Nostalgia is a Force

Dealing with deeply embedded memories and addictions to food.

What do you think about when you envision the taste of summer and anticipate its joys?

Which foods help you eliminate stress and make you feel comforted and safe?

The answers will be slightly different for most of us, as individuals who grew up in different cultures with emphasis on certain traditional foods or habits formed from convenience.  For me, as well as for Shauna James Ahern, the author of Gluten-Free Girl, those memories involve food which comes in packages.  Thanks to McDonald’s, I may forever crave french fries and cheeseburgers.  When I am understandably nervous about this new living space, new job, new restricted diet which also makes me completely alter every recipe in my home baking business,  and new daily routine to help shrink my scary ovarian cyst, the comfort foods embedded in childhood come racing back to me.

A Cheesy Meltdown

Guess what? Not all dairy alternatives are dairy-free! Above: Southwest Sunflower Burger with Rice Cheese, GF ketchup & mustard on a GF bun, with a side of corn slathered with soy-free Earth Balance.

Like today, for instance, when I craved the cheese I grew up with that came in individually wrapped packages and was so fluorescent it could’ve lit up a cave.  Which is eventually what I did – I caved, and lit up my lunch with this un-food sliced stuff that Ryan & I mistakenly believed was safe: Rice Cheese “is gooey goodness with none of the soy and all of the taste.” Yes, yes it is! OMG the flavor, and the familiar smooth crinkling sound upon unwrapping the package.  Unfortunately it contains dairy via casein, a milk protein. Thus, I was instructed to ignore its presence in our refrigerator until Ryan could eat it all himself.  Which I did, for a month or so, until today when I shamefully added a slice to my vegan burger on a gluten-free bun. Fortunately I don’t have a “noticeable” reaction to dairy besides increased mucus. That means that I can’t feel the damage the tests show dairy may be doing to my intestines, and I can’t see it helping my cyst grow bigger either. So while my body freaks out right now, I can’t feel a thing except cheesy joy.

I just discovered a VEGAN Rice Cheese that might be ok at least until the cravings end.

Gluten-Free Girl to the Rescue

Check out the website for gluten-free girl, especially if you suspect or know you’re sensitive to gluten, but also if you love to read about food and celebrate eating.  There are some great recipe ideas, and her writing has really changed my life and brought me hope.  You’ll see on her website in the top right-hand column a delicious-looking advertisement for Udi’s double-chocolate-chip muffins, which are true gluten-free bites of brownie awesomeness that make me terribly ill. This is because eggs are the second ingredient, and even though I was in denial last week about my egg sensitivity, I’m over it. No more eggs, ever! Who wants to spend 3 days with a headache and gastrointestinal distress? Not me.

Because I can’t eat eggs, soy, or dairy, there are dedicated gluten-free bakeries in which I cannot eat a single one of their products.  I can’t have these foods, and I can’t have their substitutes either, for the most part.  Tofu cheesecake is not an option.  Gluten-free breads, biscuits, and muffins have at least eggs most of the time.  It’s a real challenge being gluten-free and all these other things, too! Nostalgia for familiar comfort foods is a force to be reckoned with, especially when combined with ignorance  in regards to cooking, and a lack of support system from either family or community rituals.  But I do have hope that someday it’ll be easier, someday Ryan & I will create our own traditions around food which does not make me sick, and I will no longer be fooled into thinking that food comes in packages.

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