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April 26, 2011

Porcini, cherry, toasted garlic, almond

Last week, I had a meltdown.  A spectacular, colossal meltdown.  Granted, no one saw it (I don't think), but it happened just the same.  And it's all because of this dish.  Well, not really.  But sort of.

I was running errands and shopping at Whole Foods for the ingredients to make this dish, when I grabbed a bag of Whole Foods/365 brand almonds.  As I always do, I checked the packaging to make sure they were safe for me to eat (no gluten) and saw on the back of the bag the words that, even after more than two years of having to do this, still make my heart sink and shoulders slump: Processed in a facilty that also handles wheat, tree nuts, soy, and dairy products. With a heavy sigh (and a muttered expletive), I tossed them back onto the shelf and started Googling "gluten-free almonds" on my iPhone.  While doing that, I wheeled my shopping cart over to the deli section to pick up the chunk of ham I needed. I saw they were using the same slicer to cut my ham as they had just used to slice a different cured meat I knew had gluten in its casing.  So now, I also couldn't buy the ham I needed.

I started hyperventilating.  I could feel the tears welling up. Over almonds and ham?

Not exactly.  Earlier in the day, I had had to turn down two different social engagements that revolved around food because there would be nothing at all safe for me to eat, and both events were all about eating.  Days before, I'd had my third pizza stone in as many months crack and shatter in the oven (and I have to make my own pizzas because there is nowhere in this city to eat truly gluten-free, non-cross-contaminated pizza).  A few days before that, I had to turn down a spur-of-the-moment-let's-drive-to-New-York-and-eat-dim-sum invitation because I can't eat normal Chinese food, nor food cooked in the same wok that has held soy sauce or most any other sauce used in Asian cooking.  The week before that, I'd spent a considerable amount of time responding to the plea of a friend of a friend for help in transitioning to a gluten-free life because of a diagnosis in the family, and never got a thank you or even a cursory "wow, this is helpful" response.

Add to that, on the way to Whole Foods that day, I'd seen a group of elementary school-age kids walking into our little town's ice cream parlor... and it reminded me (like a gut punch) that I'll never again be able to just walk up there after dinner one night and order an ice cream cone like a normal person. 

Still standing there in the deli section waiting for my stupid Google app to work on my stupid iPhone and thinking all this stuff over the course of a few seconds that felt like hours, I could feel my breath quickening, and my shoulders tightening to hold it all in.

I thought about all the times I'm downtown walking by all the food trucks I wish I could try, but can't.  I thought about how summer is almost here, and how much I miss eating Pop-Tarts while sitting on the beach in the afternoon, or noshing on a grilled cheese sandwiches at the beachside diner for breakfast.  I thought about what it was like to drink a cold, cold Abita in steamy New Orleans a week before the storm.  I remembered the last In-N-Out burger I ate.  It was like this avalanche in my brain: the food I can never eat again, the new restaurants I won't be able to try, the dinner parties I can't go to, all the restrictions and questions and tension and anxiety that comes with having celiac, and I started to lose it.  In public.

I abandoned my shopping cart (sorry, whoever had to unload that and put everything back) and hustled the hell out of there.  The automatic doors couldn't open fast enough.  Once I was out of the store, I ran at full speed across the parking lot to my car, kind of half-moaning and half-crying, unlocked the door with the key remote, jumped in, slammed the door closed, and lost it.  Completely and totally lost it.

Big, ugly crying.  Wailing.  The biggest, sobbingest pity party you ever did see.

I kept telling myself there are people out there with a harder life than mine.  Oh, poor me... I have a nice house and a nice car and a job and friends, but boo-hoo, I can't eat gluten. Wah.  But trying to put it into perspective pissed me off even more.  I was really, really sad and really, really angry about it.  All of it.  In fact, I'm still angry about it.  I have lived with celiac for more than two years and most days I handle it well.  I'd be lying if I said I don't even think about it anymore, because I do think about it every day because, well, it's hard not to.

When I work in a client's office downtown, I can't just go out and grab a sandwich with them for lunch.  In another client's office kitchen, I can't use the community toaster oven or microwave because it's all glutened up, so everything I bring in to eat has to be eaten cold or at room temperature. Going out to a dive bar after work with friends?  No more. Can't drink beer and the wine options at those places are not anything any human being should ever drink.  Can't go out for banh mi.  Can't grab a burger.  There's nothing deliverable to my house that I can eat.  My mom's dark chocolate cake with peanut butter icing?  Won't ever eat that again.  Soft pretzels from this little shop in the town where I grew up?  Not gonna happen.  Sometimes, it's just exhausting.  And isolating.  And lonely.

