janetofreno's Profile

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"We don't take reservations for less than 6." Restaurant Owners Listen Up! [moved from Seattle board]

Lousy analogy (the SW vs. Delta thing): whether you have a reservation or not, presumably the prices are the same when you go to a restaurant. That first class seat costs waaayyy more than the Southwest seat. That being said, given the choice and assuming that the prices are the same, I will fly Southwest every time. For starters, the flight attendants are nicer. No "if you don't like it, go elsewhere" attitude there. Wish I could say the same for Delta:-). Oh, and they have better seats with more legroom. That comfort thing we were talking about...

Oct 19, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

"We don't take reservations for less than 6." Restaurant Owners Listen Up! [moved from Seattle board]

OK its official, *I'm* old. (Actually, I know for a fact that I'm the same age as susancinsf, does that make me old? ;-). I say this because I have absolutely no idea what FOMO means....I will say that I agree with her about the comfort thing: I share the same bad knees, and I have no idea sometimes how I'm expected to wait without a decent place to sit...

And speaking of breakfast, some breakfast restaurants are the worse offenders. I can think of some very popular places in the SF area (just as an example) where there is no bar (these are places designed for breakfast and maybe lunch; not even open for dinner) and no place to sit while you wait. Yet you drive past them on a Sunday morning (I never stop:-) and there is a line down the sidewalk (some of them sitting on the curb). If its raining then the folks actually stand in the rain. For eggs, bacon and toast and maybe lox and bagels. Sorry, but as Susan says....breakfast isn't worth it.

Actually, we almost never go out to breakfast. A breakfast out is usually reserved for vacation, often at a resorty place, with a view of the water and some good coffee....(and little or no wait...)

Oct 19, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

"We don't take reservations for less than 6." Restaurant Owners Listen Up! [moved from Seattle board]

LOL...I believe you that you didn't call her names:-) And I agree, that is just bizarre.

Sometimes I wonder if people are just expecting folks to be rude, and think they've been rude even if they haven't?? The entire "must be outside" thing is strange. All I can think is that they want everyone to THINK that they are the new "hot" place in town, so figure a good crowd at the outside tables will boost that image...(rather than half the tables outside empty, as they would be if they were sensible enough for people to let them eat inside....)

Sometimes you have to wonder about businesses....

Oct 17, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Near Convention Center Denver, a place a variety of tastes will love...

Btw, Susan, I noticed in your other post that you ate at a place called Sugarmill next door to Los Chingones. I assume from your description it is a bakery or desert place of some sort. Do you know how late they are open on weeknights? I was thinking maybe Los Chingones (Aussies might like good Mexican food; I have a feeling they don't get it too often), followed by the dessert place for several among us with serious sweet addictions....Also, the group is expanding, so it looks more like 8 to 10: will those two places take that kind of crowd??

Oct 15, 2014
janetofreno in Mountain States

Near Convention Center Denver, a place a variety of tastes will love...

Thanks, taking a tram or a cab would be fine if its not too far....some of us might not want to walk far if the weather is cold anyway..(especially our Aussie friends, who are leaving summer to meet some of us for the first time). As for "not too expensive", I would say that no more than 50 bucks apiece including wine would be ok...but I'd rather keep it around 40....After all, the friends ARE coming from Australia for this meeting, and don't have all of their way paid...and at least one other friend is flying from Cleveland just to meet the Aussie gang; so we should keep costs down. Keep the suggestions coming, folks!

Oct 15, 2014
janetofreno in Mountain States

Near Convention Center Denver, a place a variety of tastes will love...

Several folks mentioned that this board is slow (Moderators?? Are you listening?? Maybe my suggestion to bring Reno and Nevada other than Vegas here would liven things up!!!)....so I am a little nervous about getting good suggestions: but here goes:

Looking for a casual, fun place for a small group dinner (six maybe?) on a Thursday night in November. Ethnic is ok, but the place must have good vegetarian options and gluten free options or we'll lose half the gang. Alcohol or at least good beer is important. Atmosphere, not so much..however, some of the folks in the group will be meeting for the first time after years of online friendship, so a place we can talk, laugh, linger and hear each other is a plus. Inexpensive is best. Easy access from the Convention Center is also best (either walking or public transportation).

