Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Gluten Free idiots

Gee.  Just when you thought things were settling down and the Gluten Free community was getting some respect, a famous chef comes out of the closet with his REAL feelings on the subject. 
I won't repost his full condemnation.  You can read it at ABCOr here.  Or here
It's obvious this guy has anger management issues. 
But the gist of the post isn't generic anger or irritation.  He's not just angry.  He's mad enough to do something.  And dangerous enough to apparently smile while poisoning anyone with Celiac who walks through his door. 
The worst part is...he seems educated.  He knows what gluten is.  He states that he will reassure gluten free diners that their food is gluten free, and then he will knowingly serve them homemade high-gluten pasta (extra gluten in dough can improve texture), and take their compliments. 
What he doesn't realize is that Celiac disease is not anaphylaxis.  It doesn't strike immediately.  The gluten has to hit the intestines before it does it's damage.  And different people react differently. 
Some might have no symptoms at all.  Some poor bloke could eat weekly at this restaurant, assured that the pasta is gluten free, and die from intestinal cancer.  Because of the damage caused by the gluten he unknowingly ingested.  Others will have their romantic night out spoiled...just about the time they're settling in for a movie, or bed.  Or possibly not until tomorrow morning's early meeting that can't be missed. 

Yes, grains have been a part of the human diet for hundreds of years.  And Celiac has existed for just as long (there are reports in the Bible of wasting diseases that are suspected cases of Celiac disease.  That means it's at least 2000 years old.) 

But the sanity of a gluten free diet isn't the question.  Any individual in America has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We have the right to protect our lives the way we see fit.  (By pursuing whatever diet...medically proven or fad...that we believe will be most suitable to our needs)  We have the right to CHOOSE what we eat.  Now, we don't have to choose to eat in restaurants.  But, if we do, we have the right to know what exactly they are putting in the food if we choose to ask.  And we have the right to pursue happiness.  Some chef who has decided that a medical diagnosis of Celiac Disease is ridiculous and therefore derails attempts to live a normal life within the constraints of a medically restricted diet interferes with our right to pursue happiness. 
In fact, he could cause irreprable harm.  Not just to a person's health (eventually, there is an exposure that you really don't come back all the way from) but to their psyche.  If he's assuring a gluten free consumer that they received a gluten free meal, while they are developing symptoms, they will blame the symptoms on something else.  Like nerves, or eating out in general (the stress or the airborne particles) or kissing their significant other.  A well placed reaction can lead to a fight between even the most understanding of spouses.  Just because it's disappointing to have well made plans go astray for bathroom access. 

I don't think this man is alone in thinking people following a gluten free diet are "idiots".  (liberal hippie idiots, in fact)  And that's the real danger.  I've seen the poker face that slides over someone's face when I clarify that no, we don't make exceptions for parties.  No, we don't make exceptions for really good pizza or really expensive cookies.  It's all or nothing for our family.  Mr. Violets and Bumblebee eat all the gluten they want outside of the home and ask for no accomodation.  Penguin and I eat none.  At all.  Period. 

The reactions are miserable and it sends the wrong message. Some people think the diet is too restrictive.  I think that it's only restrictive when there are people we can't trust to respect our choices and physical needs.  And statements like the ones made by Chef Cardone make those of us with dietary needs feel that we can't trust others, even ones who seem supportive. 


Anonymous said...

Maybe its a real problem maybe its not.however everyone I've seen in a resturant that claims to be gluten Free seems like they are looking to start a long conversation on there condition and are wanting empathy.if my life were on the line I wouldn't be trusting cooks that 90 percent of hate dealing with gluten free patrons.just anther thought bromine and Conola oil are probably worse for you than gluten ever could be and people haven't been eating them for centuries. Just saying cook at home and don't make it somone elses problem.there are gluten free resturants.eat there. Thats what I'd do if I had that problem. And PS don't go to a restaurant a few minutes before they close either.its just bad manners

Violets said...

The gluten free lifestyle is overwhelming. Sometimes people are anxious to share their new found health. It doesn't mean that they are 'idiots' or that the health is some sort of placebo effect.
It's also important to note that in our society, avoiding restaurants completely is seen as antisocial. There is a lot of peer pressure to go to whatever restaurant the rest of the group is going to, and pressure as well as desire to eat.
And gluten actually destroys the lining of the intestines for those with celiac disease. Celiac has been around for hundreds of years. Diagnosis is just more common now that our diet is heavily dependent upon gluten grains. It's a valid medical condition.
Most people who truly need to go gluten free don't walk around demanding that you meet their needs. They ask if it's doable first. Then they follow up with specific requests. If you don't want to accommodate them, warn them that you aren't able to meet their needs. Don't lie and joke about their gullibility. It's demeaning and dangerous.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want to accommodate them, warn them that you aren't able to meet their needs. Don't lie and joke about their gullibility. It's demeaning and dangerous.

If only it was that easy. Most of the gluten free people I have dealt with in a restaurant environment, have a fit if you tell them you are unable to accommodate them. and start a campaign to bad mouth your restaurant to their friends.

Restaruants can not always be ready to accommodate special requests. as long as they are honest, the "customer" should not start a hate campaign either.