Really, I don't mean to make this all about poor, little Carol who can't eat gluten.  I try to remind myself that it's a good thing I know how to cook.  And, it's even better that there are some phenomenal chefs here in DC and across the country who can and do cook safely for me on a fairly regular basis.  But last week, all that went out the window because I just got tired of telling myself and everyone else that having celiac is not that bad in the grand scheme of things, and easy to work around.  It's not.  It sucks, and sometimes I just need to let it be okay that it sucks and not pretend otherwise.

I calmed down before starting the car and driving home; it had begun to rain, and all my slurfing and blubbering was fogging up the windows.  I dragged myself into the house -- grocery-less -- and went straight to bed.  At 8 o'clock.

The next morning, with a (barely) clearer head and pretty, pretty princess puffy eyes, I shopped anew.  I found most of the ingredients I needed for this dish and made substitutions where I had to.

I needed this dish to be successful and taste good for two reasons:  1) to get me out of my funk; and 2) because I didn't want to waste porcini mushrooms.

There's a mushroom lady who comes to the Takoma Park Farmers' Market for just a few months out of the year, and she only has porcinis one of those weeks.  She had them last Sunday, so I snatched up a box ($20 gets you 4-5 'shrooms) and decided I'd make this dish since it was the only chance I had with fresh porcinis.  And, of course she only has these delicious mushrooms in a week when cherries aren't in season.  So, as I was shopping for the other ingredients I strolled around the grocery store wondering if I should MacGyver some dried cherries, or figure out a berry that might work, and it hit me.  I was already making something with ham, mushrooms, and garlic... so, the sweet and tart fruit I wanted to use was pineapple.  So I did.

In addition to the pineapple sub-in, I also decided I wasn't going to spend more than $100 on all the porcinis I would've needed for every element of this dish.  So, I used creminis for the purée and dice, and saved the porcinis for the chips.  And, I decided to use just two porcinis for the chips so that I could enjoy these glorious fungi in other ways in my everyday cooking throughout the week... doling them out in small bits... a little in my morning eggs, a bit over some risotto, one pickled to include in a salad.  You get the drift.

I got home from the store, unpacked my shopping bags and got to work.  Deep breath, errrbody.  I know that was one long-ass intro.

I continue to be amazed by my ability to know how much of something to buy to yield the amount I need for the dishes in this blog.  For the purée, I needed 500g of mushroom caps.  Check this shizz out:

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I KNOW.

I literally just stuffed a plastic bag full of creminis at Whole Foods and weighed them to make sure it was a little more than 500g (1 pound, 2 oz.), and just figured it would be enough.  I never figured it would be exact.  I am a magical, magical wizard of produce buying.  Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket this week.  Yes, I think I shall.

But wait.  It gets better.  For the mushroom dice, I needed 50g of stems.  However, since I knew I wanted to used some of this dice in a salad I was making for lunch the next day, I decided ahead of time to double this part of the dish (100g) so I'd have some leftovers.  So, what's the weight of the stems from my mushroom awesomeness above?

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Seriously.  I needed 100g, and got 99.  This makes me wanna party like it's (19) 99 Luftballons.  I know that makes no sense at all.  I'm just giddy from the measuring prowess.

You know what else I'm giddy over?  The smell of mushroom caps cooking:

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I sautéed them in some canola oil over high heat until they were dark brown on both sides.  Then, I added some chopped garlic and continued to let them cook until the garlic had turned golden.  I turned the heat down to medium and added cream, butter, salt, and twine-bound springs of thyme.  I let them cook until the mushrooms were completely tender -- about 10-15 minutes.  I really wish I could've let them cook for days and days because the smell of mushrooms, garlic, and thyme cooking can turn anyone's day around.  Things were, indeed, looking up.

I discarded the thyme from the pan, and poured the remaining contents into the blender and whacked it around until it was completely smooth:

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I strained the mushroom purée through a chinois and into a plastic container and stored it in the fridge.  I made this dish over the course of two days (though, it can be done in one day), and didn't need to use the purée again until it was time to plate.