My step-sister just moved away from the Denver area and she suggested Chef Zorba's. Sounds ok online, and I like Greek, but the fact that they do Mexican dishes as well is a little different....

Thoughts?

Oct 12, 2014
janetofreno in Mountain States

What's for Dinner #330 -- The Glorious Month Edition! [through Oct 18, 2014]

Love October too! Not only the leaves and the fun of fall, but football AND baseball!

I had planned to go to a meeting tonight, and had told DH he was on his own for dinner, but bagged it (we are both fighting a bug, and I wanted to rest).

So decided to make dinner from whatever I could rustle up without shopping. I made what might well be the last fresh tomato sauce of the season (don't worry, I have a TON frozen, this has been a banner year for tomatoes...to the point where I am actually almost tired of our home-grown beauties. Almost). There were a few eggplant left on the vine, so I added chopped eggplant to the sauce.

As I was making this, DH suggested baked ziti. OK, why not? I mixed the sauce with the cooked pasta, and added shredded bits of about three different cheeses (mozzarella, white cheddar, and parmesan) that we had leftover from different recipes. Topped it with more cheese, and baked until bubbly. Served with steamed broccoli and the house red. Gave the remote a work-out going back and forth between football and baseball. We are going out of town tomorrow, and will be back Sunday just in time to eat the leftovers.

Like you said, October is good.

The authenticity of a restaurant, or "what's the ethnicity of your server?"

Which actually gets to a point I wanted to make about ethnic restaurants: the best ones often ARE small, family owned businesses. And therefore the wait staff are often members of the family and of course therefore the same ethnicity.

Oct 09, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Food-related allergies to non-food items?

Some of the plants mentioned may have certain oils/toxins/chemicals/whatever you want to call them in the leaves, husks etc that serve to protect the plants. The corn husk thing sounds like a true allergy, but there are other examples I can think of that are more like toxins, since they happen to everybody. The tomato plants are a good example; I think that many people get the itchies after digging around in the tomato plants. I know I do. I wonder sometimes if its a reaction to something on the leaves, or perhaps to some insects that are sharing those leaves. I know for a fact that I'm not allergic to the actual tomato fruit. Mangoes are another example...green mangoes contain a toxin that many people react to, but when the fruit ripens it goes away. It is an evolutionary protection that is designed to protect the fruit from animals before it is ripe and the seed is ready to be spread....

Oct 02, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Why is Reno Southwest?

Thanks for posting that, Melanie. I never saw that discussion...but it seems that it occurred while I was living in Las Vegas, so I wasn't following the board nearly as much. I also note that it occurred prior to the real Reno food "renaissance" that I mentioned...which seems to have been over the past three years or so. Heck, I've seem some real changes in the 20 months or so I've been back here.

Despite that, Reno posts seem to be at an all-time low. Three of us seem to be having a conversation with ourselves half of the time. Again, I think its because people aren't finding us. The fact that you have to click on the little "i" to even learn where we are (when in fact we were somewhere else before) might be part of the problem. If you insist on making us Southwest, moderators, at least you could make it obvious to those glancing at the board list (as it used to be, before the cute little "i"s...took me awhile to figure out what that even was). At the very least, please consider saying something like "Reno is now in the Southwest board" on the description of California.

Actually, I would rather see Nevada as a Mountain West state (along with Idaho, Colorado, etc) than Southwest. The only food posts from Southern Nevada are from the Vegas area anyway, and they get their own board. The rest of the state identifies FAR more with Mountain West than Southwest. In fact, if I were looking for Reno for the first time it would NEVER occur to me to look in Southwest. I would go for Mountain West, unless I were to click on the little i and realize it wasn't there. And then I would have no idea. And areas such as Elko, Winnemucca, Ely, etc (which do have some food options) would definitely identify with Mountain West.

Oct 02, 2014
janetofreno in Site Talk
1

Why is Reno Southwest?

Time was when Reno was included in the Northern CA board, and then all of Nevada (except of course for Las Vegas) was moved to the Southwest board. I understand the why of it, sort of...after all Reno is NOT in Northern CA. But (and yes, I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this), neither is it the "Southwest." West, sure. But keep in mind that Reno is actually located north of the San Francisco area. Hard to describe that as Southwest. In fact, I would argue its closer to "Northwest."

