I’m not a big writer of letters to newspapers – although I have done a few times in the past and I’ve generally been impressed with the way that they have phoned me to check that I am, who I say I am.
I don’t think I’ve ever written to a magazine before and that’s mainly because I hate the nauseating drivel in the letters that are usually published.
“It’s because of your magazine my life is renewed, the sun shines every day and my children are beautiful.”
OK I exaggerate but honestly, anything to get a free frying pan or writing set if you’re the letter of the week/month etc.
In fact I rarely buy magazines and the most I read them is at the hairdressers.
But I absolutely love Masterchef Australia and after getting hooked about half way through series one signed up to the magazine as soon as it started.
I hate to admit it – I have collected all the magazines and cook books since.
It has inspired me to cook and challenged me to try new things. I do get ridiculously excited when my magazine arrives and my excitement towards series four starting is seriously worrying.
I still wouldn’t write a letter just to tell them this.
Not even the fact that my husband and I have his and hers Masterchef aprons, and mugs – and that my husband “plates up” rather than serves – ok yes, we do sound a bit sad. I’ll shut up about all that.
But last month’s magazine really annoyed me. So many of the dishes contained nuts in some form or another – even if just as a garnish.
My husband has a serious nut allergy and it is terrifying. (See my article Living with a food allergy can drive you nuts, in The Courier-Mail online May 20, 2009.)
So I thought I’d write a letter to the magazine explaining my frustration (while readily acknowledging I could just leave out the nuts in the recipes) and suggested maybe it would be a good idea to have one edition dedicated to serious food allergies.
I didn’t write this letter expecting to be published – but thought perhaps they might as it raised such an important issue.
I certainly didn’t write it thinking I would win letter of the month.
But when I received my May magazine I realised it had been four weeks since I emailed my letter – and I’ve still had no reply.
Just an acknowledgement “thank you for your correspondence we receive thousands of letters every week but your feedback is important to us” would have been nice.
But no, I’ve received nothing.
The winning letter this month? “After a flight, I found a March 2012 Masterchef magazine left behind on a seat…” Of course, it’s changed their life and they’re now a cooking sensation.
If you’d like to read the full letter I emailed to the magazine it’s here:
From: Ann Lund
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2012 4:13 PM
Dear Masterchef Magazine
I’m a huge fan of the program and have been subscribed to the magazine from Issue 1. The magazine has inspired me to do so much more cooking than I used to do and I love the excitement of sinking down into my huge beanbag deciding what dishes I want to try first.
But I am so disappointed with my April 2012 edition.
So many of the dishes contain nuts in the ingredients – even if it’s just as a garnish (slivered and flaked almonds especially) – which I know I could easily leave off /out but when you have a family member with a severe nut allergy it just frustrates me so much.
Unfortunately the food industry is a long way from understanding the seriousness of this despite making all the right noises.
We always carefully advise waitstaff in cafes/foodcourts/restaurants that the dish can contain no nuts (traces is fine in our situation) only to find some liberally scattered on as a garnish at the end. We often swap and share food so we ask that none be included in any of the meals but then you discover a satay dressing on one salad, or walnuts in the roasted vegetables.
I can’t buy commerically made pesto anymore as it nearly always contains cashews (pine nuts – the regular ingredient are fine in our case). Often pesto is used as a dressing but isn’t included in a menu description – when we inquire is it tradionally made or does it contain other nuts staff can’t answer the question because it’s in a pot (bought in) and they haven’t kept the label of ingredients.
The final straw for me in this month’s magazine was the recipe for Anzac biscuits – including macadamia nuts. What’s wrong with the traditional recipe which is even listed on the Australian War Memorial website?
http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/anzac/biscuit/recipe.asp If you want to change the recipe call them something else – they are not Anzac biscuits.
For anyone who lives in an allergy free home this probably all sounds very petty – but it’s not – it’s life threatening.
Let’s have a whole magazine dedicated to food allergies!
Ann Lund, Brisbane, Qld.