Wednesday, October 14, 2009

F.O.C.U. Tip #4

You need to be aware that when your gluten-free friend goes out to eat with you, he/she is basically playing roulette. Ordering something that shouldn't have gluten in it, like a salad minus croutons, may seem harmless but it's not. How many times have you ordered food "minus" something but when you get it you can tell the item was "picked" out? This happens to me with raw onions all the time. I detest raw onions, and you can NOT fool me, I can smell onion juice from a mile smells like stinky feet. I know that your grubby hands were digging around in my salad, picking out little onion shards (poorly, might I add, because you missed the one that just ruined my day) but I digress. My point is, most restaurants don't worry about cross contamination, so your friend is taking a big risk ordering anything. And for pete's sake, do not invite your gluten-free friend to a place that has gluten in its name, like "Pizza Hut" or "The Macaroni Grill." That just makes you an insensitive d-bag.

Hopefully there are restaurants in your area with gluten-free menus. Big cities tend to have more of these because GF is kind of a fad diet right now (though I still don't understand why). Several chains, such as Outback Steak House and Chilis, offer gluten-free options. We went to an Outback once where the manager brought out Amy's food himself so that she knew her plate hadn't even touched the plates with gluten on them. Not all places are that awesome though, even the ones that claim to accommodate food allergies can screw up. When Amy orders at a restaurant she basically has to scare them into thinking she will die if gluten touches her plate. I'm not going to lie, I have used this trick before when trying to order something without onions. I have never heard of a fatal onion allergy, but no one has challenged me on this as of yet (I don't do it that often, seems like bad karma).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

F.O.C.U. Tip #3

If you frequently socialize with gluten-free folks, it is way easier to eat and drink what they do as much as possible. #1: it saves money because you aren't buying two types of everything. #2: it cuts down on the chances of an accidental glutening. I now only buy potato vodka over grain vodka and I'm pretty sure home made rice cookies (slightly under cooked) are one of the greatest foods on earth.

F.O.C.U. Tip #2

I know, you like to share. I do too. But if you offer your Celiac friend a doughnut hole one more time he/she is going to punch you in the face. There is also the off chance that your gluten-free friend absent-mindedly eats the doughnut hole, at which point you will be partially responsible for a glutening. nice one.

F.O.C.U. Tip #1

This is not an innuendo, I'm talking about accidental contamination and it is the easiest gluten no-no to make. Hanging out with a Celiac is like...I don't know...some sports analogy about needing to be alert all the time.

I still have close calls. I almost dipped a wheat cracker in a designated gluten-free cheese plate this past Sunday. And a few weeks ago Amy's husband, Mike, caught me tossing sliced cheese that had touched crackers into a ziplock with non-crackery cheese, and then putting it in their fridge. That is bad.

similar and equally dangerous scenarios:
- keep your pita out of the hummus
- keep your baguette out of the baked brie
- keep your pretzel out of the mustard
- do not put your gluteny-toast-crumby knife back in the butter/spread

Monday, October 12, 2009

I ain't afraid of no gluten.

As the friend of someone who is allergic to wheat gluten you have one big responsibility: to not poison your friend. Sounds easy, right? WRONG! Gluten is a tricky bastard and it hides in things that you wouldn't even think of, like the adhesive that you lick on stamps and envelopes. Sometimes it gives itself funny names to disguise itself, such as "Semolina" (coming soon: Natalie's Semolina Story). And then there is the dreaded "accidental contamination." An innocent swipe of a cracker in some cheese dip, and it's all over.

I am a Wheat-Eater.

I heart my friend Amy. We have been friends for over 12 years, and in those 12 years we have consumed a LOT of gluten together...eating was kind of our thing. We met working at a restaurant and spent years playing the "Will it taste good deep fried?" game (the answer almost across the board is "yes"). Do you want to know how long it takes to drive to Chicago from Detroit? Answer: One box of Cheeze-its. "Sopranos Sunday" at Amy and her husband's house was gluten-palooza. It was a weekly excuse for us to gorge ourselves on pizza, pasta, and beer. So when Amy started getting sick a few years ago, the last thing we wanted to believe was that our beloved food was causing all her pain.

Ghosts of gluten past: Amy and I ate this monstrosity on a camping trip several years ago. I can't remember the exact reason, but I am sure alcohol was involved.

Long story short: Amy has Celiac Disease in a big way. Gluten is her Kryptonite, even a little bit and she is out of commission for days. We call it getting "glutened," and it has happened a lot!

The following blog is for the gluten-eaters who do not want to harm their non-gluten eating friends.