Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Food for Restricted Diet Disappears Too Quickly

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am extremely lactose intolerant, and my workplace thankfully recognizes this. On Pizza Fridays, there is always a cheeseless pie ordered for me. Recently, I have been coming to lunch realizing that my pie is gone.

My co-workers have gushed over how all of the vegetables without cheese taste great. I am happy for them, but they are indulging in the only food that I can eat -- whereas they can sample any pie they want. Is there any way to ask my co-workers to stop eating restricted food? -- Lunchless, Los Angeles

DEAR LUNCHLESS: You started a trend! Rather than pressuring your co-workers into keeping their paws off of your pizza, ask the lunch organizer to add a second cheese-free pie to the order. Point out that the group has taken a fancy to your yummy veggies to the extent that they have eaten it all before you got even a slice. Obviously, this means that the cheeseless pizza is a big hit. Urge your employer to replace one of the cheesy pizzas with another one like yours!

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a landlord in a suburb. As a thank-you for extending the rent due date, one of my tenants gave me a gift of homemade sausage. I was so stunned that I accepted it without asking any questions. It now just sits in my freezer, untouched. Am I allowed to prod my tenant about the contents of this present? I normally wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth; however, I think this situation would allow me to bend the etiquette rules. -- Lonely Links, Near Pittsburgh

DEAR LONELY LINKS: One way to ask about the sausage without seeming rude is to express your true curiosity. Strike up a conversation with your tenant and ask about the whole process. Making sausage at home is not something that is commonly done these days. Ask about the process and the selection of ingredients. Certainly you can ask what type of sausage you were given. This shouldn't be so unusual a question, given that today there are so many variations on sausages in the regular grocery store that who knows what a creative cook might make?

Your attitude going into this conversation is what will make all the difference as it relates to the way your tenant reacts. Be open and interested rather than skeptical and worried. This is an opportunity for the two of you to get to know each other better -- bonding around food.

Know that you will be asked if you have consumed the sausage yet. Be honest and say that you haven't. Admit that you wanted to learn about the sausage before cooking it because you wanted to savor the sausage with the full story of how it was made in mind. If, after you learn about the way it was made, you decide you don't want to eat it, do not say that to your tenant. This is where a little white lie might be better. Or perhaps you can share it with a friend who would enjoy it. Then you can say you did that, and it was a big hit!

(Harriette Cole is a life stylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)