Middle-class problems: Food intolerance

By Simmy Richman

The most surprising thing is that so many of us are willing, nay keen, to claim ownership of a word which has synonyms that include bigoted, narrow-minded, parochial, provincial, insular, rigid, uncompromising and inflexible.

"Intolerant". As in: I'd really love to eat that pasta but, you know, I happen to be wheat-intolerant. Or worse, make mine a soya frappamochachinolatte. And yes, I'd really love a splash of cream on top, but I daren't, I'm dairy-intolerant.

What does it even mean? If you're allergic to something, fine. No one's knocking that. Certain foodstuffs make your lips swell or worse – that's a tough thing to have to deal with and this column is not mocking that. But food intolerances don't work like that. Question someone who claims to suffer from one, and they will likely tell you that a particular food item upsets their stomach or brings them out in a little rash.

And sure, if that's the case, by all means avoid the offending food items and get on with your life. But people don't tend to do that, do they? They want us to know about their food intolerances. They want to talk about their food intolerances and, worst of all, they want to screw up the dish you spent hours preparing for your dinner party with their sodding, random food intolerances.

Got that off my chest. And don't get me wrong. I'm a person with a distinct lack of tolerance to nuts. I'd tell you all about it, I would. Or at least I would have. Until I saw those synonyms for "intolerant". And now, miraculously, I'm cured.