But the real problem is that there are far fewer posts about Reno food than there used to be. There are really only a handful of us that post anymore. And remember, despite my handle I was living in Vegas for awhile, so that significantly reduced my Reno posts.

My theory is that people simply aren't finding us. The average visitor to Reno probably wouldn't think of looking in "Southwest" - after all, most visitors here come from areas South of us (SF, Sacramento, and other parts of CA). And that's a shame, because Reno has really had a food renaissance in the last few years. I would hate to see Chowhounds miss out on all the goodness.

One other possible reason for the slow-down: traditionally our area draws a lot from Northeastern CA and from the Lake Tahoe area. After all, someone visiting Lake Tahoe from afar and flying there will land at the "Reno-Tahoe" Airport. And they might want to stop and have a nice meal in Reno before heading up the mountain. But if they are chowhounds, they would be searching the California board for Tahoe info and might miss out on the Reno choices. Again, their loss. And people living in the Tahoe area and in Northeastern California often go to Reno for their shopping and entertainment...yet for chowhound recs they have to go to an entirely different board.

Actually, many Nevadans would argue that the entire state of Nevada shouldn't be classified as "Southwest." Traditionally, we think of ourselves as a Western State...and I certainly wouldn't think to look in Southwest for any part of Nevada. (With the possible exception of Las Vegas, which is of course a place unto itself with its own Chowhound board....) Remember too that descriptions of the areas are not immediately visible; instead you have to click on the little "i".

Look at a map, Chowhound moderators. See how far north Reno actually is. and then perhaps reconsider our designation as part of the "Southwest."

Oct 02, 2014
janetofreno in Site Talk
1

SK Noodles Sparks - Vegetarian "Pho"

I'm not a pho expert, but my understanding is that by definition pho contains beef. I could be wrong on that. OTOH, the soup is NOT listed as "vegetarian pho" but something like "vegetable and tofu noodle soup" as stated above...so the owners at least choose not to call it pho.

Sep 30, 2014
janetofreno in Southwest

SK Noodles Sparks - Vegetarian "Pho"

Several friends have always said they liked SK Noodles (In Sparks in the strip mall at the corner of Pyramid and McCarran; near Bully's). Even though its really only a short drive from my house, we had yet to eat there until yesterday.

First of all, the restaurant serves both Vietnamese dishes (mostly Pho) as well as Chinese. I noted that some online reviews were less than favorable, but the folks who posted them mostly had the Chinese dishes. Well, I know the owners (very nice folks), and know they are Vietnamese, and that and the fact that, well, the NAME of the place includes the words "Noodles" it was pretty obvious to me that you go there for the Pho.

And that is problematic for us, and another reason why we probably haven't been there sooner. DH is vegetarian, and finds it difficult to find a good vegetarian noodle soup. Until now. I just wanted to let Reno area Chowhounds know that SK Noodles' "vegetable and tofu noodle soup" (#9 on the menu) is well worth the trip. You have your choice of chicken or vegetable broth, of course DH had it with the veggie broth. It was a good one: good vegetable flavor without being too salty. And the vegetables in the soup were not only plentiful they were very fresh and definitely not overcooked. Last night's version had carrots, broccoli, snow peas, cabbage, water chestnut, and other goodies, as well as plenty of noodles and tofu. It was so good I almost regretted not ordering it myself.

Almost. After all, the pho tai was also very good (excellent broth with a good anise taste), and had plenty of beef to satisfy the cravings I get sometimes (since we do not eat beef at home..). Both soups came with the usual condiments and herbs. Dinner for two including a beer and tea, tax and tip was just around 20 dollars, and we left stuffed. Hard to argue with that.

Sep 25, 2014
janetofreno in Southwest

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

And I understand the concern about little children touching something and then licking their hands. But if that little exposure can cause a reaction I would hope the parents would teach them not to do it at a very young age. And certainly a middle-school child with a serious allergy should know to always wash their hands before and after eating, and not to use their fingers to "taste" things....

Sep 20, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

My statement about parents having unreasonable expectations of the school's ability to keep their child safe was not about that particular school or any school for that matter. It was just an observation based on statements made by fellow parents at my children's schools over the years. Heck, I remember a parent encouraging me to sue my kid's school because he ran into the basketball pole on the playground when he was looking for the ball and not watching where he was going and needed stitches. "The school should have taken out that pole. Why was that pole there anyway?" um....because it holds up the net needed for the game??? Again, it was a general statement based on years of personal observation.

