Our impromptu dinner Thursday night became impromptu on steroids when one of our guests mentioned that he’s allergic to wheat! Not gluten intolerant, mind you, can’t eat wheat! He had sent us an email to that effect but we somehow missed that very important datum. Ay-yi-yi! I had prepared a meatball hors d’oeuvres (not gluten free), chicken pot pie, and a yummy cheesecake-like desert made with a ginger snap crust. It was a perfect wheat storm. All the poor guy could eat was some cheese, and the salad appetizer. While he was gracious to the extreme about not wanting to put me out, I was mortified that I had been clueless to my guest’s needs, and my carefully planned party was ruined, I tell you, ruined! What to do?
I remember the celebrity chefs on television always advise that you have a plan B ready in case plan A doesn’t work. I also recall them saying if something doesn’t work, make light of it and move on. So, what would Tom Collichio or Marcus Samuelson do? With lots of eggs, cheese and potatoes on hand I consulted with my guest about some potatoes and an omelet, which he readily agreed to. When the pies were browned I let them rest, popped a russet in the microwave and whipped up a cheddar cheese omelet. Everything came to the table at the same time. And a good thing it did because my hungry guest inhaled that omelet. Sadly, he didn’t get to have any of the dessert but he was a good soldier and he, at least, did not go home with an empty stomach.
The lesson learned for me is check and double check with guests to make sure that they can consume what I’ve prepared. Since the guests are the reason you have dinner parties you need to be careful not to make them uncomfortable, or worse, put a meal on the table they cannot eat. And just in case, have raw materials on hand to make a substitute quickly. Had he not been able to eat eggs, for instance, I could have made a big chef’s salad. I try to keep eggs, cheese, lettuce, carrots, celery, onion, bell pepper, scallions, shallots on hand. There’s frozen fruit in the freezer, bananas on the counter, yogurt in the fridge – I could have made a fruit smoothie for dessert. There are many possibilities.
It didn’t turn out half bad. Our other guest LOVED what I prepared. I hope that they both enjoyed their time with us as much as we enjoyed spending time with them.