A great time last night: Dinner in Leonia, NJ. Steve, a family friend for over 30 years and his lovely bride Aleda, hosted us. We were joined by Shaleen, Steve’s business partner, Mike, her husband, and Maya, Shaleen’s mother as well as Phil and my mother. The house was warm and inviting, the conversation flowed easily with a lot of laughter and the food was delish!
Pre-dinner, actually upon invitation, I inquired if the Chef, AKA the lovely bride, could/would accommodate my allergies/intolerances. I was told, “No problem.” On the surface no problem seems great, easy peasy. However, no problem can also be code for “a little bread won’t hurt her”, or “I threw a few almonds in the salad; she can pick them out if she’s allergic.” Hence, potential disaster.
So, without stepping on any chefy toes, I hope, I asked to be taken on a tour of the dinner menu—after the house tour and about an hour of general chat. The Chef walked me through her dishes: she pointed out the bruschetta that was not for me and or the stuffed potatoes with cheese; she delineated the components of the salad and gave me the ingredients of the dressing. I was satisfied that she had absolutely taken care of me and that I could dine well. And I did. I even took some chicken home!
One of the reasons I’m so so so careful is that in my world, extended family members haven’t always remembered that I have allergies: to their pets, to nuts, etc. [Except you Gregg, you’re great!] This is after over 30 years of allergies. I don’t expect them to know the intricacies of my diet but allergies to animals and nuts since the 70s isn’t too much to ask for your only cousin.
So, I’m always amazed when strangers [read: Chefs] and new friends [read: anyone else] are more attentive than family. Which given the above is not that hard if you pay the slightest bit of attention. And this kind of care makes me feel loved. Who said food is love? Well for someone with food allergies and intolerances, safe food preparation is love. Truly.
So thank you again Steve and Aleda for being such wonderful and caring hosts. Much love!
Here was the menu:
White and red wine.
There were bread-y and fish-y and ham-y and bread-y starters.
A salad of pears in wine, baby lettuces and craisins in a light vinagrette.
Mixed steamed veggies.
Yellow bell peppers stuffed with a mix of sausage, cheese and mayonnaise.
Broiled chicken with balsamic, lemon juice and olive oil.
Potatoes stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese.
Banana crepes, macerated papaya, pears poached in wine, with raspberry sauce.
A fire in the fireplace that got too smoky.