Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marzipan is Overrated

Danny had his testing for food allergies today. The sesame test came back negative, but he reacted pretty strongly to peanuts and almonds. Go figure. I'm the opposite-I can eat peanuts and almonds, but cashews, pistachios and pecans will put me in the hospital.

I haven't had a cashew since 1972, when seconds after eating the cookie the nice woman at Kauffman's gave me, I began clutching my throat and puking. Back then, we didn't have Eppi pens and children's liquid Benadryl. My mother walked me up the street to the drugstore and bought a package of Chlortrimeton, and I chewed one. I can't remember if we went to the hospital after, but that evening when my sister found out what happened she was seriously pissed:
"She gave you a cookie?! She doesn't give anyone free cookies. What makes you special?"

Funny, the stuff you remember.

Poor kid, peanut allergy pretty much assures you won't ever be eating in a Chinese or Mexican restaurant again, and the way my culture worships at the altar of ground almond flour and paste, he can forget about most bakery items-at least of the Battenburg cake variety (they always look better than they taste anyway). We eat most meals at home anyway, but someday he might move to a real city and want takeaway Chinese food. I know some people will make special requests when they go out for a meal, but unless it is a place that advertises doing so, I think that's a hell of a lot to ask of the kitchen-particularly without advanced warning. I've never done it, and I don't have any expectation of my food allergies being catered to when I'm out, so I usually eat ahead of time if I know I'll be joining others somewhere where the cuisine is risky with food allergies (Indian, for example-gosh they love their cashew nuts in India!). I order a cup of coffee and enjoy the company. It isn't a big deal. I understand the argument people have about feeling that they are entitled to have a meal out too-that the food allergy is a form of disability, but I couldn't disagree more. Then again, I don't really feel "entitled" to much from a private business. If the government were handing out rations after a nuclear blast and all they had was peanuts and almonds, I might be miffed and raise a stink, but otherwise, it isn't that difficult to take food with you when you go out in the event you've planned ahead and things have gone wrong. I've always felt it was my responsibility to keep myself safe-not everyone else's. It is nice if people want to accommodate me and prepare a dish I can eat at a dinner party, but I certainly wouldn't ever ask anyone to do it. It just isn't that big of a deal. I wouldn't want someone to smear cashew butter all over the toilet seat before I came over though. That wouldn't be very nice. You should paper the seat anyway-you don't want to get cooties!

I'm going to get hate mail for that, I'm sure. The soapbox bit about food allergies, not the crack about cooties. Everyone hates body lice.

We still don't know why he reacted to the tahini, but the best guess is that it was contaminated with almonds or peanuts at the factory. As he only had the tiniest piece, I have to wonder if the tahini was made partly of ground almonds without it being labeled? Sometimes foods that are imported don't translate all that well on the label. Anyway, that's where he's at, and because of all the cross-contamination risks in processing they tell you to just avoid all nuts, regardless of how it tested. An allergy to one is considered enough reason to stay away from all.

I've lived most of my life with food allergies, and I know it isn't the end of the world, but I do sort of wish he could have been spared the hassle.

I guess this means we won't be taking Danny on a trip to Erie to see the "peanut roasting lady" (If that place is still even there. If it is, and you're in Erie, you should go-she's a real hoot) and his baked goods are going to be consumed at home from now on. It will be a drag being vegetarian, because of the of nuts in so much of the food.

If I had to find something positive from this, I'd say at least these days, people take food allergies seriously as it is more common. In the 60's and 70's it was pretty rare and people would try to feed me things saying "Oh, it only has a few cashews on top, just pick them off."

Drats. I'd really hoped he could skip all this hassle.

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