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Dear Captain Awkward,

All my adult life, I’ve been an adventurous eater. My partner and I love to cook and try new dishes. We invite people over for dinner parties a lot, and our friends and family love to reciprocate. We also really enjoy trying new restaurants with them.

Unfortunately, I recently underwent allergy testing to find the source of a mysterious rash, and it turns out that I have a delayed-action sensitivity to some of my favorite foods and some common food preservatives. This is probably the cause of the rash. My doctors told me to eliminate these foods and preservatives from my diet. (This gets even more complicated because they told me I can slowly, eventually start to re-introduce them one at a time to see if some of them cause worse problems than others, or if they are OK in small quantities but not large ones.)

I hope this wouldn’t be true of the folks who love me, but I know some people are really, really weird about strong food preferences and allergies. They often take it personally when someone can’t eat food they have prepared. I have even heard of situations where a host secretly feeds a person whatever they have claimed to be allergic to, so that they can feel superior if that person does not have a bad reaction. Of course I won’t have a bad reaction right away — I’ll just get a horrible rash the next morning! On top of this, eating food prepared outside of my own kitchen will now require me to ask really specific questions of the person who prepared it (did you prepare this with bleached or unbleached flour? did you use a mix?) that I am worried will come off as judgmental. Plus, what will people think when I’ve made a big deal to them about not being able to eat a certain food, and two months later they see me happily chowing down on it for lunch the break room, as I re-introduce it to my diet? (This is especially concerning in cases where the person is a casual acquaintance or co-worker — good friends will get updates about all this stuff from me as it happens.)

What should I do? Send out a mass email? Inform people on a case-by-case basis? And how do I make myself feel better about suddenly having to be so careful about my diet?

Thanks,

Reluctantly Picky

(P.S. “She/her” pronouns are fine.)

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Thanks for all the recipes and books! I need to step away from moderation for the next few days due to some work deadlines and can’t pay attention to the spam queue, so am closing comments. We’ll do another one of these sometime soon. 

In the meantime, work on finding us a rich benefactor so we can throw a legendary potluck.

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Hello, Awkwardeers!

How are you? It is Friday. I am grading final projects. Let’s have an open thread!

Inspired by madgastronomer’s recent sharing of a key lime pie recipe, if you feel inclined, please share a recipe that you love to make.

Ground Rules: If you read the recipe and it contains something you hate, don’t eat, or can’t eat, it would be great if you just skipped over the comment completely without comment. You can ask about substitutions, but no “Ew” or “It sounds awesome except for x ingredient, which is the food of Satan” or “well, I’m allergic so I can’t” or “Not everyone can afford to shop at Whole Paycheck.” Chances are that you’re not going to make whatever it is anyway, and those comments are just a downer for the person who shared it in the first place. Also, there will be zero diet-talk, discussion of calories, weight loss, relative healthfulness, “sinfulness,” shame, moralizing, or guilt. We can do this, I think.

If you also feel so inclined, I’d also love to know what you are reading these days that you love.

Me?

I am about 3/4 way through Swamplandia! and loving it so far. I’ve been reading a ton of Connie Willis & Octavia Butler, also.

Foodwise, I am hoping the farmer’s market has asparagus tomorrow, so I can go back to this for breakfast.

This is a standby cheap & healthy dinner, though my solo-dinner making has resembled this more often than not of late. If you make the broccoli/chickpea/tomato thing, one secret thing I figured out thanks to SweetMachineSP is that if you roast the chickpeas & broccoli (toss with olive oil, salt, and your choice of spices, spread out on a cookie sheet, roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes) instead of steaming it takes it to eleven.

Happy reading & eating! Happy graduation to my former students, I am proud of you! And happy weekend!