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How much should I be expecting?

I am allergic to eggs and fish. Naturally, this makes it very difficult for other people to feed me. I understand that, and I feel uncomfortable having people go out of their way to accommodate my diet. So instead of having people bend over backwards trying to find something for me to eat when going over to someone's house for dinner (not a fancy sit-down dinner or anything), I often just don't tell them and I'll just eat what i can eat. If there's nothing there for me to eat, that's fine too because I'll just eat something later and make sure I wasn't starving when I arrived (grab a light bite before).

When the inevitable situation arrives when people do ask me why I'm either not eating, or not eating particular items of food that has been prepared, I explain that I am allergic. There are many different reactions I get: sometimes, people feel bad and say they wish that they knew and then try to find something for me that i can eat and it ends up being a big ordeal. I really appreciate all the effort, but I really feel bad about making the host go through all the trouble. Sometimes, the host doesn't care. Other times, the host just plain doesn't understand/doesn't believe in allergies and I have to deal with the funny looks/rants. I'm deathly allergic to fish (I carry an epipen and wear a medicalert bracelet), but if I accidentally eat something that contains eggs, I'll just break out in hives in a few hours but otherwise have no other symptoms. So I guess that sometimes leads people to think that I am faking my egg allergy...

So, I guess my question is concerning what I should be doing and how I should be dealing with allergies? What would you want a guest with allergies to do?

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  1. As a host , I like to know......as a fellow allergy sufferer, I do the same - eat what I can. I can't eat wheat, eggs or dairy.
    I think it depends, what is the event - how well do you know the host. With an allergy that causes symptoms severe enough for an epi pen. LET the host know. I'm not gonna die - just be sick for a couple of days so I find I don't speak up that much.

    5 Replies
    1. re: coastie

      Personally, I would rather cook food that a person would be able to eat it instead of wasting my time and pocketbook to just let it sit there.

        1. re: sharhamm

          Yeah, I completely understand that reasoning. But the kinds of events I always seem to go to have food served buffet-style for large numbers of people. Isn't it asking for a lot and having to go through more trouble than it's worth to accommodate one person only? For smaller sit-down dinners, I tell the host because everyone eats together and is expected to eat everything and the numbers for food is exactly planned out. It would definitely be unfair for me to not tell the host in that situation, I feel. But what about the other setting I described? Those are the ones I've always been most unsure about.

          1. re: focioncroci

            This is a bit confusing - in the initial post it sounded like you were asking about served meals, not buffet-style. In the latter case it's not all that obvious who's choosing what, and you're not expected to eat every single item, so I wouldn't expect you to be questioned. In the case of a sit-down event, as a host/cook it's my responsibility to serve you a meal you can eat, and also my earnest wish that you enjoy your food - so I'd feel awful if I learned after the fact that you didn't mention your allergies because you didn't want to impose.

            1. re: greygarious

              If they are casual affairs, you can always inform your host and in the same breath, offer to bring something that you can eat, to share with everyone. The host can always decline if they aren't comfortable with that idea.

      1. Hope for bread and butter and strategically push stuff around on your plate?
        When asked, look them right in the eye and loudly respond: Have I told you how AMAZING you look in that sweater? The green makes your lipstick just POP!
        I actually saw myself in your reply- if I found out as we were eating that one person couldn't eat- I would find them something to eat and probably cause them inner turmoil because (like in your case) they were trying to be 'kind' by not telling me so I didn't go out of my way. Blah!
        It's totally ok to let me know before you come over- we're friends, right?
        If you are over and you're not eating, I'll ask you if I can get you anything else and if you tell me no, then I'll make sure I corner you later and find out- not a big deal, I really only want you to be happy. And EAT. I can't help it, it's in my genes- everyone must eat!!

        1. "I often just don't tell them and I'll just eat what i can eat."
          If your hosts are asking you re allergies and likes and dislikes they care ...that's why we ask. You should tell them . I don't think it is a huge challenge to work around no eggs or fish. As a host I would want to know . although I once ( get the historical context) knew someone who claimed allergy to all but what seemed water and organic salad greens. The list which she submitted in writing was like the Library of Congress...we prepared as usual with no obvious killers like peanuts or shrimp and figured she would fend for herself which she did ( they were a couple of large buffet dinner parties) That I think is the genesis of the Doubtful ....

          1. It's pretty easy to work around fish and eggs. Dessert might be a bit challenging, but there's always pie!

            1. ALWAYS tell the host/cook that you are deathly allergic to fish and eggs in any form (ok so the eggs bit is a tiny fib...). Be polite, of course, but ask them if they can please work around that because you'd hate to ruin their party when the ambulance comes for you.

