Q: We entertain a great deal, and I usually don’t now if our guests are vegetarians or have food allergies-until they’re sitting at my dining room table and not touching the main course. Should I be asking everyone ahead of time about dietary restrictions?
A: If you’re having a few people over for a dinner party or a weekend stay, it’s a good idea to check, especially if you’re planning to serve a dish some people can’t handle. You could say, “We’re thinking about having shellfish, and I wondering if you’re able to eat shrimp or clams.” Another approach: “I haven’t bought groceries yet for the weekend-any preferences?” When you’re planning a larger party, you needn’t ask each guest about food restrictions, but to be on the safe side, make sure you include some “neutral” dishes such as a vegetable platter, pasta with meatless sauce, fresh fruit for dessert. That way, everybody will find something he or she enjoys.