I recently read a recipe needing pommodori secchi, which I think are dried tomatoes. Is there any reason why I could not just use fresh ones?
Stephen Casen, Suffolk
Tomatoes that have been dried in the sun have a deep concentrated tomato flavour. You can normally find them either in oil or just dried. I prefer the dried tomatoes in oil as they tend to retain their moistness much more. And don’t waste the oil, as it can be used to pour over pasta or as an ingredient for salad dressings.
Everybody appears to have a food allergy these days and it’s a nightmare when inviting people to dinner! But could you explain the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?
Sharon Gates, Peterborough
You are right, the word ‘allergy’ is thrown around a lot these days and most of the time that is not what is meant.
An allergy to a food causes symptoms which develop within a few minutes or possibly seconds of ingestion, inhalation or even skin contact with the allergen and may be life-threatening. They are normally caused by relatively rarely eaten foods, i.e. shellfish, peanuts and can be caused by very small amounts of the allergic foods. The symptoms are usually multi-systemic, not just confined to gastro-intestinal.
An intolerance or sensitivity to foods is caused by pharmacological reactions to constituents in foods, or by a specific enzyme deficiency, and occur sometime after ingestion and may persist for some hours. This is not normally life-threatening and is normally due to commonly eaten foods i.e. wheat, milk. Small amounts of the food may not cause problems and the symptoms are usually mono-systemic e.g. neurological or gastro-intestinal.