The number one biggest gluten free challenge for me is what to do when I get invited over to someone’s house for dinner. I understand and value what a lovely thing it is for someone to welcome me into their home to break (hypothetically gluten free) bread. I love the intimacy of sharing a home-cooked meal. In our hyper-rushed culture, it’s so special to share a relaxed meal and to linger over it for as long as you want.
The trouble here is that when someone goes out on a limb to have me over, the very last thing I want to have to do is to tell them what to cook and how to cook it. It feels intrusive and critical. In my experience, however, I have found that most hosts appreciate the heads up and are happy to be accommodating. If it’s not someone I know very well, I’ll admit that I dread having to make the request. After stumbling through a few faux pas, my advice is to ALWAYS say something beforehand. If you don’t, you’ll more likely than not end up having to explain to the entire group what happens to you when you eat gluten (gross) and the host might leave the table to make you a separate meal (awkward). Better to face the music beforehand! If you’re nervous, here are my top tips:
- Offer to bring something. This is a perfect way to bring up your dietary needs to the host in a constructive manner. Even if they decline, they’ll know what your needs are and be able to accommodate appropriately.
- If it’s not a sit-down dinner, bring a snack or eat beforehand. If you’re going to a party where there will be apps and drinks, often your best bet is just to come to the party full. There might be some crudite, nuts, or something else GF, but at least for those as food-focused as I am, better safe than hungry! This is especially important for events (like weddings) with passed appetizers, which tend to be heavily breaded/fried.
- Use your GFFs (gluten free friends): If you don’t feel comfortable telling the host yourself, have someone else do it! This isn’t copping out, this is asking for help from those who you love and rely on. If you’re attending an event with a significant other, family member, or friend, feel free to ask them to reach out to the host for you.
It’s definitely an ongoing challenge. What do you do when you’re eating at someone else’s home? Any other tips and tricks that work for you?