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Thou shalt not compare

29 Nov

This past weekend was Mantou’s Mom’s birthday (I won’t reveal which one). Another birthday, another allergen-free cake. I picked the recipe and made it (though MM made the frosting). I quite liked it. It was a bit different from the cake at Mantou’s 1st birthday, but not too different. In general, the wheat-free cakes seem to be dense and spongy. I assume it’s the rice flour that contributes the most to these properties.

My folks called to wish MM happy birthday, and inevitably we talked about the cake. After mentioning the sponginess, my mother asked if it was spongy like angel food cake. It’s at that point that I realized the problem with making allergen-free foods. We always compare them to their allergen-filled counterparts. Every time we make a wheat-free, egg-free, milk-free, nut-free cake, we compare it to our memories of the “normal” cakes we’ve had all our lives. I realized that this is unfair to our new creations. It’s like constantly comparing the baby in the family to the eldest instead of just celebrating the baby’s unique qualities and faults. So I’m determined to stop comparing and start assessing based on our allergen-free foods own merits. Perhaps a new vocabulary is in order. Instead of “wheat-free bread”, maybe we should just call it “pano”. “Wheat-free cake” could be “kuko”. Then when we serve it people won’t jump to make that comparison.

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Mom and Pop, throw us a bone

14 Oct

Being new to food allergies, I can only guess what it was like a decade or two ago for folks with allergies to navigate restaurants. I would assume that it was awfully challenging. I also assume that things are better these days. We get surprised every once in a while by a restaurant, like BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, when they post allergens on their menus. I think some of the big chains are seeing the value of this, but we don’t really eat at the chains. So what are we supposed to do? Why is it so hard for Mom and Pop? Certainly some of the high-end Mom and Pop’s change their menu frequently and thus it’s probably difficult for them to post all the ingredients on the menu, but most Mom and Pop’s serve the same thing day in and day out. So what’s so hard about list common allergens on the menu? Or training servers on which dishes have ingredients on the top 8 allergens list? It doesn’t seem like much of a burden to me. There are so many people these days with allergens. Wouldn’t it make sense as a restauranteur to be a bit prepared?