The Aimless Wanderer: A New Perspective on Seattle

Day Three of Seattle held many fascinating adventures for me. It was a day completely free of goals.

I suppose it may be strange to have a goal of no goals for a day traveling a new city; so please, let me explain.

I didn’t have any aims to visit a particular musuem, to see a particular iconic site, or to relive any iconic movie scenes. I didn’t plan on visiting any one particular restaurant, and I didn’t have any plans to visit a particular bar.

My goal of no goals was to simply go forward. So forward I went.

First, I wandered the streets around my hostel, looking in at the tiny storefront windows of the Chinatown bakeries. I’m a glutton for torture, apparently. I’m pretty sure I left tiny little salivating nose prints (much like dog window art) at this local shop, where the pastries smelled to die for, and from the looks of pure enjoyment on the store-goers, the store offers delicious foods.

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After torturing myself with visions of pastries never to be had, I headed down Jackson Avenue, no idea in what direction, but the Waterfront was on my left and Downtown Seattle was in front of me somewhere. I knew that eventually I would end up somewhere fascinating. In a city this large and teeming with so much diverse culture, how could I not stumble across a secret wonder?

And as I wandered with no aim in mind, I watched the city awaken in front of me on a Saturday morning. It was not a disappointing experience. The sun had already risen and was shining on the buildings downtown, offsetting the cloudy skies that were rolling in, offering hints of blue here in there in skyline. As I walked, I kept my eyes open and wide, looking at the storefronts of the city streets around me. Luckily enough, within a short walk of my hostel I found two different small museums.

The first:

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This little museum offers $4 admission to adults, and $2 admission to children. It’s a small, one roomed museum funded partially by the city, and partially by the proceeds from museum entrance. At 10 AM on a Saturday, I was the only one touring this little museum; though it’s quaint and small, there is a fantastic feel to this museum as it pays homage to the history of Seattle’s police force. It’s not much, but worth the small price of entrance, which let’s be honest folks, is cheaper than most cups of coffee.

After my small diversion, I continued every further on down the road. Still walking down Jackson Avenue, I diverted briefly to a side street, when I saw this sign:

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Now this museum, is definitely a hidden jewel in the city. It’s completely free of charge, being funded by the National Parks, and it’s open to the public every day of the week. It’s a small museum, two levels, that offers a unique perspective on the history of the Klondike Gold Rush. My favorite part of this little place was the actual set up of the exhibits. The curator decided to take a uniquely human perspective on the Gold Rush, rather than just a historical perspective.

Sure, you had the requisite historical newspapers and images detailing what/why/when/where/how, but this was effectively brought together with the story of five separate individuals from different cultural, social, racial perspectives, as well as different ages. As you walk through the exhibit, you get to read about their lives at different points of time within the Klondike Gold Rush.

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Nordstrom’s story was one my favorites throughout the museum. He was originally a Swedish immigrant who came to the US with no more than $10 in his pocket. While that was still a decent amount of money back in the day, it was by far more impressive to see what he did with his experience. Apparently, after wandering the Washington wilderness in his attempt to make it to the Klondike Gold Rush, when he finally made it to the encampment and had a hot cup of coffee and fresh sourdough bread, he said it was the best drink and meal he had ever had.

I think it may have been the exhaustion, because surely camp food couldn’t have been THAT amazing. Who knows though, maybe it was.

Once I left this little museum, I headed back out to Jackson Avenue, and made my way ever further toward the water. I reached the corner of Jackson and 1st Ave, and decided to turn right. Saturday morning had unfolded a world of new smells and sounds, and it looked like 1st Ave was a gateway to a whole new world (read in a Disney-esque musical voice).

Down the road, I came across this tantalizing sign, and had to walk into the building, which housed a collection of small boutiques, book stores, and of course, delicious pastries.

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Sadly, there was nothing edible to eat, and I again left behind some nose art as I drooled over their menu of delicious loafs of bread and sandwich menu.