Sep 20, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

Oh I get that parents don't read stuff that comes home. That's a given. And I wasn't trying to speculate about one particular school and their options without going first to them ... after all the school in question is probably about 3500 miles away from where I live. Rather, my friend (the one who received the letter) was wondering whether to challenge the school about it...wondering why there was suddenly so much concern in middle school when no such restrictions had existed with younger children. She honestly wasn't sure if it was school policy or just an over-anxious principal...or whether there were some problems specific to that school. And frankly, she was afraid to go to the school with her concerns. She was afraid if she brought up the subject she might be criticized for being uncaring, for not understanding what other people go through, etc, etc. Can't imagine where she got that idea:-) But seriously, if you have children in a school you want them to stay and be happy in, you generally try not to challenge the school administration unless it is absolutely necessary. And that is doubly true when your child is a soon-to-be 13 year old who is embarrassed if her mom even shows up at the school, much less questions school policy. So she started a conversation with HER friends to help her decide what, if anything, she should do about her concerns. And I thought it was an interesting discussion, and one that has bothered me at times in similar situations, so I posed it here. To my knowledge she has yet to discuss things with the school.

Sep 20, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

OK, I'm still thinking about the discussion here, and its keeping me up tonight. So, in answer to a few statements/questions: yes, of course the letter came from the school. And if you read my original post my question was not why it was sent home but if chowhounds felt that the requests made were reasonable. I suspect that whoever said that it probably was the result of several kids with several allergies is absolutely correct. I don't think there is one kid with all those allergies. But how did the list get made in the first place? Did the school ask the parents "Does your child have any allergies?" and then just put every food stuff mentioned in the letter, without first attempting to determine how severe the allergies were and without asking for confirmation from a doctor? If so, then they are motivated more by fear of lawsuits than common sense. Although frankly, I can understand why they might have the fear: its pretty obvious to me after reading the responses here and to similar posts on chowhound that this is a very emotional issue. Its also pretty obvious to me that parents may have unreasonable expectations of the school's ability to keep their child safe, so the school administration feels the necessity to CYA no matter what. Of course, to do so is impossible...but at least the school has the letter to point to if something does go wrong.

I still maintain that "my child has an allergy" means something entirely different than "if my child even touches that he will go into anaphylactic shock". Unfortunately, in this electronic age we immediately hear all the horror stories and they tend to make us afraid of everything. (Oh, and off topic, but chemicals and the like may have been as much of a problem when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s as they are now. Read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring"). Parents hear "your child is allergic to ______" and don't really understand what that means, so they act as if any exposure could kill their child when the reality is that (as already pointed out) deaths from ingesting allergens are really quite rare. And I'm not blaming parents for having those fears; doctors who don't take the time to explain carefully the exact situation are as much at fault as anyone...

Actually, poor education is to blame all around. Perhaps if there are children with allergies at a school it SHOULD be a learning experience for all...explain to the kids in terms they can understand exactly what an allergy is, and how some are worse than others and why, and what to do about it...(and how to recognize the signs). I have been reading some of the discussions on food allergies elsewhere on chowhound as I think about this entire subject..and there really is a lot of misunderstanding there. I had to restrain myself from opening up an argument on another thread that was ended months ago...because I noticed someone took offense to the fact that I tried to distinguish between what I would call a "toxic" effect with an allergy. They became almost angry, even though I used the word "toxic" in the scientific/medical sense. To them, "toxic" means that the effect builds up inside until you could possibly die..and the effect I described wasn't "toxic" because it wouldn't potentially kill you, so they insisted that I use the word "irritant" instead of "toxic." Whatever... Folks are so used to hearing toxic in a highly negative sense (ie "toxic waste") that they don't understand that the definition doesn't have to be that dire. The word "allergy" has come to have the same highly negative connotation....

OK, off this late-night rant now. The only point I was trying to make with my original post was that it seems sensible (to me, at least) to have a discussion about allergies and school kids, to educate, and to let medical personnel help determine what is appropriate and what isn't.....

