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Dinner Is Served
May 11, 2010
I had just finished writing Living Without's sesame allergy article (June/July issue, page 26) when my parents came to visit from out of town. My father, who is allergic to sesame, loves to eat, so I tried to plan the weekend’s activities around key meals.
On the first night of their visit, I made dinner at home, simple yet satisfying. Salmon baked in parchment, green beans, a fresh tossed salad and gluten-free couscous made with brown rice. I was particularly excited about serving the couscous, because my little girl is gluten free and had never eaten couscous before. (It's almost always made from wheat.)
We all dug into the meal. I took a couple bites of couscous and while I savored the seasonings in my mouth, the hint of an old familiar taste stopped me in mid-chew. I put down my fork and ran into the kitchen to look at the ingredients listed on the couscous box. Sure enough—the flavoring packet contained sesame oil. I whisked the plate away from my father, who had already begun eating.
My father began clearing his throat repeatedly. He popped two Benadryls at the dining room table. After 10 minutes of anxiety but no further symptoms, we all relaxed a little. Fortunately, the amount of sesame oil used in the flavoring packet was small (not like having, say, green beans sauteed in sesame oil). My father was fine.
I can't believe that I was so concerned about gluten for my daughter that I forgot to look out for sesame for my father. I never would have thought that sesame was an ingredient in roasted garlic and olive oil brown rice couscous.
Note to self: Never assume anything. Always, always, always read the label!