By this time I was absolutely starving and in search of lunch. I learned I was actually wandering in Pioneer Square. You’re not lost if you’re just wandering. Luckily, my wandering streak allowed me to happen upon this little restaurant — a small two man kitchen more reminiscent of a seedy dive bar than a restaurant up to health code.

However, the best restaurants are always the ones that look the worst inside and out (at least this is the case in regards to quality Mexican food in the south), but who actually sport pretty damn spotless kitchens.

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Now, Mediterranean Mix boasts at being the King of Falafel, providing quality New York style pizza, and a FAMOUS Philly cheesesteak. I’m not sure about the others, but they did have some pretty damn good falafel.

I chose this restaurant for a plethora of reasons:

1. Mediterranean food typically tends to be a decently safe bet for dairy free, egg free, soy free, gluten free, peanut free concoctions
2. Chicken Shawarma and Basmati rice is actually one of my favorite meals of all time
3. Falafel is basically the best street food to exist
4. I was starving.

Despite a pretty strong language barrier between myself and the waiter (let’s call him Bob, for simplicity’s sake), I was able to convey my allergies and my dining predicament. With a puzzled look over my oil inquiries, and my (very sad) desire to leave off their homemade tzaziki sauce, I managed to place an order with Bob.

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Oh man, was it worth it. I was a little bit worried about eating the food, considering the language barrier we encountered. However, the basmati rice was flavorful, perfectly seasoned and tossed with sautéed tomatoes and cilantro to give it a bit of an extra kick, and the chicken shawarma was quite possibly some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve had a fair amount of shawarma.

And the falafel? Mmm mm good. Granted it was missing out a bit on the tahini spices to give it a lil extra oomph, it was still moist and flavorful. I wouldn’t say that Mediterranean Mix is the King of Falafel, but I would go so far as to say maybe the Duke of Falafel would be a pretty good title.

After I ate as much of the giant dish of food as I could, I was still left behind with the remains of at least two more meals. For $10 I got the biggest helping of Mediterranean food that I couldn’t possibly finish. I didn’t want to throw away my food and waste all that money, and I didn’t want to carry around my remaining food for the rest of the day.

So, with one goal in mind, I decided to head back to the center of Pioneer Square, an area filled with beautiful Native statues, and filled with what appears to be an ever-growing populace of homeless individuals in the Seattle area. With my goal in mind, I headed back around the corner to Occidental Avenue to find my square again, and approached a kind gentleman who smiled at me when I approached, and didn’t seem to try and shrink into the shadows like his companions.

His name was Ephram, and he had the kindest eyes, lined with wrinkles from what appeared to be years of smiling and squinting in the sun. He wore colorful beads around his neck, matching the Native statue he sat beneath; and despite his circumstance, he had the most cheerful disposition.

Ephram was joyous. Talking to him, I couldn’t help but smile and be delighted. We exchanged hellos and handshakes, and I offered him the remains of my food. I was worried that he would think I was rude, or that he would somehow take offense. But talking with Ephram, I can’t imagine him taking offense at anything in life. He had a cavalier attitude and a simplistic positivity that was utterly contagious.

I asked him which would be better for the day: the Seattle Giant Ferris Wheel or Pike Place Market?

He advised me as follows:
“Go to the Ferris wheel and enjoy the view of the water and storm clouds.”

With words like that, how could I go anywhere else but back to the Waterfront? And boy was Ephram right. But first, I had more wandering to do.

I meandered my way around Occidental Avenue and then back to 1st Avenue, looking at the shops around me, and enjoying the scents that wafted out of storefronts, designed to tantalize the tourists on their way to Pike Place Market.

I came across this tiny little shop that appeared to have the MOST DELICIOUS chocolate chip cookies on earth. And judging from the looks of pure bliss as customers bit into them, I would say it was a pretty good assessment.

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Sadly, this little shop did not offer any cookies that were dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free, and/or gluten free. There weren’t any cookies that were free of a single one of these. Alas, I walked out of the store a little sad at heart and continued on my not-so-merry cookie free way.