Sep 18, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Random Reno notes: New Middle Eastern and a Panaderia

Update: Sadly, I think the panaderia is closed for good. DH and I speculate that their biggest failure was that they never had the air conditioning working properly. With all those windows facing the sun in the am the place could be unbearably hot...like a greenhouse. There were a few times we went there and left before ordering; just couldn't take it. Sad; they were nice people.

As for the Mediterranean place, I finally stopped in today. The prices do seem reasonable: i bought a quart of extra-virgin cold-pressed Italian olive oil for 7 bucks. They have a few Indian items (gram flour) as well as middle eastern. A good selection of tahinis, sauces, etc. The owner is very nice and accommodating. I am keeping it in mind should my niece (who keeps halal) come for a visit.

Sep 18, 2014
janetofreno in Southwest

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

"kids here don't really have peanut allergies, becaue no one eats peanuts." Interesting statement, and here's why: I lived in a country (Mexico) where roasted peanuts were a common snack. And my husband lived in a country (India) where peanuts were a very common food item (although peanut butter was unheard of, and a jar of peanut butter was as good as gold:-) Anyway, neither of us remembers encountering anyone who had a peanut allergy in either country; nor do we remember EVER being asked about such an allergy by a host or a restaurant. I don't know if its cultural (ie people in those countries just don't talk about it) or if it really is a difference in the production of peanuts or what....I remember reading somewhere that there was some speculation that the relatively large percentage of peanut allergies in the US might be linked to how they are grown: maybe an insecticide commonly used, or something with how they are cleaned after picking..honestly, I don't remember. I just remember reading it and thinking "hm, that's interesting" I DO know that there definitely are more people here who claim peanut allergies than in the two countries I mentioned. Again, that doesn't mean that there actually ARE more allergies. And btw, I ALWAYS ask guests if they are allergic to peanuts, because as someone pointed out above, they are often used in Indian food (the food we are most likely to cook for guests) as a thickener and can't easily be identified. FWIW, after decades of entertaining folks, the person I invited to dinner this weekend is the first one that has told me "I'm glad you asked, I am allergic to peanuts." She also is vegan, and gluten-free to boot. But these restrictions are easy enough to work around with an Indian menu....so no biggie.

(Just to show that I'm perfectly willing to work with folks with food sensitivities...I'm just not sure I would be able to follow instructions to leave 20 some ingredients out of my middle school child's lunchbox...I would tell them him not to share...:-)

Sep 18, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

I have read a theory that the increase in allergies may be linked to the increased use of antibiotics to raise food animals...that they are messing with our immune systems.

As for the income variations, many health professionals believe it has to do with exposure to allergens as a young child. Higher income folks are less likely to be exposed to dirt and dust (better air conditioning systems that filter those things out; thicker walls and higher quality windows, etc). Dirt is good, folks, at least if you want to grow up with less allergies. Or maybe lower income folks eat less meat and are exposed to fewer of those antibiotic residues.....

Sep 17, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

Actually, it was my son you called a jackass. And he can be one at times, but usually not to his patients:-) And I don't believe you have to be a parent to understand children's health needs, sorry. Actually, the only reason I brought up his opinion (and my pediatrician friend's opinion) is that I thought it was interesting to hear physicians' opinion on the matter...to me their background gave their opinions some weight...obviously I have more faith in doctors than you do, and that's ok. As for the letter that sparked the discussion, yes, it did come from the school. But certainly the school would not be so concerned if the parents hadn't brought them their concern. And knowing where my friend lives, I doubt if there are many non-English speakers there. Your other examples may have some merit....but at some point you have to draw the line. No one can be kept perfectly safe no matter how you try, especially if you "mainstream" disabled children. (NOT meant to be a comment on the merits of doing so; just a statement of fact. Yes, those groups will have more risk. Although I'm not sure a visually impaired child is at any more risk of ingesting allergens than anyone else...after all, what the parents are MOST worried about are nuts or other allergens that CAN'T be seen and therefore aren't obvious. And the visually impaired do tend to have better developed senses of smell...so they may SMELL the peanuts that can't be seen...Just a thought).

