One of my best friends is getting married today. I was supposed to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, but the night before I was set to leave I had a delicious meal that just so happened to be full of sulfites.
I am severely allergic to sulfites. Every reaction is different, but this one was especially bad. I’m better, though. This, however, is the reason I don’t eat out much. Sometimes it’s nerves, but most often it’s the fact that sulfites end up in so many foods nowadays, fresh or not, that it’s extremely hard to predict, especially when in a restaurant, what will make me sick. Salads and seafood are the usual culprits, though in this recent case, it was basalmic vinegar. Admittedly, quite a lot of basalmic vinegar. Which, I discovered, is chock-full of sulfites.
It was worse in high school. I think there were fewer regulations ten or so years ago, so salad bars and fruit plates were often sprayed with sulfites in order to keep everything looking fresh. I learned the hard way what to avoid. Anymore, I usually ask the waiters and they’ll go and check, but food is often treated with this particular preservative before it ever reaches the kitchen, treated unbeknownst to anyone at the restaurant, so I’m usually forced to play a game of Russian Roulette if I order certain things.
So when I go to conferences and have business lunches and/or dinners, I don’t eat much. At all. People will say, “Aren’t you hungry?” and the answer is, “Yes,” but I would much rather nibble on a piece of dessert (which is almost always safe—and, of course, delicious), than risk the chance of having to cut out on an editor or friend because, oops, I ordered the wrong thing for dinner. There’s always room service. Because then, if I do have a reaction, it’s in privacy and not in the middle of a crowd.
Everyone handles their allergies in different ways. I’m glad I don’t have more of them to contend with. But it is awkward, sometimes. And in the case of today, when I would have loved to be with my friend and her family, it is very disappointing.
To my friend and her new husband, I wish you both much happiness and love. Good weather, too.