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StudentChefEclipse

Food Allergy Guidance

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I actually have a related question about oils. I know I have a peanut allergy, so I avoid all things that have peanuts listed in the ingredients, but should or does this include peanut oil? I avoid it out of habit but I would love to have some Chinese food right now...

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Is that a joke or are you serious? Andiesenji's explanation might be true for corn oil, but why risk it if you know for a fact that you're allergic to peanuts?? Nut allergies are some of the most serious reactions to risk. Someone with a peanut allergy can be kissed on the lips by someone that ate a peanut butter sandwich and have to call for the paramedics. I know for a fact that I'm allergic to bee stings and jellyfish bites. All naturally occuring venoms/insect bites are a problem for me. Even mosquito/spider bites swell up into huge welts and bleed on me. So I don't risk taking bee pollen supplements or eating jellyfish at the Asian restaurants. It might be OK if I did, but why tempt fate?? I can't imagine eating food that I know for a fact has been fried in peanut oil if I knew I was allergic to peanuts. I can live a long happy life not eating jellyfish...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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About the peanut allergy it appears that most people do not react to commercially produced peanut oil, but, that said, I wouldn't try it without an epipen and the hospital on speed dial.

I'd like to know how this adventure ends. Does she get served? Does she get turned away? Does she get sick? Please keep us updated.

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Katie is correct. Peanut oil is processed differently from corn oil (and other vegetable oils) and there is a possibility that some of the protein factors that cause the allergy remain in the oil.

Be safe rather than sorry and don't use any peanut product.

On a happier note, there has been some great progress in treating peanut allergies, particularly in children, whose immune systems are still in transition, thus reducing their level of allergic reaction. This is still experimental and has to be done under strict medical supervision but it has great promise.

http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Breakthrough-offers-peanut-allergy-hope

I've mentioned before that I have a rather severe allergy to alcohol. Specifically some of the volatile esthers of ethanol. I can use a certain amount in cooking and baking because the factors that cause my reactions are converted after a time.

I don't taste these dishes until they have been cooked sufficiently.

Some things are not modified with cooking. I have a "seafood" allergy - specifically, I am allergic to iodine. (Did not have my first major reaction from eating but during a medical procedure.) Some fish and shellfish concentrate iodine more than others.

I have NO problems with fresh water fish.

With experience, I have learned to live with these allergies (and a few others that cause minor symptoms) and can happily eat out or at the home of friends with no problems.

The control is in my hands and I never ask anyone to alter their way of living to accommodate me.

In my opinion, as voiced earlier, anyone who is so demanding, is not going to be a happy customer, no matter how much you try.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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So, this thread begs the question if you had such a lengthy list of foods that you needed to stay away from for allergy, sensitivity or other reasons, would you expect to be accommodated?

I wouldn't dream of sending such a list to a chef and expecting him or her to cook a restaurant meal for me. If I had that many restrictions I would not dine out. First of all, I would be embarrassed to ask some one to accommodate me and my cajillion issues and secondly I would not want to take the chance of being exposed to something that could cause a reaction.

Most of us have some requests, sometimes, when we dine out. I loathe salads swimming in dressing so I usually ask for the salad to be lightly dressed or for the dressing on the side. There are things that I prefer not to eat so I don't order them or stay away from places that cook with them.

A laundry list like that? I don't get it.

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I would want to ask her what she CAN eat and likes, and go from there.

You are getting paid a bunch to do this, right?!

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You are getting paid a bunch to do this, right?!

Unless I read the opening post incorrectly, this is a regular patron at a regular seating at a restaurant, not a catering job whose price could be set accordingly for "hazard pay". Just not worth the time/effort/trouble, etc. Especially since there's clearly no pleasing her. This one is toxic. Step away...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I can see how this happens...tests can identify numerous foods which you may never have noticed any problems with, and then when related items are added in, you quickly have a loooong list of "no-go" foods...without ever having thrown the kind of allergic reaction that puts people in hospital.

All tests are not equally valid predictors of food allergy, and you can also end up equating a sensitivity with a full-blown allergy, and then if you include every item that provoked even a slight reaction, your list will be very long indeed. Of course some people do like the fuss that goes with special treatment...

