DEAR MISS MANNERS: I often host two close friends at my apartment for meals. I sparred with them after they suggested I make something other than what I originally pitched when I invited them for a meal. They maintain that it’s polite to cook what your guests request, in order to make them feel comfortable and to please their tastes.
It’s not the first time they’ve done it, but, despite the fact that it’s impolite to question others’ manners, I decided I’d say something this time. I told them that it was incorrect to suggest a different menu if someone is hosting you in their home, and that the correct response was to either accept or decline the invitation, not to scrutinize the menu. Am I correct in my thinking, or should I bend to their requests?
GENTLE READER: Strange that your friends are more interested in host manners than guest manners, considering that they are guests.
Menus have become battlegrounds, now that people care more about what they eat than with whom they eat. And while it is true that hosts should make reasonable accommodations to guests’ food restrictions and preferences, that is not license for guests to order their food as if they were in a restaurant. And Miss Manners has been told that even restaurants, now accustomed to offering gluten-free and vegetarian options, are refusing to go beyond that and accept idiosyncratic special orders.
As you invite these friends often, you are presumably generally familiar with their preferences. Of course you will use that information to try to please them. But guest manners require them to appreciate that without dictating to you.
If they want specific meals, why don’t they invite you for dinner?