My mouth dropped when I read the advice Dear Abby gave to a woman wanting to know the etiquette on inviting a guest over her house for dinner who has food allergies.
Abby’s advice: Invite the person over less often!
This is the actual copy of the question and answer in the Dear Abby column on Friday, July 17, 2009:
DEAR ABBY: Our daughter’s landlady — I’ll call her Martha — has become very close to our family. Martha and her husband are included in most of our family’s social events.
My problem is Martha is allergic to garlic and cannot eat anything cooked with it.
Abby, we are Italian. We grew up eating garlic and cook just about everything with it. My husband and I are locking horns over the fact that I feel it’s an imposition to be expected to accommodate one person by omitting a key ingredient in a dish. When you’re cooking for a lot of people who are accustomed to the way certain foods are prepared, I feel it is inconsiderate for someone to expect me to leave an ingredient out. What do you think? — MAMA “MIA” IN N.Y.
And Abby’s answer…
DEAR MAMA “MIA”: I think you should prepare a garlic-free extra dish for Martha — something not too difficult to make, like a salad — or invite Martha over less often.
Here is the most widely syndicated newspaper columnist in the world, whose column is published in about 1,400 newspapers worldwide, and has a daily readership of more than 110 million people – telling someone to invite a close family friend with food allergies over less often! I actually had to go back and read this over and over again, very slowly, to make sure I didn’t miss something and I read it correctly.
Even Abby’s advice to make something “not too difficult” for the close family friend, “… like a salad” is also an insult! To invite someone as a dinner guest and then offer just a “simple” salad, while everyone else is feasting on a huge Italian meal is just wrong! Shame on you Abby. I think you need to start reading Miss Manners column regularly.
What advice should Abby have given to MAMA “MIA” in N.Y.? Here are a few tidbits I think she should have passed along:
– While making your Italian pasta sauce make a small sauce pan of your delicious sauce san the garlic. You don’t need to make a second garlic-free version of every single dish you are making, but since you invited Martha for dinner, but make sure you offer Martha something more than just a salad. Martha is your guest (and your friend) and will surely appreciate the extra efforts.
– When you invite Martha for dinner, ask her to bring one of her favorite dishes that she can enjoy and everyone else can share with her too. Who knows… maybe everyone will enjoy her garlic-free dishes as well!
And lastly MAMA “MIA”, chances are that you, or someone in your large family, will someday become aware that they also have some type of food allergy or celiac disease. So you may want to start thinking now about how you can make some changes to those accustomed to recipes! (P.S. And don’t worry gluten-free pasta isn’t all that bad!)
What do you think Abby should have given for advice?
Note: I gave Abby my two-cent worth and you should too! Email her today! Note: In the body of your message refer to the 07/17/09 column and the advice she gave to MAMA “MIA” in NY.