Beet Salad With Hazelnut Oil

Summer travel and food allergies will be the topic of my next Worry-Free Dinners events THIS SUNDAY. There’s still room to join us, check out the WFD website.


Happy 4th of July everyone. I hope you had deliciously safe holiday BBQs, picnics, a super fun family trip or like me, an unplugged weekend away.

It was a friend’s husband’s birthday (a big one) this past weekend and she put together a lavish surprise weekend getaway for their nearest and dearest friends and family at their country home. The event was catered by a chef on Friday night and my friend gave the caterers a heads up about this Allergic Girl.

As you may have noticed, I am not shy. Sure, I’ll have moments when I feel intimidated but overall I can rise above them. (Sometime really not with hilarious results i.e. put me in a room with straight male models, because that happens all the time, and I’ll be staring at the floor). However, having food allergies is really not compatible with shyness. If I had any shy bones, talking with caterers and food service professionals would be tortuous. Or like Friday, walking into a room and having my food allergic reputation precede me might just crush an extremely private or shy person. For you shy food allergic people out there, I acknowledge you and how difficult it can be. But please remember, your safety is in your hands; it is vital you that you speak up, communicate your needs so they can be met and you can stay safe.

Back to this un-shy, Allergic Girl, when I walked into the house on Friday afternoon, the chef Paul and his assistant Sulan were prepping the dinner. I was able to talk with them straight away about what they were making for dinner (fish for apps and main) and what I would need. I was very clear about my needs, allergens and cross contamination concerns. I smiled lots and thanked them for their assistance profusely.

They told me they were using hazelnut oil with goat cheese on the beet salad app. I could see the beets already roasted sliced and prepped on the kitchen counter. They said, “We’ll make a separate one for you”. But in my mind that salad was already tagged as a no go. Too scary; too easy to mix up. And indeed the salad arrived and I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. I even asked another house guest sitting next to me to taste it for the offending and frightening oil. He said it was just olive oil and I still couldn’t eat it.

I was officially spooked.

Even if it was fine, and it probably was, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. So, I skipped it; left it untouched on my plate. Yes, I felt badly, and a little embarrassed, actually a little more than embarrassed, but I knew I just couldn’t eat it. The second course came around and it was fine: plain grilled chicken, steamed veggies and asparagus risotto. Both guests on either side of me taste-tested it for me with clean forks, and then I dug in.

So, what’s the lesson here? Maybe it was that even though I knew I was being a little irrational, I had to go with my feelings about the beet salad. However, I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying the rest of the meal. And try not to be shy. And this food allergy stuff is always a work in progress.


South Slope said…
ALWAYS listen to your inner self - embarassment notwithstanding - it always beats a ride to the ER...

Amy Green said…
When I first learned that I had some food issues, a good friend of mine with similar issues took me out to eat to teach me how to ask questions and order. She helped me learn how to do the same with other people too - it's even harder sometimes with friends and family.

I think it's great that you're taking care of yourself and that you're helping others learn to do the same via your stories.
Even though I haven't had a full anaphylactic response, there are times when--because my reactions do make me really sick and I have spent the night curled up on the floor in pain--I sit there and stare at the food, afraid to touch it because the person making it seemed too cavalier or like they were brushing away my concerns. Anymore, I just don't...and if they're offended, I live with it. I'd rather live with that than coping with a bad reaction.

Jenny said…
Thank you for this post--the need for avoiding "uncertain" foods is something I try to impart to my own allergic daughter and also to my own blog readers.

Your story is valuable because it shows you how important it is to go with your gut instincts on food allergies. I'm sure it's hard at times, especially for those who are more on the shy side, as you note. Your post also shows why you should never be afraid to speak up or reject a food.

Thanks (as always) for an honest report about an incident in your dining out life as a food-allergic person. I hope it encourages others to take the same safe approach that you did.
Oh I've been "spooked" many times. I can totally relate to your situation. When eating something could put your life on the line, it's better to give in to your fears even if that feeling is unwarrented.

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