There is a sense of tragedy when you find out about a food allergy. When you realize your body won’t allow you to have something of nature that you have always loved and craved. The thing about food allergies is they hit at all ages, they can come and go, they attack people differently, and in the end everyone has to really decide how to handle their own.
It can be hard to feed the allergic. A very close friend of mine learned that fruit is her bodies nemesis and it was a blow. Having to make the decision to never eat the dessert of nature again is a hard one to swallow. Especially when you realize just how prevelant it is in everything! No Apple cider vinegar, no squeeze of lemon, wine is out, so many mixed drinks are out, did that chicken have an orange in it when you made the stock? Out. Does the beer have a citrus flavor or actual citrus peel?
My husband and I threw her birthday dinner this year, a fancy dress, three course affair. Because eating out can be a struggle when even the water comes out with a lemon slice and the waitress might not actually know what all is in the salad dressing.
We decided to pair each course with a special beer, the beverage she is learning to enjoy as so many other beverages are out of bounds now. It was sweet to see the Mr hunting down the perfect stout, and reading over labels to make sure everything was fruit free. He also made the contribution of homemade snickers ice cream for dessert, paired with peanut butter cookies and a chocolate stout.
Another friend came over to help with the cooking. We did a pumpkin soup to start and of course had to extract the first recipe I wanted to try after I realized my curry paste had lime as one of the last ingredients- who’s to know if it would have affected her but better safe than sorry! We paired it with a light pumpkin wheat to start out easy. A pasta carbonara was our main course and the Internet told us an oatmeal stout would pair best with it, we agreed.
It can take a bit of imagination, a little extra work, and sometimes a little extra expense to feed the allergic and the sensitive. It is good to remember, as a friend with no food allergies, what they have to go through every day, and it is totally worth it to have a night our friend could enjoy with no worries or doubts about what she was eating. Not having to question the waitress or consult every label yourself frees you up to enjoy things a little bit better. And that, I think, was the best birthday gift I could give.