Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How I Found The Food That Loves Me Back

& how you can too.

Lately, I've been craving many things. Fish, mmm. Chai Tea. Good friends. A good book. Naps. And luckily for me, I've been able to cash my cravings in for delicious moments.

I spend so much time reading for classes and well, reading blogs. I read and read and read. Hours a day. But the last time I read a book? An entire novel? For fun? That was uhm... well. Quite some time ago. Winter typically finds me book-in-hand but with the business of a full semester, two jobs and THON, this winter passed without the flip of any pages.

With Border's closing, I've been forced to relocate my love of reading to Barnes and Noble. While the Starbucks cafe and neatly labels sections are alluring and hip, I found myself wandering the aisles, trying to guess where a non-fiction memoir of a gluten-free life might be. After receiving an offer for an internship with my favorite gluten-free company, Udi's, I thought I should maybe expand my gluten-free-allergy-free horizons. I know many things about my diet, how to eat well and just what gluten can do but other perspectives never hurt. Besides, I needed a good book.

The associates at the "information counter" weren't all too sure either when I asked for "Gluten-Free Girl". The computer registry showed it in Health & Fitness but no one seemed to be able to find that section. Was it under health? Fitness? Diet? Cookbooks? Three associates later, and a copy of the book was in my hands.

I can proudly say that in less than twenty-four hours, I've finished 102 pages. (And managed to sneak in a night of sleep, three hours of babysitting, homework with Ryan, a nap.. from staying up late reading, a TV show and a night class.) I quite frankly cannot put it down. I've read it walking down the Penn State halls, during commercials as I watched Skins last night - I even packed it in my lunch box in case Erika was still asleep when I babysat this morning. In fact, sitting here with the book folded on my lap is tempting enough.

The story of how I came to find Gluten-Free Girl is a bit of a funny one. I've been eating gluten free for months and after obnoxious trips to health food stores, I've resorted to leaving my gluten-free research to online forums and blogs. I've considering jumping into the world of gluten-free blogging but have never done more than dip my toes. But about two weeks ago, I was blogging about the world of Chuck E Cheese and said "Despite the change in age, I'm almost positive that there is still no better pizza.. says the gluten-free girl." I liked it. The way it rang. It was silly and oh so me. I had used the phrase "gluten-free girl" countless times in conversations but in print, it was much more bold. Maybe that was the inspiration I needed so, I googled it. And some one had beaten me to the title. I laughed, with a bitter undertone. I didn't know then how happy I would be that author/blogger Shauna James Ahern had beaten me to the name. Her blog is clever, enlightening and fun. Her book? Even more so. 

It is full of recipes, advice and funny (or sometimes serious) anecdotes. Every few pages, I sigh with an "amen" at the symptoms of poising your body with food. At Shauna's first attempt at a gluten-free Thanksgiving. How to eat in restaurants and how difficult or rewarding that may be for you. The restaurant part, I found ever so true as a gluten-free eater and a waitress who often caters to other sufferers of food allergies. It feels so good to not feel alone. It's like having a close friend to share stories with. A friend who like me thought "there goes Paris and french cooking" only to be pleasantly surprised. A friend who knows that cheating isn't worth the consequences. A friend who won't tempt me with freshly-baked-but-oh-so-gluten-full chocolate chip cookies. When I finish the book, I'll maybe dip my toes in the world of book reviews but until then, I'm going to flip back to page 103 and a recipe for barbecued pork... 

As for that appetite for good friends and good fish? Tomorrow's plans include a trip to California Cafe and a shopping adventure afterwards. Look forward to a post on my gluten-free dining adventure and reunion with the best friends I never see. 

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