Need It Tender

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have problems as a guest. I’m a widower who enjoys eating a home-
cooked meal with friends. I enjoy the companionship as well as the
cooking – if I can eat the cooking. I don&'t ever eat poultry. My friends
and family know that, and are generally willing to plan the menu
around me. When they invite me to dinner, especially for the holidays,
they usually make brisket. This is good, even fine, when they know
how to cook it. But many make it so tough that I cannot chew it, even
with my dentures. So there’s the problem of not being able to swallow,
and not wanting to spit it out. What can I say to my eager hostesses,
because I think they really do want to invite me?

Need It Tender

Dear Need It Tender:

The best time to communicate is when you get the invitation. Talk to
each hostess as you are called. Assume, btw, that they may speak
with one another. But that’s okay because you’re going to be giving
the same message to each of them. In those convos, your goal is to
communicate appreciation for their hospitality and for their continued
sensitivity to your food needs.

Explain that, as you are aging you have, in addition to food
sensitivities like chicken, increasing problems with chewing. You can
say that even your dentist despairs about getting you comfortable. Say
how much you enjoy dining with them and hope this new information
won’t make them less interested in sharing food and companionship
with you. Say you have experimented with brisket recipes and have
found one that always turns out tender as a baby’s bottom (not that
you’d eat a baby!). (Note: I can send you a friend’s mother’s recipe if
you want, that I have to admit is more fall-apart delicious even than
my own mother’s.) Offer to share the recipe with them, and then say
gently, Please when I come, just give me a tiny taste of the meat. If I
cannot chew it, I don’t want to embarrass either of us. At worst, you’ll
have all the fun parts of being social, and a lot of vegetarian meals
made of a collection of side dishes and dessert.