I grew up loving home baked bread and cookies. My mother learned to bake in the second world war from the cook at the small New England inn where she and I, an infant, lived when my father, army rifleman, was serving in Europe. She was a wonderful cook, too. I was one of the last of a generation of school children to came home from school often to fresh baked bread and cookies. Usually fruit jam filled cookies. It was natural, when my children were young, that I too baked bread for them when they came home from school. They would bring their friends and devour three loaves in a sitting. I did it the old fashioned way. I worked the bread and yeast by hand, raised it on the counter under lights. My sister, younger by five years, shared the same influence from my mother and did the same for her children. My wife and I called our children, the carbohydrate kids.
After a lifetime of struggle with airborne and animal allergies and asthma, including twenty-five years of weekly or twice-weekly desensitization shots, and daily doses of five medicines, I decided to check whether I might have food allergies. I had reached a wall in my effort to manage my allergies and their symptoms. I had made much improvement over the years, but the allergies and asthma had not abated entirely. My doctors told me that the more powerful asthma medicines, which might bring further improvement, had toxic side effects that my condition was not sufficiently bad to risk. I wondered whether some of my problems might lie in entirely different direction. Perhaps, I thought, I have food allergy problems. I went to a homeopathic physician and tested for food allergies. Of course, I have them.
I am allergic to baker's yeast, among several dozen common foods and food ingredients. So I have had to remove baker's yeast from my diet. Good-bye to my treasured love of breads, muffins, and rolls. Ah ha, I thought, at least I am not allergic to brewer's yeast, so I can still drink beer. I love beer--which is just liquid bread, after all. I once had a web site devoted to beer on which I shared my daughter's and my treasured memories of small brewery beers. She gave me a home brewing kit for my birthday, some years ago; I brewed a passable lager. Alas, I also tested allergic to barley. I can no longer drink beer.
I am allergic to grapes, too; I can't drink wine. I knew that twenty years ago, by simple deduction from symptoms of intestinal distress after drinking wine. So wine, which I once loved, has long been absent from my diet.
I cooked for my children when they were growing up, until a fascination with mustard compelled my family to kick me out of the kitchen. My wife was an attorney, whose career left her with little time for domesticity. I roasted chickens, following Julia Child, whose cooking show in the 1960s I adored. I cooked Chinese food using the wok. (Interviewed in San Francisco at a Chinese restaurant, twenty years ago, Julia remarked that she could live without French food, but not Chinese. The candor endeared her to me.) I steamed vegetables and meats in a three-level aluminum steamer I purchased in Los Angeles at a Chinatown grocery. I learned a modest ability to create soy-based sauces with subtle infusions of other flavors. So it turns out--should I say of course--that I am allergic to soy and ginger. Now I no longer eat most Chinese foods.
I am allergic to cane sugar. I have had to remove nearly all processed foods from my diet to remove cane sugar, as well as baker's yeast. That rules out cookies, too. I am allergic to coffee. Postum is not a substitute I stayed with.
You might think there is no upside to this story. But there is. I walk and jog several miles a day with my dog, the black Laborador, Bear (or Bear-Bear). The jogging was painful. My knees hurt. Each running step felt like I was hammering nails into the bottom of my knees. I had begun to resign myself to having arthritis, which afflicted my father and prevented him from manual labor after his early fifties. My muscles ached, too. While running, my leg and back muscles felt as if they were being beaten with a baseball bat. Only sheer will to improve my cardiovascular conditioning and build my physical stamina pushed me into this routine every day.
Two weeks after beginning a rotation diet with my allergy foods removed, all aching and pain during running disappeared. Completely. I walk, then I pick up a jog; no pain. As I stretch out my legs and pick up the swing in my arms to run, there is no muscle aching. I jog for about two-thirds of a mile; still, no joint pain or muscle aching. I feel refreshed after an hour of this walking jogging tour of my neighborhood.
That is a new world for me, a man almost sixty-three. Perhaps this saga has not been a trick at all.
Post script. I am not allergic to anything in gin. So I can consume my favorite drink, gin and tonic. Bombay, thank you; that's pleasant.