Be A Good Guest


I don’t usually watch television but I needed to numb my brain this evening. I was channel-surfing when I came across “Housewives of Lorne Park.” My first reaction was “It can’t be.” So, I watched. And indeed, it was a show about housewives of Lorne Park, a rich neighbourhood of Mississauga, my city.

As any episode of Housewives should, it included some behind-her-back talk. One of the housewives, the only vegetarian in the group, was throwing a dinner party. A massive pre-occupation broke out in the group. Would there be meat at the party? Pro-meat arguments were made: Husbands would threaten not come if there wasn’t. Shouldn’t hosts accommodate their guests? The hostess, who used to be a meat-eater,  knows what meat looks and smells like, she should serve it at her party.

Seriously? Yup. I’m positive that all these housewives have meat-stocked fridges and freezers in their million dollar homes. One meal without meat isn’t going to hurt any of them. They can grill a steak when they get home from the party.

Like these women, I have been guilty of criticizing my hosts: “The music was lousy,” “The guests were boring,” “The food was bad,” etc. However, I don’t remember ever threatening to avoid a friend’s party because, hey, I made it on the guest list. Isn’t that enough? So what if she serves cheap wine or his idea of a good time is playing Go Fish? Somebody likes me enough to want me over to their home. And if I like them, I will accept the invitation. So what if I have to take off my shoes at the door or pray before I can eat or go smoke ten feet away from their house? It’s their home and while I’m there, I have to respect the way they live.

So what do you think it takes to be a good host? To what extent should you accommodate a guest? Should this vegetarian serve meat against her beliefs?

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  1. #1 by Joan Leacott on February 17, 2012 - 2:02 PM

    Is that Mississauga in Ontario, Patricia? I’m down the highway in Toronto. I have friends and family with all sorts of allergies and preferences. I view feeding these folks as a fun challenge. I frequently create a new recipe that ends up in my standard repertoire. As a hostess, I consider it my job to accommodate food/drink allergies and preferences, so I may extend the warmest possible welcome to my home. I truly appreciate when the favour is returned. Except that one time we got food poisoning… I wouldn’t return that. 😉

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on February 22, 2012 - 12:45 AM

      Yes, the Miss next door to the TO.

      You sound like an excellent hostess.
      Although unpleasant, I’m sure the food poisoning was unintentional. At least, I hope! 😉
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  2. #3 by Gloria Richard Author on January 31, 2012 - 6:57 AM

    Great post! When I plan menus, it’s much like when I speak. I don’t know when to stop.

    So! I guarantee there WILL be something others can eat on the menu.

    I totally agree with your last reply: respect your guests; respect your hosts. Aren’t these social engagements about the “social” aspect? They aren’t about the chow line.

    Reminds me of an Everybody Loves Raymond episode when Marie decided to go “healthy” and served a wiggling Tofurkey to the family. That’s ONE meal that should be wrapped in tradition.

  3. #4 by Barbara Forte Abate on January 23, 2012 - 10:52 AM

    Oh shoot, so sorry Patricia, I forgot to log out of my WordPress account before commenting, so don’t really know where my comment just went…

  4. #6 by Barbara Forte Abate on January 23, 2012 - 10:49 AM

    This post really lands on a particular pet peeve of mine. Aka, where have all the good manners gone? What always seemed common sense, as in how to be a nice person and appreciative guest, has gone the way of the dinosaur for many people. It’s just pitiful. What would Emily Post think for Pete’s sake!

    • #7 by Patricia Caviglia on January 24, 2012 - 11:46 PM

      I agree. Society has changed a great deal but do we have to let go of please and thank you. There’s actually an ad running on the radio about being nice to others. I have to catch it again so I can make note of the organization and blog about it.

  5. #8 by Julie Farrar on January 22, 2012 - 7:44 PM

    Hi from WANA112. These tv shows are all about creating conflict where there is none. I would not expect a vegetarian host to have meat on the side just because guests want it any more than I expect a gluten-free host to provide dinner rolls. They won’t starve and they can grab a hamburger on their way home.

    • #9 by Patricia Caviglia on January 22, 2012 - 11:10 PM

      I’m with you 100%! No one is going to starve at the vegetarian dinner party.

      You bring up an interesting point about reality tv. They create conflict to keep it interesting. Can we blame them? We wouldn’t read a novel or watch a movie if we knew there was no conflict. While I’m not a fan of reality tv, I do believe that watching these “real” people lead their “real” lives can teach us some life lessons. Once I got passed the absurdity of the no-meat situation, I couldn’t help but assess my own behavior and recognize that maybe I shouldn’t criticize my hosts for not feeding me or entertaining me the way I would like.

  6. #10 by Cora on January 22, 2012 - 2:52 PM

    I think a good host should definitely take a vegetarian diet into consideration, providing some foods that a vegetarian could eat if a big party is planned. Allergies are another matter-you must take that into consideration. But if you do not know, how can you accomodate?
    Gosh, I sound like Miss Manners. I wonder what she says?

  7. #12 by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer on January 22, 2012 - 11:55 AM

    This is a hard one for me because I have to eat gluten free and everyone wants me to eat. 😦 I bring my on food so I don’t get sick and can enjoy the party. When I invite people over they get a ta-da gluten free meal.
    Waving from WANA112

    • #13 by Patricia Caviglia on January 22, 2012 - 1:02 PM

      That is challenging but I would think that friends could arrange something for you to eat. Gluten-free is everywhere now.

  8. #14 by hmcmullin on January 21, 2012 - 11:21 PM

    See, I found you from your FB link! Good post, nice thought-provoking subject. I come from a meat and potatoes family and I don’t know any vegetarians, so the question has never come up. I guess I’d have to say it depends on the guest list. If your guest list is mostly people you know, they’re going to know, and probably expect, you’ll serve vegetarian. If the guest list includes people whom you don’t know (business associates, etc.) perhaps you should serve a meat dish. Either way, from what I’ve seen on various internet sites, there are lots of vegetarian dishes that should accomodate both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and unless someone brings it up guests may not even know whether there’s meat or not unless you’re having a bbq. If you’re going to be a guest in someone’s house, though, you should respect their customs and maybe even learn something from them. We have friends who don’t drink alcohol – we don’t expect them to provide it for us when we go to their house, and we make sure we have non-alcoholic beverages when they come to our house.

    • #15 by Patricia Caviglia on January 21, 2012 - 11:34 PM

      I’m a meat-eater myself. I do have vegetarian friends and have never had a problem eating whatever they serve. It may not be my preference, but I don’t expect them to serve something they don’t eat just to please me. I like your alcohol analogy. It’s a fair comparison.

  9. #16 by shayfabbro on January 21, 2012 - 11:19 PM

    The only time I think a host should have to worry about what to serve is if someone has food allergies. Other than that, if someone invites you to their home, you eat what they serve, drink what they have on hand, and do whatever else they do for fun (watch movies, play games, etc). When I invite people over, I reveal the menu, tell them we have water (we don’t keep soda in the home), and tell them I have cats and that they won’t be “put away” for the evening. 😉

    • #17 by Patricia Caviglia on January 21, 2012 - 11:38 PM

      You respect your host and you respect your guests. Good approach!

  1. Reality TV, Is it Really? | The Plot Thickens

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