actually think it’s easiest to serve something vegan/vegetarian altogether with non veg accompaniments. My other trick is having the main part of a dish be a “one pot” kind of thing. Either a big soup, stew, or sauce. You can then easily pair that with rice/pasta and a big salad and you’re done – easy peasy! Plus, a big pot of whatever + salad can be made well in advance, so the only real work while your guests are around is cooking the rice or pasta. One of my go-to recipes is a chickpea romesco sauce from Veganomicon (disclosure, I was a vegan for 7 years but have worked eggs/dairy back into my diet since I married a French man!) It’s a bit of work, but again, it can be made in advance and reheated.

    As for dessert, a fruit tart is quite easy (even easier with pre-made crust) or tofu chocolate mousse!

    And perhaps the most important tip – enough wine!

  • Make your own pizza is my dish of choice.
    Not a heap of prep… just buy gluten free vegan and normal pizza bases have a range of deli bought toppings and have them construct their own. It is super cheap.. easy and fun too.
    Also you can ask people to bring dessert construction item each … like marshmallows stawberries icecream merangues toppings nuts etc… then they make their own sundaes or eton mess.
    This has worked for every dinner i have given regardless of the dietary foibles of my guests.

  • Ita Darling March, 30 2016, 1:18 / Reply

    Simple and whole foods normally suit everyone- I’m gluten/dairy free and can normally eat from any menu and at any dinner party- with close friends I normally ask ahead about the menu and can volunteer to bring a side that I know I can eat. Worst case scenario I eat ahead and remain mum on the situation- or steal all the cocktail hour nuts and olives! I hate to make my eating restrictions a burden on anyone or ruin anyone’s fun.. Dinner parties are actually more chill for me (and safer) than restaurant parties where it’s always a drag to have to extensively talk to the server about what I can or can’t eat and everyone takes notice!

  • This is why I don’t think I’ll ever be strictly ‘anything’. I don’t have any serious food intolerances though. Being with a variety of people, all stages of life and backgrounds, is a big part of my life. So if it’s up to me I choose to go light on meat, dairy, and whatnot. I value a healthy/ecological diet. But when someone cooks for me? I’d rather accept the gift than have official restrictions.

    All said – I accommodate my friends/family when they come over :)

  • Bonjour,
    Merci pour cette article!

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