Category Archives: errata

Orange Scented Memories

My office offers fresh fruit every week and this week the fruit bowl is loaded with mini seedless tangelos, and fat, heavy naval oranges, both deeply orange and tangy.

I cracked a tangelo open and peeled it, trying to peel it in one long peel, and the aroma wafted up.

orange

Suddenly I was taken back to my first home where we had a navel orange tree. I spent many fond years on the teak bench my father built on the edge of the patio under the shade of the orange tree.  I would perch there to eat the bright juicy fruit still warm from the sun.  We almost lost the tree one year because the baby rabbit my sister found on the edge of the high school’s wilderness area (a space with examples of each California ecosystem, built by my sister and other students) developed a taste for the orange tree bark and almost girdled it.  We weaned him off his destructive habits by feeding him regular handfuls of orange and lemon leaves as a treat.

My mom used to make fancy cakes decorated with chocolate leaves using the orange tree leaves as a mold.  I would be sent out to the yard to pluck young, perfectly sized and smooth orange leaves, and would be tasked with carefully washing and drying them. Once they were perfectly dry we would paint them with tempered dark chocolate and chill them, and later, slowly, peel off the leaf to reveal a perfect chocolate form.

When my mom remarried, we picked orange blossoms and created fancy rings of ice adorned with the blooms to float in the punch bowl for the wedding reception.  Grandmother sadly needed to be moved to the East Coast to live with my aunt, so we stripped the tree of oranges to ship back with them, a last taste of California and nostalgia.

These days, living in my current apartment high above the streets, I keep a copy of Cross Creek by the bathtub for languorous bubble bath reading, and recall the scent of orange blossoms floating in the night.  I long for that orange tree, as I buy outrageously priced organic citrus from various places and slice long curls of the peel to drape over the rim of my Negroni at home, and then eat fat wedges of the cut orange the next morning. They never seem to taste quite as heavenly as the one in that childhood home though, the memory of oranges is stronger.

 

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The Flame of Love and Tall Tales

I was at Whitechapel the other night, enjoying a lovely cocktail and the ambiance of this great new watering hole. We were discussing the merits and qualities of various gins and watching an incredible bartender flame orange peels for the Penny Dreadful, my latest cocktail obsession.

The aroma and wild flaming action of the orange peel brought back a memory of another night, sitting at a bar in North Beach, chatting with an older bartender. He told me about his working the bar at a private party at Dean Martin’s home. Imagine, making cocktails for Dean Martin or even being at one of those epic parties… the mind boggles.

As he crafted me a cocktail, he told me about how bored Dean was getting with martinis and how he was listening to the other members of the Rat Pack talk and sing, and when Tom Jones chimed in with song, inspiration struck. The bartender created the Flame of Love cocktail. He filmed a coupe with fino sherry, then stirred a vodka until very chilled and poured that into the glass, and then flamed 3 strips of orange into the glass.  He flamed the orange peels for me at this point in his story and I was hooked.  It was very dramatic and aromatic and something I will never tire of watching.

I sat and sipped this divine concoction in the dimly bar, chatting with this charming older gentleman about old Hollywood and the stars of the day, trading tales of meeting this person and seeing that person, but really, who can top the Rat Pack with Tom Jones?

The last time I went to the restaurant the bartender was no longer there and the current staff did not know about the Flame of Love. A little research revealed that the cocktail is the creation of Pepe Ruiz. I searched for images of Mr. Ruiz and realized that the bartender who told me this story was not Mr. Ruiz and that it was all, sadly, a tall tale.  Whoever that bartender was, despite not creating the Flame of Love himself, his company, the story, and the evening were enchanting. There are many tall tales in San Francisco, and while some of them are real, most of them are perfect for passing the evening, sipping something divine.

Recipe:  Flame of Love Cocktail

Contemplating Eggs and The Lack Thereof

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Last week I ate a Sushirito, a burrito sized sushi roll, and unbeknownst to me it contained tamago, the Japanese rolled omelette. It wasn’t on the menu and I told the preparer and the cashier I was allergic to egg, but still they added it to the roll. I ate two bites and started to feel funny, within minutes I was having a severe allergic reaction.

