Sunday, March 28, 2010


Several days ago, I received this comment from a reader. I think it is worthwhile to post here for everyone to read. This was left on an old post I had written about the allergy-friendliness of the menu at P.F. Chang's.

Careful! We went there last night and found out that they have changed the recipes and that the oyster free sauce is no longer available. EVERY dish we ordered was unsafe for a shellfish allergy. The manager came out and let us know that we could not order the lettuce wraps, the kung pao chicken, the sweet and sour chicken, the orange peel beef (or chicken for that matter), and the egg drop soup. She said that corporate wide they have stopped allowing the substitute sauce.

Please, friends, ASK questions when you go to a restaurant. A good friend likes to tease me b/c we meet for lunch at the same restaurant, where without fail, I order the same dish. Each time, before I place my order, I review how it's made with the waitress.
Remember the cardinal rule of allergic dining:
Thank you to the commenter who sent the P.F. Chang's warning!
Allergic Diner

Friday, March 26, 2010

The evening was only missing the banana walnut cookies of death...otherwise known as allergic adventures in cooking class, part 1.

Howdy, bloggy friends!
It's been awhile. I'm barely keeping my head above water with my freelance work, and I'm loving every minute of it. I managed to escape to visit my allergic mom on Tuesday, and we had an allergic adventure that I felt I should share with you.
Allergic mom is retired, and working her way through a "bucket list" of sorts. It's great. One of the items on her list was to take a cooking class to expand her repertoire. I offered to join her, figuring it would be a good time had by all. I like spending time with allergic mom, and I like cooking. We signed up for a Chinese cooking class. Yum. How could this not be a win-win? Oh, brother...
Tuesday evening I drove to Atlantic City Community College where the class was held. When we entered the class, we received our recipe packets. My internal alarm was sounding as I noted that every chef was wearing latex gloves. Strike one.
We opened the recipe packets, and it was not the typical Chinese food that we were expecting. This was Southeast Asian cooking, as in Thai food, as in every recipe contained either shrimp (allergic mom's one and only MASSIVE allergy), lemongrass (allergic diner no-no), coconut (allergic diner no-no), fish sauce (allergic diner no-no), chili paste (allergic diner no-no), and well, you get the picture. Strikes two, three, four, and five. Yikes!
I couldn't help it. I dissolved into a fit of giggles while the chef was lecturing. Out of close to 10 ingredients, only two were allergic-diner friendly (mung beans and mint, mmmmm....). This had all the makings of a hospital visit, and as I was extremely overtired to begin with, I found it simply hilarious. All I could think was "Where are the death cookies?"
As I'm snickering behind my packet, I looked at allergic mom, who was very nonchalantly starting to scratch her arms, and then her wrists, and then her palms. The shrimp was at every station, and I'm guessing the scent of all that shrimp was too much for her. I couldn't help myself, I cracked up. We couldn't have chosen a more inappropriate class for ourselves short of signing up for "Inject yourself with a tomato 101!"
We walked over to one of the sous chefs and explained our predicament. She even noted my med-alert bracelet (two points for her!). They were extremely kind, and offered to refund our money on the spot (after insisting we move the conversation to the hallway so my mom didn't scratch herself to death). We didn't want that! We've rolled our tuition into a "to be determined" course for May/June. Perhaps we'll bake some bread, or learn some knife skills. This was simply not meant to be.
Our cooking adventure lasted all of 10 minutes, and we went out to dinner for the Chinese food we thought we'd be making (thereby still giving allergic dad a night to himself). Adventures in cooking class, part two, will be forthcoming.
Ah well, the best laid plans...
Yours in attempting to live life on occasion,
Allergic Diner

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A whole day off?

Recently, I was afforded something that has become unusually rare since I began contract work: an entire day off, without any work that needed my attention. Certainly, I have time off. However, I have found that when I'm at home and on multiple deadlines, I might as well be working to make my deadlines. Happy clients keep the work flowing. Therefore, even if I have a Saturday off, I will often spend part of the day working on a project. Not this week! I was OFF on Wednesday, and decided to make the most of my day.
The highlight of my day was stopping by Wegman's to pick up lunch on my way home to watch an entire season's worth of DVRed shows (I tape them, but I can never get to them!). I was craving one of their delicious Caesar salads that I only indulge in sparingly because they are not good for you. Anything that tastes that good just can't be good for you. After waiting in line, I noticed that the salad preparer had used her tongs to touch a corn/tomato salsa for the woman who had been in line ahead of me. I very politely (and very nervously, as there were about 25 people in line) said, "I'm really sorry, but I'm allergic to what you just touched with your tongs, would you mind using a clean pair to make my salad?"
Not only did she change tongs (and salad bowls), but she put on brand new gloves as well. Color me impressed! The salad was fantastic.
Thanks you, Wegmans!
Your Allergic Diner