Gluten Intolerance Doesn't Exist?!
- By Miriam Reiss
- Published 06/5/2014
Last night, I heard David Sax speak to a packed crowd in Los Angeles to promote his new book, "The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up With Fondue." As a Toronto-based journalist who's written for publications such as New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, the New York times, NPR and GQ, David's won a James Beard award for Writing and Literature, has written before on food topics and has credibility as a food writer. David's topic was food trends, in this case why Angelenos love Kogi BBQ, kale and cupcakes. Before he began, David polled the audience on how they felt about different food topics. When he asked about food trucks, the audience cheered. When he asked about gluten-free, people booed.
While I was surprised and perturbed by the boos, I understood. From my observation, Angelenos think they're ahead of the curve when it comes to food. In my experience, they're behind. More restaurants than in prior years have a gluten-free item on their menu. Most still don't. This is in contrast to Seattle, my prior home, which is currently ranked #1 for gluten-free offerings. Last week, I made my annual pilgrimage to Seattle and discovered an Italian restaurant that's had a separate, gluten-free kitchen for several years and offers an extensive, entirely gluten-free menu in addition to their non-gluten-free menu.
David didn't address the gluten-free boos during his talk. So, during the post-lecture q and a, I approached the mike. First, I asked David what he thought about Seattle's longtime, public relations-generated, crazy love affair with Copper River salmon. This time of year, Copper River salmon can be had for upwards of $26 per pound. David knew nothing about this. In fact, he managed to simultaneously mispronounce Copper River salmon and dismiss it in the same breath.
My second question was about gluten-free. David proceeded to dismiss gluten-free with a vengeance. He saw gluten-free as a fad diet that didn't do anything for anyone. He mentioned the Jimmy Kimmel man-on-the-street interviews where Jimmy interviewed three people who said they were gluten-free but couldn't describe what gluten was. David declared that research has shown that gluten intolerance doesn't exist. I found his attitude toward gluten-free as snide and condescending. David said a gluten-free diet was only relevant for those who had celiac disease or other significant health issues.
My takeaway? I hope David Sax gets to eat his words.
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