I recently happened upon FoMu Alternative Ice Cream and Cafe in Allston, Massachusetts. FoMu ice cream is a vegan ice cream which uses coconut milk as a base. A few select flavors use an almond-cashew blend and their soft ice cream has a soy base. The interesting thing about FoMu ice cream is that all of it is completely dairy free.
Some people may be skeptical about dairy free ice cream. But I'm happy to report that FoMu's Salted Caramel ice cream was as good as any traditional ice cream that I've tasted. It had a smooth and creamy consistency, like milk-based ice cream but perhaps a touch softer, reminiscent of gelato. The flavor was bold and very caramel, much more caramel than most salted caramel ice creams that I've tried. Perhaps the omission of dairy and cream really lets the caramel flavor shine through. I also enjoyed the Pumpkin Spice ice cream. The Pumpkin Spice was true to its name and had spicy notes of pumpkin pie flavors such as nutmeg and cinnamon. More spicy than sweet, it tasted like a grown-up flavor, and was very reminiscent of the Fall season.
I was very happy to find FoMu because one of my daughters has a milk allergy. She has been living with and managing this and other allergies for years, but especially because of the milk allergy, there are many things that she cannot eat. Most of our ice cream outings offer her a predictably minimal choice. She is limited to places that serve dairy-free sorbet, and it's always, inevitably, a choice of two: raspberry or lemon, raspberry or lemon. One of the things she always wanted was to be able to go out for ice cream and order whatever she wanted. And so, I was ecstatic to present her with FoMu, a place where she could choose from twenty flavors. I was overjoyed to watch her read the blackboard menu, announcing "Cake batter, cookie dough, salted caramel--I can actually have the salted caramel!" We ordered four flavors and she tried them all.
I was very thankful to FoMu to be able to give her this small gift, to feel like everyone else who goes out for ice cream and to have the freedom to order whatever she wanted. For those who are not familiar with what it's like to live with food allergies, or to live with someone you love who has them, I can tell you that it's a constant and that it is often difficult. There's the worry about being safe, about having an accidental exposure and having a reaction. There are the basic, practical considerations of will there be anything to eat at the school, the function, the party, the new restaurant, and the phone calls, inquiries, and micro-managing that go with that. There are the social considerations of being the only one to eat a turkey sub when all the other kids are having pizza. There are the medical considerations such as do you have your medications with you, and if not, no, you're not eating anything until we get home. Yes, it's a constant.
There have been angels along the way, like the owner and creator of FoMu, who shine a little light on the task of living with food allergies. It is to those people that I would like to pay tribute today. To the pre-school moms who asked for my special allergy-free cake recipe and served only that cake at the party. To the elementary school mom who served hot dogs instead of pizza at her son's birthday so that my daughter could feel included. To the moms (and especially the kids who asked their moms to do it) who made special goodie bags for her that were safe. To the neighbor who made a special trick or treat bag on Halloween night just for one child. To an older sister, who at six years old, announced during Trick or Treating to unsuspecting homeowners that "Minnie Mouse has food allergies." To the family members who have changed entire menus for holidays and celebrations so that she could be safe. To the mom who consulted with me about her daughter's bat mitzvah menu so that my daughter would have enough to eat. To those parents who did not shy away from dealing with their child's friend who has food allergies but who welcomed her for dinner and made her something special. To her friends who ask what she can eat and who bring a safe snack to the celebration or bake something with her in mind. To all of you, I say thank you. Your small kindnesses are more appreciated than you know, by a child who is now a teen who has lived with allergies all of her life. But most especially, by her mom, who probably cares more than she does, who can't be with her everywhere or make all of her food or ensure that she is always included. You have helped me to do that, and I am most grateful.
Go try some FoMu ice cream! You won't be disappointed.