I hate to break up the pastry party you are having in the lovely South of France, but I feel a tugging need to expose my gluten freakishness to our readers. While I can most certainly appreciate the complexities of texture in a perfectly baked baguette and the infinite delight in all of the hot, sour, spice, sweet ways to load up, sandwich, or stuff a piece of gluten, this is solely an intellectual appreciation. That’s right readers, I am gluten-free. Not by choice, but by birth. My “claim to fame” is I have the distinct honor of being the first reported case of Celiac Sprue Disease in Chicago. Seriously, check the books. You will find my one year-old mug attached to a bloated stomach that looks like it could be on a “feed the starving children in Ethiopia ad”. Not pretty, but fully curable with the simple and strict deletion of two proteins: glutenin and gliadin. Together, when mixed and moistened, they from gluten.
Gluten is found in grains such as, wheat, barley and rye. Think of everything in beer, except the water, and you have a fairly complete list of things that contain gluten. Sheepish admittance of “my condition,” as Carter likes to call it, will undoubtedly follow with a super sharp person asking, “wait….so…. you can’t drink beer, or….. eat… bagels or pizza?!!!!” Seriously, it is those three foods EVERY TIME. Beer. Bagels. Pizza. I don’t think those three would even make it onto the “Top 50 Glutenous Foods (I think) I Would Eat until I Die” list.
The next question, pretty much without fail, is “so…. What happens to you when you eat gluten?” If Carter is within earshot, , he blurts out the word “EXPUNGE!” faster that I can open my mouth and sink my teeth into a berry and lemon curd filled pavlova with crème anglaise. Move over pissaladier. He takes a sort of sick pleasure in explaining in detail to waiters what will happen if they are wrong and the soup is, in fact, thickened with flour.
Do I suffer when I win the game show of Life and land in France? Are you crazy?! Not in the slightest. Being a gluten-freak is the reason I am an expert in the heavenly brittle crispiness that gives way to the moist chewy center of a delectable French macaroon. It is why I know the pain of eating WAAAY TOO MUCH un-pasteurized triple cream cheese without the added filler of bread getting in the way. It is also why I have room for a fois gras starter, a fish course of red mullet and heirloom tomatoes, rabbit ballontine with baby carrots, and crème brulee, plus a final cheese course – no gluten taking up precious room.
Spare me the bakeries! Let’s go to the Bistro!