I'll admit--I like a light culinary "cozy" mystery now and then (especially when I'm feeling low and/or stuffed up with a cold, like recently). As someone who loves to bake, I've dipped into the best-selling Joanna Fluke culinary mysteries from time to time. Her heroine runs a cookie shop (an urban fantasy of mine), so you can imagine that there are plenty of nut-filled recipes in Ms. Fluke's books (as there are in any books that touch on baking, for that matter.)
Could this be progress? While on a Target run to buy more cold medicine I started flipping through Joanna Fluke's latest paperback "The Cream Puff Murder." I was amazed to find that twice the author cautioned people to be careful about--you guessed it--nuts!
In one recipe, she asks the cook to make sure that none of the guests have peanut allergies if they plan to use certain ingredients, and in another, she offers alternative ingredients in case "your family can't have nuts."
I was surprised--and gratified--to see this in a bestseller with recipes because I've never seen it before! I don't know if the author has personal experience with nut allergies, but I'm e-mailing her and thanking her for the awareness.
Usually, when I come across mention of nut allergies in popular literature, it's used as "proof" that the person is either a) a nerd or b) high-maintenance. Or, in some cases, slipping an allergic character peanuts is a way to get rid of them, such as in The DaVinci Code and also in Joanne Harris's "Gentleman and Players" --a great book, BTW, but with an unpleasant peanut allergy scene.
Seeing a nice "heads up" to cooks regarding peanut allergies directed at the masses was a breath of fresh air.
It also makes me think that the general public is getting the idea that peanut allergies are increasingly common and need to be addressed, recent backlash stories notwithstanding.