I got quite a long list myself when chasing up a recurring rash on arms and legs - but luckily the allergist told me which foods had significant reactions, and which were just "also-rans". So I never felt that I "couldn't" eat a food just because I had a positive reaction in an allergy test.

Through subsequent experience, I've learned to avoid unfermented soy and take care not to eat a couple of other things regularly or on an empty stomach, but I could easily have believed that I needed to avoid soy and most beans, rice, all citrus fruits, most nuts, avocado, cinnamon, bay leaf...blah blah. I've got it figured out, but I still get caught...thought that a small amount of soy milk was fine, as it's often heavily processed, but a tiny amount recently gave me a rash, probably because it was hand-made and quite fresh. But nobody forced me to eat it, so I've only myself to blame!

What I'm sure everybody hates, and I experience far too often, is turning my kitchen upside down for an "allergic" guest or spending a big chunk of time providing allergy information on Japan in English for people who then blithely eat whatever they want "because it's no big deal, really", after giving me the whole nine yards on what they absolutely MUST avoid, on pain of death or disfigurement...I don't mind the work, but I do object to pointless hard work.

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What I'm sure everybody hates, and I experience far too often, is turning my kitchen upside down for an "allergic" guest or spending a big chunk of time providing allergy information on Japan in English for people who then blithely eat whatever they want "because it's no big deal, really", after giving me the whole nine yards on what they absolutely MUST avoid, on pain of death or disfigurement...I don't mind the work, but I do object to pointless hard work.

Word. And exactly what I've been saying all along.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Sooo . . . she was set to come in Sunday for lunch. We would start with a vegetable soup and long grain brown rice with roasted vegetables (no butter) with a little crumbled goat cheese was the dish du jour. I thank everyone for their suggestions. But . . . 14 inches of snow and we had to cancel service! She is a really sweet lady (I am a total sucker for kind, elderly people) so I admit I went out on a limb that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. (She is not a "great" customer least one thinks VIP treatment in that she only comes for lunch occasionally and always drinks water but she is truly kind (her grandson wrote all over one of of chairs and she actually offered to buy us a new chair and even called to follow up)). Knowing that she didn't previously have these allergies made me less nervous than the "tree nut allergy" person I had a few weeks ago. That directive was "no tree nut products or I will die instantly". I did ascertain that she (no tree nut gal) traveled via epi-pen. Never a dull day at the office!

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You're a saint and your guests are blessed that you're so accommodating. I'd still be deeply afeared that there'd be no pleasing her and there'd be some sort of issue somewhere along the way. You're far more tolerant than I am, that's for certain.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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ElaineK:

You sound like a person that understands the difference between an "allergy" and "reacting badly", as well as someone that understood the limitations that placed upon you.

I do. I'm the kind of person who says to my doctor "I am intolerant to sulfa drugs" not "I'm allergic to sulfa drugs" because my reaction isn't technically an allergy. Every doctor codes it as an allergy, though.

And when I go out, frequently it's much safer and less hassle to say "I'm allergic to wheat/rye/barley/oats" than it is to say "I'm gluten intolerant". Most chefs/waitstaff don't know what gluten is, and they see "intolerance" as less serious than allergy. What I have is less serious than an anaphalactic allergy, but not less serious than a mild allergy. I'll be ill for days, and there's no relief from acute symptoms. But some people who are gluten intolerant have very few or no symptoms, even if they eat quite a bit of it.

Several months ago, I arranged for a gluten free/potato free menu for a special occasion meal. It was a very nice restaurant, and they deal with gluten free a lot so I had choices for every course. The meal was absolutely lovely and indulgent. We got to the dessert course and our waiter said "Now, if you want to order a dessert off the regular menu, no one here is going to judge you." And I just looked at him like he had two heads. Why on earth would I go to this trouble - make the kitchen go to all this trouble, just to ruin it over pastry instead of creme brulee? They even had a lovely-looking flourless chocolate cake, so really, why bother?

It took me awhile to get to that point, though. For the first several years I struggled with "I'm already sick because I ate something that I didn't know had gluten in it. I may as well have a piece of pie!" or "Gosh, that looks -really- good, maybe it would be worth it..." Learning to live with allergies or intolerances as an adult takes some time, and I think you tend to develop some odd adaptations or maladaptations along the way.

