I've Never Had...

Because of my food allergies there are a lot of things that I've never tried.  (Which could actually be a good thing for my ever expanding waist line.)  Since I'm allergic to eggs, it's rather obvious that I've never had an omelet (as a matter of fact I can't even spell it!  I had to type three different ways and check Google to make sure I finally it right), an egg salad sandwich or deviled eggs.  However, it also means that I've never had a donut (Homer Simpson would sob if he heard that one), a Milky Way (or a Snickers or Three Musketeers, to name but a few) or Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.  (Does that mean I'm barred from Vermont?) This delicious treat contains eggs, as do many other brands of ice cream.  My first taste of ice cream was Breyer's at the age of 10 or so as the all-natural chocolate flavor did not contain eggs.  Now there brands out there that also do not contain eggs, but may have flavors that do, such as Breyer's French Vanilla.  (But not natural vanilla...go figure!)

I didn't have a wedding cake.  I knew of no vegan bakeries back then, so I didn't have one.  I've never eaten one.  The first cupcake I ever ate was when I was in my 4th decade and a vegan bakery opened in my town.  (Sadly it's now gone, but I have found another one near my office.)  

I can't say I've never had chicken soup or a turkey at Thanksgiving.  Because my allergies have changed and evolved, I used to be able to eat poultry. So the last time I had poultry (purposely because chicken stock does get put into a lot of foods that I don't think about and I've had a couple of unfortunate incidents due to my not being vigilant) was when I was 13 years old.  (That was the year that turkey put me in the ER on Thanksgiving night.  I vaguely remember a cute ER doctor or intern.) So I guess you can say I've never had a traditional Thanksgiving meal as an adult.

Sadly, I've never had a meal in a restaurant where I was completely comfortable.* When I eat out, I am literally putting my life in someone else's hands.  I am trusting that the wait staff, chef/cooking staff and management completely understand the severity of my situation.  It's easy enough to make sure that my food does not contain any allergens, but what is not so easy is making sure that it's not grilled on the same grill.  Or that the knife that is about to cut my sandwich is the same one that just cut a turkey sandwich with mayo.  It's the million little things that can cause complications for me.

They say you don't miss what you don't know.  I don't believe that.  I don't know donuts, but I do know they smell delicious.  As does most every smell that comes wafting out of the bakery as I walk by.  I miss it and I wish I could experience it.  But I'm not complaining.  While I would love to have a lobster dinner with triple chocolate cake for desert (and a side of antacid), my life is just fine.   You make your scrambled eggs; I'll just hang outside until you're done.  (Yes, the airborne molecules can be enough to make me gasp for breath.) There are far worse tragedies in life than not being able to eat certain foods. (Or even drink certain beverages...eggnog anyone???)

What is a tragedy is the fact that it has taken so many years for people to become aware of food allergies and their severity.  When I was a child I was "weird" because I couldn't have birthday cake.  I couldn't eat that candy bar without checking the ingredient list first.  Now more people understand. More people are educated, although not completely.  (I'd love to be able to dine out and completely relax. Where there are places where I feel I can let my guard down somewhat, like at restaurants at Walt Disney World, there is still that moment of fear and uncertainty when I take those first few bites.)  But we are getting there; slowly but surely.  And for me, that is a reason to celebrate.

(*After I wrote this I realized that there was ONE time where I was 99.9999% comfortable when dining out.  I have a friend who is a chef in Florida who understands as well as anyone could about the hazards of dining out with food allergies.  While we were in Florida in June of 2016, my family visited the restaurant where she works.  It was an incredible experience and I knew I could completely trust her.  But even though knew I could trust her with my life, I still had that brief moment...it had nothing to do with her skill, talent or attention to detail, but everything to do with my dining out experiences in restaurants where she did not work.  If you have serious food allergies and are going to be in Florida, be sure to drop me a line and I'll direct you to the most caring and incredible chef you can find on this planet.)


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