It’s officially summer, and grilling season is upon us. No doubt you’ll be invited to a number of summer soirees, complete with mysterious menus that will have you playing the “does that have gluten” game!
But have no fear: my survival guide will have you back out as the life of the party in no time.
Step 1: Fess up, then ask about the menu
The first step in protecting yourself is to just be honest with the host and let them know your needs. Chances are, you’ll be met with, “Oh, my sister/friend/co-worker is gluten free, no problem!”
But if not, that’s still not a deal breaker. Just explain what you can and can’t eat, and try to get an idea what’s on the menu.
Step 2: Offer to bring something
The menu’s all hot dogs (a gluten landmine?) Offer to bring a couple packs of bratwurst, then buy a brand you know is safe to eat. The meat’s okay but it’s all served on a bun? Offer to bring some gluten free rolls. Host insists they’ve got it covered, then relents and says you can bring a side? Make a protein-filled salad in case that ends up being all you can eat. Dinner’s all good but there’s cake on the agenda? Bring a fruit salad to share – chances are, someone else will be glad to have another option too!
Between my gluten free self and my vegetarian boyfriend, we both have trouble at traditional barbecues. We always volunteer to bring food to share and then make sure we can both eat it. At least we know we won’t starve!
Step 3: Beware the mystery food
Not sure who made that potato salad, or if that bowl of barbecue sauce is safe? Nope it right on out of there, not worth the risk.
Step 4: Befriend the other food misfits
Notice your friend’s cousin Kitty eyeing the beans suspiciously, looking for floating meat? Congratulations, this vegetarian is your new party BFF. Strike up a conversation and help her out if you know what’s in the dish! She may have some intel of her own.
Step 5: Just eat before you go
Legend and I have been known to do this too. If the menu is like 90% stuff you can’t eat, or it’s a potluck and that means it’s 90% mystery food, sometimes it’s better to have a small meal before you leave.
Then you can pick at the veggie tray or just focus on the free booze.
Congratulations, you are ready for summer party season. Now get out there and have some fun!
What’s your favorite trick for surviving food-themed summer parties while gluten free? Do you feel a strange kinship to the other restricted eaters like I do? Tell me in the comments!