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Food Allergies/Food Phobias


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I think for safety's sake you have to take people at their word when they say they are allergic. I have a son who is allergic to scallops (just scallops, not any other shellfish). He gets violently ill if a food has even been in contact with scallops. He's eight and knows he's allergic and is good about not ordering food or partaking of dishes with scallops. My older son has a sensitivity to whatever is in liquid smoke that causes his tongue to numb up- odd to say the least. Food allergies are definitely real and, in some cases, can be fatal.

That said, I do think people say they are allergic to some foods when they just don't care for them. Maybe it bothers their systems- whatever, it isn't my business. I think it is worthwhile to offer them a small taste of the offending food (on a seperate dish in case they are like my son) and they can try it if they like. But also, I think the act of serving a person a meal should be a gracious one. If a person dislikes something and isn't willing to try it then it is their problem and not the hosts. I see my duty as the host to provide a pleasant experience for everyone and I think to try to trick someone into eating something they don't think they will like is not very hospitable.

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I try to re-taste things I don't like every now and again (this list includes many cheeses, for what it's worth), just to see if things have changed.  After all, growing up I disliked artichokes, asparagus, all cheeses, onions...the list goes on and on.

Sometimes it is more of a texture thing rather than a taste issue. I never liked asparagus as a child - but then we only had that awful stuff out of a can. The flavor was ok, but I couldn't stand the texture. I won't re-try canned asparagus - ever! The first time I had crisp-cooked asparagus - I was hooked - and will have fresh asparagus in just about anything now.

As someone who cooks for others as a private chef, I find people do use the allergy bit when they really just don't care for something. I find that people who don't like or care for some food item get questioned (and needled) for their dis-like more than those who have a genuine allergy and cannot consume without serious health side-effects. I have one person I cook for who will only eat 'natural' sugars. So...isn't sugar a natural substance? He won't eat CANE sugar - only honey - because it's 'natural'. I asked him about beet sugar - and nope, he won't eat that either - not natural. To be honest, now when he says he is allergic, I ask questions about the physical reaction or health-related problem he experiences when he consumes said product - saying I want to be aware in case he suddenly experiences symptoms in front of me...he gets all tied up in his lies and isn't too imaginative in making up his reactions sometimes.

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But also, I think the act of serving a person a meal should be a gracious one.  If a person dislikes something and isn't willing to try it then it is their problem and not the hosts.  I see my duty as the host to provide a pleasant experience for everyone and I think to try to trick someone into eating something they don't think they will like is not very hospitable.

I completely agree with this. I don't understand the downright fiery lengths some people will go to to get people to eat foods they claim not to like. If someone has tried something and didn't like it, that's it - they tried, end of story. I never force my food on someone else, and I don't like it when it's done back. If my friend who dislikes beef is coming for dinner, I'm not going to make it just to spite her. Why would I? I'm her hostess, and I want her to feel welcome.

I get frustrated by people who won't try things, but, beyond that, it's a matter of personal preference. Maybe this is left over from a childhood of enduring pizza at every party - I HATED pizza, and it's all there was to eat, and people acted like I was crazy for not liking it. Drove me bonkers, and still does.

My friend Cristin has a great saying - "don't yuck someone else's yum." I also think the reverse is true - don't spend energy yumming someone else's yuck. You're not going to convert someone to loving organ meat by taunting them about it or shoving it in their face. :laugh:

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Oh, this is a hot one for me. Before meeting fiance, my 10 year old daughter would eat any vegetable I put in front of her and loved them all, with the exception of acorn squash.

Now, enter fiance who claims he hates all vegetables, except for corn, taters and most types of lettuce. I ask him why. He states that they were forced down his throat growing up; which lends me to believe they were prepared very badly by his mother (read boiled to mush). I have gotten him to try a few, although he would not even TOUCH the roasted cauliflower (get this, he'll eat it raw though). Anyway, now daughter claims she does not like some of the vegetables now. This is getting very frustrating and I refuse to cook two separate meals. I have dropped subtle hints along the lines of "When I was growing up, if you didn't like what was made for dinner and weren't willing to try it, you went hungry".

