Shortly after my wedding, the doctor gave me some bad news. Â I was allergicâ€¦to basically everything I ate. Â Thankfully, this happened after the wedding. Â Had I known in advance that I was allergic to both the tomato sauce and the cheese in that lasagna, I might have enjoyed it just a bit less…
Long story short, I embarked on a life without tomato and without cheese (no one really cares about the rest of the list). Â I couldnâ€™t believe how good I felt! Â My brain functioned so well! Â My memory, always notoriously bad, was working like a champ. Â Then, an experiment. Â Pizzaâ€¦ This experiment did not go well. Â Actually, I tried it several times (glutton for punishmentâ€¦) and it never ended well. Â Lots of Benadryl and asthma inhalers came into play.
Thankfully, in Redmond, finding dairy substitutes was no trouble. Â In the United States we even have dairy free chocolate chips available at most stores now. Â I happily chowed down on non dairy cheese and non dairy ice cream, content for the most part with my modifications.
Then came the UKâ€¦ specifically Guildford, Surrey. Â Suddenly, my shopping options were Sainsbury, Marks & Spenser, and Waitrose. Oddly, they all seemed to have the same exact products, with slight variations on the packaging. Â My first several months were hard. No more coconut milk ice cream 😔 No more non dairy, non soy yogurt (yes, Iâ€™m allergic to soy too).Â 😔 No more Daiya cheese 😔 No more non dairy chocolate chips! Â Actually, initially I couldnâ€™t find chocolate chips at all. Â That took me about 6 months. Â Now I rock at chopping chocolate blocks though! Â Score one for UK!
I can feel readers from all over the UK getting ready to revolt. Â Yes, I know there are stores where I can find many of these things and I didâ€¦ eventually. Â Those foodstuffs I took for granted in the US just werenâ€™t as readily accessible in our town. Â Finally, one day in Clapham, I saw itâ€¦ like a shiny beacon in a gray, smoggy worldâ€¦ WHOLE FOODS!!! Â How did this bastion of yuppie comfort food end up across the pond? Â I have no idea and frankly, I donâ€™t care. Â I was just so happy to finally have access to some of the treats I loved so much. Â Needless to say, I stocked up a bitâ€¦not too much, it was still an hour commute back to our house. Just a bit 😉
Whole Foods became a special treat for me. Â In the two years we lived in the UK, I only shopped there about 5 times. Â Had they been located in Guildford, I would have probably camped out in the parking lot. Â Unfortunately, commuting via train into London is rather expensive and time consuming. Â Without a compelling reason (more compelling than a yen for crunchy baked snap peas), I couldnâ€™t justify that kind of trip with a toddler. Â Who wants to go through an hour on a train with a 2 year old? Â Masochists, thatâ€™s who!
Thankfully, this forced me to re-acclimate my body to dairy (at least small amounts). Â My memory immediately took a hit, and I kept eye drops with me at all times. Â Allergy related dry eyes just arenâ€™t fun.
Fast forward, two years. Â Hello GÃ¶teborg, land of amazing cheese and sauces! Â The first week was rough! Â Who can turn down delicious cheese or Swedish meatballs?? Â Not this woman. Â Then one day, only two weeks in, I discovered that Sweden is not just a dairy rich country. Â They believe in non dairy too! Â Non dairy yogurt, probiotic drinks, milks, cheeses, and ice cream are all readily available! Ice cream, people!!! Â Do you know what I discovered last week? Â Non dairy ice cream bars, made out of rice milk! Â Now, Iâ€™m not going to lie and tell you that these are as good as those delicious sugar coned treats we bought as an occasional treat at school in 3rd grade. Â They are too sweet for that. Â Nonetheless, suddenly I have a cone filled with ice cream and covered in chocolate readily available. Â Thank you GÃ¶teborg!
Life is now much easier. Â Unfortunately, itâ€™s still hard to reject the tasty cheese. Â On the topic of cheese, the pizza here? Â Amazing. Â Pesto, cheese, ham, and pineapple on a super thin crust is officially my idea of pizza heaven. Â Needless to say, I still have a bit of brain fog and dry eyes.
Someday soon, once the novelty wears off, and once I find a vegan pizza parlor, that too will pass.
Until next time…