Sunday, February 28, 2016

Devil's Food cake-- allergy wise

I just realized that until this week my 23-year-old son had never had Devil's Food cake ...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cuba redux-- food allergies etc

So we're back from Cuba and I have been thinking about the food-- which was delicious.
There are many items that seemed safe== and there were many items that were not safe.
Let me explain.
Many dishes in Cuba are shellfish and seafood-- it is an island after all. These dishes-- many of which I tasted-- were delicious and served family-style to tables.  Not that the lobsters and shrimp were served with the white flat fish ( like monk fish or snapper) or served with the chicken dishes. But that separation was at the table-- what happened in the kitchen?
  Because as Americans we have not had a lot of communication back and forth with Cuba and Cubans, although their medical system produces many extremely well-trained doctors and medical personnel, I have no clue if Cuba is aware of food allergies or not.  Looking on the internet gleaned me nothing on statistics or even research data-- again, because I think our countries were not exchanging information of this sort. Even searching the FARE website comes up with nothing on "CUBA."
   But back to the food: We did encounter peanuts as bar snacks-- like in US bars-- although very little food included peanuts as a visible ingredient.  A couple of times, we saw almond slivers. Cheese did not cover dishes, nor seem to be hiding in the mix-- there were lots of stewed dishes-- pork with tomatoes or lamb or shredded beef-- mostly with tomatoes and onions and peppers, not cheese.
I think soy is relatively unheard of in this country which imports much of its food and relies on basics.  We saw lots of the same ingredients mixed in different ways: peppers, eggplant, onions, chicken, lobster and shrimp, pork.  at some of the more elite restaurants, we sauce a cream sauce or two.
  I initially thought, this would be ok for people with food allergies, but as I spent a little more time, I did become wary-- also, I don't speak Spanish, that would help since the Cuban people we met were highly educated and well-read, and willing to help us for any reason.
  But, what if the lobster spoon is rinsed lightly and then spoons the rice onto a plate-- what if the sauces are shared from beef to fish or eggs are used, and not seen?  These are the risks I thought of-- although it looked safe, I could not be sure. But--that cuts both ways-- maybe it is safe if someone is only allergic to shellfish or peanuts; but maybe it's not for someone with many food allergies. I just don't know how to think about it.  ( I only had to worry about shellfish and tree nut allergies, which as I said, seemed very avoidable.)
However-- completely in another vein:, I kept thinking: IF there are no food allergies, big 'if', or a low low incidence of food allergies-- why? many other countries seem to have an increasing incidence of food allergy-- including the US-- why would this island which has been relatively isolated since 1959 have a low or non-existent level of food allergy?  A question I will pursue, since it seems Cuba, if food allergies are really low, could afford a "control group" possibly, in a natural experiment, for researchers to investigate.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cuba vacation

Hello  from Cuba. 
Amazing place for contrasts and history and absolutely lovely and very cultured people. 
And the food-- surprisingly, if you eliminate the lobster and exotic fruits, there are very few allergen laden foods. Much roasted chicken and pork. Peppers and onions. And not cheese over everything or in foods. I was happily surprised. Lots of rice and beans-- deliciously prepared in many fashions as well as chickpeas and canned asparagus!
So it's not a complete-- off-the-list place. 
More when I return.