Dietary Restrictions – March 19, 2021

Kiddies, this ain’t a nickel-ninety-eight. If you are lexiphobic, click-off as this scares hell out of two thousand words.

Friends, if you suffer from an allergy or a specific “intolerance” follow professional medical advice.  I am not a medical professional. Not a dietician. Not any kind of health professional.  Not really any kind of professional.  If you can read this, you are intelligent enough to understand health conditions you suffer.  You also know where and how to seek help. Do so.

Plagued with an increasingly flawed memory, I’ve labored to recall specific occurrences from the past.  Failed.  What I was looking for, going back to before 1960, was instances of people being allergic. Allergic to anything.  Durned few that I recall.  Young snots my age in the fifties and sixties weren’t allowed to understand or even overhear discussions about grown-up stuff like allergies, sex, the difference between Republicans and Democrats. So I suppose they might have existed then.1 I doubt it.

Diabetes, yes. Cooties, yes. Allergies and “intolerances,” no.

Forearms swelling after a hornet sting so you looked like Popeye didn’t count. Investigative Idiots that we were as lads, finding a new stinging insect, we couldn’t wait to try it out.  Don’t misunderstand, in Texas, we understood coral snakes, cottonmouths, and rattlers.  But scorpions, spiders, bees, snakes yet unidentified, and such were fair game.  Horned toads learned to hear us coming.2

Wanting to throw-up at the dinner table because half a bushel of Brussels sprouts sat on your plate did not constitute a food allergy.  There was no such disclaimer, “I don’t like that!”  One, if you’d not ever tried it you quickly could no longer make that claim and two, dispatching ‘point one,’ if everyone else was eating it, so were you. Or you went hungry or had difficulty sitting.

I recall few, if any, genuine allergies, and no food allergies until ten years before the turn of this century.  Remember, we were asbestos, DDT, PCB, lead, Russian atomic bomb, and fluoride babies.  I knew two kids, otherwise quite normal who suffered from epilepsy.  Knew countless kids who lied, most of whom are now fiction writers or politicians. That’s it though.  No peanut allergies. No lactose intolerance. No celiac disease.

Now I hear of farmers walking into cornfields breaking out in severe rashes in reaction to corn pollen and the insidious saw-like edges of corn leaves. 

So yes, a few legitimate and unfortunate allergies.  But only of late.  It’s all different now.  Why, even me…

I can’t do peanuts

You know I lie.  And this is a case right here.  I eat peanuts with a vengeance.  In the distant past sitting in a bar with a bud practicing lies.  Sure, don’t do that much right now.  Not so much because, well, you know, nobody goes anywhere much anymore. Because most of the buds who in the past would join me in that activity now belly-up to a celestial bar.

Smoosh peanuts into a “butter” and I’ll show you how bad peanuts are for you.  With jam, honey, pineapple, apple butter, or naked on toast.  Gimme a spoon and I’ll scoop it right out of the jar. 

Don’t understand the peanut allergy thing.  As a kid growing up (what else is a kid to do?) peanut butter was a staple.  Not sure, but I think Ma bought the stuff in five-gallon buckets. Then it became a precocious snack.  Then fell into disrepute.

Peanut butter gets a bad rap. The “natural” stuff is okay.  Figger that.  Went on a tear and did the natural thing for a while, until it was too much trouble to stir the oil back into the goop every time I went at a jar. Discovered no advantage in “natural” except the added profit for manufacturers who (I guess) spent less effort homogenizing the stuff.

All you need be mindful of is added sugars in the jar (why?) and don’t blame all the “calories” on peanut butter.  Take a good look at what you spread on the un-peanut-butter half of the sandwich – jam, jelly, honey, molasses, that marshmallow goop, pineapple slices, bananas, or whatever2.5 – there’s your calories, and your sugar!

Only vaguely do I remember becoming aware there was such a thing a peanut butter allergy.  Suddenly, peanuts could not be served on airline flights.  When did this happen?  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  I was concerned at first that I might go to jail for eating peanut butter.  It’s a serious deal for anyone with the allergy, but I’m still fogged as to the all-of-a-sudden of it. 

