Guest Post: A Word From our Sous-Chef

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

 The sous-chef and his sous-chef

Hello Picky G readers!  This is the Picky Gourmet’s sous-chef with a special guest entry (a first for this blog, you will always remember what you were doing on this day.)  I’ve been asked to share my thoughts and feelings about living with a gluten-free honey, perhaps to give a different perspective on the g-free lifestyle.  I hope that this entry is beneficial to both g-freebees and their partners.  Here we go:

Before the Picky G. was even diagnosed with gluten intolerance, there were the pains.  So often we would try to celebrate special occasions, have late night junk food, or just try out a new restaurant and minutes later my honey would be doubled over in pain, despite how delicious the pasta was.  She would consistently describe the feeling of razor blades in her stomach followed by an increase in body temperature and severe itchiness.  I would try to come to the rescue with Tums and Aveeno but they really didn’t help.  All she could do was sleep it off until the next morning while we both wondered what had caused the tummy ruckus.

Every time this happened, the Picky G. would apologize to me.  Crazy, right?!  She felt so guilty for ruining our evening or date even though she wasn’t responsible. Plus, any inconvenience on my part was nothing compared to her physical misery.  But the worst part for me was not knowing what caused it.  I felt so helpless, which is the worst for guys in a relationship, taught to be providers and problem-solvers.   Even now if the Picky G. accidentally consumes gluten I know there is literally nothing I can do to alleviate the pain, I can just sit and watch, rub her back or leave her alone while she tries to sleep.  I hate it when that happens. 
One of many tummy tests Picky G endured

Then came the diagnosis.  Immediately following the verdict, I led a clean sweep of our kitchen.  The Picky G. was reluctant to throw away her Pasta, instant noodles and of course cheesy rice; she actually wanted me to hang onto it in case she got better.  It was a sad day some months later when we took that box of food to the donation center.  I swear the Picky G. was looking out the window, waving goodbye to the box as we drove away.

“My girlfriend's a vegetarian, which more or less makes me a vegetarian…

-Pulp Fiction

While the above statement may be accurate for those dating a veg, g-free mates have different options.  For instance, I keep a loaf of bread tucked away on our counter, I have cereal in my own cabinet above the fridge, and I get my own munchies and cookies for when I need ‘em.  It might not be completely fair but these items are the few exceptions in our house.  Plus, I don’t think anyone with a gluten-intolerance would want someone who wasn’t forced into that lifestyle to espouse its snacks.

Trader Joe’s and Whole foods make it very easy to find products without gluten and these make up the majority of our dry goods.  Also, we read labels like nobody’s business (even though I recently messed up and bought tortilla chips with soy sauce, damn!).  It’s easy to miss things when you don’t feel the resulting agony. 

I never try to suggest somewhere for dinner where I know it would be hard to get gluten-free options.  I check!  And if we do get somewhere and the menu is fit for a gluten glutton, I always suggest going somewhere else before she just suffers through another garden salad for dinner.  For special occasions (anniversaries, fancy restaurants) I tell the person on the phone that there is a gluten-free member of the party and I always restate this once we arrive.  For casual dining out, the Picky G. tends to take care of this matter; they don’t give you as hard a time if it comes from a pretty girl.

Now, I think I’m in a unique situation because my gluten-free gf is also a foodie.  Which means that her favorite gift for any occasion is something food related.  But I can’t call up that trendy cupcake spot because more often than not, they don’t provide gf options.  Paulette’s Macarons, Babycakes and Vosges chocolates are all fantastic gift ideas for the foodie who can’t have wheat.  It makes it all the more special because I feel like the Picky G. has accepted the fact that her treats will always taste a little off, sandy, or bland.  These are none of those.  Anyone would find these goods delicious and it makes your loved one forget that they are gastronomical pariah.  Harsh?  Look at how many vegetarian options there are at restaurants versus gluten-free options.  And vegetarianism is almost always a choice.  Not having at least one delicious gluten-free option in your restaurant is like a building without a wheelchair ramp or a tv show without closed captioning for the hearing impaired.  It’s downright cruel.

Also, if you are living with a gluten-free partner, I would suggest coming up with the shortest way possible to explain the situation.  “Wheat allergy” works for me.  I find myself constantly having to tell people why the Picky G. can’t go to the grilled cheese truck or try one of their Mom’s cookies (family gatherings are the worst).  Wheat allergy.  Four syllables and you’re done.  So much easier than “gluten intolerance” and the follow up explanation.

Finally, I hope that those of you living with a g-free honey start standing up for their rights.  It’s easier for us living in L.A. to find gluten-free sections in the store, or bakeries devoted to wheat free wares but gluten intolerance does not just affect the coasts.  This is a serious issue for those who’ve had to completely change their lifestyles based on this one affliction.  Wheat is so pervasive in our food that it’s easy to imagine that the majority of the gluten intolerant accepts their pain in light of so few alternatives.  If you love someone who seems to exhibit these symptoms do not let them suffer!  Demand that your grocery store carry gluten-free items, ask your restaurants, look online for companies with g-free products.  The best thing you can do is find options because for those who have found a way to live a gluten-free lifestyle the loss of variety remains the sharpest pain of all.
A special dinner made by sous-chef for the Picky G


Gluten Free Life TV March 11, 2010 at 4:14:00 PM PST  

Love this post. I can't wait to see some of the recipes you come up with on your own. And thank you for becoming a chef who is also gluten intolerant! We need more of those in this world. You will be a great asset to the foodie world.

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