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it’s just not fare

I’ve agreed to host dinner at my home on a weekly basis for a group of close friends and a few friendly neighbors. Normally, I prepare hearty stews, casseroles, pasta dishes, and stir-fries, but a close friend of ours recently started dating a girl who won’t eat carbs. When I say carbs, I mean everything that can turn into a carbohydrate, from red beans to rice to raspberries. Unfortunately, almost every “family-style” recipe calls for carbs and I can’t afford to feed everyone carb-free meals, as that style of cooking calls for ingredients that are fairly expensive. To top it off, she takes more than her fair share of each helping when dishes get passed around and she doesn’t even offer to bring anything “carb free” to help me out.

Should I keep indulging her carb-o-phobia or should I tell her to bring her own frozen beef and broccoli?

—Picky Feeder

Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: I’m confused. Is the issue that she won’t eat carbs, or that she takes more than her fair share of each helping? If that’s the case, she’s not sticking to her no-carb diet. Also, on a point of order, red beans, rice, and raspberries don’t have to “turn into” carbs, because they already naturally contain carbohydrates.

Lots of people stick to low-carb diets, and maybe that’s what she means when she says she doesn’t eat carbs.

Then again, maybe she’s one of these people who recently latched onto some kind of diet craze, and is bent on proclaiming its virtues to anyone who will listen and to everyone else who could really care less. And worst of all, it’s all talk! There she is, pigging out on all the carb-laden dishes being passed around.

That’s really the problem isn’t it? She’s a pain in the ass. I mean, that’s why you go so far as to imagine telling her to bring her own frozen beef and broccoli. (Meow, hiss!)

Since you don’t want to come off as that much of a bitch, here’s a simple, affordable dish you could make for her if you want to be especially cruel:


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 cup spinach

Boil ingredients in a saucepan. Drain liquid, place chicken on plate. Cover with spinach. Serve with a pitcher of water.

(vegetarian alternative—substitute a stalk of celery for the chicken.

Meanwhile, pass all the stews, casseroles, and pastas around the table, while politely skipping her over, in deference to her strict eating habits. That should be enough to test her resolve.

The Straight Skinny says: Passive-aggressive much, Dr. Fraud?

Special diets can be a pain in the ass, and this woman sounds especially disagreeable, but that’s the price of being a host: When you invite people into your home, you are agreeing to cater to their needs.

Look, this is no more difficult than cooking for a vegan or a vegetarian. Low-carb cooking (that’s “low,” not “no”—unless all she eats is meat, she’d be hard-pressed to devise a “no-carb” diet) need not be difficult nor expensive. Beef stew is low-carb, if you leave out the potatoes. So is mushroom soup, a stir-fry with vegetables and tofu, and fondue. (She can dip pickled pearl onions and other vegetables instead of bread.)

Recipes abound online. You might also try asking this woman for advice on dishes that suit her diet, if she’s really coming over every week. Settle on one hearty side dish or entree that meets her needs, then cook what you’d like. The rest of you certainly don’t need to eat low-carb. Not that it would hurt to try.

On the other hand, maybe resentment and passive aggression will win the day. Does she at least bring a bottle of wine or a sixer of beer? Does she drink it? If so, you might point out that wine and beer both contain residual sugar in the form of carbohydrates. Tell her if she really wants to bring you a hostess gift the promulgates the low-carb cult, a nice bottle of single-malt scotch would do nicely.

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