“We got so much food in America we’re allergic to food. Allergic to food! Hungry people ain’t allergic to shit. You think anyone in Rwanda’s got a f-ing lactose intolerance?!” Chris Rock
Ask me of my favorite food and my immediate answer is seafood. Oh how I love sweets, but I’ll take a succulent meal of shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster, scallops, and my absolute favorite, crab any day. Growing up along the Eastern Shore of Maryland, as I did, fosters seafood in one’s blood. Problem is I recently developed an allergy to my favorite food, more specifically shellfish. So far the reaction has not reached anaphylactic proportions, so until it does I will keep testing the limit of this allergy.
Last week I ate a little too much shellfish; the effects of my debauchery followed me days later as a reminder of this allergy I always conveniently forget. I made shrimp jambalaya from scratch from a recipe my New Orleans neighbors perfected. Filled with locally raised Andouille sausage, shredded rotisserie free range chicken, delicately sautéed peppers, onions, and sweet garlic left to braise in a broth of tomatoes and Cajun spices, with cilantro as a special twist, and the grande cerise sur le gateau, le grande finale: shrimp! The dish is tres irresistible!
My shrimp jambalaya was so good, so, so, so good I ate leftovers several days in a row for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Toward the end of the week I began to feel crappy and itchy. I attributed my foul discomfort to a tick that latched itself to an unmentionable part of my being earlier that day.
Ticks, coincidentally, fall into the same crustacean category as spiders and shellfish, however ticks are not on my menu. They are nasty, parasitic, disease carrying scourges of the planet. Seems the tick had me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As a self-proclaimed hypochondriac I became symptomatic of every tick borne illness I could google. But none of the sites gave all over body itch as a symptom.
My itchiness began to turn welt like and hives appeared from head to toe. I was not pleasant to be around. I hollered at the kids, complained to my husband, growled at the dogs. I was in a real crabby mood. And then it hit me like a tsunami sized salt water wave: It’s the Jambalaya!
“Yes, that’s right,” I suddenly remembered, “I am allergic to shrimp. Silly me for forgetting!” Since my shellfish allergy has yet to reach the stage of throat closure, I do not feel terribly threatened, figuring a little shellfish every now and again is manageable. Treating myself with a couple of Benadryl, a dazed and confused sleep, the next day I was good as new.
A couple of days later I attended a crab fest. I do love me some crabs! Thus I took advantage of the all you can eat format and ate all I could eat crabs. The next day my allergy returned, this time with a little more of a vengeance. My throat began to tickle, my lips began to puff, and hives formed in all sorts of shapes all over my body. I realized I had pushed the limit with this allergy and needed a momentary change in diet and a more powerful antihistamine.
Today I am still feeling a little crabby and crappy; A little itch here, a little itch there. This too shall pass. Allergy or no allergy I will not be deterred from eating my favorite food: shellfish! I will continue on an antihistamine and take a couple weeks off. Hopefully by Labor Day weekend I’ll be back in the game for our annual blue crab fest, once again testing the limits of this most detestable, cruel allergy!
Why, oh why, would I put myself through such torture, such life threatening risk? I could think about that now but I’ll think about it tomorrow. Giving up something you love is never easy. When something is in your blood the task is near impossible. Crabs are the only thing that matter. Never will I give up shellfish! As blogging is my witness, I will persevere in even the worst of reactions until my dying day. I will endure the pain, the hives, the discomfort, the inconvenience. It’s the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’, as long as I shall live, as long as it doesn’t kill me, and I will never go hungry again.