Once, before there was Desmond or Lucy or Danny, before there was a gluten-free flour business or a James Beard award or the New York Times, before there was a food memoir and two published cookbooks and a third one coming out soon, before there was Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Periscope (have you tried this thing? Oh, this could be fun.) — before any of the gifts and dins that came after — there was this site. Ten years ago this spring, I sat down to type, to hear the click of my fingers on the keyboard and watch the little black letters emerge onto white screen. I had been so sick, so bloody awful sick for months, and pretty darned sick for years before that. Now, for the first time, I felt alive in my body. I danced and did yoga and strode through the Ballard farmers’ market in a grinning daze of happiness.
But mostly I sat down to write.
Writing made sense to me. Staring at a blank white paper, then pressing a pen down in a rush of thoughts and tangled adjectives? It’s how I lived. Years before my diagnosis, I wrote a personal journal, buds of red or purple words strewn across thick white paper in a black bound book. (There are boxes of those pebbled black sketchbooks, sealed shut, in our garage right now.) By the time I was diagnosed with celiac and started this site, I had moved past that solipsistic daily practice of writing out my thoughts and feelings for myself. (Oh, so many feelings!) By 2005, I wanted to tell stories.
So I did.
I started writing online about the way my body felt — bursting into bloom after years of lying dormant. I wrote about kayaking Lake Union and discovering the taste of sauteed amaranth leaves and eating at Café Flora in Madison Valley after months of thinking I’d never eat in a restaurant again. Joyful and bold, shorthand sometimes and verbose in others, that writing surged out of me. I didn’t think anyone was going to read those pieces. Even though I wrote the first few month of entries here as though I was writing letters to friends — and really, I still do — I was shocked the first time someone left a comment. Who is this person?
Soon those comments came in cloudbursts then a steady stream. I had been parched before. Writing is a solitary act. Suddenly, there was community.
At breakfast the other day, Lucy put down her fork to make a declaration. “Here are the foods I don’t like, right now,” she said, starting to count on her fingers. Danny and I looked at each other across the table and smiled at each other’s eyes.
“Okay,” I said, putting down my fork. “I’d love to hear.”
“I don’t like mustard.” We knew that. She’s a mayonnaise girl. Mustard is too tangy for her taste. It puckers at the lips and makes you sit up straight. Mayonnaise is smooth, sliding in without much need for attention. We haven’t given her mustard in awhile. Next?
She leaned in toward us, picking up speed now. “I don’t like cabbage.”
For months, we were all eating our tacos on fresh cabbage leaves instead of tortillas. As much as I love a warm corn tortilla, there’s something enticing about a crisp cold cabbage leaf curled around a tangle of hot slow-braised pork with melted cheese and guacamole. (In fact, I’m hungry for one right now.) We started eating our tacos this way last year, when a friend of ours from Mexico told us her family always eats cabbage tacos. The first time we tried them, Lucy looked at me and shouted, “I love cabbage! This is my favorite food.” But her interest in those tacos has been dwindling.
She is six.
“Okay, Lu. No cabbage.” Desmond banged on the white plane of his highchair with a spoon, picking up on her eagerness and wanting to share too.
“Also,” Lu continued. “I don’t like broccoli or chard or cauliflower or kale.” She sat back in her chair with a big exhale, clearly done orating for a bit.
Danny and I looked at each other and shrugged. “You got it, kiddo,” he said. “We’ll keep those off your plate for now.”
It was early. My knees felt creaky. The coffee was still burbling through the filter. And I was in the kitchen, gathering ingredients to make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. The night before, Danny and I…
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