Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Tip for the gluten-intolerant: Watch your language! :)

Let's face it, folks--aside from those in the restaurant business, who have to deal with enough of us that they may have developed gluten-free menus or options, most people who don't have problems digesting gluten have no idea what gluten is.  So there's often little point in telling people that one can't eat gluten, if my own relatively-short experience--I've been off of gluten for less than a year--is any indication.

I've found it more helpful to give people a verbal list, rather than to say that I'm gluten-intolerant.  I usually start with "I can't eat wheat."  When necessary, I proceed from there:  "I don't suppose you have any desserts that aren't made with flour," for example.  Many people don't think of wheat as being an ingredient in various foods, and/or don't think of wheat products as, well, wheat products, so specifying individual ingredients, such as flour, and/or wheat products, such as bread, breadcrumbs, croutons, pasta, pizza, bakery products, etc., can help.  For Pesach/Passover, the list changes to matzah, matzah farfel, matzah meal, matza cake meal, matzah balls/kneidlach, matzah brei, etc.

I should also mention that I wasn't being entirely facetious when I suggested that gluten-free folks watch their language.  Here's a conversation that actually took place a few days ago between me and a buddy of ours:

Me:  "You have to remember that gluten equals chametz:  the same foods--wheat, rye, oats, barley, and spelt--that have to be under rabbinic supervision for Pesach are the ones that contain gluten."

Bud:  "I don't have to remember anything--I have more important things to worry about."

Oops, sorry--I didn't mean to sound as if I were giving an order.

Bottom line:  Don't expect people to understand the term "gluten-intolerant" (or Celiac, for that matter), and don't annoy people by constantly trying to teach them that term.  Some will "get it" and remember--one of our co-congregants  has been kind enough to get into the habit of donating tortilla chips, popcorn, and fresh fruit to our shul (synagogue) for kiddush and seudah shlishit to make sure that there's something I can eat--and some just won't, so just give a quick verbal run-down of the list.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"some will get . . . and some won't."

It's not up to "us" to get it. It's up to you to ensure you have food you can eat, either by letting the host know or by bringing your own. Our child has nut allergies. It's on us to remember to tell the host. Friends of ours have celiac, they bring their own gluten free challah and go over what their family members who have celiac can and can't eat.

Given that we host them once or twice a year max, why is it on us to remember? I can't remember from one week to the next who has what allergies. It's on the allergic/intolerant person, not the host, to let the person know.

Thu Sep 04, 04:09:00 PM 2014  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

You're correct on all counts. I try to be very clear in explaining to my hosts what I can and can't eat, and I carry food that I can eat whenever and wherever possible. Have gluten-free crackers and roasted peanuts (since I can't eat dairy, either), will travel.

Thu Sep 04, 05:39:00 PM 2014  

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