Last night, nestled in the kitchen of a chef just on the cusp of inviting the world into her flavourful world (photos & interview coming soon), I was the one asking the questions. But one question asked of me has lingered in my head, the answers still spinning wildly up up and around me like startled swallows.
“As a celiac, what do you crave for dessert?”
Quick answer - everything in that display case above. As a fat kid, I dreamed of being locked in a bakery with no celiac diagnosis, free to first gorge, then delicately scrape my fingers along the tops of frostings, eat until my pants split and then curl up in a pile of baker’s aprons, covered in sprinkles and shame.
Flaky, legit, French pastries and desserts, laden with enough wheat and gluten to induce a celiac coma, that’s what I goddamn want. Right?
Turns out, as I was talking through what my body does now crave, the answer is very different. What I crave is to not be disappointed. So, not anything in that case. I don’t want a reasonable facsimile of a wheat-y product. It’s been 18 years, but I remember bread. I remember pie crust. I remember pizza crust.
I remember the chew I took for granted, the buttery flaky tumble of crumbs down my shirt front, the yielding of the dough when you first bite into a cruller. I know that is nearly impossible to re-create without gluten (although Origin Bakery in Victoria is close with their fantastic baguettes), so let’s move onto something that is possible. Reinventing the gluten free wheel is time-consuming. Can we eat something else instead?
What I do want is thoughtfulness. Flavour combinations that make you exclaim. A spin on an old favourite that spotlights the ingredients I CAN eat. I ate a sandwich this weekend with a crepe taking the place of the bread. It was light, but kept all the flavours and ingredients in place and I was so so happy while munching on it in the sunshine with my kid and Mom.
A celiac will be your best friend if you hand them something gluten free to eat. They will pull your body from a fiery wreck (and give you mouth to mouth even if your lips are burnt worms), if you hand them something gluten free that is bursting with inspiration and love and flavour.
So, I think I nailed it. I know what I crave. I crave food made for me because it’s good, not just because it’s gluten free. Thank you Tara (and Mya) for making me realize that.