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Ever miss out on a special culinary experience because of a food allergy or health-related dietary restriction?

goodhealthgourmet Dec 1, 2010 05:20 PM

i ask because at this very moment i *could* be taking a tour of the kitchen at Morimoto Napa before sitting down to enjoy a private dinner cooked by Chef Morimoto himself...but i had to turn down the [very generous] invitation from a close friend because thanks to my Celiac disease & soy intolerance i wouldn't have been able to eat half of what was put in front of me, and i felt it would be disrespectful to the chef if i just sat there and didn't even try the dishes that could potentially make me sick. grrr.

when i was griping to Mom about it, she reminded me that years ago she & Dad were invited to a tasting dinner at Lespinasse in NYC...and before they even got into the first course they had to leave because the odor of fish was so strong that Mom's life-threatening seafood allergy made her severely ill.

have any of my fellow Hounds had to forgo something similarly great or unique for a reason like that? c'mon guys, commiserate with me!

  1. s
    sasha1 Dec 14, 2010 08:47 AM

    My little boy is nut allergic, which is a very hard thing to deal with when you're young. He has had to pass on the cake at pretty much every bday party he's attended but his own. We have to send his epipens with him when he goes to friends' houses to play. At least 1/2 the Halloween candy each year gets discarded. And at least every other time we have dinner with friends, we have to give him breathing treatments afterwards because of the nut oil and dust residues on their furniture and toys. So that is a big bummer.

    Something a little more lighthearted - I am a huge fan of tomatoes. Huge! About a decade ago, we learned about the Carmel Tomatofest in CA. An enormous tasting table of 300 some heirloom varieties. Salsa tastings. 50 local area chefs coming out to cook a tomato based dish for us to sample in a moving feast. Tickets, $75 pp. Hotel for 3 nights at $$$. Everything ordered in advance. And what happens? I got pregnant. Serious tomato aversion. Could not stand to be around them. See them, touch them, smell them. My dear husband was not sympathetic, because we were poor at the time and this was a big splurgy trip. So he dragged me there anyway, much to mychagrin. And the sad part is, I never had another opportunity to go to Tomatofest when I was loving tomatoes...

    1. c
      chefathome Dec 14, 2010 08:19 AM

      I, too, have Celiac Disease and it can be tremendously tough eating out. At home it's alright but when traveling the world I have been known to get tears in my eyes having to pass on the pizza, pasta, breads, etc. in Italy or pastries in France and Austria. And it's more than just those starches - many folks do not realize most Japanese/Chinese/Thai dishes are out because of the MSG, soy sauce and so on. Not only that but in Canada it is next to impossible to purchase beef and chicken stock (thankfully I make my own). Very, very tough as food is an obsession of mine. But my sister is Celiac PLUS she cannot have any dairy so nothing with butter or any cheese. That would nearly kill me, I think. It's not just that eating gluten will get me sick - it is that it is very dangerous so even a couple of kernels of wheat in a bag of lentils can do serious damage internally.

      1. j
        jujuthomas Dec 13, 2010 08:44 AM

        I'm totally feeling your pain! MAN - would love a meal with Morimoto! omg.
        I've got a nut allergy, and other food sensitivities, so there are many things I cannot eat. Fortunately I haven't missed out on any big events like that because of my food issues... I did have a very nerve wracking meal once in a restaurant in Louisville, KY where it seemed EVERYTHING on the menu had walnuts or pecans - i was afraid I'd die just breathing the air! fortunately, I didn't have any breathing issues and the server was amazing, helped me find a great dinner w/o any cross contamination. :)

        1. marthasway Dec 10, 2010 06:53 AM

          Allergic to raw onions, which lurk in so many dishes. I have great difficulty even with chopping them these days.

          1. viperlush Dec 9, 2010 06:49 PM

            Not nearly as tragic as your stories, but I've recently developed issues with eating raw fish. It isn't the same eating california/veggie/tempura rolls. I miss my chirashi :(

            And being lactose intolerant (and horrible at remembering lactaid) I got to watch my family eat gelato all over Tuscany while I had to cool off with water.

            1 Reply
            1. re: viperlush
              goodhealthgourmet Dec 9, 2010 07:07 PM

              ouch...on both counts. missing out on gelato in Tuscany ranks way up there on the suck-meter, and i can't imagine having to give up sashimi.

              be careful with fish - that's a serious allergy! and though raw is typically more allergenic than cooked, there's still the possibility that your intolerance will increase in severity and eventually include cooked seafood as well. (i don't mean to be a negative nelly, i'm just looking out for a fellow Hound!)