              Fish and eggs are VERY easy to work around. And if there's a host who won't work around you; decline any further invitations - "I'm sorry, we can't come to your party because it's too expensive. You always cook fish or eggs and I end up in the emergency room".

              1. If I'm your host, please tell me! I'd have to commit seppuku if I can't feed you.

                I have a lethal allergy to shellfish that my friends know about. I carry an epipen and a couple of syringes and ampules of adrenaline. I figure if I feel I have enough time before my lungs swell shut and I suffocate, I'll load and shoot the adenaline (at about $0.50 a pop). If there's no time, I'll use the $70.00 epipen.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Woah! See, even though I have a serious fish allergy, I've been fortunate enough to have never had to use it. I very very slowly swell up (it takes about half an hour), so the few times it's happened, taking benadryl was enough.

                  1. re: focioncroci

                    Feed me a raw shrimp. Lungs close in at most eight minutes. Death follows in about four more minutes. Have to shoot up within the first three minutes.

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I agree with Sam! Please, for God's sake, TELL ME!
                    Even though you say that you'll just "eat what you can eat," how do you KNOW that I haven't enriched a sauce that looks harmless enough with a little bit of egg yolk or brushed the pastry with it? I often use anchovy paste in salad dressings and sauces and few people - even those who claim to loathe anchovies - notice them in there.
                    This isn't easy for me because nobody in my family has any food allergies and very, very few of my friends do.
                    Allergies are soooo easy to work around with ANY advance notice.
                    Please do your host a favor and let them know.
                    You are doing yourself a favor too since the things you are allergic to are often common ingredients that people don't even think about.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      I almost killed someone with an apricot glaze on a tart. She didn't want to be a pest so never mentioned her allergy to apricots and ate the tart without a second thought, after all it was an apple tart. I shudder to remember how scary this episode was -- we were sailing on the Chesepeake Bay, far away from medical help, when she went down. Please, as Making Sense says, for God's sake, tell us about your allergy.

                      A very detailed "Likes/Dislikes/Allergy" file rests in my computer and I constantly update it with new guest information. We have a lot of house guests and entertain frequently. It is simple to check my file - and I always ask new guests - and avoid potential problems. The memory of a gray-faced woman is something I will never forget.

                      1. re: Sherri

                        A deathly allergy to apricots? That's a new one.

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          i've encountered people allergic to stonefruits. plums make my tongue itch -- mild allergy, i guess, so i avoid them.

                      2. re: MakingSense

                        I had an open house and it turns out one of my guests was allergic to lemons. I had just gotten a lovely mediterranean cook book and most of the things were out of that cookbook-- just about everything I'd made had lemon juice in it as the acid-- I felt terrible. Yes please tell me!

                        1. re: DGresh

                          Yeah, if the guest hadn't mentioned it, s/he might never have realized it until the dreaded reaction had occurred. Who would have known that the salad was dressed with lemon and not vinegar? Or that there was a splash of lemon in the rice?
                          Just like Sherri's guest never dreaming that an apple tart had the apricot glaze that felled her.

                          We all sympathize with people with allergies but they have to take responsibility for their own safety.

                    2. There have been several discussions of food allergies on these boards before and the vast majority seem to believe food allergies are faked so that people can make a credible excuse for not eating food they don't like. Personally, I don't judge people by what they eat and I would accept a claim of a food allergy at face value.

                      As a host, I would want to know about the allergies (or even simply food preferences) so that I could accommodate my guest. I've done this on several occasions before with people who are vegetarian or quasi-vegetarian (fish and seafood are ok, but not meat). I don't mind and it's gratifying to offer something they enjoy eating. Since I don't do big gatherings, I almost always tell my guests what I plan to serve and ask them if that is something that is okay with them (not in a "give me permission" kind of way, but as in a "does it suit your dietary needs" kind of way).

                      That being said, if you are, as you say, attending buffets with a big spread of food, then I think it's fine to simply eat what you can and say nothing. The type of situation really matters.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Orchid64

                        >>There have been several discussions of food allergies on these boards before and the vast majority seem to believe food allergies are faked so that people can make a credible excuse for not eating food they don't like<<

                        Reminds me of a story my SO told me - living on the cape in Mass, they had tons of scallops his father harvested. Each year, his mother would use them in a cassarole and serve them to the family without telling anyone. And each year, he got sick - she never did believe that he was truly allergic.

