Last weekend, I was listening to The Splendid Table, a food and cooking show on NPR. Lynn Rosetto Casper was interviewing a foodie, who discussed the joys of creating bread dough utilizing the natural bacteria and yeasts floating around our households. I’ve made bread like this before; mixing flour and water and allowing the natural flora and fauna in the house to collect upon it to create natural rising and flavors. It’s really quite spectacular, although more time-consuming than using a yeast packet.
Sure, there are gluten-free breads out there, and some of them are even palatable; however, none of them are as good as the real thing – not even homemade. There is no way to replicate the natural chewiness and texture imparted by gluten. Xanthan gum is a piss-poor substitute.
As I listened, I once again mourned the loss of “real” bread, and also my loss in the participation of an ancient, satisfying ritual. Baking bread is such a fundamental, life-giving process that people have enjoyed for thousands of years. We amongst the gluten-intolerant are surrounded by a world taking wheat for granted. Enjoying sandwiches, crusts, baked goods and everything else delicious is practically a god-given right… right?
Sadly, for us, not so much. Poor us! I’m throwing my own pity party Right Now.
It makes me angry, but it’s a silly anger. There’s nothing to be mad at except my own body, and perhaps our culture that puts wheat and high-fructose corn syrup into the oddest things, ramping up our exposure to them to insane levels. Mostly, though, there’s nothing solid to be angry with, so it amounts to a temper tantrum.
This will be my first gluten-free (GF) holiday season. Already, we’re being bombarded with images of steaming stuffing, hot cinnamon rolls, thick crusty loaves of bread, various delicious cookies and tasty pies, et cetera, and I drool. This will be my first Thanksgiving in years without my Finnish mushroom pie. I may try to turn it into a crustless casserole, but it will be greatly diminished. I may experiment with making a GF pie crust to see if a pumpkin pie would be worthwhile, or I may just make a pumpkin custard of some sort.
Mike Neir’s extended family does a huge Thanksgiving get-together. I’m planning on pretty much bringing my own complete meal; between the mostly vegetarian thing and the completely GF thing, I’m betting there won’t be much I can eat there. We’re providing one of the turkeys from Creswick farms, so I’ll be able to eat that. I’ll bring veggies of some sort, and perhaps scalloped corn or potatoes. Certainly winter squash. The mushroom casserole. Some kind of dessert. It’ll be fine. It’ll probably even be delicious.
But I’m still probably going to sulk a little bit as I crave the other goodness around me.
Stupid gluten. >.<
For five or so years, last year kind of excepted, I have gone a little hog-wild with the holiday baking. In 2006, I shipped home three boxes, each weighing more than 15 pounds, to friends and family. I still had tons left over to give out to local friends in Washington.
I miss baking. A lot.
I baked for the ranch, for the motorcycle shop, for friends. Just for fun, and just because if I kept it all – I would eat it all.
I’ll miss my famous gingerbread. Although in this case, I’ll miss the warm, fragrant batter more than the end product.
There are literally hundreds of dollars of baking cookbooks on my shelf I’ll probably never open again. This upside-down apple pie? No more.
Rational or not, I’m still pissed about this whole thing. I know I have to move along, get over it and so forth, and I will. Eventually. Most of the time, I do alright. It’s a combination of The Holiday Season and a brutal case of PMS.