Food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities ... Isn’t it all just about being a bit of a weakling? A mouth-breathing, spotty, snot-nosed and most likely ginger four-eyes? We didn’t have any time for those sorts during my childhood school days and, since we seem to have returned to the 80s in every other way recently, I don’t see why we should be aggrandising their inferior genetic make-up now. Yet, somehow, it seems to have become fashionable to be a food freak.
Like everyone else who’s stupid/poor enough to subscribe to one of those bulk-buying discount scheme email spam whatnots, I am being offered tests for allergies on a daily basis – alongside Brazilian blow dries (as if that needed further styling), opportunities to stick my feet in a bowl full of toothy fish, and days out where they make me cook stuff. That is to say, ultra-bourgeois, ego-frigging, unhealthy nonsense. Since when was being allergic to milk, bread, or society a luxury lifestyle must-have? If I were unfortunate enough to afflicted with a condition whereby my face swelled up like a baboon’s bottom every time I came into contact with a slice of cheddar, I’d do the decent thing and go and live in a cave. Or Sweden. I wouldn’t brandish my peculiarity like a badge of honour, a statement of status, or a thing of beauty: like a half-price French manicure.
Become a vegan, stick a hosepipe up your bum, and call your children Ethelred and Banana.
I blame the Blair years. During the early 2000s there wasn’t a lot on the telly, a rather depressing war was going on, and music was rubbish. Desperate to define their generation by something other than Dr Alban, the youth invented a cultural phenomenon they hoped would rival the groovers of the seventies, the protestors of the eighties, or the ravers of the nineties: they became celiacs of the noughties. And suddenly no one can drink milk, eat bread, or play games. Bit of a rum tummy? Certainly nothing to do with a stressful lifestyle, wine and fags for dinner, or that dodgy kebab on the way home from the pub … no, that’ll be a gluten intolerance. Best become a vegan, stick a hosepipe up your bum, and call your children Ethelred and Banana.
The really sad thing is that there are some poor buggers out there who genuinely suffer from nasty, debilitating illness when presented with everyday foodstuffs, but cynical bastards (like me) will just assume they’re lying. It’s a shame for them. Ah well.
So why do they lie? Attention-seeking, one presumes. A need to feel different from the herd, but also part of a special club. They tip each other a silent wink in the ‘Gluten-Free’ aisle of the supermarket, knowing that they’ll carry their stocks of wholeshit, tastefree provisions proudly in their smug bicycle baskets, and hope they don’t see anyone they know when they stop off for a dirty Domino’s on the way home.
This abhorrent hypochondria does, sadly, seem to be a predominantly female occupation. The western world is full of culturally-overprocessed women cluttering up and stinking out the communal fridge with wheat-free low-carb pseudo-milk substitutes, pumping themselves full of pills and potions to supplement a skipped breakfast, and poisoning themselves with anti-food for fear of farting in their sleep and letting their boyfriends know there’s another hole on offer. But there are also some, thankfully few, grey-skinned, skinny men, who whine and whinge that normal restaurants don’t cater for whatever lily-livered gut inadequacy it is that they’ve diagnosed themselves with so that they can avoid having to have a decent poo every morning, like a real man.
The production of excrement just doesn’t seem appropriate. Unless, of course, it’s down the tube of your colonic irrigator.
Because that’s what these faux intolerances boil down to in many cases: fear of one’s own bowel function. Not that any of these self-loathing shit-dodgers would admit this. Ask someone with a “wheat allergy” what would actually happen in the worst case scenario that they are marooned on a desert island with a truck full of Mother’s Pride, and you’ll get a mumbled reply about ‘oh terrible … just so ill … couldn’t possibly manage a whole sandwich … don’t have a big appetite anyway’. Lies. In a world where people, particularly women, are expected to be stripped, waxed, lasered, sprayed, highlighted, microdermabrased, peeled, trimmed and wrapped to imperfection, the production of excrement just doesn’t seem appropriate. Unless, of course, it’s down the tube of your colonic irrigator.
Worse is to come, however. I’ve received this week an email offering me a 50% discount on getting my pet tested for allergies/intolerances. Apparently I might not have noticed, but my cat could be allergic to pollen or insects. Or mice, maybe. Perhaps that’s why the big lazy fluffball just sits around the house shedding fur when he could be out across the fields chasing wildlife like a normal cat: maybe he’s rodent sensitive. Perhaps after his allergy has been expertly diagnosed by an expert in the field of being an expert, the same expert might also sell me some ultra purified mouse droppings to waft in the general direction of my cat, so that he too can feel part of the special inner circle of the Allergy Gang.
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