Allergies and food sensitivity should be a product of one's physiology and not of culture, right?
Last year I spent 6 months traveling through Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and South Korea (and most recently returned from a month in Japan)
I find myself now wondering:
- where are the Indian people who complain about the spicy food?
- where are the Japanese people who complain that they don't like fish?
- where are the Chinese people who can't eat the gluten in the noodles or who are allergic to soy?
- where are the Vietnamese people who think the fish sauce is stinky?
But here in Los Angeles:
I go out to a restaurant and, for example, hear a whiny teenage girl with an LV purse and film producer parents complaining that her curry is too spicy, or perhaps a child who refuses to eat anything but chicken nuggets, or when I hear an actress asking the waiter to hold the penne from her pesto because she can't eat gluten.
This begs the question... are there equivalent food nitpicks elsewhere in the world? Is there in Delhi, right now, a snooty rich girl with an LV purse complaining that her hamburger is not spicy enough and that she can't eat the bun?
My theory is that our nitpickiness is one of the privileges of living in a wealthy society where we have the time to consider such things. I also feel that our lack of a healthy, indigenous American diet causes food sensitivity and health problems. For example, my sister was a vegetarian for 15 years, thought she was doing something healthy for her body, yet over the years she suffered all sorts of skin conditions, mild loss of hair, stomach ulcers and other untidy gastric problems. Amazingly (and suddenly) she decided to eat a moderate amount of meat again (fish and chicken) and within two months, all of these problems cleared up. She was just as surprised as any of us were.
I really feel that if America had a deeply rooted history of a vegetarian diet as, for example, India does that this would not be a problem. But since in America we accept instant foods, fake soy burgers and fake bacon and pizza as viable alternatives for vegetarians as the result of a lack of a culturally well-established and nutritionally rounded vegetarian diet, people will go out to restaurants and pick apart a dish to avoid potential health risks when perhaps avoiding certain items may be causing the problems to begin with.
By the way, I am speaking as a type I diabetic, so I am not insensitive to people with dietary restrictions. However not once in my 20 years as a diabetic have I asked for a special modification be made to a meal-- I simply eat what I know gives me the best results on my blood glucose monitor. However I realize that most people with health related food requests have only their feelings to go by and not a quantifiable readout from a machine.
But still I wonder, how many people out there are suffering from health problems which they have brought on themselves, like my sister, through lack of knowledge about what exactly a healthy diet is?