Ask Natalie: Father wants tasteful excuse to avoid vegetarian meal
February 2, 2016 12:00 AM
David J. Lesako
Natalie Bencivenga says that if you can't stand vegetarian food, go out to dinner. Italian, Asian and Spanish restaurants will have menus that can accommodate vegetarian lovers and meat lovers alike. Just look at this Tamale Pie!
By Natalie Bencivenga / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DEAR NATALIE: My son married a vegetarian, and she converted him. Even at their wedding we were served rice, beans, nuts and tofu. (I don’t even know what that is.) At weddings, I’m used to chicken, ham, meatballs, etc. But it’s OK. I never presume to tell other people how to live. But now the problem is that occasionally I’m invited over there for dinner. I love the kids and wouldn’t hurt their feelings for anything. But I hate their menu. I've gone a few times, and now I'm running out of excuses. Can you help me? — HOLD THE TOFU
DEAR HOLD THE TOFU: It can be really hard to accommodate everyone’s likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to something as personal as food. I’m a vegan, and when people come to my home for dinner or when I take a dish to a family or friend’s home, they know it’s not going to be ham.
You can’t expect to get your son to eat a steak with you anymore than he can expect to convert you to a plant-based diet. So, what can you do? You have a few options: 1. The next time they want to have you over for dinner, offer to make a dish that you can eat, and if they want some, they can have some, too. Don’t be afraid to say that while you love spending time together, you hope they don’t mind if you bring a little extra something to eat to satiate your meat-loving side. You also could say that you are bringing cupcakes for dessert to smooth things over. A little sugar can solve anything. (And don’t forget to take side portions of the veggies they offer you as a show of good will. Think of it like a U.N. meeting.) 2. Go out to dinner. Italian, Asian and Spanish restaurants will have menus that can accommodate vegetarian lovers and meat lovers alike. Then everyone wins.
DEAR NATALIE: I have a topic for your “Ask Natalie” column, but I was thinking of it as an opportunity for a conversation between you and your readers. The scenario: I ate lunch at the Bettis Grille recently, and a few hours later I realized I had left my Reebok running gloves there. I went back. The manager looked for them, but they were not turned in or still sitting where I sat. I was very disappointed. I went home and told my husband. He said I shouldn’t be so surprised that they weren’t there because the normal thing is for someone to take them, especially because they were nice gloves. I argued that the normal thing would be to turn them in to the manager/hostess. Ignoring what is “the correct” thing to do, what is the “normal” thing to do? — COLD HANDS
DEAR COLD HANDS: Here’s probably the conversation, if we are being honest, that would happen in someone’s mind if he or she saw your gloves sitting on the table. “Wow, those are nice gloves. I guess whoever left them here doesn’t care enough about them to keep them. Oooh, look, they fit. Welcome to your new home.” Now, is that the “right” thing to do? No, it’s not. Like you said, the right thing to do is to turn them in to someone at the front desk. But, are humans good at justifying the things that they want? Yes, yes we are. So while I can agree with you on what is right, I have to side with your husband on this one as to what is “normal.” And abandoned gloves in a restaurant sound like fair game, unfortunately. Here’s to hoping they found a home where they were needed, and be grateful that you can afford a new pair.
Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Are you shy? Bring a friend with you to a networking event who is comfortable in front of new people and let them lead the way through the crowd, making a few introductions for you. Plan ahead with your friend and share your contacts so it’s a win-win.
Natalie Bencivenga is the Post-Gazette’s Seen and society editor. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Need advice? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Natalie on Twitter @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
email@example.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.