“See but don’t touch!”
The mini-quiche in bento cookbooks look so cute and appetising and I have been dying to make some. As I avoid the preserved meats and would prefer to cut down on tomatoes and mushrooms because they contain salicylates and glutamates, all of which are the typical quiche fillings, I had to come up with some new ideas.
After cracking my head for a few days, I thought of:
* beans (great with cheese – think Mexican food; I happened to have dried kidney beans in stock, which I soaked then boiled till soft and added salt)
* tofu (I chose Japanese grilled tofu as it’s more firm, and made with nigari, which I seem to be better able to tolerate than other coagulants; though fairly bland, the cheese & egg has a strong enough taste to carry the dish)
* fresh salmon (I happened to buy some salmon bones, which provided small pieces of flavourful, fatty flesh)
And I few more I didn’t actually try out today:
* brinjal/eggplant (should go well with cheese)
It was rather easy: put some filling into each aluminium cup (either individual or mixed fillings), spooned in some beaten egg (seasoned with salt), topped with grated Mozarella and chopped spring onions, then 10 mins in the oven toaster.
It looked beautiful and I enjoyed the first little quiche very much and half of the second…. and then I was suddenly reminded of the time I was tempted by some gourmet Australian cheddar cheese I was offered two months ago. That same cloudy sensation in the head, a giddy feeling like things were spinning just a bit, and shoulder and neck muscles tightening just like with a straight MSG reaction…
Fortunately, a) I was eating at home, not stranded somewhere holding a bento box and feeling ill, and b) I was prepared for the experiment to fail and had a backup lunch of Japanese rice and stir-fried bitter gourd & garlic (my favourite!) ready cooked so I didn’t go hungry.
When it comes to testing the boundaries of my food intolerances, the boundaries can keep changing and so the testing is on-going. For example, I now seem to be able to manage all the regular vegetables eaten in my home on a rotational basis. Except that my hope that I’m getting ‘better’ is probably misplaced. If I haven’t been sick, it’s because I’ve been extra-careful with my food, not because I’m halfway to a ‘normal’ level of tolerance and major reactions from food challenges like this are important for myself to take note of.
Well, now I know for sure that yellow cheeses are definitely off my list (in contrast, cream cheese is all right for me and has also been designated Failsafe).
While it could be a reaction to the tryptamine and tyramine in cheeses, I don’t generally react to amines. However I have always been extremely sensitive to MSG, so I suspect it could be the glutamates at work here. My physical reaction to yellow cheeses has been quite similar, though slightly different, to that of MSG: I start out feeling light-headed then the shoulder and neck spasms kick in and eventually turn into a splitting migraine. The other clue that the trigger might be glutamates was that for half an hour after the meal, there was strong, lingering cheese aftertaste. It was that distinctive rich, yeasty, overly-‘tasty’, sort of salty flavour which some might call umami and which to me signals a big red flag reading ‘GLUTAMATES’. It reminded me of the time I had some mashed potato which had some ‘tasty’ undertones, which hinted that it was possibly flavoured, powdered potato mash full of MSG!
Oh well, end of a successful quiche experiment — they were certainly delicious, especially the ones with salmon and my family happily ate up the quiches — but also the conclusion of an important food challenge for myself. Quite silly of me to be so careful about tomatoes (which I can tolerate fresh and in reasonable amounts) and forget about the even more serious source of glutamates, the Mozarella. Goodbye, cheese ;_;!