The Hostess With the Mostess...Stress, That Is.

I fear that I'm not a very good hostess. If we have people over for a meal, I'm usually fine. I can prepare the meal in advance and take my normal kitchen precautions. The problem arises when we have guests who stay for a few days over multiple meals. Suddenly my kitchen isn't my own. Unfamiliar food arrives and concern over cross-contamination boils over.

"STOP! You can't dip that knife back into our dairy free butter after using it on that unsafe (read: poisonous) bread."

"NO!" Don't cut into that dairy, egg and nut-free cake with that tainted knife you just used on that unsafe (read: poisonous)angel food cake.

"WAIT!You can't leave crumbs from that peanut butter and jelly sandwich (read: poisonous)all over the table. And please- go wash you hands- immediately. And I want to hear you sing "Happy Birthday" while you're doing it- twice!"

I can't help it. My frantic tone bubbles over. Of course if I keep this up, I won't have to worry about it because no one will want to come visit!

Now, all of you families with food allergies, you get it. You're welcome anytime.

How do you deal with guests in your kitchen?


Liz said...

Luckily, my parents get it. They're the only ones who have come over for extended periods of time. Otherwise, I do the cooking. I appreciate your help, but get out of my kitchen. We have only a few items that my daughter can't eat in the house. If I make anything - anything - even for potlucks at someone else's house - I make it so that my daughter can eat it.

We've got red stickers on the things that she can't have, so that makes it easier to spot. But, of course, you still have to have a watchful eye.

My husband exaggerates the extent of the allergies to those people that don't get it. It's been working with his family - they don't serve our daughter anything.

It's hard even when you aren't in your kitchen. A friend noted that I was pretty stressed at a party. I wanted to scream "HELLO! Mayo and bread and peanut butter and cupcakes that I didn't make...."

I think I've blabbered on enough. I know where you are coming from. It's not easy, but we want our children to be safe.

Karen said...

We only have a few unsafe items in our kitchen.

At school my non allergic child eats dairy items at snack time, washes her hands with rest of class, then eats non dairy for lunch, then washes hands with class. Her allergic sister is in a different class, no cross contamination rule just sticks with her.

One friend of my allergic child's for while didn't cross contaminate at his house. even though my allergic child would only visit with her own food.

Col said...

We have a few basic rules, mostly around gluten contamination, because that's pretty much the only food I keep around that my son cannot have, aside from milk and butter.
1. If you make toast, use only "real" butter. The dairy-free margarine is reserved for gluten-free bread/waffles. Put the toaster oven rack in the sink to be washed when you're done.
2. Scoop honey, jam, jelly, etc with a clean spoon only! No knives in the jelly jar!
3. Put bread on a plate. Not a napkin or cutting board or the countertop. A plate.
4. Put all your dishes in the dishwasher after you use them, and wipe the countertop/table.

I'm lucky that my parents and in-laws both "get it", and we haven't had any problems.

Nowheymama said...

I keep everyone out of our teeny tiny kitchen and do it all myself. :)

ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

I'm rude as heck. We have only safe food at my house for company and that means NO bread. I'm sure people think I'm a freak but I don't care. We had a family over last year and then we never heard from them again (maybe it wasn't the food, maybe it was me...).
My husband is supposed to "host" the Christmas party for his work next year at our house. I've already got a migraine trying to figure out the logistics of that. They cater it and even though my son tested neg for shell fish, he's never had it. The owner flies in shrimp and crab legs from Florida and spends all day at the hosts house cleaning it. I'm breaking out in a cold sweat.....

Lynn said...

I so sympathize with your post. I'm just getting the hang of dealing with food allergies (wheat, egg, milk, sesame, and tree nuts in our 17 month old), although I did grow up with a brother with multiple food allergies, so I understood the seriousness right away. So far, we've pretty much just starved our houseguests, but I'd like to work out another solution for the next round of visits in August. :) I really prefer to just cook stuff that is safe for him for everyone, but it does get tough, because my visiting family members are picky.

Unknown said...

I try to control food coming in to my house and insist that no one needs to bring anything if I'm entertaining (which I do a lot). If they do bring some dessert or something that they "just have to share" then I ask an ungodly amount of questions about what is in it, and then I usually don't eat it anyway, just in case. I'm the food allergic person in the house so I try to control the food that comes in as much as possible.

I will tell you though that the same friends and family I will have over at my house for dinner I don't trust to serve me dinner at theirs. I always bring a "safe" dish for me to eat whether they want me to or not. I've got to make sure I don't starve or get sick! That's why I prefer to have everyone to my house so I don't have to do that and control 100% of the food that is served.

Sabrina K. said...

We don't keep unsafe items in the house, first off. We have a combined like 15 allergies between the 4 of us (myself, my hubby,and the 2 kids) and so we all just avoid each other's allergies. If my guests go out to eat without us I ask them to please not bring home leftovers from their meal, and if they do they immediately go into a ziplock bag and are labeled and put on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Everyone knows I am a freak about handwashing, so most of the time they wash without me having to harp on them. I thinkit's MUCH harder to be a guest in anyone's house than the hostess, which is one reason we only ever stay at my BFF's house (multiple FAs) or my mom's house (one FA, one insect allergy, but understands completely).