Friday, July 08, 2011

Real Food

Recently, struggling to come up with food for Bumblebee, I couldn't help but wonder when we got to this point.  And was immediately assaulted by the memory of sitting in a professionals office, discussing Bumblebee's reluctance to attend school and food issues and being told that she shouldn't be expected to eat the veggies and whole grains I make, since she doesn't have Celiac Disease she deserves "real food".  And an interview with a nutritionist shortly after I was diagnosed with both Celiac Disease and Corn Allergy, tearfully explaining that there was NOTHING I could eat, and the kids needed food too...and being told that I couldn't deprive them of "real food". 
Each time I was on overload, so I nodded, blinked away any tears threatening to fall, and agreed that my limited diet was intolerable for kids. 
But I never thought to step back, narrow my eyes and ask what exactly they considered "Real Food"?  What, exactly, is wrong with a gluten free diet that makes people think of it as "fake" food?  Rice bread isn't any less valid than wheat just tastes different.  Rice pasta, again, simply has a different texture and taste than 'regular' pasta.  It's not fake.  It's just made from a different grain.
Looking through gluten-free cookbooks always makes me shake my head.  While I am in need of inspiration for nightly meals, I find that specific cookbooks for gluten free foods have a distinct focus on baking.  Breads, cakes, cookies.  Carbs.  Of which we, as a society, get way too many of to begin with.
Real food.  Is it cake?  Pizza?  Macaroni?  And when did it get that way? 
I look at last night's meal (which was a sort of quiche-filling poured over leftover pasta.  Not gourmet, but tasty and chock full of spinach and pepper and onion, as well as protein from eggs)  I wonder what ever possessed me to think that serving cereal or a sandwich to Bumblebee was somehow superior?  A valid choice if she doesn't like the meal, sure.  But more appropriate because it's "real" and has gluten and/or dairy plus corn? 
What's happened to our priorities? 
I'm exaggerating a bit.  I've never really thought a sandwich was "superior" to the rest of the meal.  But there's been that nugget of guilt.  Poor Bumblebee.  Poor Mr. Violets.  They have to put up with fake food, when they could be eating...GLUTEN. 
Well, the guilt is ending (er, well, ending I mean 'being hidden away and ignored to the best of my ability') right now. 
Tonight's meal is rice and beans with salad.  It's a meal offered on dozens of restaurant menus, and enjoyed by thousands of households in the american continents.  Plural.  There's nothing fake about it, even if I only serve avocado and no cheese or sour cream.  In fact, I believe some would find it even more traditional that way. 
Real food isn't about gluten, or dairy, or any other allergen.  It's about food.  It's about seeing your food, knowing where it came from, and enjoying it.  It's about food that's approachable.  Simple.  Nourishing.  It's the opposite of what you'd pull out of the Star Trek Enterprise holo-replicator mechanism.  It's the good chocolate.  (you know, the only kind I can safely eat that costs a fortune)  It's old fashioned oats or Quinoa flakes.  It's pure cane sugar.  It's water instead of Kool Aid.  It's food that formed on a farm, not in a laboratory, and grew from seeds that weren't GM.  (at least, in my opinion) 
Real food is a recurring theme on allergy boards.  Missing, wishing, dreaming of "real food".  But food without allergens IS real.  It's valid.  It's tasty.  It's nourishing because of what IS in it, not lacking because of what's not. 
And you know what?  In many ways, it CAN be superior to the so called "real" of the Standard American Diet.  Real Food is often gluten free.  Why shouldn't it be? 

1 comment:

maubs said...

My "real" food is the corn-free stuff, though it's often gluten-full! I recently sent around "the list" of corn-derived ingredients to some co-workers who offered to make corn-free items for a potluck, only to receive replies of "What do you eat?"
Well, I eat real food.