It's a safe bet that at some point, we will come across awkward social situations. For example, at your Thanksgiving dinner party when you've whipped up an entire spread only to realize many of your guests keep Kosher -- and that fork you used to check the roast also acquainted itself with the cream of corn casserole. Your guests are already here, and excited for dinner. Oops.
Social Q's, a column in The New York Times, touches on this kind of everyday issue when a question is submitted and posted or published with advice to follow. We caught up with the Social Q's group on Facebook.
The dilemma arose:
Help, social q'ers! I'm hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for a group of friends, but most of them are vegetarians. I don't know how to handle dinner. I'm obviously not gonna make a turkey for the three meat-eaters (including me and my daughter), so I was thinking about making a turkey-shaped tofu. That way no one feels left out. Thoughts?
People from all over the country chimed in on their thoughts of what to do, here are some excerpts and a splash of commentary:
The Classic Traditionalist:
Why aren't you going to make a turkey?? I would - I love turkey on Thanksgiving, it's tradition, plus my whole meal plan for the following week depends on having leftover turkey meat! If nothing else do a small turkey breast. Unless you are trying to respect the views of your guests - but perhaps on this special occasion they should be respecting your views...
The Rude Pessimist:
The way I see it, vegetarians have nothing to be thankful for. Cancel your dinner. Vegetarians are generally boring. I see nothing but bad times at your house this Thanksgiving. If you insist on hosting this charade you should, at least, have the NFL on several TV's so you'll have something to talk about.
I've done a vegetarian Thanksgiving for a couple of years, but I just can't bring myself to do a "tofurky." I stick to things like stuffed squash, squash soup, vegetarian shepherd pie, etc.
The Soup Lover:
I am making a small turkey but hosting a "soup off" and vegans bring their own.
You could ask them what they have liked in the past, and ask for recipes. Some people go non-traditional; a lot of meat-free recipes come from Greece, India, and Thailand for example.
And finally, the Realist:
...by the time my guests have heaped their plates with stuffing, potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, jalapeno cornbread, roasted brussels sprouts with chestnuts, maple squash, braised carrots, balsamic onions, green beans with almonds, and cranberry sauce, they'd hardly notice whether there was a slice of turkey in there or not.
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The truth of the matter is, if someone with food restrictions accepts an invitation to a widely traditional feast, they accept that while they may not be able to consume everything in sight, a host wouldn't have asked them to join if it was going to be issue in the first place.
Eat well, hosts and guests -- whatever that may mean to you.