By Alisa Fleming, www.GoDairyFree.org – “Let’s Eat Out!” covers a very difficult topic, restaurant dining for people with food allergies and intolerances. For adults who should avoid top allergens due to mild to moderate food allergies and intolerances, this can be a very useful book. I have already referenced it a few times for some restaurant inspiration, outside of my usual Asian selections.
The book itself is stylishly laid out with color-coded chapters, strategically placed photographs, useful charts, and sample menus. It addresses ten of the most common food allergens: dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten (an intolerance), soy, peanuts, tree nuts, corn, fish, and shellfish.
It should be noted, that this book was written with celiac disease, multiple food “sensitivities”, and gluten intolerance in mind. It may not be very appropriate for those who have life-threatening food allergies or severe intolerances. This is not to blame the authors. The various styles of food preparation combined with a high risk of cross-contamination in food service kitchens, make this a complicated area to address. Though, as one food allergy mom pointed out to me, the “Allergy-Free” title is a bit deceiving in this respect.
Also, for those who do have true food allergies, this book should not be used as a dining bible, but more as a suggestion based resource for further research and diligence. As someone who lives with a milk protein allergy, I unfortunately noted many errors with respect to the foods listed as “not containing the allergen.” Guacamole (often made with sour cream), margarine (frequently contains lactose and/or milk protein), and sausages (many brands contain cheese) were just a few that caused me to raise the red flag. Your own questions and food label reading would still be required when utilizing this book.
Luckily, the authors do relay what questions to ask, and in many different languages. Kim Koeller has traveled extensively while living with multiple food allergies. This is well evidenced by the resources provided, including a multi-lingual phrase section and what seems to be a very useful airline guide. For those most interested in travel, the authors of “Let’s Eat Out!” have also produced a “Multi-Lingual Phrase Passport” for food allergies that is pocket-sized. I thought this was a very handy little guide!
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