Oh, he also says he's allergic to raw tomatos, but will chow on my salsa, which involves no cooking at all!!

Someday the power of human stupidity will be harnessed and the energy crisis will be over.
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Great post, and so true in so many ways.

I am allergic to hazelnuts. No other nuts, just these. And I mean deathly allergic (throat swells up immediately etc.). I tell people. I never eat a storebought dessert (cake/pastry etc.) that could have come into contact with hazelnuts. My problem and I take care of it. I have a girlfriend who is "allergic" to cooked peppers, not raw just cooked. Some allergy, falls right into the "I don't like it" catagory. I served roasted red pepper dip at the last gathering I hosted that she attended. She ate it. Still says she's allergic to cooked peppers and patiently explained to me that I roasted the peppers so it was ok. :shock::wacko:

As for making things with ingredients people don't like, if it's my SO, all the time, and he's learned to like a number of things that way. My brother? Yep! of course, if you can't tease your brother, then who can you? Anyone outside the family, I base it on the person and always have it be one of a number of dishes so it is not evident if they don't like it.

While many people do have very valid, often life threatening allergies, I find a number of people have used the allergy as an excuse as well. Especially in restarants.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I try to re-taste things I don't like every now and again (this list includes many cheeses, for what it's worth), just to see if things have changed.  After all, growing up I disliked artichokes, asparagus, all cheeses, onions...the list goes on and on.

Sometimes it is more of a texture thing rather than a taste issue. I never liked asparagus as a child - but then we only had that awful stuff out of a can. The flavor was ok, but I couldn't stand the texture. I won't re-try canned asparagus - ever! The first time I had crisp-cooked asparagus - I was hooked - and will have fresh asparagus in just about anything now.

Definitely - there are all sorts of reasons for liking things now I didn't like then. I grew up in a house where artichokes were steamed and served with lemon butter, and where asaparagus were served crisp and with a lovely vinaigrette. I didn't like them then, but I love them now. So, for me, a lot of it has just been maturing taste buds. Avocado is another example of this - I hated it as a child, but really enjoy it now.

That said, for a kid, I was an adventurous eater. My mom made me try everything once, and it helped me find things I really loved. But she never forced me to eat things I didn't like, as long as I'd given them a real shot.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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To be honest, now when he says he is allergic, I ask questions about the physical reaction or health-related problem he experiences when he consumes said product - saying I want to be aware in case he suddenly experiences symptoms in front of me...he gets all tied up in his lies and isn't too imaginative in making up his reactions sometimes.

Thats what really gets me. I'll take it seriously and want to know what to do about these allergies and I think I go through tons of trouble checking lables and ingredients making substitutions to make sure that item isnt there. Then as Im in the middle of this I stop and think, man this a lot of attention for this one person, I wonder if this was the goal, to get the extra attention.

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Great post, and so true in so many ways.

As for making things with ingredients people don't like, if it's my SO, all the time, and he's learned to like a number of things that way.  My brother?  Yep!  of course, if you can't tease your brother, then who can you?  Anyone outside the family, I base it on the person and always have it be one of a number of dishes so it is not evident if they don't like it.

My biggest coup, and it was unintentional. But A while back I had a vegetarian among my roomates. So I always made a vegetarian option with dinner, or more sides for them to choose from. One night I made a little casserole nothing fancy with biscuits and ground chuck and the like. 3 am, I hear pots rattling and banging, I goto investigate and there in pajama bottoms and a spoon is the house vegetarian face covered in sauce.

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First, let me say this: I am not allergic to bell peppers, but I am exceedingly sensitve to them raw or cooked if the skin is left on. A 1" by 1" square will still be giving me gas for a good five days or more. So, not wanting to go thru a whole song and dance about my guts; I say I'm allergic to them. They give me a bad reaction, only not one defined as an "allergic" reaction.

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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But also, I think the act of serving a person a meal should be a gracious one.  If a person dislikes something and isn't willing to try it then it is their problem and not the hosts.  I see my duty as the host to provide a pleasant experience for everyone and I think to try to trick someone into eating something they don't think they will like is not very hospitable.

