Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I do not want to become a culinary hermit!

Everyone loved my potato soup again today. I did get some. Mostly because I had it for breakfast. Mostly because there was nothing else I could eat (we do breakfast potluck, too)(yes, my job is awesome).

My gluten-free coworker was at my door at five till noon telling me to come to lunch. As I walked to the galley, several people stepped aside and told me to go ahead of them (the line forms quickly).

I was very careful to find out what was in everything I ate. Rebecca had read the labels of everything she put in the chicken salad. William and I looked up the sausage in the stuffed mushrooms, and it was specifically gluten-free. The meats were prepared with just olive oil and herbs. I was safe!

Not so much.

The only thing I can think of is cross-contamination. There was a lot of bread on the table, and a lot of dishes with bread crumbs or pasta. Maybe a spoon got used in the wrong dish. Who knows? Tomorrow I'll use a dedicated spoon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Better to let it out than keep it in. Good advice for both anger and gas. Especially appropriate in this situation.

Every year during Christmas week, we have potluck all week long at my work. This is the first year for me being gluten-free, so naturally I was concerned. To make sure I would be able to eat something, I decided to make sure there was something I made available each day.

Yesterday, I made a potato soup recipe I adapted from The Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana. It's basically potato soup with Italian sausage, garlic and Italian seasoning added. Last year it got some favorable comments, so I thought it would be well received.

It was. Very. By the time I got to the galley (what we call our kitchen - cool, huh?), it was all gone. A gallon of soup lasted less than a half hour. There wasn't much left of anything, really. There was some pasta salad that everyone said was good, and some breaded chicken wings. There were some veggies and dip, but the dip wasn't gluten-free. Not much help there.

I poured the dregs of the potato soup into a bowl, which yielded about four bites. There was a sweet potato casserole that I had already determined was safe, and there was one small, sad slice of meat.

I took the pitiful findings into the big meeting room where we all gather and made a beeline for the one woman I knew would understand. Lynn has a wheat allergy. She was sitting with Rebecca and Wanda. All of them are sweet, wonderful women. I sat down and started bawling.

I was so frustrated. I hate having to be so careful. I hate having to read every label. I hate having to spend five times the price for a frigging loaf of bread (even when I make it myself) than everybody else does. I said I was just going to give up and go back to being sick all the time. I just didn't want to have to care anymore.

Lynn held my hand and told me she understood, and I knew she did. Rebecca got up and gave me a big hug. At some point my boss came into the room, looked very uncomfortable and confused, and made a hasty retreat. I really must make sure to tell him tomorrow that he didn't do it.

As sat comiserating with Lynn, and she explained to the few other occupants of the room what the problem was, Rebecca came back in with a plate. She had sliced a tomato for me and added some of the olives and peppers that I had brought. Of course this kindness turned on the waterworks again, but I was very grateful.

Later on, I ran into our office manager, who complained that she had not gotten any of the soup, and she had been looking forward to it. After a moment, I remembered that I still had most of the ingredients to make more soup. She had the chicken stock there (we keep some basic soup ingredients in the galley in case of inclement weather), so I made some more soup tonight and will make sure I set some aside tomorrow.

I immediately felt better. It wasn't about lunch. It was about always having to go that extra mile. But ultimately, we're talking about a diet that is naturally healthier.

Since I can't use many processed foods, I have to make everything from scratch using natural ingredients. Win. Since I can't eat hardly any fast food, I don't eat any fast food. Win. Nowadays, I only shop the perimeter of the supermarket, which is where all the good-for-you stuff is. Win. I am determined to make this a plus.

Also a plus, our fleet mechanic gave out corporate gifts today. He gave me the most decadent chocolates I think I have ever encountered in my life (and no malt - I checked). Super awesome double-plus good Win.

No matter what ails ya', chocolate will fix it.