Culture and Food Allergies
Living with food allergies obviously limits what foods we can eat, and sometimes this creates a conflict between safety and one’s culture. Since food is often such an integral part of it, connecting with your culture can sometimes be difficult if you can’t enjoy well loved dishes. However, I’ve found that this doesn’t have to be the case. While it may not always be a simple process, finding food substitutes for your allergens can allow you to connect to your culture, even with food allergies.
I’m Filipino with Chinese heritage, so many popular dishes often contain my allergens. However, I’ve found that it is possible to work around this. Some ingredients are easily swapped out - such as using soy butter or sun butter instead of the usual peanut butter in kare-kare, a Filipino stew. Other recipes require a bit more thinking outside the box. For example, egg rolls are commonly served at Chinese restaurants. However, when I was younger, I used to be allergic to eggs. So, since I couldn’t eat homemade egg rolls with the usual recipe, my mom had to get creative and find a substitute. She ended up using a sauce instead of the eggs, and even though I’ve outgrown my egg allergy, we still use the same recipe today! While I still have to be careful at restaurants, I’m glad I can enjoy some of my favorite dishes at home. We’ve found that when looking for ways to substitute ingredients in dishes, it helps to think about what its “purpose” in the dish is - is it there for flavor, or does it help bind the other ingredients together? While it may take a little creativity and some trial and error, it’s still possible to make popular meals from different cultures. I hope this helps you and makes connecting to your culture with food allergies a little easier!