There’s something curious about straddling worlds as a food person who writes things that people (sometimes) read and pay attention to.
I’ve had these fun little allergies for a few decades now, but for the most part rarely feel deprived, as there’s a plethora of alternative ingredients to cow-dairy and gluten that didn’t exist when I was a tween battling her first bout of Lyme disease. I can ingest a small amount of gluten without killing myself, and a few times a year indulge on something really special: a local beer at a baseball game with friends on the Ohio river in Cincinnati: a piece of a hot, crusty Portuguese roll with my family. I admitted this in a blog post for Easy Eats after a and the response from the gluten-free community was mixed, with some challenging my credentials in working for a gluten-free publication and one person saying flat out that they were no longer going to follow the magazine.
So there’s that.
On the flip side, I interview chefs and cover events for Serious Eats NY, where I often can’t eat what is offered to me. I either pick what I can off a plate, rely on my partner (Brent Herrig, who thank dog can eat everything) or question those around me for details and opinions. So far no one has questioned my credibility to write in this world, though I haven’t called particular attention to the fact that I didn’t eat a single bite from the NYC Wine and Food Festival’s SWEET event because every single dessert offered contained gluten and/or dairy, most often both.
Seems that one world is easier to get by in and the other more serious, though curiously juxtaposed in their titleage.
I never quite how odd my absence of eating could be until covering the New York City Wine and Food Festivals Chopped, SWEET and Tacos and Tequila events. At Chopped (all the judges from the TV show Chopped dishing out at Marc Murphy’s Landmarc) I could literally only eat Murphy’s pork belly – if I just ate the meat off the bun. At SWEET – nada. I went home both nights very hungry. At Tacos and Tequila, I picked my way through (and thoroughly enjoyed) what I could. Luckily Brent has become part of my anti-allergy team and questions ingredients alongside me, warning me when not to take a bite (and refilling my tequila and soda as needed).
This doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t love straddling both of these worlds. In fact, I don’t see them as two different worlds. They’re just… well… my world. There was no “gluten-free community” or food blogs when I started on my personal relationship with watching how food affects my body. There was just me, my plate, and how my body accepted or rejected what I put on it.
So I’m still celebrating what I can eat and what I can’t. For some reason, this has resulted in my profession being creating and writing about food. And now and then accepting that maybe I’ll just have to go a little hungry… and drink some tequila and shake it on a dance floor.