Are you allergic?

Milk, egg, peanut, fish, shellfish, wheat, nuts from trees and soya…

Then there are dermatitus, eczema, psoriasis and hayfever… the list goes on!

I certainly don’t recall too many kids on the playground at school when I was little who couldn’t eat pretty much whatever they liked or touch anything they wanted, other than one poor kid who blew up like a blowfish when someone threw some peanuts at him.

Then again he may have been choking on the nut rather than having an anaphylactic fit… the details are vague…

It seems we’re becoming more and more allergic to things that once seemed part of the everyday.

I say we, because I’m including me in this sentence…

Once upon a time I could eat whatever the hell I wanted and put whatever skin creams full of perfumes and pathogens on my skin whenever I liked, until one day when I was about 24 I used some skin cleanser that turned my face into a bubbling lava pit of blisters (yes it was as sexy as it sounds) and I started to “react” to certain creams.

About a year later, I’d gotten on top of the skin issues by using non-fragranced and PH neutral products to wash, moisturise and beautify myself, then I discovered I’m lactose intolerant.

I’d always assumed being gassy and bloated by dairy products was a normal part of consuming them, apparently not.

I now come to a familiar cross-roads in my life prior to going to Vietnam, a malarial risk country.

The question is “to take the antimalarials?”

The chemical structure of DEET

I have been informed (by a travel specialist doc…. FANCY!) I should be ok if I cover myself in DEET laden insect repellant… aside from the fact that I’m pretty much allergic or “react” to most insect repellents, there are many reasons I don’t really want to take the antimalarials…

  1. They can make you sun-sensitive… CMON I’m already a pasty ranga, I don’t need to be ANY more sun sensitive
  2. They cause yeast infections… ew
  3. They negate the Pill…
  4. Nausea and vomiting

…and a whole bunch of other, albeit rare side effects that are pretty gross… I’m talking about Doxycycline by the way, one of the only antimalarials that the pesky mozzies aren’t resistant to yet, and the most commonly used of the bunch.

So tell me? Are there any good sensitive insect repellents out there that DO contain DEET?

Do I put up, shut up and take the malarials? 

Gin and Tonics could be the answer! Tonic water contains Quinine – which has anti-malarial properties… so I could just get rip-snortingly drunk each day… the Quinine can fight off the malaria and the alcohol could fight off the stomach bugs (as discussed in “don’t trust a ham sandwich“)…

UPDATE! – Thanks Mum 🙂 Apparently you can get a safe for sensitive skin insect repellant containing “Picaridin” instead of DEET… huzzah! OFF is the only brand I can seem to find in Australia that has it.

Weasel Poo Coffee???

Yep… you read that right…

Coffee… made out of poo…

Well technically that’s not completely true, it’s halfway there, but I’ll get to that…

My friend has recommended that when in Vietnam I try to look up this delicacy that comes in at a very hefty price (apparently about $50 a cup or up to $600 per pound for the beans). She managed to locate some of the ground beans, but never actually got to try the brew.

So now I have been charged with a mission to find some. According to what I’ve managed to research from internet sites and other blogs, the coffee is delicious and definitely worth trying!

Would you trust this weasel?

Here’s how the strange stuff comes about… The coffee is made out of coffee berries that have been digested by a weasel type creature called an “Asian Palm Civet” who poops out the indigestible coffee beans, which are scooped up, washed and given a light roast then ground into coffee like a normal bean.

“Kopi Luwak” (I prefer “Weasel Poo Coffee”) is apparently very unique in flavour, and whilst inside the civet/weasel, the bitterness is leached away by stomach enzymes which actually starts the bean to germinate in the digestive tract… mmm delicious?

Gross-out factor aside, and provided I can afford some since it’s the most expensive coffee in the world (it’s been around since the 1800’s and is very popular and sought after in many countries), I guess I’d better pop by Dak Lak province when in Nam and visit the weasel farm for a cuppa…

I wonder if it tastes nice with Soy Milk?

The poo... or coffee... :/

More fun facts about Weasel Poo Coffee can be found at this handy site… Weasel Poo Coffee

Can I eat that?

Is that edible? Are you going to finish that? Can I try some of yours?

Life is a revolving door of food and drink. Major life events are planned around it and the mundane reality of the day is broken up by it.

If you have never tried a particular food before how do you know if you like it or not? I was lucky enough to be brought up in a family where the words “oh I dont like that” food were never uttered and no matter what dish was served, it was expected to be finished. The chef (generally my mum) was always to be complimented… a task that wasnt hard in a kitchen that served dishes like fresh sushi 15 years before the Sushi Sushi invasion, delicious Kelapa lamb curries before greasy take-away indian and hearty home meals that never allowed for leftovers. Take-away food was a once in a fortnight rarity…

Such varied gastronomic beginnings have stood me in good stead for travelling, with a willingness to try new food with abandon… both locally (within Australia) and abroad, the prospect of sampling new food fills me with excitement and a chance to challenge myself… The stand-out memories from every single trip I have been on have revolved around food and drink, the pictures I have taken seem to always have such a theme, from roasted half a pig in Munich Germany, “meat bird” (chicken) in Sigatoka Fiji and the hottest green curry that gave me the ability to see through time in Koh Phangan Thailand…

So the challenge begins. Can I cross off the list of both standard and exotic fare that I have not already tried?

The next trip I embark on is to Vietnam… can I bring myself to eat White ant eggs, soft-shell turtle, fertilised duck egg or raw blood soup? I dont know… do they taste good? There is only one way to find out… though perhaps some of those dishes are too left of center even for myself…

This isn’t going to be some sort of Chanie vs. Food adventure or a mission to eat the grossest dishes out there… I’m sure I can find the most delicious Bahn Cuon (Rice paper rolls), Pho (Vietnamese Soup) or Glazed curries (Glazed curries?) to tempt everyone’s tastebuds but I also wont rule out other “delicacies” if they are on offer…

Except dog… too many of my friends will kill me if I do that.

Come with me on my journey… recommendations on what to sample are welcome and I will endeavour to try them and report back…

White ant soup

Banh Cuon