Some of my favourite memories from when I was younger center around the kitchen, working with my mother to make something beautiful or—more often when I was involved—something ugly that tasted beautiful.
My mother taught me to shape cookies from rolled out dough using a thousand different cookie cutters. She showed me to cut a fat into flour to make scones with pockets of flaky goodness. She explained how yeast works, and what makes bread rise. We made and baked a million things in several different kitchens, learning the quirks and twists and turns of each while we were moving from house to house. We never thought we’d have to learn the quirks and twists and turns of baking without wheat.
When we discovered that she had celiac, that changed everything. All of the skills are still there, all of the sense of how things work and why they work, but suddenly it’s like being told to speak a new language with your own family. You can’t trust what you eat, you can’t trust what other people hand you, you can’t trust what people tell you about what you’re eating. And most of all, there is the lingering feeling that you cannot trust your own body to nourish you and keep you whole. I wouldn’t understand this so well, except for the fact that I was diagnosed with celiac as well. We’ve had to relearn a lot of things.
And while that’s been hard, and challenging, and tear-filled, and full of flops and things that don’t taste right and made us wish for just one day that we could have another go at gluten, we’ve figured out a lot of ways to make great food. Some of these ways include sacrifice. No more croissants, no more flaky pastries, no more angel food cake.
But who cares about angel food cake anyway? Devil’s food cake is significantly better and can be made gluten free. Yes, it’s hard going out to eat. Yes, it’s hard when you can’t trust servers. Yes, it’s hard. It’s just hard.
Once you figure out a few things about making your own gluten free food, it’s a lot easier – and everything tastes a lot better. You feel good about offering people baked goods. You don’t tell them the pasta is gluten free. You just give them food, with no warning necessary in case it’s sub-par. You stop hearing that it’s good—for gluten free.
You start hearing that it’s good.
And then you get to start living again. You get to start making food again, food that is truly good, that is worth sharing, that is enjoyable, that brings people together. And that is a wonderful thing.