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copyright ©1999-2003

04.22.2004: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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post-elopement reception ...
My husband and I are hosting an engagement party for my cousin and his fiancée. They are both vegetarians and have requested that the food being served be nothing but vegetarian. They say they "don't want animals killed in their honor"! We were planning a menu of appetizers that include both veggie dishes and meat dishes. I feel that when you put hors d'ouevres on the invitation people expect to get a variety of foods and some people even make this their dinner. My husband says to do as they wish, but I am having a hard time with this I mean after all we are the ones having the party! Can you give me advise on how to handle this?

A: So here's a case where you could play "who's more right?" and waste a lot of time and energy trying to assert that you, in fact, are the winner. Heck, I might even agree with you; as the party host, you certainly have the right to serve your guests whatever food you feel would make them happiest. And if I were your vegetarian cousin, there's no way I'd tell the person who was nice enough to throw me an engagement party what they could and could not serve. That having been said, here's the deal with your situation: your cousin's already put this wish for no meat out there. You could make a fuss about it, but it's only going to upset the guests of honor, and stress you out, thus taking all the fun out of the event for all the major parties involved. If your sole worry is that there's no way to serve an all-vegetarian feast that's going to satisfy vegetarians and meat-lovers alike, don't be. As a non-vegetarian whose circle of friends generally encompasses people of all eating extremes, I can assure you that I have put together many a well-received party spread that did not include any meat at all. Vegetarian mini quiches, pizzas (homemade and sliced into finger-food friendly portions), pissaladiere (sort of like a Provencale pizza -- just leave out the traditional anchovy element and pile on more of the caramelized onion, tomatoes and olives), quesadillas (make it more upscale by getting gourmet with the ingredients -- pear and brie, blue cheese and caramelized onion, goat cheese and chives, smoked gouda and portabellos) and empanadas (filled pastry turnovers) are all scrumptious, veggie-friendly and filling. Round out the warm tidbits with a good assortment of dippy things (tapenade, spinach dip, guacamole, roasted red pepper hummus), a nice cheese selection, heaps of bread, and an assortment of crudités. Offer an antipasti plate of marinated mozzarella balls, cheese or pesto tortellini, roasted red pepper strips, artichoke hearts and olives. Really, there's a world of variety to be found in cooking with vegetables -- my favorite appetizers cookbook, Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook, actually offers many ideas for gorgeous, vegetarian finger foods. If you're totally at a loss as to what to prepare, you might even ask your cousin and his fiancée for their favorite veggie recipes. Personally, I'd rather spend my energy adding a few new appetizer recipes to repertoire than fight with my loved ones anyday.


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