Next up?  The mushroom dice.  As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to double this so I'd have some leftover to use in my everday eating over the next day or two.  Into a small sauté pan with hot, hot canola oil went the diced cremini mushroom stems:

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Once they'd become nice and browned, I added a little butter, water, and kosher salt, and continued to cook them until the mushrooms were tender and glazed:

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I let them cool to room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator.

Next, I made the garlic gelee, because I wanted to allow it to have ample time to set.  First, I sauteed some garlic cloves in a pan of hot canola oil.  Then, after they'd gotten a lovely golden-brown color, I put them in a saucepan with water and salt, and brought them to a boil.

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I turned off the heat, put the lid on the pan, and let the liquid steep for about 20-25 minutes.  Then, I strained the liquid, discarded the garlic, and whisked in some already-soaked gelatin sheets into the garlic water.

I gently poured it into a plastic wrap-lined baking dish and put it in the fridge to set overnight.

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Next thing on the prep list to make was the almond ice cream.  Because of my I-can't-find-gluten-free-almonds-any-damn-where meltdown, I decided I'd just use store-bought almond milk for this part of the dish.  Granted, I probably could've just used whole milk with some almond extract, but I was still feeling a little rough around the edges in the clear-thinking department, so I grabbed a carton of almond milk with the words "GLUTEN-FREE" blazing across the front of it and just decided that's what I was going to do.

In a saucepan, I whisked together the almond milk, powdered nonfat milk, glucose, sugar, and salt and brought it to a boil.  Whisking constantly, I let it simmer for 5 minutes, then poured it into a blender where I blended it on medium speed for 3 minutes.  I poured it through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, where I then whisked in some already-soaked gelatin sheets.  Put the whole mixture into my ice cream maker for 30 minutes, then stored it in a container in the freezer.

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Then, just before going to bed, I cleaned my porcinis (now there's a euphamism for all you 12-year olds out there) and used two of them to make the porcini chips.

I lined a sheet tray with parchment paper, then sprayed it with nonstick cooking spray.  I verrry thinly sliced the porcinis by hand (about 1/8" thick) and laid the slices on the parchment, then sprayed them with a very fine mist of nonstick cooking spray.

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I put them under the broiler for a few minutes, and rotated the pan 180 degrees to ensure they all got equal treatment...

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They curled up like Shrinky Dinks and flattened back out again in a matter of seconds.  And when they were done (after about 3 minutes), I seasoned them with salt and pepper and put them into the dehydrator at 140F degrees.

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The Alinea cookbook says all they need is three hours in the dehydrator, but I know from previous experience that because my little dehydrator is not exactly industrial strength, these would take about six hours.

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I was right.  While I slept, these gorgeous mushrooms dried all the way out and did exactly what they were supposed to do.  Happy day.

With the porcini chips out of the dehydrator, it was time for some ham to go in. Because I couldn't buy the hunk of ham I needed, the night before I'd just folded over some slices of Applegate Farms (safe for me) black forest ham and stored it in the freezer.  This next morning, it was ready to be grated onto a parchment-lined dehydrator tray and dried for about 30 minutes:

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While the ham was dehydrating, I deep fried some almonds and let them cool in a heaping load of kosher salt:

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Then, the last thing I needed to do was make the macerated cherries pineapple. 

I diced this bad boy:

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... and brought the piece to a boil in a saucepan of sparkling rosé, and some sugar:

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Then, I turned off the burner, covered the pot, and let them steep for 20 minutes.

There's an extra step in the book where you're supposed to strain the fruit, add gelatin to the liquid, then put it into a siphon canister with some NO2, but I just didn't feel like doing it.  I was hungry, dagnabit, and wanted to eat.

So, I plated everything, and dug in...

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Mushroom purée and mushroom dice on the bottom.  Pineapple chunks on top. Almond ice cream on the side, along with some salted fried almonds, garlic gelée cubes, ham powder, a porcini chip, and some fresh thyme leaves.

Now, here's where I ususally tell you that I called my neighbors, and they came over to share this with me... but alas, that is not the case this time.

Part Marlene Dietrich, part still feeling a little sorry for myself and not up to having to talk to anyone, I just wanted to eat this by myself.  I wanted to sit at my dining room table, with the sunlight streaming through the high windows, and eat this in peace and quiet.