            2. mucho gordo Dec 9, 2010 01:43 PM

              I consider myself lucky that I'm not allergic to anything I like. In addition to being lactose intolerant I'm allergic to berries which is fine cuz I don't like them anyway.

              1. m
                milklady Dec 8, 2010 11:03 AM

                I totally feel for you. I haven't ever had to give up anything at that level. I have been kosher and/or vegetarian my whole life, but never felt like I've missed out on too much as a result. Last year I unexpectedly ended up on a soft food only diet for many months. Then, I really felt like I missed out. I either wouldn't eat or had to burden people almost any time I went out to someone's home or a restaurant. I desperately missed salad, sushi, nuts, and so many other foods that were just impossible for me. I skipped several nice dinners out and even parties because the food barrier would just be too much.

                I know you're feeling terrible, but you probably did the right thing by skipping the dinner. Even if he would have accomodated, it would have been a lot of additional work, and you would have needed to pass on a great deal of the food served.

                1. l
                  lagatta Dec 7, 2010 05:35 AM

                  I'm so sorry to hear about your soya allergy. I thought you had to avoid soya sauce simply because so many kinds are made with wheat, but there are authentic wheat-free kinds. But no good in your case.

                  My major food traumas were way back when I was a child, as I had a very severe dairy allergy. More than ice cream, I loved strong cheese (odd kid, eh?) and not being able to eat it made me very sad.

                  This was back in the postwar years (think Mad Men) and milk was a symbol of peace and prosperity. Fortunately we discovered East Asian and other cuisines with no dairy. I don't have such an allergy now; just a resulting degree of lactose intolerance, but I can consume goat cheese and some other tasty dairy foods, so it is not such a serious problem.

                  I am probably allergic to beer - perhaps the hops? If I have even a sip of beer my cheeks turn bright red. No such problem with wine, thank the Cat Goddess.

                  1. Vetter Dec 4, 2010 08:36 PM

                    Oh, maaaaaaaaaaan. I've had to give up some lovely things, but nothing that special. I can totally see the impulse to chuck your phone. Here's to hoping that you'll get your chance, and that by being such a glorious addition to the next party that you raise awareness for the rest of us poor beggars! :)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Vetter
                      goodhealthgourmet Dec 5, 2010 08:21 AM

                      thanks Vetter. i had lunch with the friend who invited me yesterday, and she insisted on sharing more details about it - i just gritted my teeth, smiled, and told her i was happy she had such a wonderful experience. she keeps trying to make me feel better by saying that she'll bring me to the next wine tasting event they do in Santa Barbara - she's not a Chowhound so she totally doesn't get why it's not *nearly* the same...but fortunately i do love me some fermented grapes, so i'll enjoy every second of it anyway ;)

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        EWSflash Dec 7, 2010 05:45 PM

                        Next time she brings it up, slap her. I'm just sayin'. JK

                        1. re: EWSflash
                          goodhealthgourmet Dec 7, 2010 06:39 PM

                          ha! believe me, i was tempted ;) oh, and re: your comments above, i didn't think you were making light of anything. in fact, i was foolish enough to deliberately eat gluten just once, about a year after my diagnosis...those few moments of gustatory pleasure were absolutely NOT worth the 72 hours of physical misery that followed.

                    2. bagelman01 Dec 3, 2010 07:21 PM

                      About 15 years ago my ex-wife surprised me with a gift of tickets to a privatye dinner cooked by a reknowned French Chef sponsored by Connecticut Public Television in the chef's shoreline hometown (I'm deliberately leaving out his name). My ex correspinded with the chef and the station manager and for an extra $1000 donation arranged that the main course would be lamb, one of my favorite things.
                      We sat down to the meal, had a lovely starter and out came the main. Pecan encrusted Rack of Lamb. BUT>>>>>the crust was a Dijon/nut crust. I unfortunately am deathly allergic to mustard. So, I never got to taste the meal. I no longer watch that chef on TV and of course thwife is now an ex-wife. Maybe she was trying to do me in???<vbg>

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bagelman01
                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 3, 2010 08:03 PM

                        oh man, that SUCKS. particularly to miss out on a meal cooked by that particular chef, whom i (and so many other Hounds) happen to adore. of course i know who it is, there's only one esteemed French chef who lives in CT and has been on TV for all these years! ;) but why don't you watch his shows anymore?

