I was at a luncheon yesterday of foodies and writers, sitting at a table with a well-dressed woman in the throes of cookbook writing. I inquired about the topic and she said it was about cooking without nightshades.
Having largely forgone meat and dairy for the last six months, I immediately started vibrating.
"No!" I exclaimed.
She nodded gravely, and then launched into this harrowing story of inflammed hands, doctors and years of searing pain, until someone suggested she give up eating nightshades for a month.
Within three days she was pain free.
Nightshades are from the solanaceae family (says Wikipedia) and include both agricultural staples such as potatoes and poisonous plants like belladonna. Other common nightshades, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and tobacco.
There is a fair amount of folklore surrounding nightshades, like not eating tomatoes during pregnancy, and there are various magical and poisonous properties associated with the plants, particularly belladonna.
People who adhere to a macrobiotic diet eschew nightshades.
The issue for some people are the alkaloids in these foods, which can exacerbate arthritis in some and create nervous-system problems in others. The research on all of this is sketchy but clearly eliminating nightshades changed this lady's life.
Vegan? Gluten-free? Nightshadaterian?
It's enough to make you want to put a nipple on a bottle of cabernet and sit in the corner with a pork roast.
Happy dining, everyone.