                        1. re: Orchid64

                          Even if it's "a big spread of food" on a buffet line, if you have a serious allergy, it would be really wise to mention it to the host/cook, and ASK is there are any dishes that you should avoid.
                          The OP is allergic to eggs, which could be "hidden" in any number of dishes. Sherri gave the example of the apricot glaze and I mentioned the use of anchovies/anchovy paste.
                          Those things are NOT obvious like a big old shrimp or walnuts.
                          Vegetarians are careful to avoid dishes that might include meat stocks, and how would they know without asking?

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            My husband had a colleague who was allergic to walnuts --- and walnut oil in a dressing was just as dangerous.

                          2. re: Orchid64

                            >>There have been several discussions of food allergies on these boards before and the vast majority seem to believe food allergies are faked so that people can make a credible excuse for not eating food they don't like<<

                            I disagree. I've read many of these posts. I think that a running theme is indignation with various people who claim allergies and really do not possess them. (Many cite things like the person who is lactose intolerant but orders fettucini alfredo followed by creme brulee; they also may yell if there is cheese on their salad.) These experiences create serious danger for people with allergies who are not properly listened to. I don't think many people on this board deny the very real danger that some allergies present.

                            When I have big gatherings with buffets I try always to have options for the vegetarians, the shell-fish allergens, those who keep kosher, hal-al, garlic free, nut-free, and vegans. That said, few people could probably sample everything on that table, and people who can't be in a room where an offending substance is cooked cannot be fed at my house.

                            In the case of buffets, eat what you can and know a lot about food prep. (If you are allergic to peanuts, don't sample the chili unless you talk to the cook.)

                            For dinner parties, I guess I would have to ask why people are inviting you? Are you being invited for the sake of formailty to eat costco appetizers and rubber chicken? Are you being invited because they like you? Are you being invited because they want an excuse to craft an elaborate meal with happy recipiants? In the former case, let things slide. In the latter two cases, please let your hosts know ahead of time. Otherwise, you will have made them unhappy or at least uncomfortable.

                          3. Fish and eggs are pretty easy for a host(ess) to avoid. If you have a deathly allergy, you should let the host(ess) know, period. I know it may be a buffet-style affair, but can't always tell by looking at something if it has fish-based ingredients in it. I am just thinking of when I lived in Japan and a lot of "vegetarian" entrees still had fish flakes in them.

                            1. I've always taken allergies pretty seriously, havign had a classmate when I was really young who was allergic to a whole list of basic items. Back then, it wasn't as widespread, so it was soemthing that really stuck out to me.

                              Anyway, even before it was common, I always asked for lists of allergies, or tings that just bothered peoples stomachs, and when I used to have big dinner things for friends in crowds, Id have several mains to accomodate. I also as a school administrator made my teachers take a class in awareness and learn how to use an apipen.

                              Then last summer, I took a trip to Mexico with someone who had a whole litany of allergies that I told her many times she'd have to be very careful about down there, bc of the language barrier, bc thingsa re cooked differently in Mexico. I then saw her in 10 days eat pretty much every single food she'd said she was allergic to. This went as far as her ordering something, some snack item, I dont rememebr what it was, asking if it has peanuts in it, or was cooked in somethign that ahd had peanut contact, them saying yes, her ordering somethign else bc of that, and then eating my peanut laden product (In my mind, as far as I knew, the peanut allergy is anaphylactic, which meant I shouldnt have been able to even order it if she had the allergy, but she kept insisting otherwise)

                              Anyway, I'm certainly not saying I doubt allergies, but I'll ask one in a general invite now, and wait for people to respond to me rather than being pushy abt making sure I've asked a dozen times

                              My point is, please volunteer the info, we're more than willing to accomodate

                              1. "...how I should be dealing with allergies?"

                                - you should not be ashamed of allergies as it appears you might. No different from blonde hair or blue eyes. Take control to avoid a situation where they may flare up/ neither you, the other guests or the host wants that. Tell people of the allery who are preparing your food. These sound like very easyo to prepare around.

                                "...you want a guest with allergies to do?" The host should prepare around them. No biggie. Jfood does it all the time with wheat, fish and nuts for many of his friends.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jfood

                                  People tend not to take you seriously, my friend didnt believe my walnut injury until we visited the ER. A little in the crust wont hurt... not...

                                  1. re: rozz01

                                    No, people take jfood very seriously.

                                    To your so-called friend, let jfood paraphrase HL Mencken...

                                    No one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of certain people.

                                2. I agree with everyone else who says you definitely SHOULD tell your host! As your host, I would want to know.

                                  1. Right after the invitation is accepted and I tell my guests how to get there, I ask "and are there any allergies I should be aware of?"...I think it is just good hosting these days and I wish more folks who invite me would do that, too.

