Remember when everyone ate everything?
Like Velveeta and crackers, and Jello with celery and mayonnaise, and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Was it that we had been raised by Depression era parents and to pass on any food, however exotic, seemed like passing up wealth?
Okay, maybe the peanut butter and banana thing doesn’t always turn out so good. And as I look back at the list, maybe there’s a bit of rational response to my dilemma barely hidden in it. Wait. I’ll get there.
At the Paella event (you can read about it here), Leslie stirred up an incredible appetizer of Aurelia’s chorizo, mushrooms, cream, shallots and Sherry to be spooned lavishly over bread rounds. It was lovely. Okay, heart-stoppingly lovely but lovely none the less. I helped serve. About 1 in 10 people had a particular request.
I don’t eat mushrooms. Can I have just the sausage?
I don’t eat meat. Can I have just the mushrooms?
I don’t eat bread. Can I have just the sauce?
Oh, I don’t eat dairy. These folks were out of luck.
The shallots were invisible or there would have been someone who didn’t eat those too.
You’re wondering right now why I care so much. I wondered too and then I realized that one of my great loves is feeding people wonderful food. It’s my form of nurture, made physical — that Italian grandmother stuff, I guess. (Don’t tell either of my German grandmothers that I said that, but the German’s are known for other things, like making you do what’s good for you.)
I now keep gluten-free noodles and crackers in the pantry. I often buy organic, not because I am organically directed so much (poison is poison and nature has plenty of them) but because I have friends who are. I do however like local and I do that for myself when possible.
I keep cheese in the fridge and fish in the freezer for the friends of mine who don’t eat red meat (and don’t eat chicken either sometimes). I don’t add pepper for friends who are super-tasters (yeah, who knew?).
I also try to keep up with changing diets as friends’ bodies needs change. Yes, those diets change and just when you think you know how to cook for a dear friend, you find that you’ve made the wrong selections and none of those dishes will work for them.
I know that health is behind a lot of this and I understand that. I wouldn’t want to eat things that made me feel bad either.I don’t eat oatmeal mush so don’t fix me any. It feels too much like someone else has already eaten it once. Other than that, I’m good.
The big dilemma — when the preferred format for this feeding is the dinner party, do I have to be careful about who I invite beyond encouraging a wonderful conversation? Or should I find another hobby? Or are we all becoming short order, have it your way cooks?
And is this a physical backlash from too much Velveeta and Jello?