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Unexpected (and unplanned for) 'guest' brought along to dinner -awkward situation - what do you do and how do you cope?

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Unexpected (and unplanned for) 'guest' brought along to dinner -awkward situation - what do you do and how do you cope?

cavemanu | Dec 3, 2012 04:49 AM

OH & I invited a neighbour around for dinner. Neighbour lives alone now her son has moved out to live with his girfriend and says that she doesn't much like cooking for herself. She has eaten with us several times, and we have also eaten takeout at her place over the years.

I had told her about a new recipe I wanted to try out - Rhone Valley beef (steak, anchovy, onion, parsley lots of red wine - my favourite food groups!), she loves french food, she used to live there, said that it sounded great and was really looking forward to trying it.

Two days before, I checked she was still OK to come along, mentioning I had to place an order for the 3 steaks with the local butcher, yes, she was looking forward to it.

Really enjoyed making that dish, it was going well, slowly cooked in a cast iron casserole dish, smelt delicious! I also made dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and garlic mushrooms as a side.

On the evening itself, she turns up.....with a bottle of wine and... her son's girlfriend!
Ahem...I wasn't expecting someone who I hadn't invited...

I'm normally pretty flexible and accommodating, but I've got 3 steaks and now 4 people.
OK, maybe I can cut up the steaks (not great on a presentational level) or I can forego mine for the additional 'guest'.

My neighbour then asks what we are having for dinner, which I found very strange given that we had discussed this specific dish in detail when I had invited her for dinner and reconfirmed, that it was Rhone Valley beef.

"but she gasps... Kath's a vegetarian!" (this I didn't know I didn't know! - I had only met Kath once before in passing and had no idea of her dietary preferences)

I didn't want to make Kath feel uncomfortable by raising the point about not knowing she was turning up as an unplanned guest in front of her as she clearly had no idea what was going on. It felt like a french farce!

In the end, Kath ended up eating dauphinoise potato and the vegetarian side dishes, supplemented with a french cheese plate and a lot of bread. I was mortified, I cook great vegetarian and vegan dishes but didn't have the heads up on this one.

I would say that normally my neighbour is pleasant company, fine and reasonable so this was totally unexpected behaviour coming from her. So I called her about it after later on that week, she states that she had mentioned to me she was bringing Kath along, we never spoke or got a call or text about that, plus why would we knowingly cook a specific meaty meal if a vegetarian was invited? My OH was really annoyed as he had heard me firming up the arrangements with her.

Have other Chowhounders had tricky situations similar to this, and if so, how did you deal with it?

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