In 2012, a Venn diagram appeared on the blog The Kitchn detailing the characteristics of what it called the “worst dinner guest ever.” This maligned guest is not only vegan but also gluten and lactose intolerant and allergic to nuts and eggs. While a few commenters agreed with the implication that dietary constraints indicate a failure of appropriate guest behavior, most echoed what Lisa Heldke and Raymond Boisvert (2016) suggest is the dominant American view: hosts are generally obliged to accommodate the dietary restrictions of their guests. For Heldke and Boisvert, this is most obviously true when guests have food allergies and serious harm can be easily avoided by a change in menu. In this essay I argue that epistemic barriers can obscure hosts’ perception of these ostensibly obvious cases, preventing them from fulfilling their obligations. Specifically, I argue that guests with food allergies and other “gut issues” can be subject to testimonial injustice that undermines their credibility, leading hosts to doubt or disbelieve their need for accommodation. Such guests may also be subject to testimonial smothering, discouraging them from disclosing their dietary restrictions in the first place. I argue that these forms of epistemic injustice raise multiple moral concerns and that hosts have a responsibility to practice epistemic humility regarding guests’ reports of gut issues. Overall, this paper aims to enable hosts and guests with gut issues alike to recognize and overcome epistemic obstacles to good hospitality—the importance of which extends far beyond the dinner table.
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Research Article| August 01 2022
The “Worst Dinner Guest Ever”: On “Gut Issues” and Epistemic Injustice at the Dinner Table
Gastronomica (2022) 22 (3): 59–71.
Megan A. Dean; The “Worst Dinner Guest Ever”: On “Gut Issues” and Epistemic Injustice at the Dinner Table. Gastronomica 1 August 2022; 22 (3): 59–71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2022.22.3.59
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