Not Today Seitan
Waltzing Wheat Free
Back in the mid 1800s, Madams Begue and Tujaque cooked for New Orleanians of every stature and circumstance. Their specialty was five course meals that you could have one of two ways: take it or leave it; that’s mainly because, back in the day, we were Roman Catholic Glutarians (semi-religious people who ate whatever was put in front them). We had no dietary restrictions and we would eat virtually anything that was available. No vegans, paleos, vegetarians, ketos, pescetarians, non pork and/or beef, gluten intolerant or food allergy sensitive persons survived; back then it was ‘eat anything (edible) or die’.
As usual, I got to thinking, since the majority of the above dietary concerns would be a hardship to me, I thought of trying out the only one of those diets that I would have a challenge with maintaining: gluten free. I decided to give up gluten in my diet for two weeks and see what would happen to me. I’m not gluten intolerant, quite the opposite, I have a gluten addiction; so this experiment is the only diet discipline that will cause me any discomfort (unless I went on a chocolate free diet—then I would probably throw myself into a well).
Gluten addiction? Yeppers. I read a book called Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD that explained how it’s the way that we have genetically manipulated the grain that gives us the reaction from a person’s bodily revulsion of gluten to an actual dependence on it and I pondered that I may exhibit all the signs of addiction on gluten products (and possibly to yeast as well). On a daily basis I want bread, pasta, cereal, cake; I prefer beer to wine; cookies to ice cream; malted milk to ice cream sodas. I adore thickened soups, sauces and lick my lips at a fragrant roux in gumbo. I crave Couscous, flour tortillas, crackers, barley, brewer’s yeast, donuts, beignets, stuffing of all kinds, breaded and fried anything and pastries in general. I judge a sandwich by the bread; a pie by its crust; a hot dog by its bun.
Naturally, for this exercise, I take the most immature tack: I substitute non-gluten ‘alternative’ products that imitate gluten products instead of just religiously not eating gluten; but… I have to start somewhere. I also ease myself into this thing by eliminating wheat first just until I get the hang of it and then eliminate the world of foods that still have gluten in them. Naturally, I drag Debbie into this experiment, misery, can and will accept all the company it can get. Non-gluten bread, pasta and pastries (waffles) are a no-brainer and whatever I can’t purchase outright I can make. Mostly make because if you think that Vegans have a hard time eating out or buying prepared foods, being gluten intolerant with a fistful of dollars to spend will get you precious little on the open market. Plus, when you do find gluten free products, either they are so mundane that they’ll drive you to distraction or they taste like caca, plus they are more expensive than their glutinous counterparts.
Eating as a gluten free vegetarian or vegan? Quit your day job because it will take your entire waking hours not to starve to death; hunched over, muttering to yourself on the side of the road munching dandelion weeds and thistles.
Some say that there are a lot of non-gluten foods already out there and basically it’s only a matter of eating what you normally eat and just eliminating the gluten stuff; e.g. meatballs and spaghetti: use a different binder for the meatballs and sub non-gluten spaghetti which tastes nothing like pasta. You could opt for a Mexican diet: rice, beans, corn tortillas, carne asada; Asian dishes that use rice and rice noodles; or, avail yourself to the myriad of products that now proclaim their non-gluten status: Cheerios, potato chips, canned vegetables, wine, salmon, broccoli and I just bought a liquid dish soap that proclaims itself “Non Gluten” (go figure).
Basically, I can eat non-gluten all I want; however, if I carry my gluten heart to the dinner table, I will never be satisfied, let alone satiated, with what I’m eating. It’s a whole new mind set. It is healthier, and it’s also healthier if you watch your cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium intake; get plenty of exercise, cook at home and drink distilled hooch, but who (aside from the ‘drinking hooch’ part) does that? Eating out takes being ready to give the waiter the third degree and wind up with boiled vegetables and a baked potato; other people will not share their dinners with you and they want none of what you’re having. You will continuously be explaining your ‘affliction’.
Many food companies are currently getting on board now that they’ve realized that gluten intolerance is not a fad and that market shares are to be had by getting out ahead of the pack. As it stands now, at a ball game, your once frank (hot dog) and stein (beer) is now replaced with you only being able to have, with certainty, the yellow mustard on the back of your hand, as paper napkins may contain traces of gluten and even some toilet tissues are suspect (I kid you not).
For sure there are a number of GF cookery books, but sadly most focus on desserts; what we need are books that tell us how to put GF meals together, some pretty pictures and a hundred and one ways to make quinoa and millet not taste like birdseed.
At the close of two weeks I can tell you: I can’t do it! I’m addicted to gluten and I LIKE IT! Gluten intolerants… I salute you, yours is a hard (buckwheat) row to hoe. Good luck.