However, in line with the "It's a lot of work" understanding - what's the best way to express our appreciation as diners? Waitstaff tends to get a generous tip, since there's obviously more work involved for them. But most of the effort is on the kitchen's part, and attempting to tip the chef seems... gauche.


Edited by ElaineK (log)

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However, in line with the "It's a lot of work" understanding - what's the best way to express our appreciation as diners? Waitstaff tends to get a generous tip, since there's obviously more work involved for them. But most of the effort is on the kitchen's part, and attempting to tip the chef seems... gauche.

I've taken the approach of buying a round for the kitchen and it's worked out well. It's usually met with surprise and always gratitude, and sometimes even the thought seems to be enough (I do wish in those cases that I could have just turned it into a cash tip).

usually I'll just tell my server that I'd like to buy the cooks a round, they'll usually ask what I'm buying and I'll deflect the question to the recipients...so it's all figured out and on the bill before I pay (or I open a separate cheque if I'm dining with others).


Edited by Endy' (log)

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I agree that this woman is ridiculous (or at least her list is).

This is an interesting subject to me, however. I am very allergic to pine nuts (not anaphalyctic level, but one step removed; if I eat them I will have severe swelling anywhere they touched, including my throat as well as general swelling of the face and eyes). It is amazing to me the number of times I have been served pine nuts after specifically asking or mentioning my allergy. Pesto is the most common agitator - almost as if people forget that it contains pine nuts.

Some places do an amazing job (El Bulli removed all pine nuts from the menu for everyone the night I dined there, despite the pine nut shabu shabu being on the menu at the time), but I have been stunned by how many don't. I even ate a michelin starred restaurant in Mallorca where I told them I was allergic to pine nuts, they brought an amuse with pesto, we asked specifically about the pesto, they apologized and took it back and brought a new one without pesto, and I am convinced it was just wiped off (based on a subsequent mild reaction including visible swelling of the lips).

I'd be interested to hear stories from people who work in kitchens about how allergies are handled (the good and the bad).

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My food "issue" is minor compared to most: eating plants in the red (as opposed to black) pepper family gives me horrible diarrhea. Chili, cayenne, paprika, which are of course ingredients in curry powders, bbq sauces, etc. It is surprising where you will find cayenne - I was once fooled by a piece of chocolate cake. Delicious!

I love this stuff, but it has gotten to the point where even small amounts will leave me spending the night in the bathroom, and quite exhausted the next day. My lips peel. The stomach ache can last for days.

This means I have to be careful in restaurants, particularly because I spend part of the year in Santa Fe. But it isn't just Southwest/Mexican. Also Asian, and because most red sauces have some cayenne/paprika, Italian can be a problem too. I try to order something that will be obviously ok, but when in doubt I ask - sometimes a plate of food will be totally fine as long as they don't sprinkle red pepper flakes on as garnish, etc.

Nonetheless, I often find myself being handed a plate covered with chili. Discussing it with the waitstaff beforehand is really hit or miss, and seems to depend more on the restaurant than the server.

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I was hoping that people who work in restaurants would comment on my post above. Do you get instruction from the owner/chef/boss on how to deal with people who say they have food allergies/intolerances? Or does everyone (server/cook) just invent their own policy?

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In a best case scenario, common sense will prevail. One has to assume that someone with a severe shellfish allergy wouldn't ever even set foot in my place of employ, an oyster bar. If someone orders a Bloody Mary at the bar I always explain that the house Bloody, a Bloody Caesar (which they'd have ordered by name if they'd bothered reading the menu) contains clam juice as the "salt" in the mix, just in case there might be allergen issues. If they don't want/can't have that, the opportunity has now presented itself to ask for a plain vodka + tomato juice or ask me to make a non-clammy Bloody on the fly with tomato juice, Tabasco, horseradish and some lemon juice. I'd much rather you ask me to make you something that might require a bit of effort on my part than have to reassure my other patrons it was a severe allergic reaction and that I didn't poison you as the paramedics carry you out on the gurney. :rolleyes:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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So . . . 8 emails and four phone calls later our allergy lady finally made it in today. We prepared salad and a crispy long grain brown rice and roasted vegetable dish with crumbled goat cheese for her. First, she proceeded to eat a fair amount of her companion's "Duo of Soup." It is a parsnip/turnip and carrot/ginger with a root vegetable frizzle - it has dairy, gluten, and ginger (all allegedly forbidden). Then she wanted the goat cheese as a separate course (easy enough but odd for sure and kinda messed up any chance the rice dish would have flavor). The tip for our server after all this special treatment - 12%. No good deed . . .

