Monday, November 26, 2007

Assorted things

Well, Turkey Fest 2007 has come and gone, and I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, as I did. We all have a lot to be thankful for. I'm thankful for everyone that reads this blog (in addition to a whole bunch of other things - a loving husband, roof over my head, family & friends, my job, and the list goes on).

I was in northern New Jersey at a bridal shower this past Saturday. I made the dreaded mistake of not eating before I left (the horror!) because I didn't exactly have thirty seconds to breathe this week....for some people it was a vacation. I accomplished a lot, and I'm proud to say all my holiday shopping is done! But I'm sidetracking myself as usual. I forgot to eat before the bridal shower, and it was an hour drive.

I went into the restaurant determined to find something to eat without being inconsiderate of my host and what was to be provided. Imagine my surprise when the waitress was able to give me london broil, gravy-free, steamed plain vegetables with no seasoning/butter, and a butter-less roll. I was thrilled with what I thought was excellent service, and didn't even mind being the sideshow attraction at the table (after my request, I had to explain to the other guests why I was behaving this way - I wasn't eating the salad because there was a tomato on the plate, etc. Lots of eye rolls all around).

It turns out that a very thoughtful friend had informed the waitstaff that I would be there with my allergies, and to please accommodate me in any way possible.....I haven't been that flattered in a long time, and yes, the food was delicious. And my accommodations cost them nothing (which made me very happy). Always nice to be taken care of. The shower was a lovely, tasteful affair and the bride-to-be was in utter shock (though through a crowd of 30 people she spotted me and yelled "I knew I recognized your car!" She got a lovely start to her new life, and I had a great meal!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving is almost upon us...

Well, I'm often asked how people with "my allergies" (and yes, that's often punctuated by an eye roll) handle the holidays. It kind of makes me laugh a bit. Most people have visions of me sitting at a table filled with food, staring longingly at the turkey while I look at my clean white plate and mope.

On what planet? Let us get this straight immediately. I keep writing this and maybe, if it can effect just one person, I'll have gotten through. I can eat. I like to eat. Allergies are a hindrance but they don't have to rule one's life!

It's quite simple. One (me) asks the hostess what they will be preparing. Together, because Thanksgiving is a holiday spent with family (who at this point in my life, all my family is used to my "pain-in-the-assery"), we work out what I'll be able to eat (i.e. - please no paprika on the turkey, and a baked potato in the oven alongside the mashed that are cooking). Believe it or not, outside of having an alternative to butter on the table for me, so that I might eat a roll and said potato, that's about all the accommodation that's necessary. For me, it's as simple as a baked potato and some margarine.

If I can make any point here, it is to TALK to the family/friend/restaurant that is hosting your holiday dinner ahead of time. You're S-O-L if you show up without speaking up (and that's not the host's fault, it's yours)! Know your limits (no gravy for me), and then sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself! The key is to discuss all of these things beforehand. Remember allergic guests, holiday dinners are extremely stressful. No host can make everybody happy. Asking that you not be killed, however, is well within your right!
I'd be remiss if I didn't provide you with a fail-safe plan to survive Thanksgiving on the off chance you can't discuss the meal ahead of time (and this does happen). Eat only what you can, even if that's just a small salad or a plain roll. Then eat when you get home, because you know what the ingredients are and you know that the food is safely prepared. Remember, an obnoxious comment or two about your eating habits is far better than having to use your Epi-Pen and/or visit the hospital (and this is an Allergic Diner cardinal rule!)
Gobble Gobble,
Your Allergic Diner

Monday, November 12, 2007

The birthday struggle....

NAH's birthday was this past weekend. I'd been imploring him for weeks to pick a restaurant for his birthday dinner. I'd promised him a week of his favorite meals, but it was important to pick a restaurant because his family would be joining us and we wanted to take him out to celebrate. One would think this was a fairly easy request. We live amidst 5o restaurants (a conservative estimate) and are within driving distance of several hundred.
NAH finally announced his birthday selection. He wanted to go to Burger King. You might think this was a sarcastic request to pacify me, but he was deadly serious. I can even remember one birthday we celebrated in college, I offered to take him to a new steakhouse that had opened, and he insisted on Burger King. It was his birthday, so to Burger King we went. I think I laughed through the whole meal, but he was very happy.
In this case, however, his family and I wanted to do something nice for him (and lets not forget that the rest of us didn't really want to eat Burger King), so I kindly told him that I'd take him to Burger King for lunch on his birthday, but perhaps he could pick something with a little more selection for the rest of us for dinner?
He finally decided on Pizzeria Uno's, which was a great and problematic choice. It was a great choice because it was approximately 10 minutes from all of us, and a problematic choice because of well, the whole NO TOMATO thing. Hah. I'd had a couple good experiences years ago at Uno's and then a couple bad experiences years ago at Uno's. I figured it'd been several years and his birthday was reason enough to try again.
I worked my allergic diner magic and reviewed their website to discover that they had nutrition information that included EVERY INGREDIENT OF EVERY DISH, right down to the type of oil in their deep-dish pizza crust mix (soybean, if you were wondering). I saw several items I could eat, and I was determined to try something new.
I ended up ordering a deep-dish cheese & tomato pie (no tomato, of course) with anchovies (I love them!) and asked the server make sure there were no seasonings sprinkled on top. It came just as I ordered and was about the most delicious thing I'd had in a long time! NAH was thrilled to have a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings for dinner, and the rest of the family was very pleased with their orders (chicken parm, salmon, steak, and salad). It was a wonderful birthday and I have a new restaurant at which I can eat! The best? After everything we've been through with my allergies, I think NAH appreciates when I enjoy an entree in a restaurant just as much as I do (especially when he can pick a restaurant for his birthday without having to worry)!

Here is the link to some of their nutrition information. Their website is easily navigated, just click on the ingredient information link at the bottom of the nutrition label after choosing an item:

As always, wishing you very happy dining!
Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Make a difference.....

Hmm...while this isn't food related, there's a new annoyance in my life that I could use some help with, so I turn to you, my readers, and perhaps we can puzzle this out together....

In the past several weeks both my husband and I have received phone calls that go something like this:
The phone rings. He picks it up and says "hello." Silence. Again, "hello," then the weirdest thing happens, an automated female voice responds "sorry, my mistake" and then hangs up !?
It has happened to me, it has happened to him, and it's really irritating (made more so by the fact that we don't have caller ID to avoid this particular number).

Has anyone experienced this? Do you know what it is? Obviously whomever is calling isn't looking to speak to a live person, but there is something very odd about all of this..

Please remember to exercise your right to vote - citizens of other countries die trying to obtain this right that too many of us shrug off with indifference. Every vote matters!