Dining Poll: Do You Suffer from Food Allergies?

While dining out can be challenging for people who suffer from food allergies, restaurant staffers have become more adept at accommodating diners’ special needs — and with good reason. Studies suggest that four percent of the U.S. adult population and about four to six percent of children have a food allergy. Are you among them? Weigh in on today’s dining poll!


Dining Trends for 2010: Next Year’s Menus Will Feature Feel-Good Food

2010-Dining-TrendsIt’s hard to predict every dining trend that takes hold in restaurants around the nation, but Restaurants & Institutions magazine has come up with a list of things you’re sure to spot on menus in the upcoming year. You may already have seen a lot of these movements and trends gaining momentum in your neck of the woods, but you can expect them to become far more ubiquitous at restaurants in big and small cities and towns in the U.S.

Things to expect include affordable comfort food (think Mom’s pot roast), Asian-Latin fusion (see truck, Kogi), bigger beer menus, old-school desserts (Retro root beer float, anyone?), eggs in everything, vegetables as entrées, fried chicken (make room, Colonel Sanders), environmentally efficient restaurants, local liquors (like LiV Vodka), wheat-free foods (Take that, Celiac!), and more chefs and restaurateurs embracing the Little House on the Prairie lifestyle at their establishments (i.e., pickling, curing, smoking, and canning products in-house).

Read the full list here, and tell us what you think we’ll see more of at restaurants in the next year — and decade — here or on Facebook.

Dealing with Food Allergies When Dining out

AlmondsThe Atlantic features a thoughtful piece on the many challenges dining out presents for people with food allergies. The writer, Alyssa Rosenberg, suffers from an allergy to tree nuts, and navigating a menu is a perilous process as the wrong order could potentially kill her.

Ms. Rosenberg isn’t alone; according to The New York Times, more than 11 million Americans are estimated to suffer from food allergies. Naturally, then, I (and probably you, too) have a few friends with food allergies. Mick, like The Atlantic’s contributor, is allergic to tree nuts (thankfully, he can eat peanuts, as they are a ground nut). Dave is lactose intolerant, but he can indulge in dairy if he remembers to arm himself with some Lactaid pills. Claire can’t eat seafood, so we’ve never been able to eat at my favorite sushi restaurants together. Nancy, who is in my book club, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago, and she has to steer clear of all gluten proteins, which are found in many grains. This means she must eschew flour, which figures into countless restaurant recipes, so she has to ask an array of questions about virtually every menu item.

The best experiences for diners with food allergies are those in which the server is both knowledgeable and patient. To be sure that a dish doesn’t have any verboten ingredients, the kitchen staff may have to be consulted – more than once. And, in the future, concerned restaurateurs and chefs will probably begin addressing this issue on their menus, as our appetite for dining out isn’t diminishing.