We are delighted to have bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld, who has written about food allergies in The New York Times and Slate Magazine, delivering the keynote at the FARE National Food Allergy Conference on Saturday, June 21. FARE caught up with Curtis to talk about food allergies and what she’s most looking forward to about the conference.
Tell us a little bit about your background, and what your next project is:
I’m a writer—I’ve written many reported articles, including a profile of Michelle Obama for Time magazine and a profile of Mindy Kaling for The New York Times Magazine, as well as personal essays for places such as Real Simple, Allure, and The Atlantic. These days, I’m primarily a novelist and am working on my fifth book. My earlier books include “Prep,” which is about a girl from Indiana who goes to a fancy Massachusetts boarding school; “American Wife,” which is a fictional retelling of the life of Laura Bush; and “Sisterland,” which is about twin sisters, one of whom garners national attention when she makes a prediction that a major earthquake will occur. My next project is a contemporary re-imagining of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The British division of the publisher HarperCollins initiated a project in which different writers are writing their own versions of Austen’s six novels. When they asked me to be involved, I found the
invitation irresistible. I sometimes joke that I’m basically writing Austen fan fiction.
What’s your food allergy connection?
I have two children, the younger of whom was diagnosed with multiple food allergies just before her first birthday (she is now three). She’s allergic to eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, and, more randomly, flaxseed.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of managing food
Hmm, it depends on the day! Being a “food allergy mom” has definitely forced me to plan ahead and also to be vocal if I feel there is a danger to my daughter (I always try to be polite, but it’s pretty much impossible to pretend to be easygoing). But I’d probably say that I find the anxiety the most challenging—the need to be very alert whenever food is around, and food is
around in most places.
Why did you choose to speak up about food allergies?
For people who haven’t been exposed to them, food allergies and the ways
they affect daily life can be hard to imagine; also, of course, there are some
unfortunate and inaccurate stereotypes about what kind of people have food
allergies. As a writer, I hope that I can get beyond these stereotypes and
convey some of the unique challenges of food allergies in a direct, honest way.
What are you most looking forward to about the FARE National Food Allergy Conference?
I’m really excited to attend various panels and to exchange tips with other
people for handling food allergies. And as a chocolate fiend, I’m hoping that
Enjoy Life will be offering samples!
To see Curtis speak at our National Food Allergy Conference, register today!
Read some of Curtis Sittenfeld’s articles and essays about food allergies:
- “EpiPens For All” (The New York Times)
- “Please Don’t Spill Your Child’s Snacks All Over the Playground” (Slate)
- “A Very Careful Thanksgiving” (Slate)