And, oh my word... this was delicious.  Really, really, really, really delicious.  While I think the cherries would've been spectacular in this dish, the pineapple was a home run.  The mushroom purée is going into the regular rotation (in fact, I'm using the leftovers over gluten-free pasta).  So creamy and hearty and good.  I wish I could afford to make it with fresh porcinis.  Someday, I will.  The mushroom dice added a nice texture.  The almonds were great, the garlic gelée was really fantastic at adding a hint of garlic without overpowering the dish.  The almond milk ice cream would have been better had I used real milk, but the flavor of it was surprisingly good.  The thyme leaves were a nice addition (the book called for thyme flowers, and my little herbs just aren't flowering yet).  And the ham powder?  Really nice.  Salty and a little smoky.

I loved this dish.  I loved it because it tasted good.  I loved it because it smelled great.  I loved it because I got to cook with fresh porcinis.  And, I loved it because it allowed me to have a 20-minute period where I didn't think about what I couldn't eat.

And that was a good, good thing.

Up Next: Prosciutto, passion fruit, zuta levana (I think)

Resources: Porcinis from the mushroom lady at the Takoma Park farmers' market; all other produce and aromatics from Whole Foods; 365 canola oil and butter; Natural by Nature heavy cream; David's kosher salt; gelatin sheets and glucose from L'Epicerie; Blue Diamond almonds and almond milk; RJ Cava; Applegate Farms ham; Domino sugar.

Music to Cook By: The Head and the Heart; The Head and the Heart.  I love their sound. I love her raw voice.  I love their hispter doofiness.  I love "Honey, Come Home."  I love "Lost in My Mind."  It's great cooking music.  Even better driving music, especially on a Sunday night.

Read My Previous Post: Chicken skin, black truffle, thyme, corn

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I'm sorry you had to breakdown Carol, but sometimes it needs to happen. I hope there was a great 80s sax-rock band out there to comfort you! I think this time of year is hard. There's this expectation that since the winter is over and spring is back that we should all be happy and spunky, but sometime that's just not possible. Good for you for doing your own thing, and for making such a rad meal, and for keeping it all for yourself.

I just want to say that I've been diagnosed with celiac for ten years and I have been there. Giant meltdowns and panic about what I'm going to eat. Monstrous *irritation* about living in a world where everyone else gets to take for granted that certain all-too-common foods aren't poison, where they don't even realize that they're slapping gluten onto something that you could eat otherwise.

I don't know if it will help right now, but it gets easier. It really does! Even going out to restaurants starts getting easy again, though it's sadly necessary to be ultra-vigilant -- I have some places where I'm a regular, when I don't feel like explaining all over again. But I am often pleasantly surprised by how many new places I try already know the drill. It's really wonderful when I can eat something that I was sure I couldn't. And ice cream is still delicious even without the cone. (There are gluten-free cones, too, the ultra-nostalgic plain cones, though I think they also have corn which I'm allergic to because being celiac wasn't enough. I bet if you brought one along the parlor wouldn't bat an eye. I don't know about sugar cones but I haven't looked very hard for them, and they're probably easier to make than plain cones.)

As for doing without, I LOVE what I can still eat. I have celiac and multiple food allergies, and I have to carry a stupid epi-pen around to prevent dying of food, of all the ridiculous things to die of, yet I am now eating better than I ever have in my entire life. I eat like a queen and my husband eats like a king. He calls the bento he gets "hobbit rations" after all of the Elevenses and Second Breakfasts Sam and Frodo ate.

It took me a while to adjust, and I still have crazy dreams sometimes where I've just bitten into a delicious muffin or piece of bread and then realized that it wasn't gluten-free oh NO, but I can still have so much delicious food I may not have time in my life for it all, though I am sure going to try. I like to say that any diet that includes sushi, strawberries, steak, and asparagus isn't really restricted.

Also, that dish makes me want to lick the screen and then run out and buy a dehydrator, because I haven't quite filled up every last inch of my counter space and cupboard space. (Free counter space is overrated, apparently.) What a wonderful cure to the celiac blues.

Carol-I think you are so great for persisting with this cooking project and working the dishes you make around your celiac. It's very inspiring. Keep it up!