What if I innocently carry a two-pound Snickers bar onto an airline flight?  Discovering it, will the stews get the captain and the Air Marshall to help toss me out the back door at thirty thousand feet?

I am lactose intolerant

No, I’m not.  I was pulling your leg.2.6  Milk, cream, butter, cheese.  Ice cream!  I’m okay with that save a few exceptions. 

Bleu Cheese.  Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Danish, Cabrales – and I suppose a few others.  It’s a personal thing.  To me, Bleus smell bad and taste like soapy baby spit.  I mean what baby spit smells like, never tasted it.  Have tasted soap – that’s another story (several, actually) so we’ll set that aside.

Still working cheese here, there’s Limburger and Liederkranz.  These two make Roquefort smell nice.  Limburger smells worse than ripe, sweaty socks, and we won’t explore exactly what that is I refer to.   I’m told Limburger’s flavor is delightful.  At my age, I still can’t bring myself to try it.  Did Bleu.  Know it’s not for me.  But Limburger? Nope. Not gonna.  Any other cheese is just fine, thank you very much.

Otherwise, dairy? I’m good.  I will suggest that milk is best cold, the colder the better, short of frozen. Or warm, straight from nature’s spigots.  And this low-fat, two-percent, one-percent, half-percent, and negative-percent milk?  That ain’t milk, Bubba – that’s cloudy water.

Cream?  Yuh. You betcha.  And butter.  Why would anyone use oleo?  Yogurt and cottage cheese are okay, but I have to be hungry.

Point is, I don’t understand “lactose intolerant.”  For those who suffer, I understand.  Well, no, in fact, I don’t understand, I just said that, but I do feel for you.  Take care of yourself.  Can I ask, where did your body go south on you? I mean, the plans were when you were born, you wouldn’t pop out, clap your hands, and look around for a steaming pate of Brussels sprouts.  Huh, didja?  I been wrong before, but for most mammals, that’s kind of the plan – milk until your teeth can handle Brussels sprouts.

Eggs are bad for you

No. Wait that was last week.  This week they’re great stuff.  Next week, again, maybe not so good.

All around bunk.  Gimme eggs.  Almost every day of the week when I was young and active.  Now, I feel no danger eating eggs five days out of seven.  Fried – over easy, over hard, sunny-side up. Scrambled.  Poached.  Hard or soft boiled. 

It’s not the eggs, it’s the ham, bacon, sausage, steak, pork chops, hash browns, Texas toast, Alabama biscuits, grits, and gravy that do you in.  Salmon or sardines.  Brains.  Veggies and cheeses crammed into a scramble or quiche.

But I gotta have it all. Else there’s no point in having eggs.

You heard the bad joke, right? 

The line chef asked… “Whaddayahave?”

“I’ll have a tongue sandwich,” I said.

“Ugh,” my companion said, “I would never eat something that’s been in an animal’s mouth!”

“So, unh, what will you have?”

“Oh, maybe ham and eggs.”

Gluten intolerance

I have absolutely no idea.  I’ve heard horror stories from reputable sources. This one is so new to me, it’s like peanut allergy in 1990.  I ask myself, are they for real?  Yes, I am assured, they are.    

Those who suffer, substitute and survive.  I’ve tried gluten-free.  I’m not impressed either way.

Maybe I’m gluten-free intolerant.

Okra is inedible

No, it ain’t.  Love the stuff. Fried, with or without breading.  Baked.  In Gumbo or Jambalaya.  Scrumptious.  In any soup.  Been known to just boil it. Slicks-up the pipes.  No need for Metamucil.3

Brussels sprouts – dietary punishment

Nah.  Good stuff.  I dunno where that came from.   Hate’m?  Nope.  Never did.  I love the micro cabbages.  Roasted, baked, steamed, boiled.  Bet they’d be good fried, but never heard of it.

Same for spinach.  Squash.  Green beans.  Kale. Cauliflower.  Broccoli.  Yes, broccoli!