I completely agree with this. I don't understand the downright fiery lengths some people will go to to get people to eat foods they claim not to like. If someone has tried something and didn't like it, that's it - they tried, end of story. I never force my food on someone else, and I don't like it when it's done back. If my friend who dislikes beef is coming for dinner, I'm not going to make it just to spite her. Why would I? I'm her hostess, and I want her to feel welcome.

I wouldnt just go and throw Lamb in it if they dont like it. I probe and find out why they dont like it, Cooked the wrong way, got sick once while eating it, the best one Ive heard is "I ate oatmeal every day I was pregnant and heard this song on the radio every morning and got morning sickness, so if I hear that song or see oatmeal i get sick right there" After i know why they dont like said item that lets me know if i can get away with trying to get them to retry it. You dont like fish why? Because we always had fried catfish. So along with dinner I have a bit of grilled salmon or make some tuna burgers. An outright ambush I agree is wrong, but a calculated attempt to broaden someones taste horizons with the multitude of food available has got to be worth it. I hope... :unsure:

Edited by nocturnalsunshine (log)
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An outright ambush I agree is wrong, but a calculated attempt to broaden someones taste horizons with the multitude of food available has got to be worth it. I hope... :unsure:

I think it really depends on your audience. If your guests want to try new things, that's one thing, but vehement dislikes in food? Some people don't want their taste horizons broadened. I say, who cares? More goat for me! :biggrin:

One of my very dear friends is the most unadventurous eater ever. She thinks fajitas and ritas is Mexican. Shudder. Anyway, she has one dish she orders at any sort of non-American eatery. Indian? Chicken tiki masala. Malaysian? Mango chicken. Mexican? Nachos. If unavailable, chicken quesidilla. And she doesn't eat anything that comes out of the ocean, a steam, a lake or a similar body of water. I gave up about 5 years ago even trying to get her to eat anything else. She humors me and goes out to the places I love to eat, as long as there's something she's familiar with on the menu. She doesn't come over for dinners often. :hmmm:

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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But also, I think the act of serving a person a meal should be a gracious one.  If a person dislikes something and isn't willing to try it then it is their problem and not the hosts.  I see my duty as the host to provide a pleasant experience for everyone and I think to try to trick someone into eating something they don't think they will like is not very hospitable.

I completely agree with this. I don't understand the downright fiery lengths some people will go to to get people to eat foods they claim not to like. If someone has tried something and didn't like it, that's it - they tried, end of story. I never force my food on someone else, and I don't like it when it's done back. If my friend who dislikes beef is coming for dinner, I'm not going to make it just to spite her. Why would I? I'm her hostess, and I want her to feel welcome.

I wouldnt just go and throw Lamb in it if they dont like it. I probe and find out why they dont like it, Cooked the wrong way, got sick once while eating it, the best one Ive heard is "I ate oatmeal every day I was pregnant and heard this song on the radio every morning and got morning sickness, so if I hear that song or see oatmeal i get sick right there" After i know why they dont like said item that lets me know if i can get away with trying to get them to retry it. You dont like fish why? Because we always had fried catfish. So along with dinner I have a bit of grilled salmon or make some tuna burgers. An outright ambush I agree is wrong, but a calculated attempt to broaden someones taste horizons with the multitude of food available has got to be worth it. I hope... :unsure:

Absolutely - I do the same thing. My point is much more directed at people who insist that you should like something, even when you've given the food a fair shake. Drives me bonkers. BONKERS! :wacko::laugh:

Of course, picky eaters drive me bonkers, too. I'm lucky enough not to have many of them amongst my friends and family, so I rarely have to stare these issues in the face.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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First, let me say this: I am not allergic to bell peppers, but I am exceedingly sensitve to them raw or cooked if the skin is left on. A 1" by 1" square will still be giving me gas for a good five days or more. So, not wanting to go thru a whole song and dance about my guts; I say I'm allergic to them. They give me a bad reaction, only not one defined as an "allergic" reaction.

I didn't know my wife was posting under an alias. :blink:

She has exactly the same reaction reaction to bell peppers. We do not express it as an allergy; in large part so that I do not dilute the seriousness of her real allergy (sunflower seeds; get the epi pen NOW! allergy). I tell people that she is allergic to sunflower seeds and that bell peppers "bother" her.