Wow. I think I've know you 6 years and I've never seen you get this emotional about anything. I was crying before I ever got to the food part (not really). Next time we meet for our once-every-year-or-two glass of wine we'll go to some place with good wine.

Yikes. When you put it that way, celiac really, really sucks. Guess it had never really sunk in before. I think I'd have more than a few episodes like that...

...but Shrinky Dinks? wow. I mean, wow. That's like a 35-year flashback.

I love you.

We have pizza stones crack too. Ridiculous. But I bought one from a friend through pampered chef (of all damn things) and so far so good!

Come live out here and I will cleanse my kitchen and my life to feed you well and be with you.

Reasoning that someone always has it worse rarely helps one get past hardships of his/her own. Besides, changing everything about the way you live/eat really is a major deal. Sadly, I doubt I can offer any sage advice on living a gluten-free life that others can't better.

However, on the pizza stone front: I switched to cast iron and will never go back. Home ovens just don't get hot enough and the crust dries out. With what little experience I have with celiac-safe flours, I would think the problem is only accentuated. With cast iron you can ramp it up to screaming hot on the burners, throw your pizza (or whatever) on, and throw the whole shebang under the broiler for 1 1/2- 2 1/2 minutes.

Hope that helps at least part of your breakdown woes.....

Carol, hugs for you. It's probably good that you let some of that frustration out....to make room for more strength and determination to carry on. As you did by making this dish. Good for you for loving it and keeping it all for yourself. You needed it.

Hang in there, girl.

I have celiac too, and if I had a nickel for every airport meltdown, frustrating supper party, or working lunch cobbled together from potato chips and those awful individually-wrapped pieces of cheese they sell in cafeterias, I'd be a much richer woman than I am today. It happens to all of us who live in a world that's designed for people with different needs than ours, and we'd be less complete people if we didn't get overloaded with frustration over it sometimes.

That being said, I take heart in the fact that I can see the world becoming more celiac-friendly right before my eyes! I went to a conference a couple of months ago, realised that I'd forgotten to tell the organizers about my special dietary whatever, and resigned myself to not having any lunch, when I noticed that there was a special gluten-free table all set up for me and folks like me. Bakeries in my small (and sometimes backwards) city increasingly offer gluten-free options, and the number of times I've been to a restaurant, asked which dishes were gluten-free, and had a server who was both knowledgeable and comfortable walking me though the menu, as well as pointing out potential sources of cross-contamination, grows steadily. It's getting better!

One of my dear friends was diagnosed with celiac (about the same time you were, coincidentally) and I am sad to say that I did not completely understand the true enormity of her situation. Until now. My nine-month old daughter has a severe egg allergy - so severe, in fact, that I (her breastfeeding mom) can not eat egg because it triggers her allergy. I've gone to an egg-free diet and - damn it all - eggs are in so. much. stuff.

It's been an eye-opening experience, and I now have the utmost respect and admiration for people with celiac and food allergies. I've had my own egg-contamination induced rages and I can now truly empathize with you and my friend. Your meltdown is absolutely justified, as my impression (and I've only been doing this for about six months) is that there's no real support for allergic individuals or those with celiac. Sure, most daycare centers are peanut-free... but what about those dumb birthday cupcakes with egg? How about things that are manufactured on shared equipment? Huh?

Your cooking adventures are the only weekly thing I bother to read on the internet (I still fancy these items called "books" and "newspapers" - silly me) and you're a strong and smart-as-hell woman. (And funny.) I think, given everything you've gone through, you're entitled to a freak-out, full-blown meltdown every once in a while. And then have some delicious delicious porcini.

I have a much shallower version of this breakdown every time I see a dish on a menu that involves 3 ingredients I love. . .and beets. But they're way easier to avoid, and not something I had to adjust to giving up (since the only times I had them my reaction was "these are gross. Oh look, I have hives.").

But I hope, for your sake, that this is something that the world will work to make easier to cope with. When I was in Italy, all the drug stores were stocked to the gills with gluten free products, because there they realize it's an actual medical condition that affects a ton of people, not just faddishness or pickiness, which I think is the attitude a lot of people here still have. So hopefully it's only a matter of time/education (which I realize is cold comfort when there's all this stuff you can't enjoy n-o-w) before we get our act together.

