DEAR MISS MANNERS: My last three lunches with different groups of friends have resulted in total discussion of food allergies and gastrointestinal issues.
It seems everyone is self-diagnosed with gluten, lactose or egg intolerances, or a variety of other issues, and they have to discuss this prior to ordering and throughout the meal. The poor wait staff need chemistry degrees to answer all the questions about the food, even after they provide special menus for these people's issues.
They also like to discuss their resulting symptoms, which are not very appetizing. Then on top of this, yesterday I was told it must be nice to be healthy as a horse, since I had been quietly listening to the discussion and made no comments on the discussion at hand.
When the dessert tray comes out, everyone agrees that you have to push the limits once in a while and order up.
I am not enjoying my friends and do not plan to continue joining them for meals. Is anyone else experiencing this new trend?
GENTLE READER: Oh, yes. It wasn't bad enough that private entertaining has been all but ruined by the difficulty of providing a menu that meets the multitude of needs -- and, more often, demands -- of guests. And also that conversation has been ruined by discussing it all.
It seems that people cannot even refrain from spoiling restaurant outings, where they can each order their own meals.
Miss Manners cannot blame you for quitting these sessions. It cannot be much fun spending time becoming acquainted with other people's digestive systems.
But if these people are good friends with otherwise redeeming qualities, perhaps you can suggest a few rules:
-- That anyone with particular requirements be in touch with the restaurant in advance to ensure that these can be met.
-- That there will be a total ban on discussing food during the meal, with the only possible exception being a spontaneous "Yum!"