Thursday, December 13, 2007


This time of year always has me thinking about the past. Its supposed to be a time of holiday traditions and cheer. So, while sipping a lovely cup of gluten-free eggnog, with a splash of booze, I'm musing over my past.

I look at pictures of myself as a child, and I think that I really had the hallmarks of being a celiac. I had a belly at one point (my mother and sister nicknamed it, there's family harmony for you!), but otherwise I was thin. I was small for my age... I had anemia for a while, I remember having to take this awful-tasting iron syrup.

The only time I felt well was when I was virtually anorexic. I ate apples and sliced deli turkey during my senior year of boarding school. And drank lots and lots of coffee for the energy.
Even growing up in Egypt, I still ate a fair amount of bread. Now maybe because it was the 'baladi' bread, the coarse peasant whole wheat, with grit and such in it, the gluten was absorbed less, I don't know. But bread is so omnipresent in my past, its no wonder I never figured it out.

But in retrospect, any time I've eaten high-wheat-density, I've been tired and fat. Any time I've lived with someone, its been high-wheat. Boarding School and college? Definitely. Bulk cafeteria food! Our emergency rations? White flour tortilla with cheese, with a cinnamon sugar one for dessert. Even living alone, what's for dinner? Boil up some whole-wheat pasta with some parmesan cheese. Snacked on Triscuits or Wheat Thins.

Now my emergency rations are tamales from Trader Joes, an apple with peanut butter, or corn tortilla with a grating of cheese... (some things don't change much).

Christmas, we always made some Christmas cookies. Not in the amounts my aunt did, but there were always white-flour treats around. It was Christmas! Now I make caramels and panforte. I have lots of fruit, nuts, chocolate. Macaroons, meringues, marshmallows all melt in my mouth. (I had to have that alliteration there, thank you).

While I do miss some of the food traditions of my childhood...I'll never have Koushary again (a mix of rice, vermicelli, lentils, tomato sauce, and fried onions) at least I'll never have kibbe again (a lamb dish made with couscous, which I never liked). I have a good reason to avoid the doughnuts and the store-bought cake. And I'm healthy! Wheee!

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