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I am allergic to shrimp. I developed the allergy while working as a line cook (this was before I went into pastry) one summer during patio season I peeled about a gazillion pounds of raw shrimp and started to get hives on my arms up to the elbow whenever I touched them (raw) and the one time I ate them ended in wrenching gut spasms that I haven't quite forgotten even though it was 16 years ago.

Two things.........I did not grow up eating shrimp so I never ever ate them as a child........and I never really did like them, the one time I ate them it was out of unwillingness to offend the extremely nice and very new to Canada hosts of the dinner I was at.

Anyway, my point is that perhaps extreme aversions to food could be because of allergies or potential to develop allergies to that food.

Also, I am fairly sure I wouldn't die from accidentally eating shrimp....but I wouldn't want to find out the hard way!

If only I'd worn looser pants....

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While many people do have very valid, often life threatening allergies, I find a number of people have used the allergy as an excuse as well.  Especially in restarants.

Hey, I resemble that comment. Seriously, though, it is sometimes more socially convenient to tell somebody that you're allergic to something and leave it at that. In my case, a bad case of campylobacter one fateful day in Morocco left me with the inability to digest any significant amount of alcohol. I've landed in the hospital a few times because of it. (A sip of wine and, more importantly, a bit of alcohol in dessert is fine however. Heh heh.)

In most social situations, it is often just easier for me to tell people I'm allergic to alcohol, rather than to go into a long spiel about my clinical history with campylobacter and alcohol. Oh, and I happen to be one of the least pickiest people when it comes to not eating certain foods.

I can also see how it might be more polite and convenient to say you're allergic to something than to refuse something from a host. Although I personally prefer to be honest and blunt in such situations.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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This is definitely a trend in restaurants, one which I cannot begin to fathom.

One the one hand I had a customer who ordered a ribeye steak topped with bleu cheese and almost immediately went into anaphylactic shock after a single bite, nearly dying on the dining room floor.

Turns out he is severely allergic to penicillin and yet he never bothered to consider what foods might contain it (the ‘bleu’ in bleu cheese being Penicillium roqueforti ).

On the other hand I had a customer who demanded a list of ingredients for several items due to her “glucose” intolerance.

“Glucose?” I asked.

“Yeah, you know, wheat and stuff” :blink:

Edited by The Apostate (log)

I'm so awesome I don't even need a sig...Oh wait...SON OF A...

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As far as ambushing goes, I will never try to sneak something in if I KNOW there is a validated allergy/sensitivity issue.

But the picky eater thing is what really tweaks me the wrong way. Food inhibitions don't really get under my skin as long as the person is willing to at least try it. I get rather tired of the statement "I know I won't like it, so why bother trying it?"

I have alway been the one to try anything once, or twice. Take for example, last year when we were in Cancun. The woman part of the couple we were with flat out told me that I eat very weird stuff. Now keep in mind that the fare they serve in the hotel isn't exactly AUTHENTIC Yucatan cuisine. It's very Americanized. Lots of seafood however, which I devoured. Both of them flat out said they will never eat anything that lives in water. I did get picky fiance to try the ceviche, which of course, he didn't like because it tasted like 'fish'. Go figure.... :wacko:

Someday the power of human stupidity will be harnessed and the energy crisis will be over.
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I think the most important issue is the difference between not liking something and being allergic.

I have a violent seafood allergy, I mean a tablespoon of chopped shrimp in an eggroll will keep me sick all night, and I've had to go to the hospital to re-hydrate on an IV. :sad:

So, that said, are you really going to try to sneak some food on someone? Not a good idea.

Just my perspective from living with this problem my entire life.

I don't like liver, but it's not sending me to the ER either.. you know.

---------------------------------------

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In my case, a bad case of campylobacter one fateful day in Morocco left me with the inability to digest any significant amount of alcohol.

Oh my god. My inner WASP cries for you. That must be tough, though I'm glad to hear it doesn't affect your dessert enjoyment!

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Food allergies vs picky eaters. There's a conundrum. You are torn between proving yourself the superior cook and smarter person who can convert an unwilling person to your point of view.

