Sometimes being forced to be on a gluten-free diet just sucks. There’s no getting around it. I wish I could run out and grab a slice of pizza or get a sandwich at my favorite deli for lunch. I wish I could have eaten all of the amazing pastries and baguettes in Paris. I wish I could have eaten the donut pictured above. I want to eat crepes in a restaurant. I want to be able to order toast with breakfast at any diner. I wish I could eat a pretzel croissant – I want to eat at the new Momofuku Bakery and Milk Bar, heck I want to eat at the original Momofuku.
Yes, I ate amazingly well and completely gluten-free in Paris. Yes I can eat gluten-free pizza at multiple restaurants in Manhattan. Yes, there are gluten-free croissants and even gluten-free ravioli. Yes, I have had more amazing food experiences in the last 4 years since being gluten-free than I ever had previously. Sometimes I just want to be able to eat a Twinkie or a box of Wheat Thins (of course I haven’t eaten a Twinkie since I was in elementary school, but somehow knowing that I won’t ever be able to eat one again makes me mourn the loss).
In the last year I have become so adept at eating/living gluten-free it has started to seem less like a burden, but it still is really hard sometimes. This week was particularly rough. A friend offered to make me dinner on Thursday. He had cooked the same dish successfully for me before so I let my guard down and didn’t rehash the do’s and don’t’s of ‘gluten-free’. When I arrived at his place the ribs I had been dreaming about were smothered in a fragrant homemade sauce I remembered so well from this summer. Just as we were about to eat I double-checked with him all of the ingredients. “It’s the same as what you made this summer right?”
“No, not exactly, I don’t really work from a recipe.”
Oh no, my heart sank. I couldn’t bear another dinner like Jeff’s. Hold on, I told myself, it’s probably fine. “What’s in it, just to be sure?”
The first red flag was fish sauce. While most fish sauces are gluten-free, I held my breath as we checked the bottle. It was fine, phew. The rest of the ingredients were gluten-free.
“Oh and I added a little hoisin sauce at the end” he said.
Then I knew, the amazing ribs, smothered in sauce were just going taunt me. As we looked at the ingredients, there right on the bottle were the words I dreaded: “WHEAT FLOUR.” I wanted to cry. I normally am so good at planning ahead, but when we had had the ribs this summer he didn’t pre-sauce them so everyone was able to put the amount they wanted. I figured even if the sauce wasn’t gluten-free I would still be able to enjoy the smoky meat falling off the bone. But alas, it was not meant to be. He still managed to pull together a great spread of prosciutto, chipotle and cinnamon-spiced sweet potatoes and an arugula salad with toasted walnuts, fresh parmiggiano reggiano and homemade vinaigrette all of which were gluten-free and delicious. So while I didn’t leave hungry, it was a blow to my spirit.
Less than 24-hours later I encountered another difficult eating situation. I had a work lunch at 12:45pm. Now most work lunches aren’t a problem. As long as a restaurant is somewhat upscale I can usually find something and it tends to be great for the most part. Well, the location hadn’t been selected until an hour beforehand so by the time I got to look at the menu it was too late – a soup and sandwich place, again my heart sank. The focus of the restaurant was bread and luscious gluten-filled soups. I didn’t have time to reach anyone to ask for a change of venue or to grab something to eat in advance. When I got to the restaurant it was so crowded inside it was tough to move and there were throngs of people waiting for a table. Our third guest arrived late so there really wasn’t enough time for us to change restaurants so I had to sit and watch as they ate the most amazing French onion soup I have ever seen/smelled. I usually don’t have that much of a problem sitting at a table while other people eat, but I had already been so demoralized by the previous evening that this was just too much. I fought back tears and tried to silence a rumbling stomach as we talked business.
I had a great dinner later that evening, shared with a roommate from college. It helped me feel better after the dreadful lunch experience.
In general I am a really positive person, but sometimes it really just sucks to be gluten-free. What has been your most frustrating dining experience since going gluten-free?Tweet Pin It
Is there a restaurant or bakery you want me to check-out? A product you want me to review? Any other questions or feedback?
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