Virtual Food Adventures for People with Food Allergies



I spent over 30 years of my life being nauseated. It arrived along with my juvenile arthritis, and stayed put until 10 years ago when I started Biologics. One of the best and incompletely unexpected add-ons to my disease being controlled is a humongous reduction in nausea.

An unfortunate and unexpected (likely coincidental?) increase in food allergies has prevented me from taking advantage of my new-found ability to eat yummy foods.

These food allergies are probably also the only reason I am not as big as a house. Silver lining, right?

I love food. I love trying new things (especially when no longer constantly queasy), and I live in a multicultural city that has foods from all over the world. You’d think that would be heaven, but you’d be wrong. Many parts of the world don’t have labelling laws, or fully comprehend the possible consequences of cross-contamination. So instead of trying a new restaurant every week as I’d like to do, I’m careful about what and where I eat, mostly cooking at home because then I know it’s safe. 

Because: anaphylaxis. Not a fun way to end your evening.

So, what’s a foodie with food allergies to do?

Watch cooking shows.

Seriously. Watching people cook delicious food is the next best thing to trying that hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or buying a bunch of incomprehensibly-labelled packages in a grocery store that caters to a particular cultural community.

In the early days of our relationship, The Boy and I would bingewatch Two Fat Ladies and The French Chef with Julia Child. It was terribly romantic.


And now I’ve met Simon and Martina.

Let me explain.

I spent my Christmas vacation having not one, but two colds, because I’m competitive that way. The second was particularly nasty, actually making me want to only lie in bed while someone lovingly took care of me. I didn’t have the focus to watch TV — too long, too complicated — so I ended up on YouTube. More specifically, watching the YouTube channels of people who live in other countries. For instance Jun and Rachel who live in Japan. And Simon and Martina, a Toronto couple who live in Seoul, Korea.

I watched videos from both channels one day, and the second day I was sucked into the rabbit hole that is Simon and Martina’s Food Adventure Program For Awesome People. I started with Spicy Korean Beef Ribs of Death and that was enough to hook me.


Conveniently, YouTube places all their other food adventure videos right next to it, out on the right-hand side. This is particularly convenient for those enfeebled by germs, as it enables you to click one after the other with no major effort. So I did that a lot, watching them do what I want to do: travel to interesting places and eat interesting foods.

It’s like having my own personal proxy eaters!

Now, I do realize that Simon and Martina aren’t my personal friends, and that they have about 1 million other people watching their videos (which is completely understandable — they’re very entertaining). But when your head is full of snot, and dragging yourself to the kitchen to make a cup of tea is the most you have strength for, it you can easily persuade yourself that the people in the computer are speaking directly to you.

Or is that just me?

Anyway! Days later, I have a good chunk of their video library under my belt and have vicariously enjoyed Kobe beef, the best sushi in Japan, fermented stingray, soup dumplings, and a lot of strange Asian snacks (to mention just a few). It’s been a blast.

If you have food allergies, or a chronic illness or disability that means you can’t travel or eat adventurously, go to YouTube. You won’t regret it.
  

Comments

Linda Perkins said…
I don't have food allergies, but my daughter does and my husband has a number of food intolerances, so I have a lot of foodie frustrations as well!! I have learned which restaurants are sensitive to food allergies and which aren't. I also read cookbooks and experiment with adaptations. I've found some great new recipes that way! Happy cooking, Lene! :-)
Linda Perkins said…
I don't have food allergies, but my daughter does and my husband has a number of food intolerances, so I have a lot of foodie frustrations as well!! I have learned which restaurants are sensitive to food allergies and which aren't. I also read cookbooks and experiment with adaptations. I've found some great new recipes that way! Happy cooking, Lene! :-)
carlascorner said…
While I don't have food allergies, my love of food (and cooking) has sometimes overwhelmed my waistline. Before there was a cooking channel and YouTube videos, I got my "foodie fix" by reading cookbooks. Hope you've filled your "cold" quota for this season!