Dear Hallee: Real Food & Visiting Family
I have really been trying to feed my family better. We’ve recently switched to mainly organic foods, when we can afford them. My question comes in an upcoming trip to visit family. We’ll be there around 3 nights and they don’t really eat the way we do. When you travel, how do you eat? Do you just eat what the host fixes, regardless of what’s in it? Do you take food and possibly offend the host? I’m stuck in the fact that I really don’t want to mess up our newly established eating habits, but I also don’t want to offend anybody either. Signed, Traveling Mama
Dear Traveling Mama:
We eat what is offered in hospitality, without exception. If something is offered that doesn’t fit the Levitcal Diet (pork, etc.) and we can avoid eating it without appearing rude, we avoid it (and sometimes that’s not always possible). But otherwise, we bless the food with a thankful heart.
My kids love eating at my mom’s house. They get Apple Jacks, those gummy fruit snacks, and doughnut holes. But my mom also buys them beef hot dogs and turkey bacon because she loves us and respects our desire to follow a Biblical diet. Fresh fruit is in abundance, good yogurt in the fridge, and whole wheat bread is a standard there.
Long ago, when I was married to Kaylee’s dad, we lived in the same town as his entire, extended, real-food eating family. We didn’t eat that way. But, I was a good cook with my “SAD” (standard American diet) diet and was proud of my culinary skills (think of the woman who does the show “Semi Homemade”). The last year we were married, it was my turn to host Thanksgiving. They all called and asked if they could bring anything, and I told them I would do the cooking and they didn’t need to bring anything.
I cooked all day – turkey, stuffing (Stove Top), two kinds of potatoes, gravy (homemade), breads (probably refrigerated dough, if I remember correctly), pies, cakes, veggies. I had a big beautiful spread laid out.
They ALL showed up with their own food (including a turkey) and my food was barely touched. I was humiliated and left to feel unaccomplished, less-than, and unworthy.
I wouldn’t ever bring my own food to a host’s home — even family. Ever. Unless the hostess asks me to bring something. Never.
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I absolutely agree with your response, Hallee. I would never and have never brought food to anyone’s house, except for my mother’s. The reason I brought food there was we were staying for about a week, I had food that was going to go bad in the fridge, so I brought it along. But as for anyone else’s home, I would not bring food unless asked to by the hostess, or unless there was a severe dietary restriction, like one of my children being allergic to nuts or cow’s milk or something of that nature. Thankfully, no one in my family has any food allergies.
When we host others that may have more strict dietary guidelines than we do, I always ask, “Is there anything you would prefer that I do not serve?” The goal for a hostess should be to make guests as comfortable as possible, and the goal for guests should be to make the hostess happy she invited you. Just my never to be humble opinion. :)
I find it amusing how many dietary restrictions we have as Americans as just dietary preferences. I have family and friends that are a variety of things….it seems like everyone today is gluten-free, or dairy-free, or carb-free, fat-free, organic only, vegan, vegetarian, no nuts, no seafood, no white rice, no this, no that . Did this attitude exist 40 or 50 years ago? Nope, you ate what was put in front of you and were thankful. I believe these dietary prefererances are the reason why hospitality has gone down in our society. It is hard to make a meal to please everyone, or even find a restaurant to please everyone, these days. How many times do you bring a dish a pot-luck and people say they cannot have it because it has ingredient XYZ in it? It is offensive and rude. Now, I am not suggesting a person with a nut allergy eat a bowl of mixed nuts, but I do I agree with Hallee’s advice – never turn down food offered in love because of your personal food preferences. If you are on vacation for 14 days with family who eat unhealthy food, you still have 351 days the rest of the year to eat your way.
This post “rings” with me. There is some one who without fail brings “their” own food when they visit me. ALWAYS breakfast, and often the majority of any main meal. It makes me feel awful. It makes me feel “less than”, “unworthy”, all those things you list. I struggle every time they visit because no matter how often they ask and I say “don’t bring anything” they insist or, like in your case, just show up with it.
I think Gretchen hit on something too – hospitality is HARD anymore. It is frustrating when you feel you cannot make a meal for some one when you first have to get their list of likes/don’t likes and try crafting a meal around it. I do try to go with what people prefer though because I feel it is all part of caring for a person. If you truly care you are willing to do what you need to to make them feel it.
Good post. :-) I love Dear Hallee.
What a great question! Obviously if you have real allergies/sensitivities to certain foods please take care of yourself but otherwise be blessed by the food that was made for you and probably made with great love and enjoy!
We are humans with great resiliency you will be fine!
I once sat next to a Tibetan Lama during a workshop and I was somewhat embarrassed that I had meat on my plate (I knew he was vegetarian) and he asked me about my food knowing I was a nutritionist. During our conversation he pointed to the meat on his plate reminding me it was made for him and made with love therefore he would be blessed by eating it.
He taught me everything I needed to know that day at lunch.
Be Well-Eat Real