Awwwww Nuts

Thursday, June 23, 2011
I just polished off a handful of lightly salted roasted almonds. Yummy although my favourites are jalapeno smokehouse almonds – thank you Blue Diamond (it’s all Davidson’s fault). After I finished, I popped my head into the next cubicle to deliver some mail and took a peak out the window. Bright, sunny, summer. The taste of nuts still in my mouth, I instantly flashed back to a summer day about 10 years ago which was probably the last time I enjoyed my favourite summertime treat: a large maple walnut ice cream cone. Alas, I can no longer partake. You see, walnuts are no longer my friend.

Maple Walnut Ice Cream by aimeebakes via flickr
I’m not technically allergic to walnuts – I’ve been tested. However, along with pecans and the occasional hazelnut, walnuts turn the inside of my mouth raw. This isn’t just a minor irritation either. One fabulously delicious Turtle feels like its shredding the roof of my mouth and I feel as though I’ll start spitting blood within seconds. I don’t but its enough to make me steer clear of anything containing even a trace of the offending nuts.

When I was growing up, Christmas season was marked by the arrival of large bags of mixed nuts in the shell at our local grocery store. Big Brother and I could sit for an hour cracking open macadamias, walnuts, chestnuts, and almonds, and scarfing down the contents (and the occasional bit of crunchy shell). Another annual tradition shot to hell alongside the summer ice cream.

Dining out isn’t too much of a problem except when it comes to dessert – walnuts seem to be in everything from apple pie to brownies. However, because I never know for sure whether I’m going to suddenly develop (a) a full blown allergy, or (b) a sensitivity to another type of nut, I tell folks I’m allergic to nuts, all nuts, HIGHLY allergic, I’ll die if I eat something that’s touched a nut-kind of allergic. You’d be surprised at some of the looks I get from servers/wait staff. Fortunately, I’m not deathly allergic. And I say fortunately not in reference to me or my health but for the fate of the restaurants I’ve eaten in. One time, I found the remnant of an almond buried underneath my rice at one place. I’m sure another merely picked the pecans out of a salad at another. Are you kidding me? You obviously don’t care much about the health of your patrons if this is what you call being careful.

I have to give huge kudos though to Moxies in West Edmonton Mall. A few months back, J2P3 and I went there for lunch and I told them I was highly allergic (no contact). The server took our order and within moments, the manager appeared to clarify my “allergy”. There were numerous assurances that there’d be no contact, no nuts in my food, etc. Ok, whatever. I’ve heard that before. A little while later, J2P3’s food arrived. Mine did not. The server explained that because of my allergy, the manager would be bringing my food personally to ensure it was nut free. No sooner had he explained it to me then she showed up with a big, beautiful bowl of stir fried veggies – with no nuts, nut oils, or sauces containing nuts. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you handle an allergy at a restaurant.

Yes, part of me does feel bad since I’m merely sensitive and not allergic. However, it says a lot about the restaurant and its commitment to their patrons when they actually listen to their concerns and are proactive. I’ll certainly be visiting them again.

So, here I sit, sadly reminiscing about the good times walnuts and I used to share. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone makes a walnut free maple ice cream? Now that just might be a decent substitute.

How do you deal with food issues/allergies when you’re dining out?
What’s the one thing you miss that you can’t eat anymore?


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have some friends with gluten issues who recently went to Milestones because it boasted a gluten-free menu. Obviously the restaurant missed something because they both had stomach pain and broke out in hives that evening. Restaurants really have to be careful about what they claim.

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