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Rant: Gluten is getting a little personal now

Posted by on November 25, 2012

I try not to let my own personal pity party out into the blog as much, but it is supposed to be a way to get out my ‘feels’ about things, especially when it relates to my own personal career goals and plans. I believe this is a valid source because there may be people listening who can help or have good advice and possibly even the same concerns. But I will note all of these rants by the ‘Rant’ marker before the title like I do with recipes, news, updates, tips, etc so you don’t have to read if you’re not interested.

I was raised a typical American kid from a poor household. We ate mac and cheese, canned beans and nothing had a name, unless it was the store’s brand name. I got my first taste of ‘proper’ cooking when for an ‘Introduction to World Languages” class in middle school we had to cook something from a foreign country and I found out that Cheeze-Its are apparently French. I was a pudgy kid so as much as I liked food, I was in a love-hate relationship with it and between that and my ADHD, I ate rarely until good food was put before me, then I stuffed my face temporarily. I would do days without eating without realizing it, but the moment something good or of quality was in  front of me, I’d gorge. It got to the point where I’d do this on purpose just to get to have the money to eat the good stuff.

And then I found my mum. My mum is an amazing woman who has been through a lot of stuff in her life, from cancer, to a bunch of things I couldn’t even begin to understand that sorta  came from the cancer, and yet, she is one of the most incredible women I have ever met (don’t even get me started on her daughter; my best friend for years now who shines as well). Through my Mum, I found Jonna, a woman whose kindness and generosity astounds me to this day. After helping her with a presentation display/entremet for the Society of Creative Anachronism, she asked why I was not preparing food for a living, since I obviously loved it. I explained my situation and without pause, she offered to help. With her help and another friend who offered a room in his apartment for the duration of school, I crossed the country and started classes at Le Cordon Bleu-Portland, then known as Western Culinary Institute. This was only a few short months after my best friend was diagnosed with her gluten issues.

After an internship at a Gluten Free facility failed (the owner’s father had died), and another internship fell through thanks to an extreme differences in personality, I found and completed my diplôme program. I then treated myself to a long cherished trip to New Orleans. While in Louisiana, I met some wonderful people and found a school I fell in love with and felt at home at. I then applied over November and received my acceptance in December, the day after Christmas and lost a bit of focus as I concentrated on my management degree. Even then I didn’t understand the ramifications of wanting to open a bakery where my best friend could visit and eat. I thought I could have them side by side.

And then in my senior year, when money was tight, I started eating a lot of pasta and ramen…and getting horrible stomach cramps and other unpleasant issues. My mum, in her infinite wisdom suggested I try the gluten free diet to see if it eased my pains. I actually laughed at her, reminding her of all the money and time spent on getting me trained to be a pastry chef but I was so miserable, I had to find out. Within days, my symptoms cleared up and I cried for two straight days.  But with Aaron’s support and determination not to let it control my life, I fought back and used my training to figure out where to go from there. And for the past year, I’ve done pretty well. I have a wheat allergy and a gluten sensitivity but I could handle it.

So gluten decided to try and ruin my life again. Now that I have taken wheat, gluten, rye, and barley out of my life…I can’t walk into a bakery without holding my breath, I can’t even do bakery demos without blowing up by the end of the day. I have two degrees, and if I can’t work in the industry, I’m -overqualified-, a term I’ve grown to HATE. Working beside someone who was warming baked bread in a convection over a few feet away from me today made me feel drained and exhausted even while I drooled over the bread. There has to be a better way. I don’t know what it is yet, but I am determined. I will not let my life be dictated to me by some …protein that doesn’t know to watch out for redheads. I’m coming for you, Gluten and I will show you that I and other don’t need you.


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