The Picky Eaters Party
Eighteen guests, eight diets.
One cook tries to please them all
By Monica Bhide
I LIKE TO THROW dinner parties,
and I pride myself on creating
memorable meals. But a few weeks
before a recent get-together, I was in
a quandary: several friends and family
members were banning certain foods
from their diets. My husband was on
a strict Atkins regimen, two friends
were detoxing (in their cases, eating
only raw foods), another decided to
go vegan, my neighbor swore off wine,
my best friend resolved not to eat
anything man-made (meaning nothing out of a box), her husband was off
sugar (real and fake), another friend
was on a strict seafood diet, and her
daughter was juicing. And then there
were some new friends whose kids
thought grilled cheese was too exotic.
A weaker soul would have been discouraged, but I took it as a challenge. I
could do this. I write cookbooks, damn
it. So what if the Jack Sprat nursery
rhyme was coming to life in my house.
(Remember? “Jack Sprat could eat no
fat, his wife could eat no lean.”)
For starters, I prepared a honey
and cheese tasting (the Atkins folks
ate the cheese and left the honey; the
kids ate the honey and left the cheese),
sweet tamarind shrimp on a stick (for
the seafood and protein lovers), spicy
cheese palmiers (for the all-natural
folks), curried egg salad on spinach
(for my sugar-free pal), and fresh fruit
TAMARIND-GLAZED HONEY SHRIMP
2 tablespoons fresh
2 tablespoons prepared
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons grated
1 teaspoon red chili
1 teaspoon coriander
§ teaspoon salt
2 pounds shrimp,
peeled and deveined
1. In a large bowl,
combine the lemon
juice, chutney, honey,
ginger, chili flakes (if
using), coriander, and
salt. Mix well. Add the
shrimp and toss well
to coat. Cover and
refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. About 10 minutes
before serving time,
heat the vegetable oil
in a large skillet over
Just before the oil
starts smoking, add
the shrimp and mari-
nade to the pan.
platters (for the detoxers and vegans).
For the kids, I made pigs in blankets,
grilled chicken with a sweet peanut
dip, and Jell-O jigglers. For grab-and-go sides, I made an Indian-style trail
mix and my all-time favorite—popcorn
tossed with fresh herbs and served in
paper cones. And for dessert: mini-cupcakes, piled into a tower. Finally,
I served Shirley Temples, Indian-style
cold coffee, and lots of choices of
flavored and unflavored waters.
I was pleased, very pleased.
The party began. The adults oohed
and aahed over the unusual honey and
cheese pairings and the cold coffee.
The kids loved the popcorn.
Just as I was patting myself on the
back, a friend, the only one not on a
diet, came up to me and said, “This is
very cute, but where’s the food?”
Next time, I’m ordering pizza. ;
TINA RUPP; FOOD STYLIST: TONI BROGAN; PROP STYLIST: DAVID YARRITU
Monica Bhide’s newest cookbook is
Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors
for the Contemporary Kitchen (Simon
& Schuster, 2009).