As I was making my menu for Thanksgiving, it occurred to me: I so long for the olden days when you just cooked stuff, and everyone ate it. No one was gluten-free or dairy-free or fakakta-free. They just ate what you made.
My mother cooked Thanksgiving for 20, then replicated the meal all day and night for anyone who happened to drop by. No one put up a fuss. They just said, "Thank you, Josie. That was delicious." It was so civilized.
But today, people have intolerance stuff like you wouldn't believe. I understand lactose intolerant, but someone I know is actually apple intolerant. It's all too much.
Me, I'm intolerance intolerant.
I once saw a fabulous cartoon where a couple are in a restaurant and the woman says to the waitress, "I'm gluten-free, dairy-free, and (x, y and z) intolerant. What should I order?" And the waitress says, "A taxi."
That would be me, if I were still waiting tables.
A caveat: This does not apply to people with real allergies, those who are legit celiac. I'm not that much of a jerk. I have a dear friend, for example, who will go into anaphylactic shock if I put red pepper flakes in my marinara. For her, I put them on the side. (The sauce is better with them cooked in, though.)
Of course, those of us hosting Thanksgiving often make the mistake of asking: "Do you have any dietary restrictions?" My advice? Don't ask. Because they will tell you, complete with all the gross things that will happen if you do not abide by their dietary restrictions. Do I want to know you will have gas or vomit in my bathroom? The way I see it, if I'm close enough to you to invite you for a holiday, I already know about your annoying dietary issues.
Even worse is when you tell your guests ahead of time what you're making (again, my advice: just don't) and get responses like, "That's fine, but I don't much care for cranberry sauce." Or, "I don't much care for sweet potatoes." How about I make an extra batch and stick them in your piehole? Unless you're literally going to die from being in the presence of this food item, I don't care what you care for.
And a word about vegetarians, who are usually not too obnoxious, understanding that there are 17 side dishes and most of them are meat-free. But not always. My friend Elisa, a wonderful cook, once made six elaborate vegetarian dishes — "and the vegetarians complained about the sight of the ham and turkey," she told me. Vegetarians: This is why people hate you … though not as much as the vegans. (Oh, must I go there?) I don't want to be a glutton for punishment, but why do vegans even bother to go out on Thanksgiving? Even if the host is gracious enough to make their precious braised tofu or that weird thing with chi-chi beans, many vegans will still stroke out when the turkey comes out of the oven. My advice to them: Just stay home.
Of course, none of these complaints apply to my guests this year, who aren't the least bit neurotic.
Some might wonder why I even bother hosting these meals after all these complaints. It's Thanksgiving, silly! And everyone knows Thanksgiving is not about the food. It's about being with all your loved ones. Even the irritating ones.
Happy Thanksgiving and pass the tofu — to another zip code!
Lisa DePaulo is a writer living in New York City.