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Sushi and sesame. Allergic conundrums.


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Sushi and sesame. Allergic conundrums.

Reloy | Apr 25, 2011 06:26 PM

Hello Chowhounds, I'm a lurker and first time poster. My friend of many years, and dearest eating partner has recently developed an increasingly serious seed allergy. It initially started as a reaction to flax and sesame, but grew to include most seeds in that family, poppy, mustard, and pine nuts (tragic!). However, sesame and flax cause the strongest reaction. Early on, it was just a matter of brushing some sesame seeds off of a roll and resisting halva, but she has become much more sensitive of late.

Of course, this isn't the most exclusive of allergies, compared to peanuts or gluten, a seed allergy is pretty easy to deal with. Even with all the products being fortified with omega-3 by adding flax oil, home cooking isn't a challenge. But it has put a damper on some of our favorite cuisines, and while I'm a competent cook, I really can't match the skills and access to product that a well-trained sushi chef has. However, the sesame allergy is strong enough that simply handling seeds and then touching her food is enough to cause a reaction and ruin an evening. This extends to other cuisines in which sesame seeds or oil play a heavy part, which rules out a lot of the best Asian food. I'd love to be able to take her out to some of these places, but am slightly intimidated by demanding that a busy cook completely avoid seeds or switch gloves when making our food to avoid contaminating her order. I also worry about possible language barriers at some lower key (and often most delicious) restaurants or, given how uncommon the allergy is, a lack of concern.

I am eager to hear what any of the veteran eaters on this board have experienced. I'm sure a lot of you will be pretty dismissive of it as being hypochondria or paranoia, but the allergy is very real. Mostly, I'd love to hear if anybody has made awkward demands of chefs at restaurants (especially Asian) that weren't fine dining and found relief. As somebody with no intolerances to any ingredients I can have trouble sympathizing with her. But I'd love to be able to take her to Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, or Japanese restaurants without any fear of the evening ending with a panic attack, an epi-pen injection, or at best a Benadryl coma. If we could find a few quality Asian restaurants that were very accommodating, they would have a couple of good tipping customers for life.

Thank you all!

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