Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas report

One glass of white wine on Christmas Eve, quite a few on Christmas Day and one on Boxing Day - and no serious ill-effects.

By this morning my skin was getting a little dry and itchy and red spots were appearing so I decided that was enough wine for this year. I still don't know whether I succeeded in getting a cold. I have had the snuffles over the holiday but it might equally be a mild reaction to my indulgence. I took a montelukast on Christmas Eve and one on Boxing Day and so far as possible avoided any other substances containing salicylate - no stuffing, no sausages, no caffeine and no dark chocolate. The turkey was tasty and I had sticky toffee pudding instead of mince pie - a suitably filling alternative. Somebody put pepper in the red cabbage so I had to avoid that - but there were plenty of sprouts and carrots.

All in all a good Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mince pies

Mince pies are everywhere and I cannot touch one. Bring back the Yule Log, I say, preferably made of chocolate!

I have pushed the limits with various seasonal nibbles and The Ring has returned on my shoulder, except it is not a ring anymore, it is simply a giant, red ink-blot. It does not itch so I barely notice it.

I continue in my efforts to catch a cold. I shook hands with someone who was just finishing off a cold today. So far, no luck at all. My hopes of being able to indulge in white wine over Christmas seem to be foundering.

Last night I drank some whisky and it tasted like ginger wine. So perhaps the alternative is to work on the imagination and turn water into wine and whisky into ginger wine.

* Update: I went somewhere tonight and there was a giant chocolate yule log in the middle of the table surrounded by mince pies. Bliss! I'm not sure if I inspired the idea or not...


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trying to catch a cold...

I was sitting next to somebody with a stinking cold the other day. So I leaned into them slightly in the hope of picking up a virus or two.

I am starting to get worried that this Christmas will not be as jolly as last year when a passing virus enabled me to indulge in white wine for several days.

There is a moral dilemma here. Although I might welcome a touch of flu or cold over the season, other members of my family and our Christmas party probably will not. So I suppose I should behave myself and try to stay virus free and prepare to make the most of warm whisky and water.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The joy of decaf...

Today's news about decaf coffee is ecstatic and amazing.

For it seems that not only do coffee and tea offer some protection against developing diabetes, decaf coffee may offer even more.

Along with some news last week about decaf and cancer, this is all very encouraging. One of the things that has worried me is that by never having caffeine I could be losing all sorts of benefits.

There is now a trend which suggests that it is the vegetable matter, maybe the minerals and the nutrients in tea and coffee, which helps human health. So by drinking a lot of decaf - and I do drink a lot of it as I can drink little else - I am doing myself a favour.

The reporter suggests there may be other explanations eg that people may be more energetic after drinking tea and coffee or that they may drink tea and coffee instead of alcohol.

You would think there might be an opposite effect - for many people like me like to have their coffee quite sweet. I try to use sweeteners in instant coffee. But real coffee can only be sweetened with sugar. Otherwise the taste is dreadful. So you would think it might increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Whatever, it's still cheerful news.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting ready for Christmas....

The Christmas season has begun and I walk around the shops, looking at piles of mince pies. I can taste the sweetness and think of the satisfying fullness that comes from eating a pie or two. Then I remember I haven't eaten one for years.

I went to a works Christmas meal over the weekend. We had a turkey meal and I asked the waitress if she could bring the turkey without gravy on it. She pulled a face and then said she would see about it. Everyone else had almost finished by the time she produced a plate with plain turkey on it. Judging by the neat splodge of gravy on everyone else's plates, I suspect the meals had been frozen or cook-chilled beforehand. I'm guessing they had to take some turkey, wash the gravy off and then reheat it.

When the Christmas pudding came, I thought of asking for custard only. It might have required the kitchen staff to scrape custard off half a dozen cook-chilled puddings - so I decided the better of it.

I did have a thimbleful of white wine without any serious ill-effects. A year ago I caught a mild flu virus just before Christmas and was able to indulge throughout the season. It was reassuring to find somebody else coming on this site recently and reporting the same phenomenon - that having a cold can provide relief from allergic reactions. So perhaps I need to find a swine flu party ahead of the Christmas break...


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chef card?

Here's an interesting project from Britain's Food Standards Agency launched this week. It's a guide to buying food when you have a food allergy and some advice on how to handle restaurants.

The on-line version here is probably more accessible than the pdf of the booklet accessible from here.  Most of the advice is basic common sense and what you would do any way. I'm interested in the idea of using a chef card. It would certainly be a discreet way of passing a message to a waiter and a chef to check ingredients or, at the very least, to pay attention to what I say.

As I've reported over the years, service varies. If you're ordering on the spot, you need waiters and chefs to pay attention to what you say, for instance: "I'll have the pasta but no sauce, herbs or pepper." If they're a budget establishment using cook-chill or frozen dishes, they are not going to be able to oblige - so the best answer is usually fish and chips and peas, or maybe steak and chips.

So far so good. But then I followed through some links to the FSA's directory of food allergies, studied the list and what did I find? Nothing at all on salicylate allergy! No wonder it's impossible to explain to caterers.

I wonder how this can be redressed. Perhaps an e-petition somewhere?