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I took 2 Claritans as my immunologist instructed, then took another one. By this time my tongue was tingling and my throat felt like it was closing up to I went a block from my office to an urgent care center, they promptly sent me to the ER. The ER staff were great and gave me a whopping shot of steroids and some massive antihistamine and noted a rash developing all over my arms, chest and back, and that my throat was closing up and my tongue was swelling up. After 4 hours of medication and monitoring I was allowed to go home with a handful of prescriptions.

In the days that followed I was dealing with the “hangover” of this allergy reaction, a hugely busy workload and a severe family health emergency. The steroids I was taking prevented me from sleeping but also gave me insane energy and insomnia to deal with all of these crises.

A few days later it really hit me. It’s been two years since these weird food intolerances appeared. Technically they are not a true allergy as the blood and skin tests were negative. But there is no denying that I’m having an anaphylactic response to eggs.

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I had a bad night realizing all of the foods that are now shut off to me, probably forever. All of my life I have never given a thought to what I ate, except whether it tasted good or was well prepared. Now I can never relax my vigilance just in case the next allergy attack proves to be more serious. I carry an EpiPen and I read labels. When I dine out or eat prepared foods I have to place my trust and my life in the hands of others.

Did I mention that I have major control issues? I have always, in my quiet and diplomatic way, maintained an iron grip of control over my life. Now, this doesn’t help me, matters are out of my hands. It’s terrifying and frustrating.

So, in an effort to help me get over these feelings of sadness I need to get it off my chest. I’m pissed I can’t eat quiche, poached eggs, hollendaise, Green Goddess dressing, salad Niçoise, Caesar salad, waffles, soufflés, meringues, dacquois and Pavlovas, macarons and deviled eggs. No matzo balls, fresh pasta, donuts, cookies, lemon curd, freaking lemon meringue pie, tuna salad sandwiches, aioli and frittatas, pot au cream, custard, my Granny’s tapioca pudding recipe, BLTs with a thick smear of mayonnaise and creme brûlée. I’m going to miss the Creme Brûlée Guy. A lot.

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Fuck you, eggs, I hate you.

I don’t like how sick I get after eating eggs now. It’s super scary. I need to avoid them diligently just in case this intolerance gets more sensitive and the reaction gets more severe. This is a true threat. So why do I miss these things? It’s in my head, a sort of denial. I need to get over it and move on.

But for today I am angry and bitter.

Fucking eggs. Fucking beautiful eggs.

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I Miss You / I Miss Your Onion Dip

Everyone was talking about what they were cooking and eating for the Superbowl, our last sports hurrah until Spring Training starts in a few months.  It started me thinking about all the fun parties my family used to have for the Superbowl and how much I miss those days.

My mom would have a dichotomous party at her fabulous Russian Hill apartment, the 49ers hopefully would be one of the contenders, we wore our colors and sipped Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and ate her lavish spread of appetizers and something luxurious to fill in the corners, like lasagna and her Boston cream pie.  Friends from the choir, our blended family, and other family friends would join the sports fanatic side of the party rooting for the teams, while other friends (big wigs in advertising) would root for their commercials and discuss that side of the Superbowl experience.  It was so funny to hear people say, “Shhh! The commercials are on!”

My dear sister would often make her onion dip for picnics and football game watching parties to eat with the ubiquitous ridged potato chips.  It’s a marvelous concoction with the usual ingredients (sour cream and onion soup mix) but it had a special, wonderful nuance to it.  She shared with me one day that it contained a small shot of very fine gin, now isn’t that a brilliant idea? Who would have thought, but it really made for the most perfect onion dip.

I always had sort of an Auntie Mame fantasy of my sister discovering this wonderful addition – her sipping an elegant martini in her tiny SF kitchen while adding this and that to the dip, and then…….

Hmmm, perhaps a touch of dill, a little more cracked black pepper, some onion powder, oooops! There goes the martini!  (pause to taste….)  ((big grin))

I am sure it really was nothing of the sort but you know, it’s a fun “movie” to run in my head and I know she would laugh at it.

My family has moved away and life’s changes has made our getting together a rare experience.  As I had the Superbowl on and was alone eating store-bought salsa and waiting for my humble vegetable soup to cook when I had an epiphany that I missed my sister’s onion dip, and I miss her even more.

