"I've never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don't like eating fish. And I know that's very popular out there in Africa." Britney Spears
My shrimp, crab, lobster problem
I was raised in Florida catching crabs with fish heads in the intracoastal Waterway from my home on Merritt Island. At parties I popped shrimp like M&Ms. I spent a summer in Maine feasting on lobster.
And then one day in the 1990s, after a fabulous restaurant meal of soft shell crabs, my favorite food on planet earth, my throat started to constrict. I had no idea what was going on.
Then a few weeks later I had more softshells and it happened again, accompainied by hives this time. Well, that was it. I knew what was happening. I confirmed it by nibbling a bit of shrimp the next day, and sipping a spoon of lobster bisque a week later. I was allergic to crustaceans, the ocean bugs. Fortunately, I could still eat clams, mussels, scallops, and squid.
Shrimp, crab, crawfish, and lobster have exoskeletons, which is to say their shells behave like bones for structural support. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms include itching, hives, tingling in the mouth, and even difficulty breathing called anaphylaxis. In some cases, it can be fatal. The reaction seems to be occur when Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in the blood come into contact with certain proteins in the crustaceans, probably tropomysin. I can't even breath the vapors when I cook. It was thought for years that there was a relationship between iodine in the shellfish and antibodies, but this has been disproven. Like me, many people don't develop the allergy until later in life.
As a result, my effort to make this website comprehensive faced a formidable barrier. Until I remembered that I know a lot of good cooks and chefs. So I have enlisted them to help me build out this section. Watch for their recipes coming soon.
...more to come (to be notified when new recipes and other articles are published, be sure to subscribe to our free, spam free, email newsletter "Smoke Signals").