                                    And, frankly, half the best recipes in my repetoire came from being forced to work around someones allergies.

                                    I have an allergy like your egg allergy (hives in a hour or two) to vinegar and I get a lot of skepticism. My daughter, however, is severely allergic and swells quite dramatically-she gets WAY more respect! (LOL)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: LJS

                                      Like you, LJS, the first time I invite someone over, I just say "is there anything you can't or don't eat?" That's a low key way and I KNOW they'll tell me. But still the allergic person should always bring it up --- and right when invited, i.e. "I'd love to come but I'm allergic to XXX. If that's a problem, I hope you'll invite me some other time."

                                    2. The question I still ask myself after reading these posts is: "Why the huge outbreak of food allergies in recent years?" When I was a kid, I knew ONE person with a bone fide food allergy -- now it seems like half the population has one. I find this extremely alarming, and would like to know what the hell is going on.

                                      30 Replies
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        gutless people who claim allergies when they have none because they are spineless jellyfish.

                                        "Oh no egg salad for me. I am allergic to eggs so can i have a ham sandwich on whole wheat with extra mayo."

                                        It hurts those of us who actually have allergies. You want to know how hard it is to stare at a bowl of cshews knowing if you eat them to satisfy that desire, you are on your way to the ER.

                                        Grow a set people

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          Well, I think there is some of that, but surely most people who claim deadly food allergies are telling the truth?

                                          1. re: pikawicca


                                            from what jfood reads here, he hopes from your lips to god's ear.

                                          2. re: jfood

                                            It's not just that more people claiming allergies, there have been scientific studies that provide evidence that rates of true allergies are on the rise.

                                            Not a scientific paper, but one of the first things I found with a quick google search:

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              I hear you, jfood, but most people who learn to say "I have an allergy" do so because no one takes their food preference seriously if it's not an allergy. I recently asked for no cilantro in my Pho at a restaurant (one of the only foods I cannot eat), and the server said, "We only omit things if they are an allergy. Is that an allergy?" Uhhhh sure it is?? I guess it has to be, if i don't want to eat it.....

                                              1. re: canadianbeaver

                                                Cilantro is a staple in Vietnamese food.
                                                Seems like a poor choice of a food to order if you detest it so much that you would lie about it. Why didn't you just not eat the cilantro? It's usually not cooked in pho but added just as it is served. You could have taken it out. It's also an insult to ask them to not do it the classic Vietnamese way.
                                                Why didn't you go somewhere else and order chicken noodle soup?

                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  Actually, it's a genetic thing. Google it. Even if it touches one thing on the plate, I literally CANNOT (as in, gagging) eat anything else. It has a very, very strong taste for people who are sensitive to it. And I love the rest of the flavours, including beef brisket, beef balls, cinnamon, etc. It is the only food I won't just pick out.


                                                  1. re: canadianbeaver

                                                    I love cilantro, but I totally understand the inability to pick it out of something. My husband strongly dislikes it and he's the same way as you; if it's even touched the plate he can taste it. He also always asks for none and it wouldn't bother me if he fibbed about being allergic to it, even though I'm someone with severe food allergies.

                                                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                                                      The aversion to cilantro (which I share) is not an allergy. It is a palate defect. It does not create an allergic reaction in the body.

                                                      In the situation you described, I would not eat the pho. I make a request; if the restaurant's boundary is allergies, I respect that, out of respect for the important medical distinction between allergies and other food issues.

                                                    2. re: Scargod

                                                      It's not lying -- they won't REMOVE IT if I don't say it's an allergy. So you should only order foods if you like every ingredient in it -- you never ask for sauce on the side, no tomatoes, hold the onion? Since it is a seasoning, the flavour gets cooked into the rest of the soup. What I merely saying was that it shouldn't something we should have to lie about -- we should be able to say, "I don't want this included," ESPECIALLY IF IT IS something just added in at the end. I understand the negative implications of lying about an allergy if the place has an ingredient that is hard to remove, so why can't they just not throw it in at the end? Why must I lie to have them not do that? Get it? I was supporting what jfood was saying.

                                                      1. re: canadianbeaver

                                                        " you never ask for sauce on the side, no tomatoes, hold the onion?"

                                                        ---so rarely as to be a statistical blip, honestly

                                                        1. re: canadianbeaver

                                                          I think I've asked for salad dressing to be on the side once in the past five or ten years. Then it was because I knew this particular place could screw up simple things, like dressing a salad.
                                                          I think this is one of those things where I have little sensitivity. I have some food allergies. I was tested over twenty years ago. I live with them. I enjoy food. I don't ask restaurants to jump through hoops for me. I am 62. I know what I like. Yet, I am adventurous and will try almost anything.

