The impressive growth of food intolerances and allergies

The impressive growth of food intolerances and allergies

The causes are many and according to statistics have tripled in the last 40 years. A change that has also changed the habits of chefs and, as a result, the menus

The keyword in the 1920s of the third millennium is intolerances. Not political, social or ideological, but food. Which are increasingly widespread and increasing among the population. What, for example, is creating great havoc between the tables and kitchens of restaurants, putting starred and non-starred chefs in crisis, forced to do somersaults in order to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding clientele and as varied in specific requests. This entails a drastic and sudden reconsideration and revision of the menus.

It is more and more frequent, now, to come across the chef or the waiter who – when collecting the order – turns to the customer asking: “Is there anyone who has some intolerance? Or “Special Intolerances?” As if it were a variation on the teme and the menu of the day. And in fact, it is. Like who, in fact, claims to order eggplant parmigiana “without cheese”. No way.

What makes an impression is not the single case but the size, the particularity and the personalization of the requests: “Could I have some gluten-free pasta?” Or, “What about buckwheat?” In order not to reject customers, chefs must be available at any last-minute changes. But in order to deal with it, they have to organize, prepare with alternative ingredients, using their imagination.

The category of intolerances is varied. There are intolerances to gluten and cereals; to white and red meat; to vegetables, tubers, mushrooms, and legumes; to fish and shellfish; to fruit, dried or spices; then there are intolerances to lactose, egg, yeast, honey, caffeine but also to theine, the most common and widespread ones. Then there are the particular intolerances, rare and specific, difficult to collect in precise cataloging. And they are every chef’s nightmare. The unexpected. And unpredictable.

Intolerances and allergies grow from year to year, even if they are very different things. They occur for different causes, such as changing environmental or climatic conditions. For smog. Humidity. Mists. And for the regression of our general defenses. According to statistics, they’ve tripled in the last 40 years.

In the 1980s, 2.9% of the population suffered from it, while today the percentage has risen to 12.7 (research on ISTAT data). More than 300 thousand are allergic to milk, 1.1 million to lactose, 3 million to gluten, more than 300 thousand are celiac. Then there is 5 million allergic to Nickel, metal contained in various foods, and over 100 thousand who do not tolerate food additives. Intolerances, however, are not real diseases but are a social problem that the catering industry is struggling to understand. Because they are more often cases of people who need dedicated kitchens even before they need dishes so as to avoid possible contamination.

So much so that in 2017 Bollino Blu was born in Rome, a project for allergy-proof restaurants for ad hoc courses for chefs and restaurateurs: that is, lessons for healthy cooks, vegetarians, vegans, coeliacs, diabetics, because the percentage of people who are allergic or intolerant to something ranges from 10 to 15%.

On October 11, 2018, in Bassano, near Milan, the Academy of the World of Intolerances was inaugurated. Its aim is to offer cooking classes to invent tasty dishes and sophisticated menus for amateur and professional chefs. This sui generis cooking school is, in fact, an integral part of a wider reality, that of the homonymous association Il Mondo Delle Intolleranze, founded in 2012.

The chefs who work in the Academy bring as their heritage vacuum cooking at low temperature, a technique used in starred restaurants and little known, with instructions from the choice of bags to the vacuum machine or the gluten-free haute cuisine of the Aic, which instead reveals all the secrets of the “no gluten” cookers.

There are also the positions of chefs who believe that intolerances are the inventions or the vices of “fashionable” customers; then there are those who do not bend to intolerances, unwilling to submit to the solicitations, rejecting them decisively. As if to say: “either this way or Pomì”, to put it in the well-known “rèclame Delle passage”. No compromise. These are the ingredients and they do not change.

Attitude appropriate to the main chefs, especially starred chefs, who consider lunches and dinners as experiences of excellence, journeys in taste that can be undertaken only on the basis of those ingredients and that can not involve changes or substitutions to the basic theme. Finally, there are that organized to meet the demands with products part of the handbook of the int

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