It is such an acknowledged truth: Bengalis and fish go
together. And trying to explain to my friends that my hus-
band has developed a sudden allergy to fish is well nigh
“What? Allergic to fish? Are you sure? How can it be? You are a
Like allergies have no business attacking Bengalis.
“Yes he is,” I intervene.
Well, we do face many…
It is not so much about checking what you eat at a restaurant.
We have to make really sure there is no cross-contamination and
then we can then relax and have our choice of foods.
But at a party or at a dinner, trying to convince the host is
sometimes a real challenge. Especially in India.
Every time we go home to Kolkata, the vacation is a gas-
tronomical adventure. Apart from eating humungous
meals at home with the family, we hop around to relatives’
houses, accepting their invitations. There is no getting
away from that! And that’s where the problems start.
“Allergic to fish? Oh my god! What will I make
for him then?!”
I gingerly try and tell them that it will be just
fine if he does not to have the special fish
curry she has most specially prepared for
my husband. Such a statement downright
It really doesn’t count if you don’t eat
the fish. There will be a variety of beautifully served, mouthwatering dishes on
the menu, but it just is NOT the same.
At an old friend’s house, who usually
puts out a really elaborate spread, I dared to ask the host why she
made so many dishes? She looked very concerned and said, “But he
does not eat fish!” I rest my case.
My husband and I are both Bengalis. But we have not grown up in
Chole Bhature, Baingan Bharta and Saag Chicken are some of the dish-
es my husband has been a fan of all his life. He loves trying all kinds of
new food too.
When I cooked fish at home before he developed allergies, he always
preferred fillets, not having the patience to deal with bones. So, my very
Bengali fish dishes would always be boneless.
Now all of a sudden even these boneless delicacies make him break out
in hives. And fish is the culprit.
I don’t think he is that devastated. A saving grace is he can still have his
shellfish. Shrimps, lobsters and crabs, the pricey delicacies, are all his to
enjoy! And shellfish has always been my favorite too.
His favorite meal at diners — Fish’ n’ Chips — has been replaced by
chicken tenders and it is not the end of the world. My friends, who make
amazing fish curries, are my backup plan, since I don’t get to cook fish at
home as often.
The nagging problem is my folks at home in India, who keep trying to
suggest ways and means to make him try fish again and beat the allergies.
I am not exaggerating a bit when I say that my dear well-meaning
mother-in-law told me she had a way to solve his fish allergy — she
would boil the fish, throw away the water and then cook the fish to make
it allergy free!
Good luck, dear husband. n
on what happens
when your husband
stops eating fish.