Saturday, April 16, 2011

Strawberries & Promises

When my in-laws arrived back here a few weeks ago, they brought gifts from their travels like they always do.  The bag full of assorted random things for the kids.  The obligatory beer glass for my husband.  For me, they brought something they knew I would appreciate more than any trinket.

They brought me strawberries and avocados from home.

The best in the world
I grew up in a place where I was privileged to eat the most amazing strawberries in the entire world.  And no, that's not an exaggeration.  These aren't anything like the berries that you get other places.

They are plump and delicious, they never need to be slathered in sugar.  They are almost always perfect, and you can eat a whole basket in a heartbeat.

They grow in the coastal valleys just over the hill from my childhood home, protected from the brutal sun by a thick and generous marine layer, cooled by the ocean breeze.

They are deserving of the festivals in their honor, they are worth picking yourself to get them at the freshest possible. 

They are amazing. 

Even with as amazing as they are, I made a point to avoid them at times.  As much as I would have loved to have a strawberry filled cake at my outdoor wedding reception, I didn't.  I never ordered a strawberry cake for anything.  It wasn't even an option.

Dad was allergic.

For as much as we all loved strawberries, he couldn't touch them.  I never did see it with my own eyes, but he would swear that if he accidentally ate one, he'd soon resemble a strawberry.   Red and swollen.

His allergy had consequences.  He had to avoid all the ice cream parlors that mix the toppings in, for fear of contamination.  This was a sacrifice, because if ever there was a man who loved ice cream, it was him. 

When I put the kids through allergy testing last year, I made sure that the doctor added the food panel just in case.  You know, family history.  Just to be safe. 

That last part there, that is what started the conversation I had with Dad when I got there in January.  He was always concerned about the kids allergies and asthma, especially since he'd always struggled with them both.  He hated that the kids got it at least in part from me, and that I got it from him.  The curse of genetics. 

We were talking about what the kids had to go through for the allergy testing, first the pricks, then the needles.  The waiting and the reactions. 

None of them reacted to the food allergens, though. 

He told me he was glad, then he chuckled a little. 

He fessed up right away after that, told me that one of these days, I'd have to apologize to the kids for him. 

Truth is, he's never been allergic to strawberries at all.  He just didn't like them, and he figured if he told people he was allergic no one would ever try to feed them to him.

After he'd divulged his secret and we had a good laugh about it, he made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone for as long as he was around. 

I didn't.

But I'm telling it now. 

I think the guy was a genius.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree...the strawberries are in my top ten of things I miss about California...I no longer call it "back home." When we were there in Feb. for the 6 weeks there was a place on the corner home from the aquarium and I'd buy them once a week...Charlotte would make sure as we were going home, "MOM! Don't forget the strawberries" We ate them up...and unlike your devious Daddy....I am slightly tongue swells and my ears turn red...but I still eat them and will suffer...cause they are that good.


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