                                                          I know some people have allergies; some have aversions, some have strong preferences and some have mental blocks. I remember my older brother throwing up because our mother made him eat some beets. He wasn't allergic to beets. He just didn't want to try the damn things and have my mom cram them down his throat (figuratively). Same difference. She pressured him and he showed her.
                                                          I guess I'm saying that nobody is making you order pho or eat cilantro. Why must you lie to them as if someone is making you eat it?

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            This attitude puzzles me. Why the indignation? So I don't like cilantro. What do you care? Food purism is totally overrated?

                                                            Let's look at this another way. There are people who prefer well-done meat. Maybe the texture of properly-cooked steak (*wink*) grosses them out. Maybe they have tartare-related childhood trauma. Maybe they just like their damn steak well done. Fine, I think they're nuts, but it's their mouth and they can haul coal in it if they want, you know? And if a server told my dining partner they only cooked steaks well done if the customer had a compromised immune system that made it too risky to eat under-cooked meat, I would either kindly instruct garçon to shove it, or nod convincingly when my friend told the server about his difficult early childhood in a plastic bubble.

                                                            1. re: LauraGrace

                                                              See jfood's post, four down. Attack him. He has mega creds compared to me. No lie.

                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                Thanks buddy...just when jfood was about to email you the private number for Sally's :-))

                                                                Only kidding...jfood does not hav either.

                                                          2. re: canadianbeaver

                                                            Because you're diluting the importance of true food allergies by lying about it, that's why. It sets a bad precedent, like able-bodied people who've borrowed somebody's handicap car tag so they can park close to the store because they're busier than anybody else that's going to that store. It's dishonest and tacky and trashy and there's too much of that shit going on in the world today, period.

                                                          1. re: canadianbeaver

                                                            My medical history is between me and my doctor. It is presumptuous and offensive for a server to ask those questions.

                                                            1. re: phofiend

                                                              To be honest, as a server I might ask whether it is an allergy or a dislike. Suppose the stock is enhanced with something you dislike but aren't allergic to. You may not be able to taste it specifically and the kitchen cannot remove but still it's in there. You still might enjoy the dish. If it's an allergy I can guarantee that you WILL NOT enjoy the dish even if you can't taste the specific ingredient. Either way I am happy to work with you to find or even create (with the help of my fine Chef) something that you'll enjoy and won't make you uncomfortable/ send you to the hospital/ kill you.

                                                              1. re: phofiend

                                                                It could also be a not-so-tactful way for the server to feel out whether or not they need to warn the kitchen about an allergy cross-contact concern, though, or that sort of thing. I think that as people learn more about allergies and intolerances, we're going to hear more of that sort of question. It's really a plus for those of us who stand to get very sick.

                                                              2. re: canadianbeaver

                                                                And that is jfood's point. You hide behind people with medical conditions because you do not like something while simultaneously want something. It downplays those allergies because it marginalizes the danger. "Oh I can just say it's an allergy." What's next? Parking in the handicapped spot because you want the spot?

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  Whoops, I just wrote what you did, having not read the above yet. Thanks for reiterating, as it turns out.

                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                    not to worry...deja vu all over again. people forget that their actions have immediate and long term effects. As they downplay true allergies it de-sensitizes the staf and they evenyually feel, ah heck they do not like nuts. The someone has to stick an Epi-Pen in their thigh.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      jfood, I guess I'm just seeing this from the perspective of someone who thinks it's ok to have just plain old preferences at a restaurant. I'm really not trying to be difficult. There are people in my family with severe, life threatening allergies, and I absolutely do not want to inure restaurant staff against the legitimate needs of folks like them.

                                                                      So, here's a scenario: say I don't like shredded cheese in salads -- makes me nauseous. If a chef refuses to make me a salad without cheese unless I have a dairy allergy, what am I supposed to do?

                                                                      1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                        Find a different restaurant. This would really tick me off, but I have to say that I've never encountered this kind of attitude.

                                                                        1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                          Here is jfood's response, TOUGH...order as the kitchen prepares it, be honest about your preference or leave.

                                                                          There are many dishes that jfood does not like certain items and he has tried to substitute or eliminate. If the chef says no, either order something alse or leave. Allergies are just as much a medical condition as others. Jfood bets you would not claim ALS to get a parking spot next to the door. "Hey, there's noone in that spot."

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            jfood, I definitely respect your opinion on many issues, but this one leaves me baffled, especially your apparent rancor towards those of us with genuine frustrations about this issue. I don't think we should be castigated for having dislikes or wondering what to do about them. I asked an honest question and get told to suck it up lest I be just like the jerk who steals the handicapped spot? I'm calling a foul on that one.

