So… I am still home sick. Apparently when I want to get sick, I’m going to do it well and get it ALL!!! Wahoo! (Not really though.) This morning I opened my work email only to discover 68 unread messages (OMG OMG OMG) and as I began to plow through them with as many responses as I could. Dang. Next week is going to be a busy one for me.
So I did the only thing a girl can do in this situation. I made some toast, poured a glass of OJ and finished reading Shauna’s new book, “Gluten Free Girl”. Rarely do I get a chance to actually read a whole non-work related novel during the school year (non-vacation days, anyway) and I love to read. It was fun to get Shauna’s book in the mail a while back when it came out and I’ve flipping through it on/off since it arrived.
A little shout out to Shauna – Well done, Gluten-Free Girl!
When I was first diagnosed, I read a book called “Against the Grain” by Jax Peters Lowell. I liked Jax’s book – but only because I needed to see some other example of survival without denial of life at the time. At the onset, I dragged my love to a poor example of a “support” group meeting where we were the only people within 25 years of our age set either direction. The people in attendance listened to a speaker talk about testing for Celiac (and he made many inaccurate statements). What made it worse was the attitude they exuded when they talked about food. It was all very Eeyore-like. We didn’t go back.
What I learned by reading Jax’s book (which was published 4 short years before my diagnosis in 1996) was how quickly our knowledge of food and gluten has evolved – let alone our knowledge of Celiac Sprue. Many of the statements in Jax’s book may have been accurate at the time of her writing, but they were no longer applicable. Just like many of the statements the medical professional made at the support meeting – inaccurate and no longer true, but still being given to people who wanted new information.
Take this tidbit from the medical guy: “All Celiac patients will have positive blood test results.” Um. No. We don’t. I was diagnosed with a biopsy and have never had a positive blood test result for Celiac. At my latest physical and blood work follow-up, my doctor assured me that I am not an anomaly, but that it is common. The only “gold standard” of diagnosis of Celiac Sprue is in fact a biopsy for many cases. Fortunately, not everyone has to undergo a biopsy and they can have blood tests done that indicate the disease as well. (Ah well… there goes my last hold out hope… LOL – KIDDING!)
Enter stage left, a new book with a personal story of going gluten-free. Shauna takes you for a ride as she revisits her foodie-beginnings. And believe me you, this girl is a foodie. After reading what she digested as a youth, I can see why she jumped in to the foodie world with both feet and a backpack. My god, my mom would be proud of me when I tell her I read this book and couldn’t relate to the foods devoured in Shauna’s home. In fact, I don’t think my mom ever bought a loaf of “Wonderbread” even if I would have begged for it. LOL
The beauty of Shauna’s book is, however, instead of a finite list of things one MUST do or NOT do, there is information about grains, oils, salts, etc. Shauna’s book is joining my cooking resources in the kitchen. Oh sure, she has some interesting and delectable recipes within (many with twists of things she’s posted on her blog and others are just new), but the reality of Shauna’s book is this:
SHE PLANTS HOPE and FEEDS IT WITH KNOWLEDGE.
Shauna gives a list of the grains that we enjoy and explore like Amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, etc. She gives us lists of shi-shi salts, oils, seasonings, etc that are worthy of exploration and entertainment. She has comfort recipes and recipes for easy entertainment. There’s something about her foodie-obsession that makes me realize what a huge benefit to our gluten-free community she is.
Think about this for a moment.
Living in Seattle – or any other metropolitan area, there is greater access to some basic food ideas and staples from all over the world. (I know I miss my Chicago groceries immensely!) I learned recently that my buddy Ginger was having a hard time finding spring roll wrapper sheets. This blew my mind. How can this be? Oh wait – totally different area of the country = totally different grocery access. It makes SOME sense, but it’s sad regardless.
Shauna has great access to a wide variety of foods, great experience and an easy writing style that will make people want to try the things she writes about. It will have you wondering just where you can buy a wide variety of high -quality olive oils in your town (I promise). And then the best part will happen – we will all start asking for these things to come to our towns.
Think of how radically your local grocer has changed since you were younger – the variety of produce, products, “ethnic” items, etc. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Why did it change? Because the populous and the consumers demanded it, craved it and thereby we created the change. Nothing is more evident to me than walking through the various grocery stores in Chicago – depending on the neighborhood and finding a drastic difference in what is available to purchase. All of the items are targeting the neighborhood population – which meant in some neighborhoods, I could find greens and in some, I couldn’t.
In my town, for example, we live practically in the middle of two Fred Meyer grocery stores. Each of these stores has a “Natural Foods” or “Gluten-free” section, but one store has a “gluten free section” that takes up nearly five sets of 8 shelves. The other, its sister store about 7 miles south, has a 5 shelf section for the same goods. What gives? Apparently one of these stores has a more active consumer group than the other – or so I imagine.
I’ve gotten more courageous now too. When I see the woman who stocks the “Natural Foods” (by the way, isn’t it CRAZY that a GROCERY store has to label some food as NATURAL?? Good lord, what the hell else are they selling? Oh yea. That’s a whole other topic too. LOL). Anyway, when I see her, I now stop and talk to her. The other day, she actually stopped me. Her brother had just been diagnosed with Celiac and she asked if I could help. You bet. I wrote down several places to start, books to read, foods to find, ingredients to have on hand at home, and websites to check. I think I’m going to have to start carrying some of this information around with me though. In the middle of my conversation with her, three more people stopped to tune in and ask similar questions.
I’m no expert. But how long have we been doing this? And how hard is that first year? Or couple years? Ok. I’ll help. I’ll start asking my grocers and food co-ops (who are really great, by the way) to get in items that are helpful and explore new ones. It’s worth it. We all benefit when the “Natural Food” aisles expand.
Funny, as I’m writing this my love called from work to check on me and ask me to call about our turkey. We ordered our turkey from a local butcher – a free-range, locally raised Turkey that they will brine for me tonight in kosher salt. Nothing else. No additives, nothing bizarre added to “maintain freshness”. It will be fabulous. I can’t wait. (Oh! I must be getting better – food is starting to sound good again!)
So, Shauna, thank you. Thank you for living out your glorious foodie ways in our gluten-free world. Thank you for sharing ideas, creative missives for the foodie in all of us, and your recipes. Thank you for sharing your love story with the Chef. And YES, Shauna, YES. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?
As for the rest of us, may I just suggest that we continue to build the supportive communities that help us flourish, survive and dine on finger-licking (or fork-licking) good gluten-free delights. There are many things to be thankful of this holiday season. YES, there are.
Happy Gluten-Free Holidays to All –
By the way, Shauna has just posted an AWESOME round-up post of her own advice for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving. Check it out if you are working on your first one. I will post your recipe round up pictures of your glorious Gluten-Free Holiday food here on the 30th.