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My Soiree with Walnuts

I have a mild allergy to walnuts.  It’s not a big deal, not anything near the lethal peanut allergy that scares the living fingernail polish off me.  I can’t imagine having to go through life with that kind of filter and margin, and yet so many people do.  More and more people, actually.  Suddenly I’m wondering why there are so many of you, since I met my first peanut allergy in college.  I was his assistant.  He taught me to how to give him an EpiPen shot, just in case.

Anyway, my allergy isn’t like that.  it’s a localized allergy, and it makes my throat itchy, and sometimes I get hives on the inside of my lips.

It’s just all things not fun.

But when I was a little girl, I didn’t know how to articulate this.  I wasn’t sure why my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, that I loved so much, left this situation happening in my mouth.  People snuck walnuts into things, for texture and flavor I guess, and there I was, suddenly clearing my throat like an old fat man in a locker room.

I discovered the link one day.  But I didn’t know the name for it.  Wold Nuts is what I called them.  “Do those have wold nuts in them?  Because I am allergic to wold nuts.”

Instead of anyone taking me seriously in my request for a different, nut-free option, they loved that I was a three-year-old who could talk about nuts and give them such a charming name.  Sort of how I don’t correct Tyler when he asks the waitress for Root Beard.

I kid you not, I was married before anyone believed me that this was true.  I finally said, “Look, everybody.  Have I ever in my life varied from this?  It’s the same ingredient, the same symptoms, every single time.  I’m for real.  Walnuts make my mouth itch.  I get bumps on my lps.”

That last sentence is the one that always got everybody giggling to themselves.

Anyway, now I am taken seriously with my walnut aversion.  In fact, thanks to you peanut allergies out there, waitresses and waiters in restaurants will go out of their way to find out if there are traces of walnuts in the item I’m interested in on the menu.

I just meant, “Are there walnuts in your carrot cake?”  And the next thing I know, I’ve got the manager by my side, reading me the list of ingredients and the packaging from the factories.  Which then humbles me, since the worst that can happen is the itchy lumps.

Anyway, that’s the story.  I don’t do walnuts.

And still, my mom nearly bought them yesterday in a bag of ready-made salad fixings.  “Oh, cranberries and candied walnuts… Trish would love those.”  I asked her, while I was skimming through a holiday magazine, “Hey, Mom, why don’t you make this Toffee Walnut Bark this year?”

She said, “Oh, I should.  It’s delicious.”

“Hey.  Mom.  I wasn’t asking why you don’t.  I was giving you the chance to say, ‘oh, because my daughter is allergic to walnuts.’  It was a test.”

“Well, that answer felt artificial to me.”

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I get it. I am the same way with cinnamon. It also makes my tongue sore and bumpy for a week.

  2. I was told by an allergist that a lot of people have symptoms like yours to walnuts, pineapple, avacados, etc. because of cross pollination with other things that you may be allergic to. It’s considered a surface allergy that is annoying but at least not dangerous. I feel the same about walnuts.

  3. I get it, Tricia. I try to avoid walnuts too. They make my tongue sore. My mother-in-law used to put them in almost everything she baked, too! I usually call it a walnut sensitivity rather than an allergy, since it’s not an anaphylactic thing, but maybe it really is a mild allergy.

  4. Be very careful because Allergies can worsen without warning. I am allergic to antibiotics that I was not allergic to at one time in my life.

  5. Oh, I know that restaurant experience, but it’s more serious for me. I’m anaphylactic allergic to black/white pepper. Yes, it’s in everything and oh, so much fun! Can I tell you Tricia how many people do not know what anaphylactic means? A LOT! And I always warn my date that it’s going to be an adventure!

  6. “.clearing my throat like an old fat man in a locker room…” I thought I’d laugh my butt off. Instant visual. But it begs the question: when were you ever in a locker room with an old fat man…?

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