Memorable Meals

One of my Twitter followers has been diagnosed with tongue cancer and the treatment plan he is facing is nothing more than unthinkable. However we must do what we must to survive but it brings to mind questions of the quality of life and the strength of the human spirit to live.

No matter how bad things get we humans have this deep imperative to survive and nothing sparks that impulse more than food. What do you do when you cannot eat though?

I have been feeling rather down as my nutrition is lacking from of all of the diet restrictions from cross-reactive pollen allergies. In reality there are plenty of foods I can still eat but I mourn the loss of my favorite food items. I can still eat and taste. I am grateful for this.

I have also been really depressed from of all my physical Injuries and the countdown to surgery in 18 days. I am also dealing with the anger that I put off my surgery for 2 weeks to help ease a work deadline, which has now shifted, so now the deadline is right during the week of the surgery. Every day my pain and discomfort grows and my suffering is longer by 2 weeks for nothing.

Perspective is a steadying force too. I know another sweet lady who has breast cancer and is doing chemotherapy before surgery. Her strength and courage moves me. Again, compared to my acquaintances and friends with cancer, I have nothing at all to gripe about. Physical pain is an inconvenience, it’s not good to be in pain and there are health effects but in comparison to cancer it is a drop in the bucket.

I began to think of the healing nature of our food and of meals shared with friends and family. Food is nurturing to our bodies and our shared meals are nurturing to our souls.

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou, beside me singing in the wilderness. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

My last Thanksgiving was with my mOm, my stepdad and my sister. I miss them very much and I hadn’t seen them for months before that holiday and we haven’t visited since. I don’t remember much about the food, only how wonderful it was to hold their hands around the table, have Ken say grace and to eat the food we all prepared together.

Our gathering is limited by geography and the inevitable countdown of time slipping away looms over me until I can’t take a breath but it is also makes our reunions so much sweeter.

My birthday two years ago was the day my exboyfriend was buried. We parted badly and it was just a year after when he died suddenly. The church was filled with our friends and his family and many local people, awash in grief. I couldn’t face the burial service so my dear friend Anna picked me up, took me into her home, her beau poured me champagne and they made me a decadent dinner of lobster mashed potatoes and filet mignon. We didn’t talk a whole lot but it was a night filled with love and caring directed towards me. It made everything better and reminded me the power of enduring through the pain of loss and why we go on to live for the joy of life .

A recent picnic with Anna and Deb was very spontaneous and delightful, it was such a perfect day. Sunshine, cool Spring air, sitting on a lawn filled with tiny daisies and black bees under a cherry blossom tree we celebrated “hamine” in a way only Midwestern, Russian and Californian girls in San Francisco can. We had a lunch of mixed cultures: Californian wine and beers, Japanese onigiri, fried chicken with an Asian twist, French cornichon, local roasted beets in vinaigrette, and the ultimate dessert of rice crispie treats with bacon. We continued on with dinner at Anna’s with the doggies, more wine and laughter and silliness. My back still isn’t right from trying those dance moves on one foot in the living room. Good friends, silly conversations, our park in our town, a mingling of everything in our personal melting pots, we shared the joy of a perfect Saturday. We all work so hard with our jobs, families, school, communities and hobbies, and oftentimes hanging out with friends gets lost in scheduling conflicts and fatigue. But these times replenish our batteries and give us the mental lightness to carry on with our busy lives.

Years ago when Marc was still alive we all trouped up to Lake Tahoe for a ski weekend with about 20 friends. A couple of us didn’t ski that time so we drove over to Emerald Bay for a little hike down to the Vikingsholm. It’s a pleasant walk and most of the way was clear from snow. Marc’s best friend Joe was in training to go to war in the Reserves and it was a nice treat for me and Sharon to spend a little time with him in one of the most beautiful places in California before he faced his challenge and served our Country in Kuwait and Bagram.

We rambled around the mansion and grounds, through the woods and beaches and settled on a sunny spot out of the wind to watch the lake gently lap the stony shore.

Joe said he had lunch for us and pulled out three MREs from his pack. He showed us how to heat up the beef stew and corned beef hash and we ate everything and listened to him talk about what it was like to eat a meal in a ditch or in a hole somewhere, what he and his men liked and didn’t like, and what they talked about during their time on maneuvers.

