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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

No Host Can Hope to Please Guests With Multiple Food Restrictions

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother taught me that it is inconsiderate to serve food to guests that someone at the table is not able to eat.

Today there are so many food restrictions, whether from medical necessity, religious laws or personal preference, that it sometimes seems impossible to serve a meal that everyone at the table could eat. What is a hostess's responsibility to provide alternatives to a planned menu to accommodate all guests?

GENTLE READER: Tough as Miss Manners may be, she cannot reasonably ask people to be responsible for doing what you rightly point out is impossible. She dares say that even your gracious mother could not devise such a menu today.

It has therefore become incumbent on hosts to inquire beforehand if their guests have any food restrictions -- and to hope that the guests do not interpret this as an opportunity to register their mere dislikes.

If, among them, they eliminate all the food groups, the best that the host can do is to see to it that all of them have enough for an acceptable and palatable meal, even if they cannot eat everything that is served.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors