On my 18th birthday, I had an allergic reaction to my candle-covered treat. It was cherry pie, my absolute favorite.
A few months earlier, I had an allergic reaction to a cherry pie dessert I snarfed during a high school debate trip to Salt Lake City.
It didn’t take all the best medical noggins at John’s Hopkins to see what was going on. I was allergic to cherries. My doctor agreed it would be best to stay away from my favorite fruit for the rest of my life. I haven’t had a cherry since. I haven’t been covered from head to toe in hives, gasping for air, since. Except for that one annoying time when I found out I am allergic to Amoxicillin.
But who makes Amoxicillin pie? Amoxicillin jubilee? Amoxicillin tarts? I can live without a black forest cake covered in juicy, cascading Amoxicillin. I deeply and dearly miss those cherries, though.
Because of my allergy, I haven’t bought cherries for my family to eat. It isn’t that I can’t handle the sight of them yumming them up and spitting their pits here and there. I wouldn’t fly into a jealous rage of regret. It’s because cherries are not on my fruit radar any more. Something about “If you eat this, you might die” creates a mental block. Plus, their time in season is short and there are so many other healthy, delicious fruit choices available this time of year.
The kids have sampled a huge selection of fruits and veggies. This one oversight didn’t bother them or me until my last trip to the grocery store when I spied a display of gorgeous deep red beauties. I was seized with guilt. My kids had to eat cherries during their childhood so they wouldn’t grow up with a void, however small. I bought a pound.
I served them with lunch.
“What kind of grapes are these?” one son asked.
“They are cherries!” I answered, getting the confirmation that I am a loser of a mom.
“Um, cherries are not that color.”
“Yes they are. Cherries are dark red or sometimes yellow and red.”
“But the cherries at Dairy Queen look different.”
I launched into an explanation of maraschino cherries and how they are more like a candy than a fruit.
Then I remembered to warn them about the pit.
“Be careful when you bite down because of the pit. You don’t want to break a tooth.”
The kids looked completely alarmed and began to eat their cherries like Gulliver would eat an apple plucked off a tree in Lilliput. Think Tom Hanks eating the little corn in Big. My husband had to do a demonstration.
He showed how you can put the whole thing in your mouth at one time. It fits. You chew carefully and then you discard the pit somewhere mother-approved. Not on the floor or in your pocket. Never in the garbage disposal, up your nose, or back in the bowl with the whole cherries. You don’t need to save them to plant a cherry tree in the backyard.
The coffee tree they promised when they buried the beans didn’t work out, either. Believe me. I’ve looked.
Same with the stems. Throw them out. Always. When you are in college, at a party, and people are doing neat tricks with cherry stems, excuse yourself to go study for the big calculus final.
I watched them devour the cherries. Their mouths, fingers, and some of their shirts were stained bright red. They ate until the cherries were gone, pronouncing them amazing and delicious.
I will buy them again while they are in season. They’ll grow up knowing how a real cherry tastes and how to handle the pits with grace and sophistication.
Maybe someday I’ll feel guilty about the lack of coconuts in their diet. I don’t have an allergy.
They are just gross.