So it’s true. I’m getting hitched this fall to a wonderful guy who not only doesn’t mind that I often smell like onions and garlic, but is equally enthusiastic about exploring the possibilities of low sodium cooking.
I’m not a typical bride and I definitely did not grow up dreaming of the details of this very special day. But I will admit, there are two things that I have always said are an important part of making my nuptials ideal: (1) I do not want to wear shoes and (2) I want the reception to be filled with lots of laughter and food.
In a lot of ways, attending a wedding is the ultimate test of low sodium living. You are eating on someone else’s bill and you most definitely do not want to add any more details to an already frenzied day. As such, I never expect the bride and groom to prepare a special meal for me and I often pack a low sodium snack in my clutch instead.
But over the past few years I have been astounded by the generosity and care with which my friends have treated my dietary needs. And it turns out, that with enough notice, these busy caterers can set aside meat and vegetables (much like at a restaurant) and create a dish that is really special and low in sodium. Memorable meals have included a summer tomato soup (with freshly-made, no sodium broth), herb grilled rack of lamb, and countless garden salads with salt free lemon vinaigrette.
In planning my own wedding, I realize now that I am far from the only one with special dietary needs. Remember when the choices were as simple as chicken, fish, or vegetarian? Well now, whether by choice (vegan, raw, macrobiotic) or for health (gluten-intolerence, diary and nut allergies, low sugar and low salt), there are a whole host of dietary preferences and restrictions to take into account. And as a host, with a long list of my own needs, I am determined to be accommodating. But even with the best intentions, the question, then, is how do you prepare an extraordinary, memorable meal that everyone can enjoy without breaking your budget or making your caterers crazy.
The trick: work closely with the people who are preparing your food. Explain all the things you want and need early on, and together, come up with a flexible menu that can be altered accordingly. Also, practice, practice, practice. If the caterers are game, have a few trials, not just one tasting. The more they work and experiment within your boundaries, the more confident and creative they will become. Remember, it took me 6 years to learn how to infuse low sodium food with flavor, so you can’t expect these guys to master it in six months. Although, they totally did.
Last week, we did our first mini tasting and the chefs came out of the gates swinging. There was no sodium dim sum, roasted squash ravioli, herb crusted lamb, pepper empanadas, spicy chicken tamales, curried vegetables, and of course, mustard sauce, guacamole, and chili dressing to match. Within this feast, many of the dishes were also crafted to be vegetarian and gluten-free. It was amazing that, even with all these dietary restrictions, they were able to come up with so many flavorful options.
I am thrilled to know my dream wedding (and more importantly, that dream menu) will come true and that everyone, from the wheat-less to the meat-less, will be able to enjoy it with me. Happy weekend. Chow on.