Of all people I am the last person who should write a restaurant review.
Oh, it is true that I have eaten the most delicious and diverse food in some of the world’s top restaurants—most notably Wagyu beef in Tokyo, croissants in Paris, Belgian waffles in Brussels, paella in Barcelona and goulash in Budapest.
And for 37 years, my husband Carl prepared incredibly delicious and beautifully-presented gourmet meals which I enjoyed immensely—that is, until the year 2000. You may remember that it was the winter of 1999 that we had spent in England, attending the Nine Lessons and Carols at Kings College in Cambridge. I put a lot of lotion on my skin because it was so dry while I was there.
But when I returned home, and for the next 4-5 months, I was absolutely besieged with terrible allergies. I would wake up in the middle of the night with horrific allergy attacks, sneezing 150+ times in a row, my nose and throat filled with phlegm, and I was unable to breathe unless I was standing over a pot of boiling water. This happened night after night, usually about 2 in the morning, when finally Carl, exasperated, told me, “Your allergies are disrupting our life style!”
Those were the respiratory ailments I had, not to mention the skin allergies which attacked me at the same time. Every time I ate a meal, I broke out in hives—and this process would repeat itself every day for at least a month. I thought at first I was allergic to strawberries, because 20 minutes after I ate them, hives appeared. The same happened whenever I ate cheese.
I finally had to consult an allergist. She thought my allergies were caused by scabies, an itchy, highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabie, and gave me an ointment to put on my arms and legs. Wrong! Not only did I not have scabies, I was allergic to the ointment and got worse. My doctor finally figured out that I was allergic to wool and lanolin. When I was in England, it turned out that it was the wool blankets that I was allergic to, as well as the lotions containing lanolin—a byproduct of sheep.
My skin was also inflamed in the area of where my bra straps were touching my chest and my back. Diagnosis: nickel allergy. So I changed to undergarments with plastic fasteners.
Finally when I underwent allergy tests, I found out I was allergic to just about everything, but especially to molds and mildews, as well as to pollen from flowers like mock orange (abundant in Hawaii). We were told to install air conditioning in our bedroom, and to use hypoallergenic covers on our pillows and mattress.
When I finally was prescribed nasal sprays containing steroids, that did the trick! My allergies completely dried up, and I was able to resume a normal life. But the price I paid was that I lost my sense of smell, as well as my sense of taste. Oh, I can taste whether something is salty or spicy, but that’s about it. Once when we were served a scoop each of chocolate and vanilla ice cream I told Carl that I couldn’t tell the difference! However, don’t feel too sorry for me—I still enjoy food because I have a good memory of what something is supposed to taste like!
If you can imagine, all this happened in the run-up to our ground-breaking performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in the spring of 2000. I’ll never forget it!
Last night, the family went out to a Mexican sushi restaurant. It certainly looked like sushi, but there was no wasabi to mix with the shoyu (soy) sauce— only chilies! There was something resembling katsu sauce, but also chipotle! Some of the sushi had been breaded then put into the deep fryer. So the food looked Japanese, tasted Mexican! I settled for arroz frito, fried rice.
After dinner, we stopped by a shopping mall to buy baby Andrés some new shoes to wear for the baptism and again, I was amazed by the nativity scenes in a commercial space. My son Stephen stopped to buy a popsicle with Gummi bears (!) and my grandson had his first ride in a toy car, at 6-1/2 months old!
Oh, what an adventure I am having here!