Giving up the allergy fight at school

My classmates have made a valiant effort to accommodate my food allergies. In previous classes, it didn't affect them much because we cooked our own individual meals. However in International and Garde Manger, we cook a portion of the meal for the entire class, which means everyone has to cook without legumes — without soy products, without beans and without nuts.

I try not to impose on them much past using olive or canola oil because I don't want to take away from their cooking experiences. This isn't a restaurant; it's school. And students shouldn't really have to change major ingredients just for me.

In International, Chef declared that the class would make their usual recipes but then also make a separate meal for me. I was very grateful because we've been studying Asia for the past couple of weeks and I've been stuck with grilled cheese or a poached egg while the rest of the class dines on Americanized Chinese food.

They tried, and failed. I didn't have the heart to break it to the students because they were so proud of their hard work. For whatever reason, most likely lack of just not understanding allergens, they focused only on soy and not on my actual allergy, legumes. I was presented with a gorgeous Kung Pao Chicken, covered in peanuts, and a sweet and sour soup with perfect cubes of tofu. I gave both to one of my cooking partners and inhaled my poached egg.

I even went as far as to create my own soy-free soy sauce, which if you can't eat soy, is the next best thing, but they still didn't get it. So this week, I gave up. I enjoyed a grilled cheese and pear pressed sandwich with herbs and roasted garlic while the rest of the class ate sushi. I think I got the better end of the deal there - I'd gladly take cheese over raw fish any day.

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