                                                                            Rest assured, though, a chef who refuses to take the cheese off my salad (or whatever) would not be receiving my hard-earned ducats again.

                                                                            1. re: LauraGrace


                                                                              Jfood is not castigating anyone for their likes and dislikes because everyone has likes and dislikes. You missed the point of the target of the rancor.

                                                                              But, jfood is absolutely castigating anyone who uses a medical condition of others to get what they want. Yes it is frustrating, but jfood's medical condition should not be used as your "get out of jail free" card.

                                                                              If you are honest about your dislikes and the chef says "no", then do as you suggest, leave. But when you use a medical condition that you are fortunate not to have as a means to get what you want then, sorry, but that is a jerky thing to do.

                                                                              Remember frustration is a whole lot better than anaphylactic shock.

                                                                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                LG, your two examples seem rather extreme. Are there actually restos that refuse to cook a steak well done. I've seen plenty of instances where the menu states they're not responsible for the outcome --- another wink - if a customer insists on that. And leaving cheese off/out of a salad? Are there places that wouldn't do that? That cheese could easily be the most expensive ingredient in some salads. But maybe you've had that happen to you and are pissed about it :) If there are ingredients that can't or won't be left out of a particular dish, I can't imagine a situation where there wouldn't be other things on the menu that were acceptable. I honestly never considered this issue before but I think it's true that if people fake an allergy it's going to dilute the importance of those who do have allergies. I can say "I abhor x; can you work with me on this?" I'm far from a goody two-shoes saint (there are any number of people who can vouch for that!) but I think that particular lie is "jerky" as jfood so eloquently phrased it. This is an issue that I hope some people reading this will change that attitude about.

                                                              3. Absolutely mention it. In fact I usually make it a point to tell that person what he can or can not eat and if it a main course, I would make something different for him. I invited him and I would want him to enjoy the dinner. I don't think that is asking too much. But yes I would definitely tell the host and hope she would tell me what was edible so I could blend in and enjoy.

                                                                What others say, wouldn't bother me, and from some of my other guests who do have allergies they don't care either.

                                                                1. As a chef and a party giver ,I would like the allergy information.Some things are out of the frying pan,into the fire situations.The list of allergies among close friends and colleagues
                                                                  is varied and longish.Haven't found any allergies that present real difficulties.Menu management just isn't hard.Tweeking or avoiding things is easy to PLAN with/around ample information IN A TIMELY manner.
                                                                  My allergy is relatively minor,most are not. SO TELL ME

                                                                  1. Ok, so what about when it's not a true food allergy but a medical condition that makes it very, very, difficult to eat certain items. And then you won't die immediatly but will spend the next 24-48 hours in the bathroom or in bed moaning and cursing the thing you ate that you felt guilty about not eating or ate and didn't know had what you shouldn't have eaten in it. I can't tolerate much fat, sugar and carbs. Yes, it sucks to be me. I have to count grams and the ratio of sugars and sugar carbs to protein and fat. If I eat to much at any one time I get dumping syndrome: lightheaded, nasueous need to go be sick and then camp out in the bathroom for several hours or so. It's not diabetes, it's not an allergy but, it is real and it's not psychosomatic and it's usually worse for items that I don't know have loads of sugar or fat in them because I can't control my portions like I would if I knew about the sugar. I got sooo sick on some Japanese sauce that apparently had a lot of sugar in it. Yikes did I regret that. Next time I stick with the plain ole' sushi nigiri it's safe. What would you want to know, as a host? As a guest what am I obligated to tell you? I try to make sure dinner events are out on the town where I can pre-check the menu and make sure I know ahead of time what's available and what has what in it and try to make my decisions ahead of time so there isn't a whole lot of this tables side Q&A....well what is in that and how is it prepared, and can I get it this way cause I can't have it that way...sort of thing going on. I don't want to be high maintenance AND We ALL dont' want me to discuss why I am so high mainetnance at a dining table!!!!! But I don't want to spend the bulk of my life in the loo or never dining with friends. Help me, help you ;)

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: aggiecat

                                                                      If you were my guest, I always ask first time around if there are things you can't/don't eat so SPEAK UP :) That's why I ask, dammit! I'm not just being polite. I can accommodate just about anything. But my crystal ball has never worked very well.