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          bagelman01 Dec 4, 2010 03:04 AM

                          He lost me as a viewer the first season he co-hosted with his daughter............the shows had no attraction for me. She was a detraction, not a positive addition,

                          1. re: bagelman01
                            goodhealthgourmet Dec 4, 2010 03:33 PM

                            got it. i thought for some reason the [missed] dinner experience turned you off to watching him.

                        2. re: bagelman01
                          n
                          NicoleFriedman Dec 6, 2010 05:27 PM

                          That is very odd. If my husband had a deadly allergy, I'd be alerting the chef in a situation like that before my hubby ever sat down.

                        3. Jen76 Dec 3, 2010 02:24 PM

                          I can't really speak to whether my friend with food allergies has missed out on something like a private Morimoto tasting (my heart breaks for you), but it can be sad that I can't share a new restaurant with her because of her allergies. Wheat, corn, and chicken....all true, diagnosed, anaphylactic shock inducing, epi pen requiring allergies to three very common, very pervasive ingredients. These allergies can rule out entire families of cuisine in one fell swoop. I am constantly amazed at how well she deals with it though. The low-carb craze has certainly helped her. If nothing else, she can order salad with oil and vinegar.

                          1. c
                            cheesecake17 Dec 3, 2010 09:39 AM

                            no... but an acquantaince of mine misses out all the time. He's a celiac teenager in high school and is allowed out for lunchtime. All the restaurants near the school have gluten in *everything*. One restaurant even coats their french fries in flour! He was bringing lunch from home (kind of feeling left out of the crowd). A few of his friends spoke with his mom about what he could/coudn't eat. They went into a few restaurants and spoke with the managers and had 'gluten free' menus printed up. I thought it was so kind of these kids to do that so that their friend could join them for lunch!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cheesecake17
                              goodhealthgourmet Dec 3, 2010 02:52 PM

                              wow, those are some seriously thoughtful teenagers! when i was in high school, we used to leave campus for lunch as well, and it was a major social thing. thinking back now i realize that it was pretty much always a total gluten-fest. bagels, pizza, subs/hoagies...had i been diagnosed at that point, i really would have missed out!

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                c
                                cheesecake17 Dec 4, 2010 03:37 PM

                                yup the kids eat pretty much what you described... but the changes have really helped.. the bagel place introduced egg platters, the sandwich place offers everything on a salad instead of bread...

                            2. q
                              queencru Dec 3, 2010 02:52 AM

                              Yes. I'm allergic to alcohol, so there are a lot of things I cannot do. Even going into wine tasting areas with other people can be difficult for me because I have trouble breathing.

                              1. Emme Dec 2, 2010 10:06 PM

                                you know i can relate... and it happens quite often that i feel as though i'm missing out... most of the time i don't mind all my allergies, but once in a while it'd be nice just t be okay with ordering a pizza. sigh. the good thing is it's less of a problem once people know and care about you, but when people are first getting to know you, and aren't "weird," then you just seem like a giant pain. that said, i cook many things i cannot eat, and love to see people enjoy food. vicarious joy, i suppose. so maybe i should wear a sign that says, "i may not be able to eat it, but i'll make it."

                                i feel your pain. call morimoto ;) see if he'll make it up to you! :-D

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Emme
                                  goodhealthgourmet Dec 3, 2010 08:26 AM

                                  "but when people are first getting to know you, and aren't "weird," then you just seem like a giant pain."
                                  ~~~~~~
                                  you know, a friend set me up on a blind lunch date a couple of months ago, and we exchanged a few e-mails before we met. i was concerned he might think i was a total loon when he witnessed how i would have to interrogate our server about the menu before we ordered, so i actually went so far as to "warn" him about the situation and explain it so that he wouldn't think i was just some high-maintenance pain in the a**!

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                    Emme Dec 3, 2010 01:30 PM

                                    i do that sometimes as well... the pre-warning. then of course, even then, i'll sometimes encounter people that want to beleaguer with a litany of questions that are simultaneously reasonable and ridiculously frustrating, as well as further reinforce my feelings of awkwardness and guilt. these are usually ones in the line of questioning that ends with "so what *do* you actually eat?"