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Meh. She's probably a bad tipper anyway, since none of that was really their doing. The props should rightfully have gone to the kitchen.

So what have we learned from this experience? If you hear hoofbeats there are probably horses coming. If it sounds like bullshit... :rolleyes:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Wow. I think I'd just tell that customer to go pound sand should a repeat visit be on the agenda.


Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I am a physician and I thought only doctors had to deal with this degree of insanity. I love the patients who are "allergic" to a list of meds so long that it scrolls down onto the floor with inclusions on the list such as "adrenalin" making them allergic to their own body, and the "mycins" which is actually not a classification of medications at all. Most people do not have real allergies to a list of 10 or more substances.

Of course true food allergies can be very serious and life-threatening. For example, a friend of mine's daughter has severe peanut allergy. She picked up a bagel and cream cheese for her daughter at a local bagel place and she almost died eating it. The bagel place put all of their spreaders into the same bucket of water after using them and wiped them clean, so the peanut butter was in with the cream cheese spreaders. This is something I would have never even considered, and I am so glad I wasnt the one who bought her that bagel.

The final resolution of the O.P.'s story reminds me so much of my mothers ex-husband who used to make a huge deal over his "vegetarianism" for the purpose trying to make people go out of their way for him and his needs. He would make special orders at catered parties or at people's houses for dinner and then proceed to eat the prime rib along with his special vegetarian meal.

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The final resolution of the O.P.'s story reminds me so much of my mothers ex-husband who used to make a huge deal over his "vegetarianism" for the purpose trying to make people go out of their way for him and his needs. He would make special orders at catered parties or at people's houses for dinner and then proceed to eat the prime rib along with his special vegetarian meal.

And that would be the last time that asshole would be invited to dinner at my home/party/event. What a self-absorbed jerk. Making people go to trouble for him just to watch them jump through the hoops. I would absolutely take pleasure in dressing him down in front of the rest of the guests and make a point of humiliating him so that no one else would ever have to be at the receiving end of his sense of entitlement.

On that note, I might well have said something to the lady at the restaurant when she started eating her friend's soup with all the "forbidden allergens" in it. Like knock the spoon out of her hand and make like I was saving her life. When she then says it's no big deal, I'd point out that it's a very big deal to all the places that try to accomodate her ficticious allergies and hope that she doesn't do it again to some other poor business owner.

So exhausted by people like this... :angry:


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I agree Katie. I would have liked to have drop kicked him right out my door. I did my best tolerating the jerk until my mother finally saw the light and divorced him. My point in bringing him up is that I think the motivation for many people who are allergic to multiple meds at the doctor or multiple foods at restaurants or peoples homes is that many are consciously or subconsciously looking for attention.

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So true. And I don't have a problem with attention seeking behaviors (wearing bright obnoxious clothing, strange hairstyles, etc.) that don't make honest hard working business people or friends/hosts go to ridiculous lengths to try and be accomodating to folks that don't really need the accomodation. Whatever it is that those people do for a living, I'm certain they'd be furious if someone wasted their time and resources for something as frivolous. Unfortunately, the problem with those with an over-inflated sense of entitlement is that they can't possible see past the end of their own noses and put the shoe on the other foot.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I am a physician and I thought only doctors had to deal with this degree of insanity. For example, a friend of mine's daughter has severe peanut allergy. She picked up a bagel and cream cheese for her daughter at a local bagel place and she almost died eating it. The bagel place put all of their spreaders into the same bucket of water after using them and wiped them clean, so the peanut butter was in with the cream cheese spreaders. This is something I would have never even considered, and I am so glad I wasnt the one who bought her that bagel.

I've always wondered why those with life threatening allergies put themselves at risk trusting those earning a couple of dollars an hour. Surely it is easier and safer to make things yourself?

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