Actually, the thing that was so striking to my friend that received the letter was that the rules were far, far stricter for middle school than for the elementary kids. Although presumably allergies were present when she was younger, no such letter or restrictions ever occurred. (She voluntarily didn't pack nuts in her child's lunch, but that was a voluntary choice as she knew there were kids who were allergic to them. But no letter instructing her to do so had ever come). This led to a discussion if it was just the principal who was making an arbitrary decision, or if the feeling was that middle school kids can't be trusted, or what? It just seemed odd, as well as very difficult on the parents (since the list was long and wide-ranging and prohibited any foods that might contain even a little of the offending items...when they were very common items such as eggs...).

And the folks with the kid and the baseball games live a loongg way from Minnesota. And although I think its nice to make such concessions, my entire point was that most medical professionals feel that to go to such extremes is unnecessary and unfair to the children. And obviously you and I have different opinions as to whether they are correct. Furthermore, I suspect that the Twin's action is less out of concern for the children (has anyone ever died after their sibling was exposed to peanut dust at a Twin's game and then brought it home? For that matter has anyone ever died from actually eating peanuts at a Twin's game when they knew they were allergic?) and more out of a desire to attract more fans and make the organization look good...

And I may no longer be raising children but I am still a mom. No, not a grandmother yet but certainly hope to be. I'm a grand-aunt if that counts. And maybe there weren't the same dangers when my kids were growing up but there were plenty...oh, and I'm not THAT old anyway: my kids grew up using the internet. And when they were young air pollution and chemicals being dumped were actually worse than they are now....trust me, we had plenty to worry about.

Sep 17, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

I think that there's a big difference between deliberately and repeatedly giving a child food that is known to make them sick, as your grandmother apparently did (Sorry, but that's child abuse in my book) and forcing a group of other children to follow the dietary restrictions of one child that could get sick from eating certain things. I am NOT advocating we feed kids stuff that could make them sick. I AM wondering out loud if there is a better way to protect a 12 year old than forcing the entire classroom to avoid certain foods. If nothing else, the difficulties of the allergic child will only be increased if other children learn that s/he is the one responsible for no more oranges in their lunch. There will no doubt be nasty comments at best and perhaps attempts to sicken the child at worst. If I were that child I would rather keep my food issues to myself unless the offending food were forced on me...and I think that a 12 year old can and should be able to do that.

Oh, and as far as walking in someone else's shoes: I had severe digestive problems as a young child, and could eat basically ONLY milk or bananas. I don't remember much of that, but I'm sure it was hard for my mother to have to restrict my diet so severely. Even with the problems got better, I still couldn't eat chocolate without getting sick for a long time. Now, THAT I remember, and chocolate is something that many kids will be tempted with. But somehow I managed to follow my mother's and doctor's advice and avoid the chocolate. I convinced myself that I really didn't care for it that much, and although I can eat it now (proving that my intolerance was not a true allergy but rather a digestive issue), I do not crave it at all. Given a choice between a fruit desert and a chocolate one, I will chose the fruit almost every time (unless of course it contains dark chocolate AND fruit...:-) And to this day I will NOT eat a banana....too many of those early in my life I guess.

And the two doctors I was discussing in my original post are VERY compassionate people. In fact, one won the award in his medical school class for being the class member who most cared about his patients and showed the most compassion (sort of the "Miss Congeniality" award of the med school:-). I don't think their comments were meant to be callous at all. They were just an observation: that both kids AND parents might be happier and just as well off if they lived their lives as best they can with allergies without letting them run their lives. We cannot always live in fear, even when there is real danger. We should deal with the danger as best we can and move on. IMO, living with the danger of allergies should mean making sure the child knows what choices to make. Oh, and as far your grandmother and sibling goes, if I had been in that situation, I would not have stayed. I would have taken my children, said "Mom, I'm sorry, I love you, but I love my children too, and we'll come back to visit when I can insure that they will be given food that is safe for them to eat."

I just re-read that last sentence, and realized that it sounded harsh as well. For that I am sorry, but I have decided to not delete it. Because I am trying to make the point that there IS a difference between deliberately feeding children unsafe food and forcing everyone else in a school to eat only what one child can eat. And as horrifying as your story is, I don't think that it applies to my original post. Apples and oranges, to make a very bad joke...

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

I was on a SW flight earlier this summer and I definitely had peanuts. And DH always brings me a bag of peanuts from when he flies.....