Don’t eat meat!

Up to you.  If you’re vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, Baptist, or Lutheran that’s fine.  Your business.  For whatever reason.  But don’t presume to condemn me for my dietary preferences.

Dietary differences, but…

I get it.  Sort of.  Some folks can’t handle milk, nuts, soy, gluten, beans, and leafy greens.  What is unsettling is how these intolerances or out-and-out allergies came to affect so much of the population.  Seems to me, even given the fact politics, sex, alcohol, and other good things were not dinner-table conversation long ago, I would have known Jimmy Wilkerson4 was allergic to peanuts, Sue Kozlowski was lactose intolerant, and the Kurtz twins both were gluten intolerant.  I mean, I knew Mikey G. had epilepsy.  It was rumored Imogene R. had cooties, though I always thought she was pretty damned cute. 

In the hood back in the days, I hung with a ton of kids, and was not isolated through high school or the service, either.  Allergies?  Never heard of them.  Or any of the intolerances.  Then suddenly, around nineteen-ninety, boom!  Allergies are commonplace.  Why?  Or how? 

But then, until I was eighteen, I thought boys and girls were of the same species.

1 Republicans and Democrats, sex, or allergies.  Whatever one you prefer. The antecedent is vague, but I’m happy with any of them.  If you’re not, you’re too picky.

2 We hankered to run up on a Gila Monster. Found out we’d have to go way out west to find them. Rather disheartening to a group of ten-year old lads. We made do with snakes, scorpions, spiders, huge ants, horned toads.  This, of course was BG.  (Before Girls)

2.5 Dunno about Vegemite. That a standalone thing? Oh, and almond butter? Pardon me, Sleepy Joe, but C’mon, man! A nut’s a nut! Why is it PB gets a bad rap and almond butter is okay? The precocious meter is past 10, here.

2.6 Pulling your leg. Jerking your chain. Messing widja. Joking.

3 Fiber laxative.  Looks like gritty Tang.  Expensive.  Some folk chug it daily to stay “regular.”  No need.  Just do Cajun.

4 None of the names are real.  Well, they’re real names, but not the names of real people. I’m practicing making-up names for my next novel, Skittering Sideways into the Seventies.

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

16 thoughts on “Dietary Restrictions – March 19, 2021

  1. Excellent piece, Sir! Very much enjoyed it! And although we won’t see eye to eye as far as the appreciation of Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Bleu cheese is concerned, I agree, when was young, allergies and food intolerances were hardly heard of. Maybe this got something to do with the fact that kids nowadays are much more protected (and I am inclined to say ‘overprotected’) than we were when we grew up?

    1. They tell me it’s a chemical thing, Bleu. Boss loves it, so I’ve learned how to shop it correctly. And the veggies! All good. Something to do with the way we were raised in the olden days. The “protection” thing, let’s call it ‘molly-coddle,’ sure, but hard to argue when a kid goes into anaphylactic shock. Tempted to cite the kid looking at mashed potatoes and gagging but it’s quite a jump from “I don’t wanna” to breathing failure. Thanks for looking-in. Appreciate it.

  2. A fine read SP. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It is strange how a lot of these allergies and intolerances seem to have appeared from nowhere. The nut one is a particular puzzler. I don’t remember it as a kid, yet only recently there was a news item about an otherwise healthy teenage girl who had died because her restaurant meal had traces of nut in it. Whilst I think that many intolerances are attention seeking, that poor girl was certainly not faking it!
    There is a cheese in France whose name translates as The Monk’s Shoes. You can imagine what that smells like. And, I am pleased to communicate with someone else who admits to a liking of sprouts and broccoli.

    1. All in how we were raised and I suspect how we don’t want to miss out out ‘stuff’ because until you try this particular Malbec, you assume all Malbec to be ‘musty.’ Dad loved Limburger. I just couldn’t get it under my nose. One of the rare times Dad ‘let it go.’ Maybe because he wanted it all for himself. The sudden epidemic proportions of allergies? I dunno. That was the curiosity prompting. Thanks for looking in and dropping a few words. And yeah, the green veggies, prepared to your liking are good stuff!

