I have not eaten anything containing gluten for twenty years. My long un-explainable stomach symptoms finally got explained in January, 2000. I have celiac sprue, an autoimmune disease where gluten destroys the villi in the small intestine. It took me a while to process what my gastroenterologist was explaining. No wheat, rye, barley. Ever. Nor any of the millions of foods containing them.
I know that things have improved for people like me since then. More restaurants understand gluten-free. More organizations realize that there is a market for good gluten-free products. Back then, it wasn’t easy to adjust to the cardboard product that was gluten-free bread. Or to give up pretzels and bagels, French bread, most desserts.
Five months after my diagnosis our entire family took a dream trip to Africa. By then I had adjusted to my condition, but since I knew nothing about African cuisine, I carried a giant size jar of Skippy peanut butter and gluten-free crackers in my suitcase.
There is still no magic pill or cure for this genetic mishap. I still look at dessert menus--you never know when a flour-less chocolate cake will make the cut.