I've always been a foodie. And to put it simply: I love food! Living in NYC it's easy to support my interest of food given all the fabulous restaurants and the variety of options available. This love is evident not simply here at home, though. I've always made it a point when traveling to head to cities not only for the hot cultural spots but also made sure to research the foodie must-eats as well. Heck, I would always relish attending a party where I knew great food would be served. Needless to say, I think you get the point: Of my 5 senses, taste has always been my go-to... However, that all has changed in the not-too-distant past, as my 2 young daughters, suffering from food allergies, have given me a different perspective on food. When they join us at a new restaurant or attend a party where lots of food is being served, it's a confusing visual maze they need to sort through in order to make sure that what they're eating is safe. Let's just say, it certainly isn't the carefree dining experience I'm used to.
Perhaps this affects you or those close to you, as well. In fact, there are over 15 million Americans living with food allergies - staggering numbers! I'm sure most of us know at least one person effected. To walk in their shoes or, should we say "dine in their place" has to make you stop, think and realize what a challenge eating out can be each and every day for them.
However, this limitation can be overcome in several ways. After all, a party can certainly still be awesome and memorable even if you don't sample all your favorite foods. A trendy off-the-beaten-path restaurant is still fun to discover, however, maybe the joy isn't simply in what's being served, but more so the way that their other senses are engaged. The enjoyment of meals throughout history is never simply the cuisine, but an amalgamation of ambience, the locale and the people with whom you're gathered.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissing the enjoyment of great food, however, I've gained a broader perspective thanks to my daughters. I'm now taking a second look at food with them that focuses more time honing my four other senses, since taste isn't quite the priority it used to be anymore.
Do you or someone you love suffer from food allergies? How do you manage finding safe foods and adjusting your shopping? I'd love to hear your tips and recommendations!