Soon, I found myself at Cherry St, where I decided to wander up the hill a bit due to a tantalizing sign about a bookstore. So I made my way up Cherry St until I found this awesome little store that specializes in murder mysteries.

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While pure murder mysteries and suspense thrillers aren’t my normal cup of tea for books, this store was fantastic. It was a small little shop, homey in its abundance of giant comfy leather chairs that had obviously been well loved, and walls lined from floor to ceiling with different sub-genres of mystery novels.

This store also had a fantastic collection of autographed books. There was an entire section of autographed James Bond books that you could pick up for a cheap $20-$30.

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After touring the mystery titles in this little book store, it was time to move on further into the city.

It was time for the Waterfront.

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The Seattle Waterfront is completely different during the day than it is at night. The streets were just teeming with life, tourists and locals, and filled with a chaotic energy that just fills you with excitement at the prospects of the Waterfront. During the day, I was met with the strangest sites, two of which included these little dogs dressed up to attract attention and tips.

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These dogs were some of the most mellow Chihuahuas I’ve ever come across. They sat there, chill as can be, with hoards of people around them taking picture after picture of them in their little dresses and wigs.

After I took my pictures of the chill Chihuahuas, I turned the corner and stood in line for my tickets to the Ferris Wheel.

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While in line, enjoy these great pictures of the back of the Seattle Aquarium (which is most definitely on my to do list).

Once I got to the front of the line, I got my ticket for the Ferris Wheel.

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Because I was a group of one I got to join a group of three in my little bubble. We got to ride the wheel a total of three times around, and it was beautiful. The view from the top was gorgeous, but all around it was just amazing to see the Waterfront beneath me, and the just all around.

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It was great getting to look down on all the diners on the piers, hidden underneath the great wheel.

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At one point in time we saw Seattle Search and Rescue doing some training missions. However, this poor dummy was just left in the water, stranded, for about twenty minutes before they came around for him at last.

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Eventually though, the dummy was rescued. No fake hypothermia for him! But the view of the Space Needle and the buildings of Downtown Seattle was just fantastic.

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The view of the water, just slightly tumultuous, and the skies grey and cloudy with just hints of blue, was the perfect and iconic Seattle weather for people watching on the piers. And with my last round on the Ferris Wheel, I took this fabulous picture from the top:

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And with my exit back down to grounded reality, I was taken back through to the Waterfront Carousel, filled with hoards of people, and little children clamoring over one another to ride the Waterfront horses, lit up with soft lighting, hiding the chipped pain on the hooves.

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Well, after I made my way through the crowds of the Waterfront, I walked across the street, again wandering aimlessly toward nothing. And again, I was rewarded with some hidden places in the back streets of Seattle.

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This sign tantalized me with ideas of a quaint Irish pub, and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love owls? With a name, and a sign, so cute, I simply had to find my way to wherever Post St actually existed.

Eventually, I did find the street, on what appeared to be underneath another bar, and hidden in an alley, underneath the Main Street of 1st Avenue. Luckily, the Owl n’ Thistle appears to cater to the lost and wandering, and post signs around corners to guide you to their doors.

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Sadly, the Owl n’ Thistle didn’t offer any food that I could eat; however, they did offer a wonderful atmosphere and an imported cider.

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I had never had a Magner’s cider before, but it was quite delicious. It had a nice oaky taste to it, more reminiscent of a Strongbow cider. Though a bit crisp and acidic at first, the flavor definitely developed into a nice finish that went down smooth and quick, without an overly sweet taste that tends to be more popular with American produced ciders.

The pub was mostly empty when I was there, and if I were a local, this would probably be my evening hangout. The prices were nice, but the Owl n’ Thistle is all about the ambience. Leather bound books line the wall, and low lighting with old, lightly dented, copper tables and cracked leather chairs and booths filled the building. The pub was sectioned off in different areas, offering a fantastic setting wherein you could have light conversation, and nothing was overly boisterous. The design was fantastic for acoustics and general atmosphere.

