Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We Don't Eat Fungus

After my bone marrow transplant I developed fungal pneumonia. Actually, I got it twice. But, that's not what this story is about. This story is about my dad and his fondness for mushrooms. Jewish food staple kasha varnishkesHe ate them on his chicken and with his kasha varnishkes. I, on the other hand, have never eaten mushrooms. They look disgusting. And I don't like the thought of eating fungus.

After my transplant my dad continued eating mushrooms. When he asked me if I wanted any I replied, "I don't eat fungus."

Gradually, my response evolved into, "I don't eat fungus—I had fungal pneumonia," finally culminating with, "I don't eat fungus—it causes fungal pneumonia."

That statement is totally untrue, but I said it so often that I brainwashed my dad into believing it until one day he stopped eating mushrooms. Do you know what his response was when I asked him why? "Mushrooms cause fungal pneumonia," he said.

I hadn't wanted to ruin his taste for mushrooms, and I probably should've told him that I'd brainwashed him and they were in fact safe to eat. But, it was just too funny and I played along. "That's right!" I encouraged with glee. "We don't eat fungus because it causes fungal pneumonia."

At some point I started to feel bad and eased up on the anti-fungus comments. I also told him the truth that they don't cause fungal pneumonia.

"Are you sure, because you got fungal pneumonia twice, probably from eating mushrooms?" he asked like the cooperative believer I molded.

"Yeah dad, it's not possible."

To this day he rarely eats mushrooms. He only eats them when they're very well cooked and from his favorite restaurant. He says that particular restaurant knows how to cook out the pneumonia-producers. That sounds ridiculous, but it's not atypical for my dad, Bowl of split pea soupwho will eat split pea soup even though he hates peas. He claims that splitting the peas removes the toxins. When he first made that statement, I didn't even know how to respond. It was one of the silliest things I'd ever heard. Amazingly, I briefly had an allergist who told me that cooking and manipulating foods "de-naturizes" them, so I guess it's possible there is some truth to his pea-splitting theory.

Then again, that nice old man "tested" me and said I was allergic to over 25 different foods. According to my new allergist, nobody has ever been documented to have more than a few food allergies. He was in his upper 80s, a little kooky yet kind as can be, and may he rest in peace.