Food Challenge Round 3: Cindy vs. Beer

I can no longer say I haven’t had beer at 7:30am. If this were a game of “Never Have I Ever,” my finger would go down, and I guess I could take a swig of my Heineken.

It’s not just me who thought the idea of having beer at a doctor’s office at 7:30am was kind of awesome and kind of weird and kind of ridiculous. My doctor did, too. His son was at the office today to help out with some filing (ah, college), and my doctor called him in to the appointment (with my permission, of course) to show him that his job was cool.

Not sure why I was hating on Brandeis parties, considering the unofficial Modfest I threw as a statement…inspired, of course, by the previous year’s Purple Rain where I insisted on free Heineken…

Dr: Do you see what Cindy is doing?

Son: Uhhh…

Dr: She’s drinking a beer. At 7:30 in the morning. To see if she’s allergic to malt. This is how we have to test her.

Son: That’s kind of fratty.

Me: I know, which is weird because I went to Brandeis.

Dr: They’re not known for that over there.

Me: Where do you go?

Son: I went to UC Santa Barbara, but I’m transferring to USC.

Me: Oh, so this probably isn’t as weird for you.

As I continued to drink, after not having had alcohol since the beginning of April and beer since late February, I started to get tipsy. Obviously. A handful of Rice Chex isn’t really going to do much in terms of sobriety.

It was kind of weird to experience tipsiness while gauging to see if I felt totally fine, since the symptoms of an allergy aren’t that different from the symptoms of drunkeness (hazy vision, dizziness, feeling out of it) but the doctor and I talked through what I was feeling and as I was rambling we both kind of figured out it was a buzz. It felt nice. Awkward, but nice. I got giddy and did what any girl would — drunk text. I caught my friend J on the way to work and told him I felt like spinning around in his coworker’s chair. Because I really did. Still kinda do…they have a toasty and inviting office.

By 8:30, the doctor determined I was ready to leave. That is, until I sobered up to drive. Not that I was actually drunk, but you know, it’s bad to drink even one beer and get behind the wheel without waiting it out (Thank you, years of teaching alcohol education. End PSA). I hung out in the waiting room totally reliving my college experience by reading an essay in “Religion and Popular Culture in America.” Because once I get a Heineken and some free time, I morph back into an American Studies major.

Bottom line: I can now drink one Heineken, and that counts as about 1/2 a wheat in my weekly count. I can also eat malted barley, which means I can have basically every enriched flour. Which, in turn, means I can eat more breads from bakers I speak to, cakes, cookies, etc. Homebaked good! I dont’t have to bug people to read the ingredients on their flour. Kinda cool. However, I cannot have any other kinds of beer (they all have different ingredients — including FISH BLADDER! In researching which beer to drink, I found that many beers, especially those from the UK, are made with isinglass which is code for fish bladder which is code for possible anaphylaxis — explains why I never understood the deliciousness of Guinness but rather could barely swallow a sip), and I can’t have more than one beer without a possible overdose without testing it, which my doctor thinks is unnecessary and probably problematic.. But hey. It’s a win. Because I’m tiny and prefer Heineken anyway.

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy – 2

Allergens – 1

Up next: Onions


Food Challenge Round 2: Cindy vs. Olive Oil

You know how the American men’s swim team was supposed to win the 4×100 relay in the Olympics yesterday, and there was this huge upset and France won instead? And how Jordyn Wieber was slated to place in all-around but Aly Raisman beat her to it?

That’s how I feel about what happened today with olive oil.

I thought it was a sure thing. I’ve cooked exclusively with olive oil for years and I had been fine. How could I be allergic to it? This morning’s challenge — rye crackers baked with olive oil — was supposed to be more of a formality than anything else.

But, there are always upsets, and that’s what makes life — or the Olympics — interesting, right? It’s precisely because I cooked exclusively with olive oil that I can no longer have it. (Me, to my boss: “I od’ed on olive oil.” Boss: “Oh god.” Me: “Hey, at least it’s not heroin, that’s a win, right?”)

I noticed something was wrong about three bites into the rye cracker. My mouth just didn’t want any more. I figured it’s because rye crackers aren’t so delicious, and these were made really haphazardly in the middle of the night. I was determined not to be allergic to olive oil. So I kept plugging away at the cracker.

One day’s worth of olive oil lasted for eight nights back in the days of the Maccabees. One rye cracker’s worth of olive oil should last me 72 hours, in these days of the Maccabeats. (Yes, I know it’s a bad joke). Reverse Chanukah miracle, anyone?

Nothing was swelling, nothing was itching, the doctor was with another patient. I wanted to power through. “It’s in your head,” I thought. “You feel fine. Keep going. Chewing isn’t hard.” Except it felt so hard. My mouth just didn’t want to comply with my brain.

As I forced the cracker down, I started noticing that I couldn’t really read the book spines on the doctor’s shelf so well anymore. My vision was going and I was exhausted. Sitting was hard. Chewing was hard. Keeping my eyes open was hard.

The doctor returned as I started cracker two.

“You look happy,” he said half-sarcastically.

“I think I’m going to pass out.”

“Yeah, I think so, too. I think we call this one a “no.” This isn’t working.”


I still had cracker in my mouth.

“You might want to stop eating.”

“That’s a good idea. Can I get water?”

“I think you should.”

So I drank a lot of water, got complimented on my green pants, and then got too tired to stand.

“Was that enough or do you need a pill?”

“I want Benedryl.”

“Looks like we got a positive result.”

“Depends on your definition of positive.” I don’t know why I have to make Chandler-y jokes when I’m uncomfortable.

I took my Benedryl, sat for a bit, and the doctor determined that I was not going to go into anaphylactic shock. Just discomfort. So I was free to go. But not before we discussed next week’s malt challenge.

I asked him which to do: pretzels or cereal. He said cereal, and I said, “Really? Even though I can eat a few kinds of cereal as it is?” And he said, “What about beer? That’s how you should really test malt.”

So, one week from today, I will drink a beer at 7:30am. And I better not fail the challenge.

Excuse me — not fail — “have a positive outcome,” which is my doctor’s optimistic way of speaking. I’m a little too competitive for that. Plus, going to work high on Benedryl, with a trace of a cold that’s exacerbated by allergies (totally see why they didn’t let me try new foods when I had a cold as a child), and having half a voice, a runny noise, and only 85% coherency all day doesn’t feel like a positive outcome. Having a throat that swells every time the Benedryl runs out but not quite enough to warrant the steroids I so desperately want doesn’t feel like a positive outcome.

But I got answers, I guess. My constant reactions to food I cooked myself makes a ton more sense now. So when I feel better, I know I’ll think about this, and simply think, “yay.”

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy – 1

Allergens – 1

Up next: beer. Any suggestions for which beer I try? I’m debating between Stella and Corona. It’ll be the only beer I can drink until I challenge more, so let’s say a year or so…