A lot of people I know have an allergy or intolerance to some kind of food. Maybe they can’t eat gluten or eggs or meat or nuts.
For me, it’s dairy. And it’s getting worse as I get older. I manage it with a combination of substitution, abstinence and patience. I understand and accept that I’ll always feel sick after eating in most (non-asian) restaurants, where it is apparently incomprehensible that you can cook without oodles of butter. And I accept that I’ll never be able to eat dessert at most restaurants since ‘dessert’ is apparently a code word for ‘cream’ with the only other option being cheese.
It does frustrate me when I have to pay extra for soy milk in my coffee. With food sensitivities being so widespread, surely a café should allow for all of the soy/skim/rice milk variants when they set their basic prices. 50c extra seems like highway robbery – it’s not like us soy latte wankers are particularly rare.
And while I’m ranting, I went to a restaurant recently that didn’t have a single vegetarian main meal on the menu. And no, waitress, fish is actually meat. As is bacon. And chicken – that’s meat too. I was horrified that a pretty ritzy place wouldn’t even whip up a ‘off the menu’ option. My strict vegetarian friend had just two entrée options to choose from. Lucky she likes raw beetroot and dairy-laden artichokes.
Surely these days, all cafes and restaurants should be creative enough to offer up one allergy free option. Maybe something like this is tapioca dessert. It’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and delicious.
Coconut & mango tapioca (from Vegie Smugglers 2)
7-8 cups water
2/3 cup tapioca pearls
400ml coconut milk
2–3 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Sliced mango and banana
Add the water to a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add the tapioca pearls to the water and simmer until they are mostly cooked and translucent (this can take up to an hour for large pearls). Check often during cooking; stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan (if this is happening, add another cup of water). Err on the side of undercooking – a small opaque centre is fine, they will finish cooking in the coconut milk (overcooked tapioca just dissolves into sludge).
Drain and rinse.
Return the tapioca to the pan with the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla. Simmer gently over low heat until warm and thick.
Serve in bowls with the fruit.
SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS