Mar 8, 2010

i'm having trouble eating. i've been told to stick to a gluten free diet, a STRICT gluten free diet, and it's making me crazy. no wheat - no bread, bagels, flour tortillas, wheat pasta, pastries, cupcakes, english muffins, cookies, pizza, crostini, croutons, most cereals, granolas, etc etc etc. no soy sauce, no candies without checking the label, no prepackaged foods or dressings or mixes without thorough research.

i eat mostly whole foods. i am a chef. i love to cook. i have not had any trouble coming up with delicious menus that avoid all of the above ingredients. meats, vegetables, fruit, rice, quinoa, potatoes, eggs, dairy, beans - all on the A-OK list. pre-packaged foods have never been part of my meny planning, so that hasn't been an issue. my problem has been with the emerging collection of gluten free substitute foods out there - rice pastas, GF bread and cake mixes, GF tortillas, premade GF breads. i have not found one that i can enjoy. scratch that, i found a GF pizza crust at Rose's Bakery in Evanston that is pretty good - not the same as a chewy gluteny wheat crust - but passable. most GF baked goods taste off. the texture is usually a bit gummy, chewy, dense. the flavor is usually potato-y, bean-y, almost sour due to the replacement flours (tapioca, potato, garbonzo, rice, sorghum). i'm sure there are better options out there that i haven't found yet, but that's just the problem - i haven't found them. i've tried brands that other celiacs rave about, i've tried recipes that GF chefs have promised would be delicious. (the GF chocolate chip cookies were actually pretty tasty.) i just haven't found THE ONES. the staples that i can depend on.

it's not the same and i keep expecting it to be the same. that's probably just something i need to let go. it will never be the same. which is terrifying and tragic for someone who has turned her whole life upside down to pursue a career in the culinary field. i may never eat a piece of french bred again, and that kills me.

eating out has been a whole other experience. most restaurants have been pretty accommodating, willing to adjust menu items to exclude flour or bread, or going through the menu in detail with me to show me what i can and can't eat. gluten hides in all sorts of places. breading on fried foods, flour dredged fish, roux in sauces. i'm pretty savvy with a menu to decipher what i can and can't eat, but there's always something that sneaks up. and you can never be 100% safe from cross contamination. i had been winging it for a few weeks, but it's time to be more aware, which will probably mean eating out less. and probably, because of the misunderstanding of the disease and annoyance of having a guest with a complicated dietary restriction, being invited by friends to dinner less often as well.

at home i'm dealing with an annoyed stomach and stockpiles of tested pastas and bread mixes that i probably won't be eating except in extreme emergencies. i'm eating a lot of vegetables, lots and lots of rice, potatoes, and corn. i can live without most sweets, but all i've wanted for the last month is a tasty grilled cheese sandwich. and lasagna. and a hamburger with a bun.

learning to live without is proving more difficult than i thought.


april said...

SAD FACE! so sorry to hear that you are struggling so much with this. we will still invite you over for dinner! i've read that most people should stay away from gluten anyhow so i'm happy to eliminate it whenever i can.

emily said...

thanks, lady! that means a lot. xoxoxo yes, there are a lot of things we eat that we aren't really built to eat so much of. gluten, corn, all processed foods...i guess i should look at the bright side. :)

Gluten Free Sourdough Baker said...

Adjusting to gluten free takes time and perseverance. I cried when I first found out. Since you are a seasoned cook I wanted to let you know I discovered a way to make gluten free sourdough starter and bread that has great texture, taste and shelf life.

The bread is very "peasant-ish" which is a far cry from the retail gf breads and mixes. I only use food ingredients, no gums, no chemical leaveners so the end product tastes clean.

I offer my starter recipe in a free Download at:

Hang in there, it will get easier.