                                                                      OTOH, please go see your doctor and if s/he is blowing you off, then see someone else. This is no way for you to live and there are options. Good luck and I'd be happy to cook for you :)

                                                                      1. re: aggiecat

                                                                        Having just had stomach surgery in June, I've been working hard to avoid dumping syndrome. At this point, it's been processed foods with sugar high in the ingredient list. I've just started being able to eat meals out of the house and have been pretty lucky, I just avoid desserts. My picky eating habits from before have helped alot, also.

                                                                        I'm hoping that it will eventually go away. I've had to do most of my research on the syndrome online, as my surgeon and primary care doctor kept pushing Ensure on me. A big mistake...It'd be easier on me to open the can and dump it down the toilet.

                                                                        1. re: tracylee

                                                                          tracylee, now why don't you just quit eating processed foods??

                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                            I pretty much have, but when I'm told to get in 80 grams of protein a day, I start scouring the aisles for protein bars and powders.

                                                                            I'd also love to be able to munch on breakfast cereal as a snack again, but can't find any without too much sugar.

                                                                          2. re: tracylee

                                                                            Have you been checked for celiac disease? Check out all the possible symptoms not just the wasting disease side which fewer people have. My DH was just diagnosed and processed foods have become enemy #1 because they often slip in wheat proteins or other gluten containing items. One slip and let the dumping begin. I'm hopeful that once his gut heals fats and sugars won't affect him as badly. I think doctors don't give this diagnosis as often as warranted because there is no pill or surgery to fix it and so therefore doctors aren't as informed as they should be.

                                                                            Be well, M

                                                                            1. re: just_M

                                                                              I work in a medical/psychiatric ward in a hospital. One of our Celiac patients once downed a box of Twinkies. All I can say is that was a bad week to be working...

                                                                              1. re: just_M

                                                                                My dumping syndrome is a result of stomach surgery for cancer, so I'm not concerned about having celiac. Sorry if I wasn't clearer in my post.

                                                                                Things are improving, and if I have a negative reaction to something, it's not immediate or after only two bites, like it was to start with.

                                                                                1. re: tracylee

                                                                                  Same thing w/bladder cancer, I empathize...

                                                                                  1. re: tracylee

                                                                                    tracylee I'm so glad your improving and so sorry I stuck my nose where it does not belong. I think the new diagnosis and all the fears from the huge increase in cancer risk to what did they hide in what food/beverage just to keep him from getting sick now have made me into something of a Celiac Evangelist/Food Police!

                                                                                    This past weekend we went to my Aunts for diner and even though I had given advance notice of my husbands new needs the Food Police came out and I was trying to check everything until he told me to knock it off as I was embarrassing him and acting like my vegan cousin aka the Food Nazi :-{. Again my apologies as well as best wishes.

                                                                                    1. re: just_M

                                                                                      No need to apologize, really! I remember policing everything for my ex-step-son and his GF (now wife) who were vegetarian and came over for holiday dinners. Not a health hazard, but still very important. Mom and I enjoyed creating everything but the entree in a vegetarian manner, although we did slip up a couple of times with gelatin in pre-made desserts and caesar salad dressing.

                                                                            2. As a hostess I would like to know not only allergies, but likes and dislikes as well. I know that my SOs mother inquired of him of my likes and dislikes before having me to dinner, and my mom did they same before he came to visit her. I appreciated that both times as we sat down both times to meals that we both enjoyed.

                                                                              1. I have a friend who is gluten free due to celiac disease. We entertain a lot, and she is often invited. We've worked something out, where I run the menu (and even the recipes) past her, and she decides what she wants to bring. Usually the entree is fine, so maybe she brings an appetizer and dessert for everyone that she can eat, and share. I have other appetizers and desserts, but, maybe only one other appetizer is gluten free. Anyway, we work it out together, so that she can enjoy the whole meal with us. Maybe the key is that we all like to bring things to share, and we all work together to make sure Erin is covered......

                                                                                1. This makes me think of the people who tell a person who does not eat meat, vegetarian, "Oh have some baked beans, they were made with salt pork but I took it out." Yes, you could be putting your life in this person's hands!
                                                                                  I would always like to know about your food needs. If you are invited to my home, I care about you and I want you to enoy yourself.

                                                                                  1. If you know your host well, I would warn them ahead of time, if anything to prevent them making a quiche for a main entree and leaving them wondering why you aren't touching their food. Unfortunately, I know a number of people whose "allergies" are nothing but BS -- basically, they don't like certain types of food, and claim that it makes them sick. This makes it tough for the segment of the population who, like you, really have allergies or genuine food restrictions. That is why you probably get strange or annoyed looks from people who don't appear to believe you. You should just tell them that you have to carry an epipen because your allergies are to certain proteins, and they are severe enough to be life threatening. That should do it. You are under no obligation to explain that your egg allergy is somewhat less threatening. No point, and they won't understand anyway. I would just do this matter of factly - if only to make sure that you don't insult your host by not eating. You can also say that you don't expect anything special -- but most good hosts will go out of there way to make sure you can eat something on their menu.

