DEAR HARRIETTE: I have celiac disease, and being invited to someone's home always brings me a plethora of dilemmas. I am invited to a Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people, yet I can't eat most of the food served. I don't want to burden the hostess with my restrictions. Is it improper to bring my own meal? Would this breach etiquette? I would gladly eat anything she made if it were gluten-free. -- No Gluten, Seattle
DEAR NO GLUTEN: I'm sorry that I am answering your letter after Thanksgiving, but I hope my advice will help you for any other gatherings you are invited to attend.
Hosts are accustomed to hearing about their guests' food sensitivities these days. What is most important is to let the host know in advance. You can call your host to thank her or him for the invitation. Explain that you are calling to let them know of your food sensitivities due to your medical condition, which precludes you from eating certain foods. Offer to bring your own food that can be discreetly available for your consumption. You can also ask if the host can and will provide a few gluten-free options. You may have to describe specifically what gluten-free food is in order for the latter to be a viable option. Listen and evolve the conversation accordingly.