Aw, sweetheart. This post breaks my heart. I'm doing a voluntary low-carb diet eliminating all white starches etc, again VOLUNTARY and not at all life-threatening if I slip and a crumb of something makes it in, and sometimes I want to throw a tantrum. So. I can only imagine how it is for you, amplified x1000, forever. But it's good you allowed yourself the opportunity to have the meltdown. Sometimes you just have to cry it out!

P.S. This looks unspeakably delicious.

P.P.S. Greta Garbo.

Sometimes the hard parts are just hard. And when they all show up at once it gets to be a real PITA. At least there are now foods and places that are safe for you.
I'm glad you ate this all by yourself and loved it.

It seems weird to say that I loved this post, but I did. Most of us who are so lucky to not have to deal with food allergies/intolerances have no clue what it is really like, so I appreciate your honesty about this dark moment. I don't know from experience, but I am sure that having celiac sucks and it isn't fair that you have to put so much extra time, research, and effort into your food. It's totally normal and healthy to need to mourn the loss of the freedom to eat anything. There's no way anyone who loves food as much as you obviously do (to the benefit of all of us who read your blog, I might add!) could live with celiac without the occasional meltdown. Hopefully getting the anger and sadness out helped a bit, ultimately. Thanks for sharing!

Perhaps you already know this, but PS7s has all of their gluten-free items marked. I was looking for a totally different reason earlier today and it caught my eye. Then I read your post. It was a sign! Five entrees on the current menu, and damned if they don't look fantastic: http://www.ps7restaurant.com/downloads/ps7_dinner.pdf

Oof. I'm familiar with gluten frustration breakdowns. I feel for you.

This is a very well-written post. I'm sharing it with everyone I know, via facebook and my own blog. It's a must-read for everyone, gluten free or not. People need to understand how it really is.

This post is beyond amazing and hit very close to home. Growing up with IBS and then being hospitalized for heart failure and malnourishment often made it extremely hard when it came to eating out or eating at all, I ended/end up missing a lot of outings with friends and family. My medical condition is one of the reasons to why I wanted to become a chef and food writer so much when I grew up. I was very inspired by this post and absolutely love your blog and work. Sorry you had a rough day and breakdown, but your continuing shows how strong you are. Thank you for keeping up with your amazing blog!

OH this, I get this, I walk into the shop near me in work and almost feel like this every time, I'm looking forward to the big box store coming because it means more choice for me (and feeling annoyed at myself because I have ranted before about big box stores destroying local small shops). I miss ordering chinese food, but knowing that it will poison, or ordering boiled rice and having the place "upgrade" me to fried rice that I can't eat.

Oh yeah, I empathise.

my heart goes out to you - I am gluten intolerant (my fingers swell so quickly after a few bites, it's kind of amazing if it didn't proceed to make me so sick) and I was hoping that I would get over the ugly sobbing by myself part soon. just today i was "invited" to bring my own food over to a dinner someone else was making because they didn't want to make food that i could eat. gee, thanks.

So glad the dish was great especially after having a rough day. Some days things just get to us more than others.

Hi Carol! Great post & beautiful food..I can totally relate too! For me, living gluten free is sort of like mourning a lost loved one...maybe you feel you didn't appreciate them enough, took it for granted they would always be there or maybe unable to say goodbye. While life must go on, you're never the same. You'll always miss them. There are the most inopportune times when grief, anger or sorrow completely overwhelms you. You wonder, "Why now?" Yes, Carol you eloquently expressed some our gluten free valleys & mountaintops all on 1 post. :-) Great post! Oh, I said that already...

I very much understand your meltdown. I had one on vacation in February, even though I thought I had planned and researched very well. I totally melted down, blubbering mess, in the middle of an amusement park in front of people who think I'm always tough, always prepared.

I am so glad to have found a community on-line who understand this. Thank you for sharing your meltdown and your cooking journey!

Where to start? yay on the mushrooms and the almond ice cream too.
Just because someone else has it worse doesn't mean that it doesn't suck when you don't have what you want, and seemingly what everyone else has. Anyone who doesn't get that should be forced to eat old-school gf bread.
Come to the next DC Celiacs meeting and there will be a bunch of yummy food. dcceliacs.com Or one of the DC gf potlucks. Or dining clubs. There will be lots of tasty stuff...and many people who have meltdowns just like you from time to time. And you can find about many, many restaurants nearby that are wonderful w/x-contamination.

