Goodbye, Squash Aversion (and a recipe, too boot!)

There’s a difference between a food overdose that makes you sick and a food overdose that makes you just averse to the food. The first is something reserved for those among us with serious allergies and escalated food sensitivities, and the second is, well, pretty normal.

But I gotta say, it’s terribly inconvenient to experience a food aversion when you’ve got a billion food allergies. So it hasn’t been great that I’ve been distancing myself from squash these last few months.

Over the spring/summer, when I could eat basically squash, zucchini  beans, eggplant, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, non-green peppers, corn, quinoa, millet, pumpkin, oats, lamb, chicken, turkey, and bison, and all of the above only three times a week, I ate a ton of squash. Like squash at every meal, because every squash counted as a different food. But once my diet opened up, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat squash that regularly. Sure it was in season. And I did buy it a lot, just in case. But I could never bring myself to cook it. Maybe some bottleneck or zucchini here and there, but acorn? Dumpling? Kabocha? Not so often.

This shabbat, I decided it was time. Mostly because I’d bought the cutest little kabocha squash and didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. Oh. My. God. Can we say DELICIOUS? I felt like I’d travelled back in time. Friday night dinner, complete with reading and sleeping and resting, mixed with a challah and a matzah (didn’t want to buy two when I can only eat a handful of bread anyway), chicken, green beans, and kabocha squash. And pumpkin oat muffins (that had flour and eggs, but let’s not unnecessarily torture ourselves, esp. when baking ten minutes before Shabbat starts).

It was like being transported back in time. It was lovely. I realized how far I’ve come, how many new foods I can eat, and how I don’t need to eat literally everything I am not allergic to, even if I don’t like it. I thought about how lucky I am that I get to have more foods and say things like “sometimes I don’t like squash.” I thought about eating kitniyot on Pesach and whether I really have to this year (the answer is yes, because a potato and tomato don’t replace millet, beans, green beans, lentils and corn). But I thought about how I WILL get to eat karpas (the ritual potato). How I had wine. And real wheat matzah. And how much has changed since last March. And how it’s all so good.

And tonight, as I dogsit for my quasi-aunt and uncle’s dog Roxie, I think about how I used to spend every Shabbat here in 2008 when I was at USC for the summer. How I live in LA for real now. How then, they didn’t have a dog, and now their dog is a family member. How I spent those Saturday nights watching movies on their couch, and how now I go to the theater with friends.

How a year ago, I didn’t know why I was getting sick every day when I ate lunch. How I gchatted T every day saying “tell me to take benedryl bc I’m sick but I don’t want to be.” How I had finally got test results back that said I was allergic to nuts, sort of, and fish sort of, and cabbage not at all, and how I thought that was it, but still got sick. How now, I get sick randomly once a week max (usually less), or when I have a bad challenge. Which has happened exactly 5 times. My list is getting “back to normal” every day. Soon I can say “I’m allergic to leafy greens, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, fish, horseradish, some onions, avocado, artichokes, hearts of palm, and pasta.” Which isn’t a big deal at all.

So bring it on, squash. We’re not averse anymore.

We're back, baby.

We’re back, baby.

The recipe, in case you’re curious:

One Kabocha squash, cut into manageable pieces (depends on size of squash), with the seeds and guts removed

Some kind of oil. I use safflower, grapeseed, or canola, but use whatever. Oil is oil. It works.

A sprinkling of salt and pepper

Some ginger

Some nutmeg

Coat the pan in oil. Season the squash. Drizzle a little more oil on if desired. Roast in the oven for 30-50 minutes at around 400 (or 350, just check it), depending on the size of the piece. When it’s soft and smells good it’s done.

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