Let’s just say I was in love with this place.

So, to relax, and enjoy the setting, I pulled out my book, and enjoyed my drink.

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For me, this was perfection in regards to the height of relaxation.

I know a number of people who find it uncomfortable to go out alone, whether it’s dining, drinking, or anything. Obviously, I’m not really the type.

Read as overly independent and introverted.

I prefer to do things alone. When you go out alone there are no expectations. You don’t have to look attractive. You don’t have to be entertaining. You don’t have to put on an image of extroversion.

If you couldn’t tell, I like going on solo-adventures and moving at my own pace. So, it was with great joy that I sat down and read my book and drank my cider in complete seclusion of this cozy Irish home-away-from-home pub.

Alas, with the bottom of my glass visible, it was time to find my way home.

So I paid my bill, and bid adieu to my barkeep, and wandered back out into the city streets, looking for my way back to Chinatown.

It seemed my day of wandering helped me learn the confusing streets of Seattle. Without staring at maps, and relying solely on the few streets I had memorized, I made my way back to 5th Ave and King St, the entrance of the International District.

It was about 6:30 PM when I finally crawled my way into my room, and kicked off my shoes and collapsed into bed. A hard day of wandering the city streets, with very little downtime for actually just sitting and relaxing, it was time to unwrap an Enjoy Life bar, throw on the pajamas, and lay in bed with some music and a book.

Day 3 in Seattle: The Traveling Allergen participated in cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment as she toured bakeries and wandered the city.

Stay tuned for more updates on my gastronomical adventures in the Pacific Northwest, and lots of pictures of my non-food related adventures!

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Oh So Delicious Chicken Tikka Masala

So world, I apologize for my absence as of late, but life has been a bit hectic as of late. Life has gotten a little crazy, and full of medical bills. I’ve been battling a pretty serious infection, and because of that, I’ve been touring the hospital’s outpatient infusion center with a pic-line in my arm, because sadly I’m so allergic to the world, I’m also allergic to most oral antibiotics. So, IV antibiotics are the only way to go for me!

Sadly, the very tasty Sunflower Butter Caramel Cups are on hold for the moment. But I promise, they will be here next Wednesday, just in time for Easter Sunday, also known as Candy Sunday.

While I’m currently too tired and too drugged up to bake any fantastic creations at the moment, I do have a wonderful prized recipe that I’m ready to share with you all.

Fair warning: this recipe is super delicious and is a really fantastic comfort food.

SO, with that being said, I give you all: Chicken Tikka Masala

Now, whilst invading and occupying India, the British also invaded and took over a few recipes. Chicken Tikka Masala is a dish that is now classically associated with Indian cuisine, but is an Anglicized dish of an original.

Indian food is typically pretty safe for allergies. Why, you ask? Traditional Indian food actually leaves out a fair amount of dairy, and is also predominantly gluten free.

Now, this recipe is a total winner, and happens to be gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, and paleo friendly.

Before we begin, this recipe is split into two parts: marinade for the chicken and the actual masala sauce.

What You’ll Need for the Chicken’s Marinade:

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4 Chicken Thighs or Boneless Breasts
1 Cup Greek Style Unsweetened Coconut Milk Yogurt
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Thai Spice Mix
1/2 Tablespoon Masala Spice mix
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Side Note:
if you don’t have Thai Spice on hand (you can find it at your local spice shop or Whole Foods), you can create your own mix with equal measurements of paprika, turmeric, black pepper, coriander, fenugreek, ground mustard seed, cayenne, cumin, and ginger.

If you don’t happen to have Masala Spice on hand (which you can also find at a local spice shop or Whole Foods), you can create your own with a similar, almost identical mixture (though the subtle flavor differences will make a great impact later on). Masala Spice calls for an even mixture of paprika, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, mustard, cumin, cayenne, and ginger.

