Cooking for new people is wonderful, but it’s also nerve-wracking. Generally, we cook for the same individuals. We know their needs and how to cater to them. New people bring new requirements and new taste buds. While you may hope that they love your food, there’s a chance your meal won’t go down well. If that happens, it’ll be embarrassing for you and your guests. That’s why it’s important you do your research beforehand. This is especially true if you have guests with special requirements. As dinner party host, it’s your responsibility to check before the event. Failure to do so is bad hosting, and could see guests going without! When you invite someone round, the chances are they’ll tell you any dietary needs. But, it’s also important you follow these steps to ensure the night runs smoothly.
FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you’re cooking for a need you’ve never catered for before, do your research. Your best bet is to start at the source. Talk to the individual and ask what they like. It may seem odd to you, but they’re probably used to it. If allergies are the problem, it’s imperative you open a conversation. In extreme cases, food prepared in the same room as the allergen can cause a reaction. Ask what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Or, it may be that your guests have dietary requirements it would be impolite to speak about. Elderly guests may need different meals, but you wouldn’t mention that outright. Instead, it’s worth heading to the internet. Something like this article from A Girl Has To Eat could hold the answers you need. With such an extensive resource at your fingertips, it would be crazy not to use it.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A SEPARATE MEAL
If you’re putting pressure on yourself to change the whole menu to suit this need, stop. It’s completely possible to cook a separate meal for the person in question. Their need puts them in the minority, and they won’t think this is unusual. In fact, they’ll appreciate the extra effort you’ve gone to. That way, you can stick to a meal you’re familiar with for other guests. It takes off an enormous amount of pressure and means you can serve up something you have confidence in for others attending.
TRY NOT TO MAKE A BIG THING OF IT
Despite what the two points above suggest, it’s also important you don’t make too big a thing of the situation. Bear in mind that this individual has had to explain their need time and again. After you’ve asked a few essential questions, you should drop the subject. They won’t want to talk about it for hours on end, and will likely get embarrassed if you keep bringing it up. It would also be impolite to broadcast their requirement to the whole table. If you’re serving them a separate meal, keep it subtle. You don’t need to announce it!