I’ve been frequently traveling the past few years, which can become tiresome for those with food intolerances. On the road, there tends to be a lot of dining out, which is nice, until the menu is placed in front of me. I read the entire list of options from appetizers to desserts.
“I’ll have the salad.” Again.
Don’t get wrong. I like salad, but eating it at a restaurant feels redundant because I can make a delicious salad at home. Eating out is an opportunity to try something new, but that becomes difficult when everything is breaded or slathered with cheese. Second, the salads are usually overpriced, which is dumb considering the actual price of lettuce, tomatoes, and tuna. Not to mention, it gets boring to eat the same thing again. And again. And again.
In my own kitchen, I can make whatever I want and however I like it. In a restaurant, food choices become restricted.
The other complication with traveling comes whenever I go to someone’s house for the first time, this conversation tends to repeat itself:
“Are you hungry? Can I get you anything? We have (insert random food list here).”
These are the ten ways people respond when I say I’m gluten and dairy-free.
- “Wait, no gluten or dairy? What do you eat?” (Everything else…)
- “Is this like a choice thing or can you actually not eat it? As in, you will die if you eat a bit of gluten?” (No, I’m not coeliac if that’s what you are asking. Do you really want to know what happens when I eat gluten? Please be seated; I’ll make popcorn.)
- “That’s so cool! My cousin’s ex-wife’s boss’s dog’s previous owner’s neighbor is lactose intolerant so I know exactly how you feel!” (Great! I doubt you know how it feels, but I’m glad you are not giving me flak over this.)
- “Why can’t you eat gluten or dairy? …Wait, I also sometimes get stomach cramps! I think I’m gluten intolerant!” (Honey, stomach cramps can be a symptom of a hundred and one other issues.)
- “Oh yeah, I should be staying off of that stuff, but I can’t live without (insert decadent food here.) Good for you, though.” (… Thanks for your support?)
- “I don’t know how you do it. I would, like, die of starvation.” (Yeah, everyone who goes gluten and dairy-free die of starvation including yours truly. Plot twist: I’m actually a ghost.)
- “I’m gluten-free too! Except on Fridays when I cheat. I also eat Kit Kats occasionally. Those don’t count, right?” (Good job! …I’m going to back away slowly.)
- “Is being gluten-free healthier or something?” (No! A lot of gluten-free products are filled with sugar and other toxins. It’s a lifestyle choice that’s healthier for me so I won’t have to spend my days rolling on the floor with abdominal pain.)
- “You know that ‘gluten-free’ doesn’t mean ‘healthier’ right?” (Yes I do know that. You don’t need to speak to me with such spite.)
- “Okay, so you can’t have bread or crackers, right? Alright, I think I’m getting it… Do you want some cookies? Oh wait, those have gluten in them! Oh my gosh, I feel so bad I offered them! Are you okay?” (No, I’m going to go cry in the fetal position. Gluten-filled cookies! Oh the horror of them being in my presence!)
The truth is people don’t intend to sound attacking or mean. Food allergy notifications usually come out of the blue, and people are not sure how to respond. Most of the time, their questions are born out of curiosity, (unless they have a strong bias against gluten-free people. In that case, it’s better to just walk away.)
*Disclaimer: The above list is intended for humor purposes only. I did not mean to insult anyone, whether gluten-eating or gluten-free, scientifically-ignorant or scientifically-savvy. If you recognized yourself as one of the responses… oh well.
On behalf of all gluten-freers, I thank you for your pains. The following recipe is dietarily neutral, meaning pretty much anyone can enjoy it. Make it for yourself, make it for your family, make it for your friends, and make it for your house guests who surprised you with their food restrictions.
Hey, for once it’s not salad.
Ginger-Glazed Carrots and Parsnips
- 6 parsnips
- 7 carrots
- about an inch of raw ginger root
- 5 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Peel the carrots and parsnips and slice them into medium-thick disks. Peel the ginger root and garlic, and cut them into thin pieces. Toss with the salt and olive oil. Spread onto lined baking pan and roast them at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes until the carrots and parsnips are slightly browned and tender.