Where Do You Eat?

I have food allergies.  I've ALWAYS had food allergies (at least as long as I can recall).  I am NOT one of the lucky people who has grown out of her allergies.  As I aged I grew into more.  For example, as a child I was allergic to eggs (I go into anaphylactic shock...it's NOT pretty and it can be a life or death situation).  However, until I was a teen, I COULD eat poultry.  That is until one Thanksgiving evening where I ended up in the ER.  (So, yes, we are the family that does NOT have turkey on Thanksgiving.)  As I entered my 20s and 30s, I noticed that my mouth/throat started to feel "funny" (the first signal for me) after eating lentils, peas/hard shell beans and kiwi!  (I know, it makes no sense, but most of the time I make no sense, so...)

Back then, allergies were not as prevalent or at least it seemed that way.  Food allergies were not in the news and there weren't such great resources as  www.foodallergy.org.  Anaphylactic shock was not something that the general populace knew about and there were no auto epinephrine injectors.  (I carried a bee sting kit with me on band trips.  Thankfully I never had to use it because I can remember it looking pretty complicated and when you're in the middle of an allergic reaction I'm usually in panic mode.)  Thankfully today things are different; people are better educated.

But there is still one area, that I personally feel is lacking and it came to the front of my mind recently on a survey that FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) was doing regarding what allergy issues were the ones that you cared about the most.  Item #8 on their list was:  "Require restaurant personnel to be trained in food allergies and avoiding allergen cross contact."  From personal experience (https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2017/11/from-scratch.html) I can say that this is area that is seriously lacking. I have rarely felt completely "safe" when dining out.  I have even had challenges when dining at what many (myself included) consider the "safest" and best educated place to eat:  Disney World.  I narrowly avoided an incident at a restaurant in Epcot in 2010 when a friend, who also happens to be a chef on Disney property (and an AMAZING and caring one at that), stopped me from eating something that she knew from experience would not be safe DESPITE having spoken to the chef who prepared the food before ordering.

As an experiment, I googled restaurants in my town, which pulled up 20 area eateries.  While some did not have a website, of all of those that did not one mentioned food allergies.  (Two did mention that they had gluten free and/or vegan/vegetarian options.)  Now I could (and perhaps I SHOULD) call each and every of these restaurants to find out what their allergy policy and education is (if they have any), but wouldn't it be easy (and extremely helpful) to put something on a website that addresses food allergies?  (Even if it said they COULDN'T accommodate someone with food allergies it would be helpful!)

As a further experiment I visited Allergy Eats, an online guide of restaurant ratings based on reviews/opinions of people with allergies.  When I put in my zip code and two of my food allergies (eggs and shellfish; poultry, beans, lentils and kiwi were not options) and searched for a review for a restaurant within 20 miles (the maximum distance the site offered), my search came up with no results.  Great...no one serve the lady with the food allergies.

Rather than continue a seemingly pointless search, I know there are families in Northern NJ who live with food allergies.  Or perhaps you don't live in my area, but you know an excellent restaurant I should try if I were in your area.  Or you know of a chain of restaurants that are particularly good with food allergies.  (I have yet to find one!) Do you eat out?  (I can certainly understand if you don't!)  Is there a place that you might recommend?  (Sing it out loud!  Sing it out proud.)  

Come on all anaphylactics (is that a thing?); share your food allergy stories with me and let me know where you eat!


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