I’m a picky eater. There, I said it. I’m embarrassed to admit it but it’s the truth. I’ve been a picky eater since I was a kid. And going over to someone’s house for dinner is a little scary since I don’t know if I’ll like what they serve. I can force myself to eat certain foods but there are a few that are non-negotiable. In case you’re wondering which ones are non-negotiable, here’s a list:
- Mayonnaise, unless it’s cooked and I can’t taste it
- Sour cream, again unless it’s cooked and I can’t taste it
- Gravy (I could eat it if I had to but I really don’t like it)
- Salad dressing
- Probably more but I can’t think of them now
Because I’m a picky eater, I’m more sensitive to people’s preferences when I entertain. I try hard to provide a meal that even the pickiest eater will be satisfied with.
So if you’re thinking about having guests for dinner, here are some ideas for providing a meal that everyone, even picky eaters, will enjoy.
1. When you issue the invitation, ask your guests if there’s anything they don’t like or can’t eat.
2. Keep it simple. Keeping it simple makes it easier on you but it also tends to result in a menu that most people will like. Picky eaters tend to like “simple” food. Actually, most people are fine with simple food.
3. Unless your guests are “foodies”, avoid odd or gourmet-type recipes.
4. Have a lot of variety. If you have plenty to choose from, even the pickiest eaters will be able to find something they like.
5. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like something you made. And don’t be offended if they eat part of it but pick out the things they don’t like (like mushrooms, for example). It doesn’t mean you did a bad job, it just means it’s something they don’t like. Be assured they probably feel really bad for not eating it.
And if you have a guest who doesn’t eat much or anything, don’t feel the need to find something else for them to eat. As a picky eater, I take full responsibility for my pickiness. If someone serves something I don’t like and I can’t make myself eat it, it’s my problem and I don’t expect any special treatment.
Years ago we were having dinner with friends and I noticed they made bean soup. Bean soup isn’t my favorite but I was going to eat it. Then I noticed it had mushrooms – lots of them! That’s when I panicked. I’m not opposed to picking out things I don’t like, but there were so many mushrooms there was no way I could eat around them. So I decided I wouldn’t take any soup.
When we sat down to eat, I was all set to pass on the soup and eat whatever else was on the table. Unfortunately my friend filled my bowl and set it in front of me. Oh, boy. I was in trouble. I sat there and swished my soup around in the bowl trying to come up with some brilliant way to handle this nightmare. I finally realized there was nothing I could do. So I told them I didn’t like mushrooms and would they be offended if I didn’t eat the soup. They were surprised but fine and I filled up on cherry salad. It was my problem, not theirs.
6. And that brings me to the next item – don’t put food on people’s plates. Let them get their own. That way they can get what they want and in the amount they want.
7. Buffets work really well, especially with mix and match menus like tacos where you can build your meal using whatever ingredients you like.
8. Avoid foods that people tend to dislike like mushrooms, onions (by the way, I do like onions!) and mayonnaise.
Are you a picky eater or will you eat anything? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to eat something you didn’t like?
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