How do you live without bread? Pasta? Cookies? Beer? Chicken Lo Mein?!
Alas, my friend Elizabeth has been forced to do without these, and much more, after being diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten. All wheat products are out. Nonetheless, I made dinner plans with her, confident that I could handle another restrictive meal. I had done vegetarian. I had done kosher. But of course, my confidence hit me right in the gluten-filled butt. Gluten hides in everything.
Before menu planning, I'd boned up on the basics of the disease at the Celiac Disease Foundation's Web site, parts of which read like a battle cry, capitalization and bold lettering popping off the page: "... these proteins are found in ALL forms of WHEAT ... and related grains RYE, BARLEY, and TRITICALE and MUST be eliminated!" (Simmer down now, Celiac Disease Foundation.)
While chat boards were atwitter debating the "Oat Controversy" (whether or not pure oats are dangerous to a gluten-free diet, a.k.a. the Oat Conundrum, or as I've dubbed it in casual conversation, "The Great Oat Conundrum of 1804"), I was not discouraged. Elizabeth had offered to handle the dessert, and I felt fine eliminating wheat and oats from the appetizer and main course.