      1. Prepared to your liking, that’s the secret. Sprouts are the one veg I like really well cooked. Preferably with a knob of butter.

      2. Try’m roasted. Slathered with butter on coming out of the oven or off the grill (for variety, a spritz of avocado oil) then liberally sprinkled with your favorite spices. Works for carrots, parsnips, turnips, asparagus, you name it. (Of course I like a bit of beef on the side, or a nice bone-in pork steak.) Egads! I’m turning into a cook show. Excuse me. Won’t happen again…

  3. I understand so well! I have an intolerance to milk and I had to give up eating cheese as I used to! But if it’s for our health we have to sacrifice sometimes! At the beginning it’s a bit toygh because you have to change your habits, but slowly you get used to it!

    1. Ah yes. Fortunately there are alternatives! Thank you for taking time to comment. Hope things are going better (lock-down wise) in Italy now.

  4. Splendid SP! And oh, so true! When I was a lad it became fashionable to call kids who were a wee more active than the dumb-dumb next door hyperactive and Ritalin was dispensed like water. In school if they reported we had no self-control, which meant that we were probably bored, they would suggest a psychologist or a psychiatrist and the child would be labelled hyperactive or having some kind of psychological problem. It was crazy! But I remember that my mother, who was a chemist and a doctor of pharmacy, saying that all the problems with child raising in the late sixties and seventies were due to these new psychologies that were being published as scientific fact…and of course, we never heard of such allergies as the ones you’ve mentioned. So, I thoroughly enjoyed the article and top of the weekend to you my friend!
    Cheers,
    FBC.

      1. Working my rear-end off today. Spring has sprung and I hustle to catch up. Tell ya, this evening, supper and a glass of red will be so-o-o nice. (Break for coffee now. called in to do the Boss’s bidding.) Two more slurps, then back outside. Ah! But it does feel good! Have a grand weekend. Imma do the best I can. SP

      2. Sounds splendid my friend! Enjoy that coffee, that supper and that red wine. I will be taking a glass or two in just a few as wine time approaches on a cold Saturday evening here in Valencia, but it is a holiday weekend for us so the place is jumping, though people are all wearing their masks and being careful. Our COVID numbers are now very low and we want to keep it that way so the prez can open up our borders! I want to travel to my grandmother’s hometown in the neighbouring community of La Mancha and we’ve not been able to leave as the perimeters of our community is closed. All the best to you my friend and a lovely evening,
        FBC.

  5. Ha! Yeah, allergies were a rare thing to hear of, when I was a child. I have a couple of suspicions about why they were so relatively infrequent. 1) people with severe allergies simply died and no one knew why and 2) people were getting sick, but had no idea why.

    Interestingly, I’m the only one in my family who is not lactose intolerant. It turns out that most of humanity loses the enzymes required to digest milk, shortly after weaning. People in norther climates, where it was cold enough for milk to stay safe to drink longer, kept the digestive enzymes. It wasn’t until there was a food crisis in South America, where large amounts of powdered milk was donated from northern countries, that this was discovered. The people getting the donations appreciated them, but got sick from the milk. The people who made the donations got affronted because they saw the “complaints” as ingratitude. Then the digestive enzymes required to not get sick from milk were discovered and oh, hey! Maybe those poor people in SA weren’t being ungrateful louts, after all… :-/

    My daughters love their dairy products, and will put of with being sick if they’re out of Lactase.

    Which reminds me. We really need to install a second bathroom in this place… 😉

    1. Sorry about the plague of lactose intolerance. I know one or two who are intolerant; for them it was a late-onset thing. I know of no one who can;t handle peanuts or any nut for that matter. We press on. I personally must admit I am idiot intolerant and that too is late onset. I am working on my intolerance but so far the only thing that seems to work is avoidance. It also appears those I avoid prefer it that way too, Win-win. Thanks for dropping in.

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