Dairying to be Different

How did I overcome an obstacle that I thought had the potential to ruin my life?

Dairy products crushed my dreams. My pediatrician delivered the terrible news: she said that my constant stomach aches had been caused by a dairy allergy that had, until recently, lain dormant. This development would be a tough pill for any milkshake and cheeseburger-loving person to swallow, but it hit ten year-old me especially hard. As the daughter of someone in the restaurant business, I had enjoyed a childhood full of zesty food adventures. Instead of chicken fingers and tater-tots, I opted for curry and spanakopita. Food was my passion. Whenever someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “a chef.” Or at least that’s how it was until my fantasies of baked brie and crème brûlée came crashing down in the form of a milk allergy.

The first few days were ugly. I was not only without my favorite foods, but my cooking aspirations were also crumbling in my hands like flaky piecrust. My parents, as fellow food aficionados, were sympathetic, but reminded me that I needed to move on. In an effort to help me do so, my mother came home from the grocery store one day and excitedly proclaimed that she had purchased dairy-free cheese. Yet after cooking and attempting to eat a grilled ham and fake-cheese sandwich, I...

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