Happy New Years everyone!
So, post Christmas was interesting. I got the stomach flu. I honestly never really thought I would ever be excited from the stomach flu, but only having the body aches and need to run to the bathroom for a limited time (and not having all of the rest of the glutened symptoms afterwards) is kind of amazing. I get excited knowing that the flu is a limited time illness, and it’s kind of sad.
Anyway, after the stomach bug I cut my thumb open. Literally, I was sick the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas and on Tuesday night I sliced my thumb open. Below is a recreation of the actual event.
But seriously, I cut about halfway through the tip of my thumb. Kind of makes typing hard. And then the in-laws descended on my house. We got away with eating without incident (in the home) but the one meal outside of our house that we had, I got glutened.
It was a really stupid one. We went to Maggiano’s Little Italy, which pride themselves on doing gluten free (and all allergies) really well. They had a chief come out and speak with me (nice touch) and assure us that there was a separate gluten free part of the kitchen with special gluten free pasta water. They make all of the pasta in house and make sure that there’s no cross contamination. And I get my plate of fresh-made pasta prepared gluten free (and it’s pretty good, still a little grainy but not half bad pasta). And there, in the middle of my plate, is a strand of not gluten free spaghetti. How do I know, because I had penne and when I mentioned that there was spaghetti on my plate, the waitress got this look on her face and said she’s get the chief. But the chief didn’t come back, the manager came back and comped my meal. And got me a new plate of pasta. And gave us $50 in gift cards because they were so embarrassed that is happened. I mean, I was down for the count for 3 days but there was 3 free meals out of it. Doesn’t make up for the intestinal damage, but I would be willing to try again in case this was just a fluke.
So, my stomach has been a little tender as of late. And I’ve been a bit emotional. And I totally hit the post holiday funk. And I can’t really type or crochet or video game until this last week (Pokemon Go doesn’t count because it only uses one hand.) So, I haven’t been writing or really doing much of anything. Until this last weekend.
I subscribe to the Gluten Free on a Shoestring newsletter. I really like their recipes and used several of them over Christmas. A couple of months ago I found one of her cookbooks in our local half priced book store (creatively called Half Prices Books) and bought it. Inside I found one of my favorite things, molasses break. It’s a quick version of the bread that you get at Outback Steak House, but gluten free. I’d been trying to 2 years to make something close, so I tried it. I modified the recipe a bit to make in my bread machine, and it was perfect. Literally perfect. Light and fluffy and moist. I made for Thanksgiving dinner and it was amazing. I also tried to make Monkey bread for the first time since the diagnosis, and it was also amazing.
This started us down the road of seeking out foods we haven’t had in a while. There was the cider pub in Seattle that had gluten free fish and chips and fried cheese (it was 100% gluten free restaurant). There was the fried rice after New Years (which almost, but didn’t, include part of my thumb). There was our trip to the local Asian market near our new house that included buying of mochi ice cream. And then this weekend we chased the dragon (so to speak.) I made Chinese barbecue pork and the husband made fried chicken.
I’ve tried making barbecue pork before and it was…okay. This time was a million times better. The fried chicken, that was from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. A KFC copy cat recipe was sent in the newsletter last week, and I just wanted it. We had been watching video of kids trying Christmas food was around the world, and in Japan KFC is traditional to have on Christmas Day. I starting having a craving for some fried chicken, and I was obliged last night.
Seriously, I don’t remember fried chicken being soo good. It was crispy and moist and yummy. I think I was 8 all over again eating chicken from a bucket. I just needed some of that overcooked, dry corn on a cob and a biscuit slathered in butter and honey from packets. Next time we make it, I’ll work on biscuits I think.
We all have these foods that we love, and honestly, not all of them come in easy to find gluten free varieties. Sure, my new molasses bread isn’t the same texture as the one at Outback Steak House. It’s a bit more dense and moist than that one is. Sure my barbecue pork doesn’t have that bright red skin that the ones in the grocery store have (that food coloring BTW.) And sure that fried chicken wasn’t as thickly coated as the KFC, but it was still pretty amazing. And yeah we can’t just go to the store and buy it, but this isn’t a lament of the loss of convenience, but celebrate the resourcefulness of our people.
Celiacs and Gluten Sensitives have been finding a way to get their favorite things for years. It’s been years of struggle to get to this point. We live in an age of regulation of labeling and blends of flours that can create whatever you want. Sure we can’t get the protein structures like gluten baked goods, but we can get close. And we are on the cusp of a cure. As we speak there’s clinical testing on possible cures. This is the best time to need to be gluten free. Sure there’s a lot of room for growth. Sure there can be better testing and education (I mean look at Italy) but we’re in a pretty good place.
So, just because you can’t have EXACTLY what you want, be glad with what you do have. Because everyday we’re just a little bit more comfortable. Everyday some inventive cook out there figures out another way to make something gluten free. And we know how to do things that most normal people never think about. We know the careful alchemy of mixing whole grains and starches to create just the right surface tension for fluffy bread. We know how to do things that people just didn’t need to do anymore, that people forgot because the industrialized food machine has been doing it for them. We are the people who can’t be lazy, can’t decide that there’s just no energy to make something and I’ll just go out. Where most people start on their cooking, with boxed and frozen foods, that’s where we get lazy. We are the Celitariat, doing all of these things because the gluten free life has chosen us. We have our hustle on just to put food on the table and not be sick afterwards. That is what the gluten free life really is.
So, as the title of this post says, you can’t always eat what you want…but if you try really hard you can get pretty close.
What did you think I was going to Rolling Stones here…?