Red Meat Allergies and Cucumbers for Breakfast

The following stories are about food.  But they’re not just about food.  One of the great things about food is that besides breakfast for dinner being a wonderful decision, food often reflects other parts of the human experience.  For instance:

Two years ago I discovered that thanks to a tick bite, I had developed an allergy to red meat.  While cheeseburgers hadn’t been a weekly staple, I appreciated the occasional juicy, thick beef patty topped meticulously in cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  I had even learned in recent years about the differences in nutritional value and environmental sustainability when comparing grass-fed beef to corn or grain fed beef, which contributed to my decrease in beef consumption.  The most frustrating part of the whole ordeal was that I became one of those people who “can’t eat that” when at someone’s house, which often led to “You’re allergic to what?” followed by my recounting the story of driving myself to the emergency room at one in the morning because I had no idea why my hands and face were swelling up.

Two years later, the lab results still detect the allergens in my blood, but they’re below the threshold, which means I have the permission to slowly reintroduce red meat to the menu.  No giant steak dinners, the lady on the phone says, but a few bacon slices are okay, which I admit I had been doing anyway.  Here’s the thing though.  After two years without eating beef, I don’t miss it that much.  The green light for red meat didn’t pop the lid off a burning boiling desire to sink my teeth into a cheeseburger.

That’s probably similar to other things in life: go long enough without something and you don’t miss it as much.  Maybe at first you do, especially if it has been a part of your routine for a long time.  I used to fall asleep with a Netflix show on my ipad playing in the background.  Then I didn’t, and I haven’t for a while now.  I don’t miss that either.

Food also shows me my motivations for my decisions in relationships.  For the last two summers, I have been blessed to experience some Turkish-Cypriot culture.  A typical breakfast for Turkish-Cypriots includes things Americans would be familiar with like cheese, bread, or yogurt, but then it includes things like tomatoes and cucumbers.  As a big fan of pancakes, waffles and other American breakfast items that don’t include tomatoes and cucumbers, I expected to shrink away from those options, but I found myself eager to try them.  Sitting at a table with others creates community, and I wanting to be a part of what a Turkish-Cypriot community celebrates, wanted to do what they did.  Enjoying the foods they did at the same time they did created a bond.  In short, food brought us together.

In our journey to live life in a way that nurtures the environment that nourishes us, food can also inform other decisions in our lives and maybe even help us build friendships in the process.

-Nathan Fesmire 


Nathan Fesmire lives in Virginia, where he currently works as mental health counselor for a school serving students with behavioral health issues. He also tutors part time, reads other times, thinks way too much, writes not nearly enough, climbs things, and passionately defends breakfast foods as viable choices any time of day.


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