Let’s play nice in culinary sandbox

February 23, 2018

This letter is in response to the viewpoints of Ellen Reid and Steve Hyle who recently wrote about eating healthy in local restaurants. For some background, I recently moved here to Lewes permanently from the Hudson Valley in New York where the Culinary Institute of America is located.

The restaurants in my former residence are top-notch and I appreciate the gastronomic choices that are here in Lewes and Rehoboth. That being said, I am presently having health issues, auto-immune and inflammatory. Numerous doctors are recommending a limited diet with no dairy and no gluten, among other ingredients. I also have a daughter who is severely allergic to dairy and it took two years to finally diagnose her when she was young.

Obviously Mr. Hyle has not had to experience these complicated health issues himself or with someone he cares about. Sure, I can easily eat at home but part of my pleasure in daily life is to go out to eat, to experience the plethora of restaurants here at the beach. I am not sure what Mr. Hyle's motivation in his letter was but how would offering healthy choices in addition to regular menu items negatively affect patrons?

Yes, the "seats are at a premium" as I just experienced this weekend while out with my family who came for a visit (and it is off-season!). The waitress was extremely busy, and it was very uncomfortable for me to take excess time to ask questions and attempt to order off of the menu. She had to go back and forth to the kitchen three times to ask the chefs. The experience is not as easy as Mr. Hyle suggests. Hopefully he was not sitting at an adjacent table waiting for the waitress, since I was taking all of her time, while feeling uncomfortable and stressed.

I tend to think that a good number of the tourists who visit this area also have health issues which are compromised when they try to dine on food within their parameters while vacationing. How insensitive of Mr. Hyle to suggest that Ms. Reid travel to Austin or LA to enjoy eating out. The medical field, more and more, is moving in the direction of "you are what you eat," including the importance of micro biome science and leaky gut syndrome.

A vegan restaurant would be a wonderful addition to the restaurant scene here at the beach but also offering a couple of choices that are simple and contain a few clean ingredients could also easily be achieved on the menus that currently exist. Even a daily special that includes a dairy-free and/or gluten-free option, from the chef would be a dish in the right direction. The diner would actually feel welcome instead of a burden.

For those chefs out there, please start thinking about this conversation and realize the opportunity that exists. Simple ingredients combined to give us limited diners some options beyond a salad with oil and vinegar or a burger with no bun, minus the french fries because of the hidden ingredients there would be wonderful for us limited folk!

Families on vacation and locals may choose your restaurants because of these healthy options and your wait staff will run more efficiently since they will have the knowledge about the ingredients of those healthy options. Can't we all "play nice in the culinary sandbox?"

Susan Francese


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