I am a foodie. I love food. Cooking is rarely a chore for me, and I happily find the time to do it. I’m one of those people that try those recipes you see on Pinterest, and most often succeeded. I get freakishly excited over stuff like a new, unknown vegetable in my CSA basket. I also used to obsessively follow a bunch of food-related blogs and I looked forward to the beginning of the month for my magazines to arrive.
Then a year ago, life dropped a bomb smack where it hurts the most for me: My five-year-old suddenly developed a severe life-threatening allergic reaction to eggs.
Eggs. Wtf? I never even knew you could be allergic to eggs! Turns out, eggs are actually the third most frequent allergy, after milk and fish.
So when the diagnosis came, obviously we became an egg-free home.
It affected me deeply. Personally. Not just as a concerned mom, but this allergy took one of my greatest passions and prevented me from indulging. Before, the only thing restricting my cooking inspiration was boyfriend’s meat-and-potato-lover distrust of anything green. Now, suddenly, most of the recipes I loved were giving me the finger.
I’ve had major health issues and I’m a champ at adapting. But somehow, restricting what I took pleasure in was a punishment much more difficult to swallow than chronic health deterioration or freak accidents. So I was angry.
I quit reading my beloved food blogs. More than two thirds of the recipes in there, I couldn’t try in my egg-free kitchen…
Keep your home-made pasta, I won’t be trying your secret trick for the perfect ravioli. And your lobster salad looks awesome, but it has mayonnaise. But there were a few recipes I could, and did, try and those I treasured. Glorious triple fudge cake with chili powder in the batter — you won’t ever make me again! Bye-bye, grandma’s secret recipe skitterdoodle cookies! No, you will never make these awesome six-ingredient asian meatballs that the whole school raved about. (Oh, you can try, but they will disintegrate into mush without eggs!) And doesn’t that Caesar salad look dreamy? Yes, you can have it, but no dressing. Argh.
But I kept the “selfish” part of the allergy impact to myself. I mean, my kiddo is the one who’s allergic — I need to be supportive of her. Like every diagnosis, it takes a while to get your life back to a new normal.
She was five when she nearly died, so she knows how real her allergy is. And I know that she will not be trying to sneak egg products behind my back, which has been a relief. She eats her own lunch, not her friend’s. Eating out is suddenly so stressful and complicated, but she asks for the ingredients and, when in doubt, she does not eat questionable recipes. I do not expect others to accommodate her. She is an active participant in her own well-being.
Of course, she had a few melt-downs of the “Why can all the other kids have birthday cake, not me?” kind. And yes, she deserves ice-cream and cake and cookies and my heart breaks every time she can’t have them. So we developed a pact that helped us both get through this together…
When she is offered something she can’t eat, and has to refuse, she remembers what it is. And later, I will Google it and attempt an egg-free version. She gets treated to a feeling of being normal, and I reclaimed some of the fun in cooking challenges!
Our pact has made things easier, for both of us. Because after the diagnosis, cooking was a chore at first. I had always loved it, and now I had to do it. Which was no fun. But, in time, I did find great egg-free recipes. With a few epic misses. (Still searching for a meatloaf recipe, if anyone has one.)
And then, over time, boredom and habit made me return to the food blogs I used to love, too. And they don’t make me angry anymore. Just like I read travel articles with no budget to fly any time soon, or I look at home decoration shows, those egg-y recipes are inspiration now. They are not close to my heart like a good friend coaxing me into new adventures like before. Now they are like high-fashion models, beautiful and unrealistic. They are a challenge, a concept, and an idea that I can evolve into a good alternative.
I am still a foodie.
Now I am forced to carve my own path. Sometimes I am proud. And sometimes it’s more work. Sometimes I embrace it. And sometimes I wish for the freedom I took for granted before. But it is all worth it, because I very much like to see my kid breathing.
You deal with curve-balls as they come. Sometimes, you just have to change your mind-set.