How to be a good host and a good guest Even The “Worst Dinner Guest Ever” deserves respect

Warning tape that reads "Caution: Allergens" in front of a selection of foods that might be allergens

Head shots of Megan Dean and Matthew Smith
Megan Dean (left) and Matthew Smith (right)

Venn diagram showing the intersection of gluten intolerant, allergic to nuts, lactose intolerant, allergic to eggs and vegan as the worst dinner guest ever.World Philosophy Day happens later this week, which makes it a good time to be asking what constitutes good behaviour in a host and, equally, in a guest. I’m prompted by a recent article that took the rise in food allergies and intolerances as a starting point to ask how a host should act when faced with a guest whose professed allergies seem a tad suspect. Is it OK to ignore guest requests as snowflake signifiers? What should guests do when faced with intolerable food that they failed to inform their host about? In a perfect world, hosts and guests would accommodate one another’s needs; the world, however, is not perfect.


  1. Megan A. Dean’s article The “Worst Dinner Guest Ever”: On “Gut Issues” and Epistemic Injustice at the Dinner Table appeared in Gastronomica 2022.
  2. The books Megan Dean mentioned were Elizabeth Telfer’s Food for Thought and Karen Stohr’s On Manners.
  3. Matthew Smith has an article in the same volume and has written about the rise in food allergies.
  4. There is, of course, a countervailing view to all this mutual respect of hosts and guests, the idea of dinner party as revenge. For an entertaining take on that, I recommend you start with Jesse Browner’s Shark Bait, also in Gastronomica.
  5. Here is the transcript.

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