Having food allergies makes you have a strange fascination with food. It’s kind of like my mom and shoes. She has really wide feet and has a lot of trouble finding shoes to fit them, so whenever she comes to visit Germany (where wide shoes are more readily available) she buys lots of shoes, in various styles. Food allergies work along the same lines; you can’t eat anything you want, so you become a foodie and try everything you -can- eat. I’m seriously allergic to peanuts, peas, beans, lentils, and soy (basically, all legumes). I’m mildly allergic to apples, crab, hazelnuts (but just hazelnuts) and celery (I hated it anyway…good riddance!) If the latter group gets in my food, it doesn’t really matter. They’re very mild allergies and in a blood test, a reaction registered but nothing strong enough to worry about them touching things I eat. The former group, legumes, is a different story. If my food touches a peanut or a bean, it’s a trip to the hospital. Soy protein (somehow soy sauce is ok, but I think it’s the protein factor that does it) can’t be mixed into my food. This cuts out a lot of things. A lot of Asian food is out for me. Anything processed is out, because it’s fairly common to throw in soy protein to fill it out. I end up in awkward social situations where I’m in a really great smelling Indian or Thai restaurant, but have to try to explain to the waiter that I’m not ordering any food and then sponge off the free rice that’s served with the dishes everyone else orders at the table. Above all, it’s made me really love a lot of these foods, because I can’t have them all the time. At home, I love to cook (recipes make up a good chunk of this blog). So, every chance I get, I make something exotic. I make Indian curry. I throw together Thai chicken soup with leftovers. The other week, I was trying to figure out what to do with Scotch Bonnets, and I found a Senegalese fish recipe on the BBC website. I love to try new foods, and this is made very difficult by the fact that I can’t simply go to any restaurant and eat something new. So, cooking is my outlet. When I can try something pre-made or at a restaurant, I try things I normally wouldn’t have back home. Most North Americans are a bit squimish about eating things like haggis or chicken hearts, but not me! If it’s edible, I’ll try it. After all, there are so many things I can’t eat…I might as well try the things I can!
I have a lot of hope that someday in the not-too-distant future, someone will figure out how to cure food allergies. When that happens, I still probably wont eat peanuts or beans, but you’ll find me in Thai and Mexican (my favourite!) restaurants all over the city, enjoying the lack of fear that an allergen will touch my food. Until then, I’ll try what I can, and try to cook everything else!