Hosts strug­gle turn­ing home to gluten-free zone

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: [email protected]­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: Ev­ery year my hus­band and I host a hol­i­day get-to­gether for sev­eral of our friends and neigh­bors. We pro­vide the main dish, a cou­ple of sides and drinks. We ask friends to fill in with other sal­ads, sides and desserts.

This year, with lit­tle no­tice, my friend “Barb” reached out to me via text, say­ing, “This year, I will need you to pre­pare my food dif­fer­ently” — due to her re­cent di­ag­no­sis of celiac dis­ease.

She ex­plained to me that “even a crumb of cross con­tam­i­na­tion” will re­sult in her not feel­ing well. She in­structed me to check all of my spices and in­gre­di­ents, and to thor­oughly clean all of my cook­ing and serv­ing uten­sils be­fore pre­par­ing food for her.

She even pro­vided me a list of on­line re­sources I could use to learn more.

Amy, I was shocked speech­less — and my hus­band was livid.

I re­sponded that I would check in­gre­di­ents and try my best to ac­com­mo­date. My hus­band said that if the dis­ease was so dire, she would need to pack her own plate of food.

He said I should not reach out to our other guests and pro­vide any in­struc­tion on Barb’s be­half.

I was con­sid­er­ing mov­ing moun­tains for Barb when the fi­nal straw came: She asked us to thor­oughly clean our grill grates, should there be any gluten left on them from when we last grilled.

Is our friend be­ing ridicu­lous here, or are we be­ing in­sen­si­tive to her dis­ease?

How far does a host cou­ple need to go out of their way to ac­com­mo­date a guest in this sit­u­a­tion? — GLUTEN-FREE HOSTS Dear Hosts: You should not at­tempt to gauge whether “Barb’s” dis­ease is as se­ri­ous as she in­di­cates. You should sim­ply as­sume that it is. I agree, how­ever, that she is not com­mu­ni­cat­ing about her needs in a way de­signed to in­spire such a Her­culean ef­fort on your part. In fact, her re­quire­ments seem quite over­whelm­ing and are com­ing off as de­mands. She is also at­tempt­ing to shift re­spon­si­bil­ity for her health from her­self onto you. Don’t take it on.

In­stead of you com­mu­ni­cat­ing her needs to your other guests who are bring­ing food, you should sug­gest that she con­tact them. With such spe­cific re­quire­ments, she should not trust any­one else to com­mu­ni­cate her ex­act re­quire­ments.

You should as­sume that your best ef­forts might not be enough to com­pletely de­con­tam­i­nate your kitchen to Barb’s stan­dards, and you should tell her so: “Hi, ‘Barb,’ I worry that I can’t guar­an­tee that all of the food and the kitchen area will be de­con­tam­i­nated the way you might need. It would def­i­nitely be safest for you to bring your own food this year. If you feel you also need to bring your own plates, sil­ver­ware, etc., I as­sure you we won’t be of­fended. And don’t for­get to bring a dish to share with the rest of the group. Look­ing for­ward!”

Dear Amy: My hus­band has very poor hy­giene habits. He brushes his teeth only at the end of the day and show­ers once a week, in spite of the fact that he ex­er­cises daily. Of­ten both his breath and body odor are very un­pleas­ant.

I have been up­front with him on count­less oc­ca­sions, gen­tly ex­plain­ing both the health ben­e­fits, as well as the “so­cial” prob­lem when he is in pub­lic. How­ever, if he can’t smell the odors, he doesn’t be­lieve they ex­ist and that the prob­lem is in my head. I’m only hop­ing that he and oth­ers like him will see this let­ter and make an ef­fort to im­prove their hy­giene. — NOSE-PLUGGED WIFE Dear Nose Plugged: Does your hus­band like to have sex? Does he want a morn­ing kiss from you? Does he want to spend time with you in closed quar­ters?

You have some lever­age here, and you should use it. If your hus­band is able-bod­ied and there are no ob­vi­ous im­ped­i­ments to bathing, then he should clean him­self ev­ery day, whether or not he has body odor, or re­gard­less of whether he can de­tect it.

Dear Amy: “Still Here” de­scribed my ex­act frus­tra­tion! Like Still Here, I am in my 30s and sin­gle with no chil­dren. I have spent lit­er­ally thou­sands of dol­lars cel­e­brat­ing the life choices of my friends and fam­ily mem­bers, with noth­ing in re­turn.

It’s not like I want to­tal equal­ity here, but hon­estly, I love your idea of a “sin­gle­ton shower.” — THINK­ING ABOUT IT Dear Think­ing: Whether or not there are gifts in­volved, each of us de­serves to be cel­e­brated.

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