The Allergy Watch: A Good Cocoa Glaze, At Least

A charming and poignant column by my friend Pete Wells from "Cooking With Dexter," his new monthly series in the New York Times Magazine, about his son's unexpected allergies and his learning to cook around them. He's especially good on finding unexpected allies in vegans when he's a proud omnivore:

I regard vegans with wonder, and they would probably regard me with horror. But I want to write this in 40-foot letters in the sky: Vegans have made amazing discoveries in the field of eggless baking.

He concludes with what sounds like a very nice vegan cupcake with a cocoa glaze I want to try.

More important, though, why the uptick in food allergies everywhere? No telling children who break out in hives then touch their eyes after they eat a peanut that it's because they didn't have a dog--one of the practical aspects of an explanatory article about the rise of childhood asthma in our pages by Ellen Ruppel Shell.

Ellen turned up yesterday at a great conference I've been at all week sponsored by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT, where the topics have included the environment, ethanol, GMs, food inspection, whether or not there's a food crisis, and, this morning, whether farmer's markets are crazy breeding grounds for vicious kneecapping of farmer to farmer and chef to home cook. And more. Watch this space for speakers and topics to turn up in coming months.

As for the updated thinking on food allergies, it didn't come up. That's the question Pete begins with, and one that stays with him and us. Even more important, who has a good non-gluten base for that nice chocolate glaze? A new frontier.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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