DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have a house in Maine. Our visitors from out of town always look forward to being served lobster at our table.
I don't like lobster. I'm happy to serve it to our guests and my husband. If I offer an alternative, I will probably be the only one eating that.
What is the polite alternative to choking my way through a lobster at my own table?
GENTLE READER: You have been caught by what Miss Manners calls the Local Delicacy Trap, shared by Bostonians who hate clam chowder, Napa Valley natives who have other things to do than to taste wine, and Chicagoans who have had to consume a lifetime and a half of deep-dish pizza.
Not only does everyone coming to town expect it, but they lack any sympathy for you, who are glutted, whether on lobster or champagne or baked beans.
Misdirection ("Oh, that's not the real local delicacy! The real local delicacy is steamed mussels!") seldom satisfies. Portion control ("This caviar is particularly special. And for the main course we have ...") makes you look stingy.
Best to swallow the insult to your own tastes, which can be done without swallowing the lobster. Who can complain about a dinner of lobster and an alternative, in which everyone gets to eat what he or she enjoys most?