                                                                                    I grew up with a little brother who was unable to eat wheat, chocolate, eggs, nuts, chicken, turkey, spinach and most dairy products. I am sure there are more things that I cannot remember. Poor kid couldn't even eat his own birthday cake. He outgrew many of them, but children have different allergy issues than adults. A slip up meant a trip to the ER with a severe asthma attack, or hives all over his body, so I really do understand.

                                                                                    What ticks me off are the fakers. One of my daughter's friends actually had the nerve to announce, at my dinner table, that fruits and vegetables MAKE HER SICK. In fact, this kid has the worst eating habits I've ever seen -- most likely do to the non-stop pizza, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese diet her mother has had her on for most of her life. This is so unfortunate and unflattering in a young lady about to go off to college, THIS is why you are paying the price -- people just make this stuff up and expect to get away with it. Still, I try to accommodate this young lady whenever she is over for dinner, mostly because I would like her to eat what I have cooked. She skips the veggies and the salad, and focuses on the meat, potatoes/rice and bread while the rest of us eat all of the food. That is what you are supposed to do as a host, at least the way I was taught.

                                                                                    Be brave. Your real friends will get it.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                      A lot of people are cooking with more exotic ingredients, such as fish sauce. I use it a lot.
                                                                                      Would rather be told by a guest, ahead of time, what they are allergic to or can't eat, rather than making a really involved recipe and someone not eating it. Then everyone is happy, happy.

                                                                                      1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                        @RGC1982: Loved your post for the most part, but must at least offer a plausible explanation for your daughter's friend. I personally suffer from OAS ( Oral Allergy Syndrome). It's a reaction to the cross-pollination that naturally occurs during the growing process of a lot of fruits and veggies. An example: Peaches are growing nearby Birch Trees, the pollen from the Birch gets into the peach skin and I get really unpleasant, albeit non-life threatening, swelling, itching and burning. I grew up in the Central Valley and didn't have this sensitivity when I was young. It's scary, has caused more than one trip to the ER, is awful because I really miss fresh fruit/veggies and sad because the majority of people who aren't Doctors or who haven't Googled OAS think it's fake. I may not be sensitive to all fruits and veggies, but I sure as hell avoid any that are raw, on the count of dozens of highly uncomfortable and scary moments. (cooking denatures the cross-pollinating proteins). It MAY be that the young lady in question is making it up, but there is a plausible reason why she may be speaking the truth. FYI- sometimes, even if veggies are cooked, they are not cooked at a high enough temp or for long enough to avoid the reaction.

                                                                                      2. Good heavens, why the reluctance to tell the host beforehand? The host will then either have time to adjust the menu, or they will say sorry the menu is set and they will think of you another time.
                                                                                        But if I'm doing a New England lobster boil and a guest arrives and surprises me with their shellfish allergy, shame on them and they are SOL and brought it about themself. The mitigating factor to this late surprise is one extra lobster. I'm sure I could scrounge up a can of lentil soup or something.
                                                                                        Allergies are enough of an exception that the burden of communication is with the allergy prone, not with the host to ask. JMO. Talk, people, truthfully. Nobody likes surprises. I'm disappointed that I can't make my shrimp soup for Sam, but at least I know it.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Couldn't agree more Veg. In jfood's normal dinner group there is a Vegeterian, a shellfish and 2 * nut allergy people.

                                                                                          And in fairness when the jfoods invite people over they always ask if there are any allergies or items that tom and mary cannot eat. There is nothing worse than watching someone in your home stare at a plate of food in utter fear. It ids better to plan for that event and adjust the menu than have an unhappy guest or an allergy incident.

                                                                                        2. As a host, I would rather have a guest be very specific about what they are allergic to. For example, I hosted a dinner party a while back when one of my guests said she didn't eat onions (not sure if it was an allergy or not). But I didn't know if that excluded everything from the onion family, like leeks, chives...In the end, I made hers without onion and the meal did not have any other onion-y vegetables...but it would have been less stressful for me to know what exactly I could or could not use.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: karen2006

                                                                                            I agree; someone said that hopefully they'll be bread & butter at the least, but if someone has an egg or dairy allegy, this is another area of concern as well. I'm a baker/caterer and I use eggs, milk and butter most of the time in my bread.

                                                                                            On another note, jfood, I'm curious to know why you always speak (talk) in third person?