I read a great post this week from Wendy at her Celiacs in the House blog. She talks about the complicated relationship with food, and how that can change when we find out we are celiacs, and it is then necessary to make diet changes.
It has me thinking about the bigger picture of food in our lives. What culture in the world doesn't have its food playing a major role? Having meals together, "breaking bread" together (if you will), is a part of life, everywhere in the world. We all must have food, clothing and shelter to live. Whatever else we have culturally (arts, entertainment, etc.) is just details.
Everyone remembers our mother's cooking. She was the first to care for us and make sure we were fed. Similarly, many of us remember our grandma's cooking, and her bringing infinite wisdom to the kitchen that would sparkle, often brighter than our own mother's prowess.
So we have these memories, these tastes. But sometimes we didn't like everything. Who here likes brussel sprouts, for example? We don't always make the foods our grandmothers made and integrate them into our lives. We don't always have the same non-food traditions that our grandparents and those before them had. I mean, I sure don't.
But I do know that I am who I am because of their care and values. I know there are many kinds of dishes that I love, that were made by my grandmother, like Beef and Noodles, every kind of home grown vegetable, jello, custard pie, pumpkin pie, all other kinds of pie, sugar cookies, Turkey and homemade stuffing, baked ham, baked chicken, sweet yams, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet Easter bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, etc. etc. You know, Ohio german farm food.
What traditions have I not continued? I don't cook up a pan of bacon. I don't work on the farm 8 hours a day, and will not work that fat off while sitting at my desk at work. So I am discarding this tradition, one which would be unhealthy for me. I think my grandmother would agree that's a good idea. Also, I don't make sweet Easter bread (yet). That would take something like 2 days to do, if I could even figure out how to make it gluten free (which I probably could). Instead, I am spending those 2 days working and networking, or practicing, all things that are leading me to greater opportunities in my life. And I feel like that is alright as well.
And what new traditions do I have? My mother started a tradition of making soft sugar cut-out cookies as a family around Christmastime. We would bake them together--she, my 2 brothers and me--and then we would frost and decorate them. We would give them to all our teachers, friends and neighbors, etc. This wasn't an old tradition, but now that I've successfully adapted this recipe to gluten free, I do the same in my life. I share cookies with work contacts, local friends, etc. It's inexpensive, and so I can give more to people, can take a plate to share with everyone at work, and something homemade means so much more than store-bought anything. And I think it's a fun thing to do.
I have always maintained that Celiac Disease doesn't change your life. It might change a few details about how you have to plan ahead your meals, a little bit, but it doesn't change who you are, your dreams, and what you can do, one bit. However, I do see that it is becoming part of my story. Just from the way I live, and how planning my eating has changed. But I'm really OK with that, and I think the fact that I do approach eating and food a little differently is just an extension of taking care of myself. Something I know my ancestry would smile upon and support.
Whenever someone is asking me, "isn't that hard? That would be so difficult. Don't you miss eating things?"
My response is always, "Anything you can have that's made with wheat or gluten, can be made without. I don't feel deprived of anything. If I want something bad enough, I know I can have it, although I just might have to make it myself." I've found it to be true. And I'll share with you if and when I ever get that Easter Bread converted to gluten free, because I'm sure it can be done.