Joe never really talked much about his Army experiences as he is a very stoic and a very patriotic man; the soldiers I know are all generally very reserved in sharing their experiences and emotions, particularly to civilians and to women. It is a peculiarity but I understand.

There we sat in this glorious place eating very inglorious food, skipping pebbles into the clear water, and imagining what Joe would be doing in a few short weeks and just fully being there , at the Lake, together in the sunshine.

All of these meals are like a diamond, a pure, sparkling moment you want to take out, polish up and enjoy in the light, letting the facets reflect the rainbow flash of your memory.

I have many, many memories like this to contemplate as I prepare for my unpleasant experience ahead. I am so lucky to have dear friends who have offered to take me to their home and look after me during the worst of it, and others to bring over food and run errands for me, or take me to appointments or just visit with me. I have loving family to give me moral support and encouragement and to make me laugh even though they are far away.

I am even more lucky that my doctors give me 70-90% chance of a successful outcome. I have an injured ankle, shoulder, back, knees, hand, and more but it is not cancer and I know eventually I will be better, healthy and strong. I think of my friends and acquaintances who are facing a battle for their lives and I think about how brave they are. I will try harder.

The Ups and Downs of it All

(Non-Food-Related-Chat)

The Downs

After a random string of events I am now laid up again with injuries. Apparently, spraining my ankle repeatedly over the last bunch of years has resulted in some nasty damage in there; no wonder the thing hurts.

Through friends I consulted a wonderful doctor who fitted me up with sexy footwear for an indeterminate period and an equally fetching cane.

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Sexay!

A week later I can barely use my left hand after clumping around with the cane and next thing I know the doc gives me a wrist brace and a crutch. Meanwhile I’m still supposed to be wearing the arm sling for my sprained shoulder. It’s ridiculous!

Apparently the cane use might he giving me carpal tunnel, which might need surgery, and I might have a genetic disorder that causes me to get injured easily. I look the doc in the eye and tell him, “I come in here with a sore ankle and you tell me it’s serious, now I’m in a boot, a brace, a crutch, facing possible wrist surgery and maybe a genetic disease. I don’t want to come back here anymore!” It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

Ah, well, what can one do. I’m going to behave myself and just go and do what the doc tells me. I boot up, strap on and hitch myself along and do what shoulder physical therapy I can at home, ice my wrist and give my ankle contrast baths. Meanwhile, my left shoulder and knee are killing me from all the extra strain, so they get iced up too. Seriously ridiculous, I am running out of ice packs and frozen peas. I am busy at home with all of this and no time or energy to cook, or do anything else for that matter.

I still have the food allergies / intolerances to deal with but I am going to table them for a while. If I avoid certain beloved foods I’m okay and can deal with the nutritional aspects of these limitations in some fashion.

The Ups

But here’s the thing. This is not going to get me down. I have been through worse, much worse, and I have survived. I have kind employers, great friends and amazing family to help me and a doctor who is optimistic I can get back to being fit and active again.

Amidst all of this craziness, a lovely article about social currency, aka the influence one has via using social media, came out in our local glossy publication, 7×7 Magazine and it features me and two others.

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Sassy!

According to Kred, a new company that measures social influence and outreach, I have one of the highest scores in the food category in San Francisco.

I had a really fun interview and photo shoot with the kind people at 7×7 Magazine and the article is in their April money-themed issue. Although the the article is only in print it has been really exciting to hear from so many friends and acquaintances who saw my full page photo and article.

It’s funny how life seeks a level like water, dealing out difficult times and good news, emulating the ebb and flow of the tides. If things get low enough they always rise up to something better, as incredible adventures and experiences always subside to a boring normalcy.

With this modest public accolade I am determined to focus on the good things going on all around me and put these challenging physical issues behind me.

Happily, my sprained shoulder is doing so well I have ditched the sling, and can actually lift my arm above my head easily for the first time in 14 months. This is a huge moment for me and it gives me great hope that I can get healed.

So bring it on, Universe, I’m like the Black Knight!

“It’s just a flesh wound!”

I am still here and still fighting!

