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Life in the Celiac Lane
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I used to love eating out at fine restaurants (OK, and on our yearly road trip from NY to Louisiana to visit my husband's family, it was always Cracker Barrell). So where does a Celiac eat?
On road trips now, the easiest thing is to scout out the nearest Outback or Boston Market. And I pack a cooler with cottage cheese, carrots, apples, hummus, tortilla chips, grapes, rice crackers and my favorite Midel Animal Crackers (yes I am over 40, but I love these cookies). The trip takes three days and most motels have a fridge where I can keep stuff cool overnight and refreeze my freezer thingies. Works quite well.
Living in the NY area is helpful, because of the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program, which educates restaurants about our needs. Some have gluten-free menues, which makes things a lot easier.
When I go out, I bring my "no gluten" card, choose the one or two items from the menu that sound like I can eat them and ask the waiter to bring the card to the chef and check. This usually works ok. Once a chef came out of the kitchen to check with me if steak was ok because the cow might have eaten wheat. I thought that was nice of him (and the question kind of stumped me, but I assume it's fine). I've had a few mishaps, like the time I was eating my steamed vegetables and found a penne pasta noodle in it.
My best dining experience ever was at a restaurant in NYC called Rissoteriea (I'm probably spelling that wrong), where all the waiters wear tee-shirts that say "No Flour Power". They handed me a breadstick so yummy, I asked the guy if he was sure I could eat it. They had gluten-free pizza, beer, cookies and sandwiches! I had a Pannini (grilled sandwich) for the first time in years. I was in heaven.
The next day I found a local hotdog place that is gluten-free, opened by two moms with celiac kids. I had bread for two days in a row (I've pretty much cut bread from my diet because I haven't found one I like).
Another fav place of mine is a place called New World Cooking in Saugerties, NY (near Woodstock), where the chef and staff is so aware of gluten-free that the waiter brought me rice crackers when he brought my husband's bread. Ahh, what a relief to be so acknowledged.
All this talk about food is making me hungry. I think I'll go make myself some gluten-free pancakes!
So blogging is a good solution. And reading yours. All of us with this crucial part of our lives (eating) in common.
Tomorrow the 17-year old French student my husband and I have been hosting for the last three weeks as part of the World Exchange program goes home. It has been lovely having her, and a learning experience. The first day she was sick, the second she was homesick. She didn't speak much English at first (this is supposed to be a language emersion program) and missed her family and friends. Also thought she was coming to stay in NY...which to her meant NYC, so she was surprised to see rolling hills and farms (we live in the beautiful Hudson Valley about two hours from Manhattan). Also we discovered once she got here that she is Kosher (she also thought she was staying with a Jewish family, we are not). So between diet restrictions it was very interesting (we had a lot of salad).
Ultimately though, it was quite wonderful. We don't have children, so having a daughter for a while was fun. We went shopping in NYC (she bought five pairs of sneakers at Niketown for her family!!) and spent days doing summer-like things that I normally would not have done, like go to the lake and the pool and such. Now she leaves tomorrow and I will miss her.
But I won't be lonely for long! We are having 10 people staying over the house this weekend.
My husband and I are swing dance teachers and he is also in a performance troupe. His troupe (based in NYC) are staying with us for a retreat and rehearsal weekend. My husband emailed them about food because he knew one is allergic to chicken, another two don't eat meat. He mentioned my restrictions, which didn't stop them from requesting pancakes and bagels for sunday breakfast.
My brother keeps his house totally gluten free. His live-in girlfriend is a fanatic, guarding everything he puts in his body like a mother hen. I am jealous. My husband isn't like that at all. Since there are only two of us (normally), our meals at home are gluten free. But he continues to eat his bagels (and toast them), his Wheaties, his chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon buns.
So how can I ask his friends not to have bagels and pancakes in my house, when my own husband does? Am I being too paranoid? I just get the heebie jeebies to think about gluten stuck on my utensils and cookware. But it washes off, of course. I guess the truth is, I want my husband to be at least a little more protective.
Ah well, now I am getting tired. Or maybe it is the subject. Good night. Or rather, good morning.
So it's now today, or the day after, and I'm pleased to report that everything went well. My brother, who is also celiac and a bit paranoid, talked to the chef directly and she put aside two plates for us and gave us what we could eat, which was a lot since mostly the meal was salads and fresh fruits.
My brother and I had a bit of a debate about whether we could eat the miso marinated salmon. I thought I had read somewhere that miso was off-limits. Can anyone verify that? My brother said it is soy-based (not soy-sauce based) and fine but I didn't want to risk it although apparently it was the hit of our table ("Have you tried the Salmon? It's delicious!" resounded louder than the music).
This is my first blog. Not that you care, or it's keeping you up at night, as pre-diagnosis probably did. I am a writer and dancer and celiac. All three are difficult and delightful.
I thought living without wheat, etc would be devestating. It is not, rather it is illuminating. Until last year I was pasta girl, pizza girl, bisquit girl, cinnamon bun girl. I had no pain from this. For over 40 years. Although I was constipated for most of that time. But I thought that was just me. Normal. Until my brother was diagnosed and we all had to be tested.
Some of us chose not to. One brother won't test himself or his children. He would rather not know and not give up his favorite foods.
I have discovered a world of new foods. Truth be told, I had grown bored with eating. Now every meal is a new adventure. New tastes tingle my tongue. New grains. I have grown very fond of cooking ( before I could barely boil water).
I had a conversation the other day with a friend who recently thankfully has joined AA. He told me that he is planning to take up drinking again when he retires, that he loves it so much. I told him about being celiac, about how I make a choice ever day about what I put in my body and its long term affect. It is like alchohol for you, I said. You may enjoy that first drink but it will destroy you.
I think he understood. I think the idea of making a choice of long-term good over short-term pleasure made sense to him. I hope our discussion made a difference.