Q: We entertain a great deal, and I usually don’t know if our guests are vegetarians or have food allergies – until they’re sitting at my dining-room table and not touching the main course. Should I be asking everyone ahead of time about dietary restrictions?
A: If you’re having a few people over for a dinner party or a weekend stay, it’s a good idea to check, especially if you’re planning to serve a dish some people can’t handle. You could say, “We’re thinking about having shellfish, and I’m wondering if you’re able to eat shrimp or clams.” Another approach: “I haven’t bought groceries yet for the weekend – any preferences?” When you’re planning a larger party, you needn’t ask each guest about food restrictions, but to be on the safe side, make sure you include some “neutral” dishes such as a vegetable platter, pasta with meatless sauce, fresh fruit for dessert. That way, everybody will find something he or she enjoys.
Q: At a dinner party, if the hostess offers coffee, can you ask for decaf?
A: It’s not a great idea to come out and ask for it, because the hostess might not have any decaf and you don’t want to embarrass her. But you can certainly respond to “Would you like coffee?” with a question of your own: “Is it decaf?” Because so many people prefer to skip caffeine at night, it may well be. If, however, your hostess says, “No, it’s regular,” and doesn’t offer to make a pot of decaf, then just say, “No, thank you,” and leave it at that.
via Emily Post.
Pugs & Kisses,