Thanks for this... it's nice to know, I'm not the only one who feels sorry for themselves sometimes!

Exactly this. I never had to deal with this actually, when I went gluten free for the first few years, because my friends were always accommodating, only ate at places that I could, and we had food parties where they made sure I could eat safely. Then I moved across the country for graduate school, and discovered how difficult it is to make new friends and have no GF support. People don't really care that you can't go with them to eat Chinese or pizza, and they just stop inviting you, rather than accommodating you, or asking where YOU would like to eat. It's very, very lonely, and one reason I'm moving away after only a year.

Another reason it stinks is because I moved to the Northeast, where every restaurant is knowledgeable about gluten, but somehow people only seem to want to eat at/invite me to the unsafe places, like Chinese, pizza, or bagels!

Been there, done that. I've been GF for 5 years and it still irks me that I can't be like "normal" people and not plan every step of every day around what I'm going to eat.

Where did you find the almonds that you fried whole?

[They're Blue Diamond brand, and I found them at Shoppers Food Warehouse here in DC. I imagine most mainstream grocery stores carry that brand. --- CB]

Carol,
Couple things- Its absolutely necessary in my opinion to allow yourself to have a perfectly human reaction. Its ok to say it sucks when it sucks. Its not whining, or simple griping, or any other insignificant thing. Everyone is entitled to feel that way now and again. I have always been one to keep a stiff upper lip, blah, blah blah...until I couldn't over circumstances that I had very little control over. I think the worst thing in the world is feeling helpless. The great news is- You seem far from helpless to me. As I mentioned, it doesn't make you less strong, or successful or diminish you in any way to allow yourself a moment. It took me a long time, and several moments, to allow myself those moments, and not then beat myself up over the moment!
Rock on!

What I really meant was, were they safe for celiacs?
I ask because a) I thought the lack of gluten free almonds was the cause of your meltdown and because b) my close friend has celiacs and I know she has had problems with nuts in the past.

[Yes, Blue Diamond almonds (plain and roasted; don't know about the flavored ones) are totally safe for people with celiac disease. -----CB]

I'm so sorry to hear about your frustrations with your diet- but you're absolutely right in that sometimes it's just ok to be angry and sad about something out of your control. If I couldn't vent to my friends and colleagues, I wouldn't make it through one day. In retrospect, I commend you for not having this post come up sooner! So way to keep your shit together for that long :P

I found your post via Gluten Free Girl...I'm sorry about your frustration. I've been there. I'm not celiac, but am really sensitive to gluten. I've just recently begun really reading labels for cross-contamination because I've gotten "glutened" more than a few times from foods I thought were safe. Your post really hits home. Thank you!

This. 7 years, and I feel like this sometimes. Thanks for writing it out.

My meltdown came the 2 days ago. I just got out of the hospital after having a hysterectomy and was in quite a bit of discomfort. My husband's well meaning brother and his wife sent my a get well stuffed animal holding a bag of cookies!! I was just diagnosed in March and haven't gotten together with them since Christmas. I'm sure they forgot about my dietary restrictions and were just wanting to do something thoughtful but it really upset me.

OMG, I just loved this post. I don't think there is a single celiac out there that won't relate to this post. Thank you for sharing. It is so nice to know others go through these emotions.

Christi

Wow, what an awesome post. I think every single coeliac out there will identify with you. I actually had tears in my eyes when I read about all the stuff you know that you'll never eat again. I often feel like that.
But then I try to remember how good God is to me, how much I have been given. And then I usually buy dark chocolate, make a cake and watch a lame movie. :) And then I tell my Mum how I feel, she usually understands even though she doesn't have coeliacs.

Aloha,
I too found this post from Gluten Free Girl. Yesterday I was told that I need to be gluten free because my labs indicate Hashimoto's thyroiditis. (autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland is gradually destroyed). I do not have any symptoms of gluten intolerance.

Needless to say, I'm pissed, hurt, and confused. It feels like my body has betrayed me. What's even harder is that when I told some close friends they said; "Just get over it." "Switch everything out." "It's no big deal." "There's lots for you to eat." "Why are you so upset?"