Sep 15, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

I think we should make a distinction between a very small child and one who is in school. I think if you are old enough to be in first grade, you are old enough to know what you cannot eat. A two year old is different. And I don't have a problem with avoiding peanut butter with small children who might be allergic, but avoiding all contact with peanuts or even the possibility of contact is a bit over the top. Clearly sitting near someone who is eating peanuts will not be a death penalty even for those with peanut allergies, as my pediatrician friend pointed out. If it were, then Southwest Airlines would have stopped serving those peanuts. Yet I have a distinct memory of visiting a home where there were several children, one of whom (with no allergies) went to a baseball game with friends. The child involved did NOT eat or touch peanuts, just went to a game where they were served. And still, when he came home, because he had a sibling with severe peanut allergies, I watched as he had to strip on the front porch, be wrapped in a clean towel (for privacy I guess:-) and escorted immediately to a shower. His clothes went straight to the washing machine, by themselves. All this because there are peanuts at baseball games, and his parents were worried the dust would be transmitted to his sibling. Now, peanuts can be hidden within foods (which is why I always ask about peanut allergies specifically before cooking), so there is a chance that someone at that child's school is eating peanuts without him knowing it. Does mom go through the same routine every time he comes home from school?

As for faking allergies, that wasn't really what I was talking about. I was referring to people who define a negative side effect as an "allergy." There is a difference. I am an eye doctor, and I've had people who tell me they can't have the dilating drops because they are "allergic" to them. Yet when you ask them what reaction they have, the answer is "they make my eyes blurry." Well, yeah, they pretty much do that to everybody. And many others claim that they are "allergic" to codeine, because it makes them constipated. Again, it makes me constipated too...but I am NOT allergic to it. And as scary and upsetting as it may be to see your child vomit, even vomiting and stomach upset from an ingested item may not mean allergy. Again, not trying to be unsympathetic, just trying to point out that there is a difference between side effects and allergies, and many people don't understand that.

And yes, I do understand the fear of something happening to your child. But you can mitigate the fear somewhat by being prepared, and teaching the child to be prepared. And you must understand that there is some risk in everything. If you totally wanted to protect your child, you would never let them out of bed. You certainly would never let them ride in an automobile. If my child was so allergic to anything that he couldn't even touch something that someone else who was eating the offending item touched earlier in the day, then I wouldn't let him leave the house either. But if ingesting something is the problem, then at some point don't you have to teach them what to eat or not eat? Banning all potentially dangerous items seems unreasonable AND untenable.

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

OK, you can say that about my son if you wish...he is after all an internist, and still only in his second year of residency. But to say a pediatrician's opinion on childhood allergies is not relevant??? That just doesn't make sense to me. Sure, a child with severe allergies might end up seeing an allergist, but who the heck do you think is going to send them there? The pediatrician's opinion to me is the MOST relevant. Basically, she said that to restrict 12 year olds in such a matter was impractical and mean-spirited....and that some of the foods listed on the forbidden list are not foods likely (at all) to create life-threatening allergies. And she agreed that a 12 year old with such allergies needs to be taking care of themself.

Sep 14, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Kids and Allergies - long and a bit of a rant.

OK, apologies in advance for even bringing up the subject, as I know there are a lot of strong feelings out there on this and related subjects. But there is a discussion going on about food restrictions and a wedding, and what it is polite to ask for in terms of accommodation ahead of time, and its kind of spun off to the whole "how do you protect your kids" subject, and, well, I just had to jump in....

First of all, I had this discussion recently with a group of friends, and had some interesting input from two physicians present (One is my son, who is in his second year of Internal Medicine residency, and the other is a pediatrician...so I feel like both have relevant medical training). And both MDs agreed that they feel that parents can be too protective of their children who have allergies. More on that later.

The discussion started because one woman present had received a letter from her child's school with a long list of foods prohibited in her child's lunchbox. Her child happens to be in middle school, and is 12 years old, and therefore is presumably at an age where she and her peers are capable of taking some responsibility for their behavior (including what they eat). But although she refrained from packing items with nuts/peanuts when her child was younger, she was a bit perturbed by this letter. And frankly, I would have been too: among the forbidden items were such common lunch ingredients as eggs, tuna fish, kiwis, oranges...and many others. I think it was something like 20 items. Apparently if there was any chance of reaction to anything, it was on the forbidden list.