My 2011 “Did It'” List

My friend Luna Raven recently posted her 2011 “Did It” List, inspired by one of her friends and I love all the things she got done this year.  Thus inspired I thought I should join the club and write about my accomplishments too.

I went to Mushroom Camp and  learned to mordant yarn and fabric and then dye it using foraged mushrooms.
Green shimmery stems!The red gilled dernacybe makes a gorgeous pinkAmazing spectrum of hues from mushroom dyesRed-Gilles Dermocybes with alum mordant make this coppery hue

I found my first candy cap mushroom in the redwood forests up in Sonoma.
My first mushroom foray, a candycap!

I attended the Fancy Food Show and scored twelve pounds of amazing blue cheese. (no picture, we ate it all!)

I discovered some amazing ramen places, including my current favorite, pork and corn butter ramen at Ramen Club.
*Ridiculous* dinner w @equan55 - butter ramen

I treated myself to some incredible yarn at Stitches West and have actually knitted up a few garments.
Zontee spotting!!The results of our card knitting class! Lorna Miserphoto.JPGChacha shawl

I gathered up all my courage and borrowed lots of courage from friends and had surgery to repair my shoulder from a tragic high fiving injury when we won the World Series in 2011.Two months later I did not listen to my doctors orders and returned to work a month early, which is why one should not make important decisions while taking pain medication!  Major life lesson learned!  (Is that technically an accomplishment?)
The *right* shoulder
(note to the surgeon)

I am still in physical therapy due to yet another accident while riding MUNI.  My  accomplishment there is patience and learning to follow directions and care for myself, and, even though it’s embarrassing, sit in the disabled seats on the bus.

I got to visit with my dearest childhood friend three times! ((Lovi!!))
Me & my BFFGurlzphoto.JPG

My friends and I made ten different kinds of macaroni and cheese on my birthday at a huge blowout party, and we almost ate them all!
Mac'n cheese blowout - in progressMy dear friends...

I celebrated one year at my new job and I am still loving every day. It was great to have health insurance, medical leave and understanding coworkers while I heal. I am so lucky!
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I went to San Diego on the most hilarious girls road trip to BlogHer – the Road Trip of Happiness!
Here it is, on a 20" plate, fried chicken BennieEeek! It's *so* big! @whats4dinnermomGetting reading for #KUYH Party @rubydw is thirsty!Tasering @domesticvalerie while waiting for brekkies is just rude @lunaraven13

I relearned how to embroider after taking a great class from Princess Animal and finished my first sampler.
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I knitted my 26th pair of socks and learned how to darn them.
Skew socks in Alchemy's Juniper sock- Summertime BluesLast view, fun heel stripes, love this pattern!Finished my Twisted socks from @knittydotcomForgotten arts: darning socks (done!)

I created a new diet of bacon, chocolate, beef, wine and cocktails, bread and cheese because of weird food allergy/sensitivities – I’m doing just fine on it, it’s not privation that’s for sure!
Vegan chocolate cake ~ Wacky cake ~ with bourbon ganache. Thanks mOmIt's business time...Mmm lardons - thanks @nueskes @inyaku !

I launched a new blog – The Inadvertent Redhead – as an outlet for my non-food related talents, and I love it! And yes, I’m still a redhead!
Irish coffee #2 at the Buena Vistaaaahhhhphoto.PNG

Because of my blog and social media I was invited to a multitude of wonderful parties and events and I feel so privileged to have these opportunities and to know so many wonderful writers, cooks, chefs, photographers, stylists and artistan food producers from many genres.
Chef Corey Lee of BenuSour Flour

Despite all the challenges and sadnesses of this year it has been a really good one and I am looking forward to many fun things in 2012.

I am most especially looking forward to another year with my wonderful family.
Ken and Barbie

Here’s to health and happiness ahead!
Cheers my friends!

Feeling Wistful…

This weekend was a complete food disaster. Instead of having a great time at FoodBuzz with all my friends from food blogging and potential new friends, I ate something that triggered my food allergy symptoms and spent the rest of the weekend home feeling like I ate bees and rolled in poison oak, amongst other unpleasant things.

I know this is not helpful but my mind keeps thinking of all the things I had planned to cook, which now I may never be able to taste or enjoy.

