Over the past two months, I taught four gluten-free cooking classes at PCC, here in Seattle. Each class was a revelation, at least for me. The chance to teach people how to sear fish well — halibut dredged in a black rice flour — thrilled me more than the lesson on indefinite pronouns ever could have. Since I started living gluten-free, and particularly since I met the Chef, I have learned more than I ever dreamt possible about food. Being able to share some of that with other gluten-free folks is still making me beam.
Of course, I have so much more to learn. Thank goodness. By the time I teach more classes for PCC in November, there’s no telling what I will be talking about, my hands flying in the air. And there’s a possibility that the Chef and I will be teaching classes together, soon. But that’s for another time.
As much as I loved talking about food, my favorite part of every class was story time. (Of course.) In each class, I asked those who were participating to share their stories. Why are you gluten-free? How long have you known you should be gluten-free? What led you to this class? A few simple questions unleashed floods of moving moments. I stood in front of everyone, in front of gas stoves, in gorgeous classrooms, amazed. There was the 78-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with celiac at 72. Or the young woman who is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and her boyfriend who sat beside her, wanting to learn how to cook for her. The public relations woman, a powerful professional woman, who broke into tears when she talked about how long she struggled before she finally learned her own story. We all have stories, and I was so honored to hear them.
We all need community. But if you are living gluten-free (or dealing with any food allergies, I imagine), it feels imperative to have a community of good-hearted folks around you. This gluten-free life — no matter how glorious — can be difficult if you go it alone.
This is why I was honored to participate in a conference call with fellow gluten-free bloggers and Alice Bast, head of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and Anthony James DiMarino, Jr., M.D„ National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Physician of the Year. The call was sponsored by Revolution Health. Dr. DiMarino investigates the complexities of celiac disease, in all its permutations, and he was generous enough to share his knowledge with us. Even though I write about food and love, and sometimes don’t even type the phrase “gluten-free” in an essay on this site, I never forget this: I have celiac, and I must live gluten-free.
If you would like, you can hear the transcript of this conversation by clicking here. You can hear my goofy voice, as well as the compelling questions of everyone involved. Listen to the interesting possibilities of pro-biotics, as well as the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I was fascinated, and I think you will be too.
The good people at Revolution Health not only arranged this conference call, but they are having a virtual health fair on their site. If you roll over the little button for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), you could help this wonderful organization to win $10,000. Please, go there and help us win some money for celiac awareness.
After all, we are all in this together.