Now for that marinade! You’re first going to mix together your yogurt and spices in a mixing bowl. Once everything is mixed together nicely, you’ll have a pretty sweet, slightly orange colored marinade. Don’t let that turn you off, it will make your chicken taste AMAZING! So, put your chicken in a 1 gallon plastic bag and dump in your marinade.
At this point, you’re just gonna let your chicken do it’s chicken thing and just sit there in this deliciousness. So, let your chicken marinade either for at least 6 hours or overnight. I highly recommend letting it sit overnight, so that everything can just soak in to it’s full extent.

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And it’s time for the sauce!

What You Need for Your Tikka Masala Sauce:

1 1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Freshly Sliced Jalapeños (or to taste)
1 Sliced Red Bell Pepper
1, 8 ounce can of Salt and Sugar Free Crushed Red Tomatoes
3 Tablespoons Masala Spice
3 Tablespoons Thai Spice
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Unsweetened Plain Coconut Milk

Sauce Instructions:

First, you’re going to sauté your garlic and jalapeños in your coconut oil. Once your garlic and jalapeños have caramelized, be sure to add in your red bell pepper, and allow it to soften just a bit. Don’t let your red bell pepper caramelize, because it’s going to finish cooking the rest of the way in the sauce.

Once your pepper is added in, and softened up just a tiny bit, add in your crushed red tomato and mix thoroughly. You’re going to sauté the tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, and red bell pepper just a little bit. Now, you’re going to let everything just sit there and come to a very slight boil on the outer edges. Once everything is boiling ever so slightly, add in the 1/4 cup of water, and mix everything together really well.

Now that your water is added in, you want to be sure to add in your spices, but only ONE TABLESPOON AT A TIME! It’s super important that you only do one at a time, because these spices will tend to clump up without thorough mixing. So, be sure to thoroughly mix everything together. I call this petting the masala:

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At this point in time, you’re going to allow your sauce to reduce some, because you do want it to thicken up just a bit. Once it’s reduced a bit, you want to add in the unsweetened, natural coconut milk. Now that your milk is added in, you’re going to continuously stir and mix the sauce, otherwise you risk your sauce scalding, and your spices clumping up again.

So repeat after me: I will PET THE MASALA SAUCE!

Bring your sauce to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for two hours. Periodically, you may need to add coconut milk to the sauce, but be sure to add it in one tablespoon increments.

HUZZAH, YOUR SAUCE IS DONE!

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Now all we have to do is bring this together in a cohesive manner. So first, you have to cook your chicken, because raw chicken and a delicious sauce are not especially delicious.

For Cooking Your Chicken:
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Now, place a bottom layer of foil on one large cookie sheet. At this point, I find that using a cookie cooling tray is most effective for evenly cooking your chicken in the oven. So I suggest that you oil your cookie cooling tray with coconut oil (or fat of choice), and place it on top of your cookie sheet.

Then, place your chicken skin side up on the cooling rack (on the cookie sheet) and place it on the center rack of the oven.

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Now, you’re going to let your chicken cook for a minimum of thirty minutes. Your chicken cooking time is really going to depend on the a few factors: the thickness of your chicken, and the consistency of your oven heat. My chicken thighs actually cooked for an hour.

Once your chicken is done, let it cool ever so briefly, and serve with hot jasmine basmati rice. Now, you can eat your chicken with sauce directly on it, or you can serve it on the side of your sauce covered rice.

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I happen to like quite a bit sauce on my chicken, so I soaked my nice and crispy chicken in some sauce, and served it on top of some delicious rice (seasoned with a little bit of salt, pepper, coriander seeds, and a little bit of cumin).

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Now, sit down, and enjoy your delicious homemade Chicken Tikka Masala!

When Life Gives You Allergies, Bake a Soufflé…

Alright, though I haven’t tried it, I imagine making an egg-less, flour-less, and dairy-less soufflé would actually be incredibly difficult, and quite possibly no longer qualifying as a soufflé in anyone’s mind.

So, I guess the next best thing would be to pour yourself a stiff drink and occasionally complain to your friends and family about the trials and tribulations of suffering from chronic allergies.