Went to our local Target yesterday to buy cat food. (Makana likes their house brand of dry food.) Walking up and down the food isles I was very sad as I realized there was nothing in the store I could eat (am to eliminate dairy too). I feel very alone right now. Mahalo for your meltdown honesty. It helps. Now to go have a good cry and release so I can see the sunshine again.

I remember reading this post back in April, and feeling great sympathy. In July, my routine blood work showed I was diabetic, which was a shock -- earlier blood tests had always shown me in the normal range.

All the dietary advice I've seen since is contradictory. Some carbs. The right carbs. No carbs. And, oh, by the way, get it wrong and you'll end up blind, legless and in dialysis. I recently spent 2 hours trying to figure out what I could eat for lunch, and I'm still not sure my choices were right.

And when I stood in my grocery store, terrified and paralyzed, trying to find the food that wouldn't hurt me, and feeling the tears start, I remembered this post.

Before my diagnosis, I made my own pasta; baked my own bread; had learned a killer trick for pastry dough for my lemon tart and made gorgeous blackberry ice cream. I made everything I could by hand, and loved the creating of it as much as the eating of it. Now it is all gone. What I loved most will kill me in a long and awful way.

I know -- I can learn to make modified versions, but I do not want to make "almost the same" food. I do not want to be constantly reminded -- in cookbooks, cooking shows, grocery stores and farmer's markets, what I can't have. I do not want to watch cooking shows where rice, potatoes and sugar are in every dish. I'm sure I'll eventually get there, but for now the losses are too large and painful to be in their company for long.

Thank you for writing this post. Thank you for letting me know that others feel the same frustration and despair when faced with sudden limitations that leave us watching others do what we no longer can. This post gave me company when I needed it, and for that I'm very grateful.

[Oh, sweetie.... I'm so sorry. It sucks. It just sucks. Sending you hugs.... ----CB]

You know what, from what I've read in your blog so far you seem to have way better handle on your celiacs than I have managed the past 24 years. You should pat yourself on the back and keep strong. And to be honest, if you look at it the right way then you have been given a "blessing" to live a good and healthy life. Eating better quality food products, more raw vegetables and fresh fruits. It sucks so hard to constantly have to be in alert-mode. Always check the package of foods before you eat them. To constantly ask waiters to check with the chef that has no clue nor care. After reading a bit I now see how it does not matter. Celiacs that have had long and healthy years after getting on right track say they don't struggle with shopping, finding healthy nor good food. It becomes second nature as soon as you find good routines that works. You have motivated me to take full control and change. I hope you find courage and strength to keep on track because it only goes the right way :)

ps.If you read then I suggest taking a look at two books that may help you understand and let go of the desires that you wrote of... the things that reminds you of those great years as a child etc. I also started a new book today that is a must read for every human being (the last in list).

"Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self, by Nirmala"
"How To Be Happy and Have Fun Changing the World, by Anthony, Michael"
"The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self, by Chopra, Deepak, Williamson, Marianne, Ford, Debbie"

I have found myself on the other side of this issue and am feeling completely out of my depth right now. My husband was diagnosed as celiac and having bowel cancer all in the past week.
He is currently in a bit of denial (which I completely understand)and we don't yet know the stage of cancer that he has. His appointment with the cancer specialist is tomorrow, and I am learning all that I can about the reality of having celiac disease. I, like many others, had no idea of the severity of this disease and the adjustments that MUST happen. Just letting off some steam in this space as I don't think it's fair to let my husband see the fear that I have right now. I don't know what else to do.

hi, just wanted to say, i admire your honesty. If you told us it was rainbows and unicorns all the time, we'd be really disappointed when we have a blow out ourselves. We need to know that its hard, but also that we (aided by humour and determination) can rise above it. Inspiring! Thanks

I want to thank you for writing about the negative aspects of this horrible inconvenient disease. I myself have just been recently diagnosed with celiac disease and feel this anger frequently. I am learning to cope with what I can have, but with summer approaching, I'm nervous how it will affect me throughout the seasons. BBQ's and cookouts and potlucks are going to be tough. Your life really does change and it becomes extremely complicated. I feel like an inconvenience for my friends and family who tend to cater to me due to my 'diet'. For someone who is only 6 weeks into this lifestyle, I have been looking to those who have succeeded for longer to learn from, to get advice from, and to talk too that understands what I'm going through.
Thank you for showing the real emotions behind this disease and making me realize I'm not the only one who feels like this.

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