Thoughts of fluffy cheese gougeres, our family’s amazing pumpkin chiffon pie, A___’s chicken kutlyeti with mashed potatoes, huevos rancheros with blue corn tortillas, knock you naked brownies, my favorite birthday cake from Victoria Pastry Company – the St. Honore, Irish car bomb cupcakes, the salmon chowder I have in the freezer, game hens glazed in apricot preserves with pine nuts, Mrs. Snell’s walnut bites, Christmas almond bark, the list just goes on and on….

My skin tests for foods and inhalent pollens are tomorrow and Thursday and I am very apprehensive.

Either I will react to the foods they will test me for, or I will not. Either way, I know that so many favorite and essential foods really trigger the allergy symptoms, so despite the outcome of this week I know there are things I just cannot have anymore.

Everything I have read says that it is very important to avoid foods that trigger the allergic response because continuining to challenge yourself with them can cause the reaction to worsen, and become anaphyalctic like I have come close to experiencing with eggs.   Other symptoms that are common are depression, mental confusion, aches in joints, headaches, etc – all of this seems to click and explain why I have been feeling so poorly.

So, I am trying not let my brain “go to terminal” and to think of this as a sort of cleanse period, a six month (or longer) break where I just eat a very restricted diet and let my immune system chill out.

I really don’t know what to expect now and the fear of the unknown is petrifying. I am tired of playing Russian Roulette with food and worried my health will suffer.  Even vitamins are worrisome.  Can I even get a flu shot? They are cultured in part using egg.

It is sad to contemplate that I will have to give up doing the things I love and things that I have such a talent, like cooking and writing about food because of my body’s betrayal.  I don’t want to give up these things, they have filled my life in such a wonderful way, but I really don’t have anything to write about now.

Food seems like a pointless exercise and I wish I didn’t have to think about it or even eat anything.  If I could just take a pill for sustenance and never worry about this allergy stuff again I would do so happily.

Meantime to distract myself I have started a new site, The Inadvertent Redhead, where I am writing about my crafts, knitting, haiku and other artistic things.

I will try to continue this site on the foods that I can eat safely and wine and cocktails.

Cheers to that!

Food Allergy Update

It has been a few weeks since I have written about my new battle with food allergies.

It is a battle. Every day I eat anything I feel like I am playing Russian roulette. It is so much fun! Oh the sarcasm.

The good news is that I don’t have blood immunity-detectable allergies to anything they have tested but this means nothing.

Apparently, one can have an allergic reaction to a food and not be technically allergic. There are food allergies, food intolerances, Oral Allergy Syndrome and food sensitivities.

What does this mean for me? Nothing.

I am clueless until my next set of tests two weeks away. The nurse said that those tests may not give me any helpful information either.

For example, I have been reacting strongly to eggs, meaning anything with egg on it, including baked goods, has made me feel terrible. I am not allergic in a true sense but might have a “sensitivity”.

I’m not allergic to dairy but I have an intolerance, so eating cow’s milk products have a very decided effect.

I am not allergic to fruits or nuts according to my lab tests but I might have OAS due to cross-reactivity to certain pollens.

Today’s test was watermelon and I felt “funny” but not like I do after eating eggs or almonds. But I won’t be doing that again.

I also thought potatoes were okay because potato chips have been fine. But the other night I roasted some fingerling potatoes and felt that awful tingly itchy feeling and soreness in my mouth. Today I had some roasted potatoes “croutons” in my salad and again the same feeling came over me.

I need to try mashed potatoes because the reaction I am having could be from the potato skins.

Or, maybe I’m just screwed.

You see, mashed potatoes are my favorite comfort food. When I have a migraine and am too green to keep most foods down I can have a few bites of mashed potatoes.

Potatoes dishes loom large in my celebratory dinners too, like the infamous lobster mashed potatoes from my birthday or creamy mashed potatoes and gravy at every major holiday.

When I feel happy or sad I want mashed potatoes. I want mashed potatoes like little kids want their mommies.

I am starting to hyperventilate just thinking about this and am sending buttery offerings to the tuber gods that peeled potatoes are okay.

The Irony of Food Allergies and Being a Food Blogger

For the past two months I have been having problems with food allergy symptoms; tingling and numbness, swelling, rash, problems swallowing, problems breathing. What a nightmare!

