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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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For family holiday, skip the works

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are hosting a holiday dinner for my side of the family. They are very picky eaters while my husband and I are certainly more adventurous. We hosted them two years ago, the very first time as adults we were able to host a big family dinner, and I literally had to scrap one of the side dishes an hour before dinner because I was informed that no one would eat it.

This year I thought I was doing a good job of simplifying the menu, but my husband still says I’m going over the top to prepare dishes for people who won’t enjoy them. While I understand that to an extent, I also want to enjoy my own holiday and having fun with new dishes is part of what I enjoy.

Since I’m hosting and doing most of the work, don’t I get to be a bit selfish in the foods I make? – NY, NY

I’ll have to take your word for it that it’s fun to cook rejected food – not my idea of a vacation. Even then, it doesn’t seem to elate you so much as lather you up even more about your family’s pedestrian tastes.

That’s the philosophical appetizer. The main course: Being a good host means putting your guests at ease. Period. “Hosting” and “great feats of gourmet cooking” go together in only two places: magazines, and gatherings where guests appreciate great feats of gourmet cooking. Your doing most of the work doesn’t entitle you to be hostile to your guests.

There will be 364 other days in the year after this day, and you will spend most of them with someone who shares your love of culinary bungee-jumping. Celebrate that later, and make this celebration about love, family and mashed potatoes.

E-mail Carolyn at, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. each Friday at www.washington
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