                                2. i
                                  Isolda Dec 2, 2010 05:21 PM

                                  Not mine, my son's: years ago, we had to leave a lovely catered dinner party (one meal for the adults, another for the kiddos, complete with nanny to watch them) within minutes of arriving because of the smell of PB cookies baking in the oven. He was so ill from the smell we had to carry him to the car.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    goodhealthgourmet Dec 2, 2010 08:54 PM

                                    my Mom is the same way with her seafood allergy. i once made the mistake of heating sardines downstairs in her kitchen while she was up on the second floor of the house. she got halfway down the stairs, and the fumes made her so sick she had to take a Benadryl for the itching and swelling. and seriously, the fumes weren't that bad - i had just tossed some drained, canned sardines into a pan for a quick saute.

                                  2. l
                                    link_930 Dec 2, 2010 09:15 AM

                                    No, but I am paranoid every single day that I will develop an allergy; the fear actually tips into the irrational side a bit...

                                    1. PamelaD Dec 2, 2010 08:29 AM

                                      Oh no! I am so sorry. I am a "celiac foodie" too and that is a tough one. Asian cuisines are challanging for us because of all that darn soy sauce.
                                      You know what I miss? Wine tasing dinners. We used to go to several a year and if the food is especially made to match the specific wines, I don't feel right requesting something different... kind of defeats the purpose.
                                      Why don't you go to Morimoto as a regular dinner guest? I am sure they would make a fabulous meal for you.
                                      P

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: PamelaD
                                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 2, 2010 01:33 PM

                                        wanna hear the worst part? the friend who invited me sent me a text last night during the meal to tell me that Morimoto was literally *feeding* her (as in, putting food in her mouth with HIS hands) AND that it turns out he would have been happy to prepare special dishes for me to accommodate my issues! i was so upset i almost threw my iPhone across the room.

                                        BTW, i know i could theoretically go to the restaurant as a regular patron, but this was a really special setup - a private event for just a few people AND i wouldn't have been paying for my meal, car or hotel room.

                                        alas, such is life. she promised to bring me along for the next event :)

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                          EWSflash Dec 6, 2010 05:10 PM

                                          My deepest condolences that you couldn't attend, I'm a huge fan of chef Morimoto and I can't believe you didn't call me to ask me to sub for you (JK- sort of)
                                          Smart of you, though, to decline. I have a friend that I suspect would have gone and then sat there and not eat enhalf of it- you're absolutely right, it would be shamelessly disrespectful.

                                          I would have snarfed it all down and then died happily of anaphylactic shock, so I guess it's good I wasn't offered the chance.
                                          Easy for me to say since I don't have any food allergies and don't mean to make light of them. I'm just dizzy from the opportunity you had and being more than a little jealous. :-)

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                            LindaWhit Dec 13, 2010 07:31 AM

                                            Oh. DAMN on finding out he would have prepared special dishes for you, ghg! (just reading this now from your link on the "best food-related gifts" thread).

                                            I hope the next event your friend plans is just as amazing!

                                            And in response to your OP, I luckily have no food allergies, so there's been nothing I've had to turn down such as this. But then again, I've never been invited to a dinner such as this either! :-)

                                        2. c oliver Dec 1, 2010 06:17 PM

                                          Boy, I hate to pile on, ghg, but no. And I grieve for you, a lover of wonderful food. I can eat and drink anything, anywhere with impunity. I really can't even imagine what you and others go through.
                                          PS: My waistline bears witness to this :)

                                          1. EWSflash Dec 1, 2010 05:56 PM

                                            Answer to post question- no

                                            and thank God for that.

                                            1. shanagain Dec 1, 2010 05:34 PM

                                              Oh. Poor thing. :(

                                              I have zero allergies (and have the constitution of your average junkyard dog) and really my only dietary restrictions can be tossed aside for something interesting.

                                              My husband, on the other hand, is allergic to shellfish. Which means "I" am allergic-by-proxy. This will sound both kind of crappy and whiny... but it drives me insane that some of the easiest, best things I used to cook are off the menu forevermore in my home.

                                              Nothing in comparison.. but to have oyster stew just one more time on Christmas morning would be heaven.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: shanagain
                                                goodhealthgourmet Dec 1, 2010 06:20 PM

                                                my Dad feels your pain. it's been 20 years and i swear i think he still hasn't gotten over missing that meal at Lespinasse because of Mom :)

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