Or you can kill them.

This isn't really much of an option, is it?

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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This wasn't an intentional ambush but I ordered carpaccio as an app at dinner with some colleagues. We had been working a conference together for ~10 days and were pretty familial by then, so things got passed around and I didn't really think much about it. A VERY finicky eater (this woman asked for her scrambled eggs to be well-scrambled or hard-scrambled or the like) who always made excuses if we were going somewhere even vaguely ethnic was there.

She apparently was raving about something she had and asking everyone what it was but I was conversing with someone else and didn't hear her. When our conversation stopped and a third-party said "Judy, what was that stuff you ordered" I answered "carpaccio" and, seeing the blank stares, added "thinly sliced raw beef." I've never seen someone go from loving, adoring, MUST KNOW WHAT THAT IS, "best thing I've ever eaten" to accusing me of attempted murder so quickly. :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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.... I am very curious and when I hear a food allergy that doesn't make sense to me I want to know more. ..... I have heard a large amount of allergies that I either find hard to believe or simply can't fathom. Peas, bananas, Red food dye, liquid smoke, portabella mushrooms - no others just portabella, marshamallow, coconut, and unsweetened peanut butter.

I agree that a lot of people's so -called allergies are imagined, or that they simply have trouble digesting something rather than being allergic to it. But if they tell you they're allergic and you serve it anways, and they go into anaphylactic shock...well.... that's really an inevitable assault charge isn't it? You have to take people at their word about anything that could be life threatening.

Red food dye is a very real, fairly common allergy, as is coconut and peanut butter. I'm not sure what the difference sweetened peanut butter would make to that person you mentioned, tho. :hmmm:

My Dad, for the longest time, thought he was allergic to mussels. He apparently became deathly ill eating them, and for probably a decade wouldn't touch them, only to find he accidentally ate some in a chowder. Nothing happened, and he realised that time he'd just had bad food poisoning.

My brother, on the other hand, is allergic to raw tomatoes. Not deathly allergic, but his beard area swells up, turns red, and the skin goes puckery and is inflamed for days. Cooked tomatoes he's fine with, and he's not imagining it....I've seen it. So even if someone says they're ok to eat something cooked that they can't handle raw, you should probably assume they're telling the truth.

When I ask people about this stuff, I make sure the question isn't too leading. "Are you allergic to anything?" leaves you wide open for every distaste in food to be labelled an allergy. Likewise, "Is there anything you don't like?" will also inevitably result in a long list.

Instead, try going with, "Do you have any religious dietary restrictions of things you can't eat?"..... this opens the door but doesn't ask the question about allergies directly, and anyone who has a real, true allergy will mention that thing right off the bat, vegetarians will mention that they are, etc. It works, really.

But if anybody told me they were allergic to peas I'd kick them out of my house. There's nothing in peas to be allergic to. :laugh:

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Ugh, picky eaters. If they're acquaintances you can just ignore them but if they're close friends or family that you would like to dine with often then I would attempt to convert them or ditch them entirely. I've ditched a number of friends for being picky eaters, I guess I'm cold-hearted like that -- though lack of adventurousness re: food tends to go hand in hand with lack of adventurousness with other things in life.

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But if anybody told me they were allergic to peas I'd kick them out of my house. There's nothing in peas to be allergic to.  :laugh:

Hey, there's green stuff. I'm allergic! :wink:

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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But if anybody told me they were allergic to peas I'd kick them out of my house. There's nothing in peas to be allergic to.  :laugh:

Not exactly true. Some are allergic to different chemicals within the peanut, which are also present in peas themselves. I know there are unrelated botanically, but there are at least similar substances in both. It can be enough to cause a reaction.

In my experience, I wore latex gloves at work every day for several years. I ended up with a reaction to them after that time. The sensitivity built up over the course of time, and though it wasn't throat-closing, get a clear airway started, I did develop hives. Since I got out of the medical biz, I can wear them on occasion now, but I have had reactions since, once while having an IV started.

It's nothing to fool around with, folks. Even if they are just a picky eater, you still want them to enjoy your food, right?

Edited cos I cant tipe

Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)
Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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