So the discussion began on what to do about kid's allergies. Certainly a ban on trading lunch items is reasonable. And certainly children who are middle school aged should understand the consequences of eating certain foods if they are allergic (heck, at that age they are capable of knowing how to use an epipen). But the interesting thing to me was to hear both MD's reactions: both my son AND the pediatrician agreed 100%: that parents get overly concerned about allergies. Now, we are setting aside the (valid, IMO, and in their opinions as well) argument that children should be exposed to potential allergens when young to help avoid allergies. We are talking about kids who already supposedly have life-threatening allergies. I say supposedly because both MDs agreed that parents/patients will often say that their child has a severe allergy, but that when you question them the reaction was digestive and not life-threatening. And I do not mean to demean those who DO have a life-threatening allergy: but even then both docs agreed that the risk is often over-emphasized. In other words, those with severe nut allergies (as an example) will generally NOT go into anaphylactic (sp?) shock from touching a small amount of peanut dust (such as if another child ate peanuts and then wiped their hands on the play equipment). Both agreed that the reaction is usually brought upon by actual ingestion, and that rarely happens accidentally UNLESS the child eats something that contains nuts without realizing the ingredients. Bottom line, they told us that in their experience parents become so afraid of the allergens that they let them run their kids (and their lives). They are so afraid that the child won't understand "Don't eat any cookies if you don't know what's in them" and become so afraid of the offending item (usually peanuts) that they don't let their child be at any event or participate anywhere there is even a chance of the offending antigen being present. I know kids who will never get to go to a ballgame because of their peanut allergy; and frankly I think that's just sad.

It was an interesting conversation to be sure, and keep in mind that these two docs had never met before the conversation took place, and practice in two very different parts of the country. Yet they both said essentially the same thing, which was basically parents are too paranoid, and let the allergies control their lives rather than the other way around.

Curious what chowhounds think? At what point do we assume people must take some self-responsibility? Now I would never dream of serving dinner to new guests without asking about food preferences and allergies, but to me that's just common courtesy. OTOH, I can't imagine having to worry about a list of 20 items to avoid putting into my child's lunch box....especially when the children involved are old enough to know what to eat and not to eat!! How do parents deal with school lunches these days if these kinds of restrictions are there? And what if you want to take a treat to school?? Yikes!!

Sep 13, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

Am I the only one who lives in a magic house? A lighthearted look at ourselves & food safety

My husband (born and raised in India, as you know) thinks we're crazy to refrigerate eggs. And he's probably right....He also tends to leave cooked food out ("oh the spices will keep the bacteria away"). If I want it refrigerated I have to put it in myself. OTOH, I rarely eat leftovers more than two days old. They just don't appeal. DH, otoh, yesterday ate some cooked salmon that was 8 days old. yuck.

Sep 10, 2014
janetofreno in Not About Food

V & V: What's for Dinner? Hot In Here Edition

I cannot think of cooking tonight, so it may be cereal. Not only is it hot, but I harvested an over-abundance of tomatoes this am. Seriously, I picked about 25 pounds worth from our little garden. And now I am cooking huge pots of spaghetti sauce to freeze. (Also picked a lot of basil and oregano to go into the sauce). I can't bring myself to even cook some spaghetti to pour it over for tonight:-)

Food-centric weekend

There's always Las Vegas.....plenty to eat and enjoy there!

Sep 01, 2014
janetofreno in Southwest

Favorite Movies About Food?

Adding a new favorite which came out after the last post to this thread: "The Hundred Foot Journey". It managed to poke fun at classical French cooking AND Indian cooking yet still make you yearn for the best of both. Plus I thought it was a sweet statement on the immigrant experience. And bonus points for beautiful French countryside scenery and market scenes. Going with DH (who is from India) enriched the experience...there are a few scenes where Papa comments under his breath in Hindi, and his comments are not subtitled. DH translated, and a couple were zingers. OTOH, I like it when films where the story line would require several languages to be spoken don't translate every word...it feels more real and gives you a feel for what the characters are going through. The film did the same thing with French a few times. But go to see the food scenes. I am craving sea urchin, and you will too!

Aug 17, 2014
janetofreno in Food Media & News