I went out to lunch alone on Wednesday, having forgotten to take anything in from home. There’s this wonderful coney island place not far from work, and they serve fantastic salads. I settled in with my Nook, ordered a Michigan salad and some coffee.
Five minutes later, my food arrived. Nestled against the salad bowl was a fresh-from-the-oven, dripping-with-butter, perfectly-browned piece of gyro bread. My eyes widened involuntarily.
In the .8 seconds following its arrival, a flurry of thoughts cascaded through my head. My friend Janice’s doctor had said her food sensitivities may go away after a year or two of abstaining from them, for instance. I weighed the pleasure of sinking my teeth into the chewy bread against the last time I had ingested a considerable amount of gluten – a Qdoba burrito, after which I spent two days largely in the bathroom with very unhappy innards.
Had it not been right there, already on my plate, right in front of me, I would have been Just Fine. I wouldn’t have even considered ordering it, let alone consuming it. But the smell. Oh my godiva, the smell.
It took me that 4/5 of a second to decide to eat the bread.
I lifted it from the plate, inhaling deeply. The divine aroma filled my nostrils – that primal, satisfying, tapioca-starch-never-smelled-this-good scent of hot, fresh bread. Throwing caution to the wind, I indulged.
The first bite was better than any bread I have ever tasted in my life; pillowy, chewy, a bit of sweetness, but unmistakably wheaty and unimaginably perfect in texture and flavor. It was excruciatingly delicious.
I chewed, savoring every millisecond. I swallowed, committing myself to the path. I put the bread down, waiting for the inevitable, almost-immediate rumbling of my stomach, the feeling of having pushed an internal PURGE button. While I awaited my punishment, I nibbled on my salad greens, topped with delectable cherries and other goodies.
The bread called me back for more. I realized it was losing its precious warmth, growing less amazing with every passing moment. I took another bite – heaven.
My guts did not revolt. Not at first.
I finished my lunch and drove back to work, intensely aware of every inner sensation. I felt a little bloaty, just the slightest bit. No rumblings, no purging. Awhile later, the tip of my tongue got rather tingly, as did the inside of my mouth. It was not wildly unpleasant, just … interesting. I felt the nerves on the left side of my body go into a pre-RLS state, a sensation I cannot accurate describe, for an hour or so.
And that was it. That was the extent.
For two days, I was on tenterhooks, just waiting my just punishment.
It never came!
Perhaps Janice’s doctor is onto something here. Maybe, if I give my body a break from the constant onslaught of this substance, my reactivity to it will go down enough for me to occasionally indulge in real bread products – pizza comes to mind. There is no gluten-free pizza crust that tastes like the real thing.
I have been so stinking careful this last year. Apart from mild accidental cross-contaminations and the aforementioned deliberate Qdoba poisoning, I have completely abstained from the things I know have gluten. Perhaps my discipline will be rewarded, and I can have little tastes of the really good stuff I still miss now and then.
Perhaps it was a fluke and the next time I try a stunt like this, I’ll be awash in misery.
But dammit, right now, I am hopeful!