(Originally from my blog "Complete and Utter Nonsense")
One of the things I have planned for the long weekend is cooking. Yummy, healthy, gluten free cooking. Right now I have a pot roast on that won't be ready for another two hours, but it smells so good that I want to grab it with my bare hands and rip it apart with my teeth. This would be ill advised, as it is very hot and not fully cooked.
I have not blogged about this, but people near me know that I have been mostly gluten free for a month or so. I say "mostly" and "or so" because it is a lot more complicated than just not eating bread and pasta. There is so much to learn. I have to read labels, and even then it involves a lot of guesswork, since gluten does not have to appear on labels (yet).
I'm learning. The internet is a wonderful, terrible thing. There are a lot of gluten intolerant folks out there sharing information. Just so you know, it's called celiac disease (pronounced sell-ee-ack), and it is a pain in the ass. Or more accurately, the gut. I didn't take it seriously until I found out that it can cause serious damage to the small intestine, up to and including cancer. That's when I stopped drinking beer.
Yes, people, it's that serious.
It is estimated that at least 1 in every 133 people suffer from celiac desease. Many of them don't know it, but more and more people are learning. I know I have been suffering from this for many years. I'm glad to have a name for it, and a plan. I may even be able to go off the anti-depressants, since depression is a symptom of celiac disease. I still have a lot to learn, but I know I feel better now than I did a month ago, and I know I will keep on feeling better and better.
As I'm learning, I'm helping others learn, as well. The original Carolina Ale House (formerly the Raleigh Ale House) is a mile or so from my work, and I eat there once in a while. They make an awesome cheesesteak (damn it!) and I like their salads. Friday I went there, plannning to have a salad (hold the crutons). On impulse I asked if they had a gluten free menu. The hostess seated me and said she would check.
In a minute, the manager came out and sat down at the table with me. He told me that he had a number of patrons recently who asked for gluten-free options, and that he had suggested to corporate management that they needed to come up with allergy menus.
I told him I was new at this and was still learning. He asked me about the things that I had learned, then he went over several menu options based on research he had done and he told me that he had read the labels of all the products they used to make sure they knew what was safe for gluten intolerant folks. He also told me that whenever they have an allergy request, he has the staff clean the grill and all the utensils to avoid contamination as much as possible.
Between us, we came up with a plan. I wound up with grilled cajun salmon served with rice and veggies. They left the seasoning off the veggies, but the cajun seasoning on the salmon was safe. It was quite delicious. Even better, it was on the specials menu, so it was also quite affordable! I was very impressed with how gracious he was, and I will be a regular Carolina Ale House patron from now on.
For my own edification, I'm going to start a blog listing my gluten free discoveries, and my gluten laden ones, especially the sneaky ones (soy sauce, barbecue sauce, bullion cubes, and on and on). I'll have a link to it here, in case you have some sort of wierd interest in what makes my bottom burble, or perhaps you wish to stay apprised as I become less and less flatulent. Either way, it will be TMI for many of you.