At first it was a reaction to taro root. For those of you who do not know what taro is, it is a tuber and is the primary ingredient in poi, the Hawaiian starch paste. It is also commonly used in vegetable chips. The irony of being allergic to an essentially tasteless food product was not lost on me. Happily it is easy to avoid taro, except taro is used frequently at a lot of Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I was prepared to mourn the loss of crispy spring rolls at certain places, got my Epi Pen and put it in my handbag and thought the drama was over.

A month later I had enjoyed a lovely quiche Lorraine and a fruit salad at a work breakfast and experienced allergy symptoms. What could it be? The fruit? The eggs? Surely not the bacon?

My mind recoiled in horror. Not. Bacon. Please, let it not be bacon.

After questioning my family about any history of food allergies it came out that my grandmother, the one who had everything you could think of wrong with her, might have had a pork allergy. But she was a hypochondriac so I automatically have discounted anything hereditary from her side. Well except for breast cancer and diabetes type 2, those are real issues that worry me.

A week later, after many phone calls to the doctor, I had started avoiding all ingredients in quiche and fruit salad and was recovering pretty well. Pretty well, that is, until I ate a lemon cupcake. This stupid lemon cupcake made me so ill that I ended up in the emergency room that night. So not fun, let me tell you. Also, the staff and UCSF are awesome, just in case you need to visit an ER theirs is the place to go.

The immunologist’s office is a very busy place, and my testing and consultation will not be completed until mid December.  You do realize what this means, right? What is between now and mid-December?  Thanksgiving.

The horror.  What on earth can I eat that won’t make me sick and/or die between now and then?

So I have been prudent. And I have been taking lots of antihistamines, some of which I have discovered have the effect of drinking 10 cups of coffee an hour.  Some are like taking a quaalude, zonk, out like a light, which can be fine but not at 11 am in the morning.

This past week I was very excited because I made pear custard tarts and bacon blue cornmeal waffles.  It felt great to be cooking again, being able to make food and not be in pain from my shoulder, and most importantly to be able to clean up the kitchen after cooking something.

I did not plan on feeling severe allergy symptoms after eating my own cooking.  The pear tart made me feel like a rabid dog.  I took more antihistamines and tried to ignore the shaking hands and extreme anxiety it gave me.  I went home and threw away the mostly uneaten tart I had made for myself.

Saturday I had a great  fun day out with L___ and we had tater tots, a baby slider and salted caramel shakes.  Delicious!  However I started getting numb and tingly and sore after a few bites.  Was it the ketchup? The mayo? The bun? I really don’t know.  Yesterday I made my beautiful bacon blue cornmeal waffles and tried to ignore the numb and swollen tongue and closing throat feelings I was getting.  Harder to ignore was the itchy face and puffy lips, but I consoled myself with more Benadryl and lip gloss thinking the Hollywood types pay all kinds of money for lips like mine.

I ate a left over waffle at work and just threw it away after 3 bites.  What the hell.

Happily I am not alone.  On Twitter and elsewhere I know many, many people who have food allergies, and found out one or more of them have the same type of allergy I might have, which is called Oral Allergy Syndrome.  Basically severe hay fever can manifest itself into oral allergy symptoms because certain foods have proteins in common with the pollens that cause allergies.  There are also non-oral symptoms which I can’t discuss.   Maybe I have food allergies too, or maybe it’s something else, I really won’t know for months.

What I do know is that not knowing really bites.  I am not really sure exactly what foods I can and cannot eat safely.  I know I can have meat, and cheese and bread and chocolate and coffee and feel okay.  But waffles are made of flour so what does that mean about eating bread?  Fruits are still on my avoid list, and I think I am also going to abstain from eggs for a while.

Begrudgedly I am starting a food journal and am squintingly reading food labels and not eating out very much.  I am taking a few bites and waiting before I can proceed.  I am taking way too many pills and am tired of feeling sick.

It is going to be a sad Thanksgiving.  A gal cannot just live on bacon and turkey.  Or can I?

The irony of being a food blogger and not being able to eat food is keeping me chuckling, but life is not fun right now.

Fingers crossed this gets sorted soon.