Amy’s Sunday post over at BabyBabyLemon was simple enough: a list of restaurants she’d like to eat at. I read through the list and thought, “Yes! All the food!” but by the time I got to the end, I actually had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat.
Since kidlet’s food allergies were confirmed my entire relationship with food has changed. I no longer read food magazines, I don’t look through cookbooks with enthusiasm, I don’t dream of the wonderful places we’ll eat when we go out of town, or even the amazing places to eat in town. I don’t tear recipes out of magazines to try later. In short: food rarely brings me joy the way it used to.
Having a kid with half a dozen food allergies (egg, sesame, mango, walnut, almond, peanut, and fish) has changed the foods we keep in the house, and makes every new restaurant a potential allergic reaction waiting to happen. In fact, it even makes restaurants we’ve been to dozens of times potentially dangerous places for us. Just last weekend, after having breakfast at our go-to bagel place, kidlet threw up in the car 5 minutes after we left. Why? Cross-contaminated food, I guess.
When we go out we carefully study the menu to gauge whether or not there is anything on the menu that he will be able to eat safely, and since we’re always touching his food, the food we eat needs to be safe for him, too. Which rules out a lot of food. Chinese and Japanese food is often cooked in sesame oil, and uses fish sauce. Many cream sauces used in Italian cooking have egg in them, as does some red sauce. No sushi, no fried food (the batter often has egg in it), no baked pastries, even bread can be tricky since some breads are baked with egg, or have an egg wash to give them shine. No seafood restaurants and no breakfast places – I get freaked out just thinking about all the eggs, and pancakes and waffles have egg in the batter. And when we do venture somewhere new, more often than not we are met with a CYA attitude of, “Yeah it has egg in it,” or a disinterested, “I don’t know.”
I sound like I’m crying in my milk, and I am. I’m feeling sorry for myself because of the food I will miss the opportunity to eat. Because if I want to eat sushi, I have to leave my kid home. Because food allergies SUCK.
I read somewhere that kids learn their attitude about their allergies from their parents, and so if they have parents who are, “No big deal” about it, the kids will be that way too. They won’t see their allergies as a burden, or be afraid of them. So I try very hard to be matter of fact about them, and not talk about how frustrating they are for me in front of him. But sometimes…it gets to me.
A year ago I would have made a list of restaurants that I want to eat at and laughed at the unlikeliness of it happening from a geographic perspective. Like, what are the odds that I will find myself in Napa with a babysitter so I can eat at French Laundry sometime in the next 10 years? Not very high. But now, I can’t even make the list without feeling wistful.