I frequently read the online food news site "Inside Scoop SF" http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com It's got so much information on what is new in the Bay Area food industry. If I can't live there I can at least read and dream about the fabulous food and wine industry there.
Today there is a great article on the dilemma chefs face between producing food that showcases his or her talents and the dietary requirements and/or dietary choices of his customers. Inside Scoop SF - Dietary Demands
I know people who suffer from life threatening allergies. My Dad is so allergic to a certain seed that for many years he carried an Epi-pen, once he almost died after consuming bread made with the oil from that seed. In his later years he's narrowed his restaurant choices to those he trusts and we've learned to zealously read labels on everything in our kitchen when cooking for him.
I also know those who are required to follow a gluten free diet. They can live through a session of eating food containing gluten but they suffer the consequences in the short run and risk damaging their body in the long run.
I follow a diet of choice. I don't eat beef or pork and will generally choose a vegetarian option for a meal unless someone waves a plate of Salmon under my nose. But my diet is choice, not a requirement.
And then there are my food prejudices, things like beets and sauerkraut, nasty stuff meant to be fed to cattle and hogs.
So, how much should a chef have to flex his vision to satisfy those choices?
I admit it's both stressful and joyful to cook for my Dad. On one hand I must choose my menu carefully, because many of the dishes I love contain the oil that could kill him. However, everything else he will happily eat, nothing picky about that man at all, bless him.
It's aggravating and annoying to cook for those with too many food prejudices and for those who have chosen overly restrictive diets. It takes all the fun out of it and in the end I feel like saying, "F#$k it, let's go get a pizza."
For me it's fairly easy to find food I prefer to eat and I've learned that sometimes it's worth throwing my food choices and prejudices to the wind. It's called the "Suck it up and enjoy it!" diet. If someone wants to cook for me I'll eat it and probably enjoy it. If a great Chef decides that his tasting menu includes beef, pork, beets and sauerkraut I will damn well eat it and probably love it. And if I don't I certainly won't say anything, just pour some more wine and think of England.
So if you've got a restriction let me know. If you've got a diet of choice tell me and I'll see what I can accommodate. If you've got food prejudices either leave them at home or bring your own, because I don't really give a damn, thank you very much.