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Sometimes it’s cathartic to complain about the lemons that life hands you. While I don’t suggest you make a daily habit of venting your frustrations (because honestly, at some point your friends, family, and coworkers will stop caring all together), it can be a good emotional release to get out your frustration.

Me, personally? I complain to my mom about my allergies on a daily basis. Now, the only reason my mom still loves me and listens to these rants, is because the woman is a veritable saint.

Also, peeps, she’s the one who taught me how to cook, and how to create my own recipes, so let’s give that lady a round of applause.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with trying to find a way to be optimistic in the face of so many allergies. I had dealt with being gluten free for over five years before I was diagnosed with my new chronic allergies of dairy, egg, soy, peanut (all legumes on earth, 😦 bye bye hummus), kiwi, and honestly who knows what else. Even finding out these allergies, my body seems to have never recovered.

Every week it’s a new allergy. Since January, I’ve been living in an antihistamine haze, and let me tell you, that’s not nearly as much fun as it should be. Constant sleepiness and itching are not suggested ways to move through life.

But here I am, disproving Darwin on a daily basis. What’s a girl to do when all she wants to do is drink coffee and consume pastries, but she can’t?

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If only I could find somewhere to eat my emotions in tasty muffins. Sadly, if I want muffins, I have to make those babies myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking and cooking in general, but sometimes, I just wish I could run to Starbucks, grab me a caramel macchiato, and a delicious cheese danish, and eat my feelings.

Unfortunately, if I tempted this venture, the poor barista would be sticking me with an epi pen and telling his coworkers the next day how he shot Allison, the Lobster Queen with a shot of epinephrin in between blending frappucinos.

I envy you people and your delicious coffee and pastries.

And if you’re wondering why I’ve dubbed myself lobster royalty without being properly crowned by the lobster pope, it’s because I believe it’s a well earned title. Sadly, I have been hiding under hoodies for the winter season, but spring shall soon be upon us in Colorado, you know…in July, when we maybe stop snowing at random intervals. My allergies turn me into a lobster.

That’s right people: a lobster. Well…I don’t have feelers, and I’m not a bottom feeder, but let me tell you, I look like a perfectly boiled lobster, skin wise at least.

It’s great. If you drenched me in butter (adding to the lobster glow), you could basically serve me up with a steak and pass me off as a slightly larger than average lobster off the coast of Maine.

I know Hannibal Lecter would approve.

I really just want to eat food. I was a horrible foodie before, always trying restaurants, trying new foods, new recipes, new drinks. With one allergy test result from the Mayo Clinic, all that was taken away.

No more restaurant extravaganzas. No more adventurous recipes. No more…food.

Eating out has become a legitimate fear, a social anxiety, and an embarrassment.

It’s been an adjustment to go from eating out every weekend, to trying new restaurants with my brother, going out with friends. I make up excuses now.

Sorry, I have to work.
I’m just not hungry.
Nothing sounds good, I think I’ll just stay in tonight.

I honestly fear eating out in a restaurant. When you eat out with allergies, particularly chronic allergies, you put your life in your waiter and chef’s hands.

I’ve worked in customer service, and I know how tempting it can be to seek revenge on a customer who is particularly difficult, or even just the customer who broke the camel’s back after a long line of crappy customers.

But when you have chronic allergies that can threaten your life, you legitimately depend on your waiter and chef to take a vested interest, care and concern in accommodating you, and to provide you with accurate information.

If any of this fails, eating out can be disastrous, as I have learned.

But eating out with allergies doesn’t only boil down to the fear of getting very sick. It also boils down to the embarrassment of being THAT customer.

Trust me waiters, I know that you have gone back into the kitchen at times with the reaction of “You would NOT believe what someone is asking now…” or some sort of variation thereof.

So let me introduce you to The Apologetic Allergen.

My opening with a server usually starts with “I’m really sorry, but I’m going to be THAT customer tonight… I called ahead, but I really do need you and the chef or manager to confirm that your kitchen can accomadate w,x,y,z allergies…” Trust me when I say that people with chronic allergies don’t BUG AND PESTER out of a desire to be horribly annoying, but out of a desire not to end up with another medical bill.

So please, I beg of you to any server’s who read this, please treat your Apologetic Allergen with respect, understanding, and a vested interest in providing them as safe of an eating out experience as possible. When you do, you’ll find yourself a DEDICATED repeat customer, and someone who will go out of your way to mention to your manager your helpfulness.

Kindness to the Apologetic Allergen pays off people.

At this point in time, my life can pretty much be summed up as follows:

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It’s funny, but true. Allergies have made me lose control of my life. The only way to combat losing control? Wake up at 4 am and bake. And eat. And bake some more.

While life may not be full of soufflés full of everything wonderful in the world, at least with some insomnia induced chemistry experiments I can create some delicious baked goods.

So, until next time, I bid you adieu my fellow allergy sufferers (or not) and thank you for tuning into the momentary bitterness of a 20-Something Allergic to Life.

This blog post is: full of sarcasm, sour lemons, free of tasty foods, and free of allergens.

Soy: The Secret Ingredient in Basically Everything

Have you ever bothered to actually read the labels on your food? And by read, I don’t mean looking at the calorie content, maybe the serving size, possibly even the fiber/carbohydrate/sugar content.

I’m going to go ahead and take a guess and say no. Most people don’t actually have a reason to read their food labels. Sometimes it’s trendy, as it was for so long with gluten free, and it now is with paleo. There seems to be a stigma against the people you see standing in the aisle reading their food labels, trying to understand the intricacies of chemical names for ingredients.

What you may not always realize, is that for some people there is a legitimate reason to be an avid label reader. It’s not always some lady and/or man who is the obsessive ingredient jerk at Whole Foods. Sometimes, you’ll get the apologetic allergen as I like to call them. These people are otherwise known as individuals with legitimate allergies, who aren’t trying to be rude, but trying to avoid a hospital visit.

Now, it’s moderately easy to accommodate gluten free diets these days, at least in a state as health conscious/friendly as Colorado; but when you add in dairy, egg, peanut, and soy, reading labels gets much more difficult (as well as depressing).

Optimistically, it is possible find gluten free, dairy free, nut free foods (though these seem to be buried in the back of the freezer section). It’s difficult, but you can find them. Add in egg free? That is an ingredient that can seriously mess up any hopeful products you may find.

How about soy?

Now soy, that shit is in everything.

If you’ve never had a reason to look before, look now.

Soy can be found in the following non-consumable products:
-makeup
-Chapstick
-lipstick
-face wash
-lotion
-shampoo/conditioner
-medications (yes, I know you consume these, but they aren’t tasty, so they don’t qualify)

As for soy in consumable items? It’s almost impossible to escape. Almost, but not entirely so; however, it can be rather disheartening to read labels when looking for food.

Soy is used as a preservative, an emulsifier, for coloring, for added “health benefits”, and for what just seems to be general corporate desire to overuse one particular ingredient.

When reading labels, even if it states that the product is soy free, it is of vital importance to still read the ingredient list.

“But why Allison? Why would I have to read the label if the front of the package tells me it’s soy free?”

Companies can label their product as being soy free while it still contains soy lecithin. It’s of a general consensus that the amount of soy contained in soy lecithin is so minimal that even an individual with a soy allergy can still consume the product with minimal to no harm.

Now, this may be true for you, and to that I say “Good on ye’ mate!”

However, depending on the severity of your allergy, it should no be risked, because there remains enough soy content to still cause a reaction.

Sadly, soy lecithin is used in the processing of chocolate.

So what’s a girl to do in a world now bereft of chocolate, and the necessary equipment for pastries and baked goods? Cooking and baking free of soy, dairy, egg, peanut (all legumes in general, really) is definitely a system of trial and error.

The main idea here is, you need to be aware of what is actually going into your body, even if you don’t have allergies!