“Can I eat this?”

Dating someone with “special food needs” has been interesting. My Sherpa has celiac disease and cannot eat wheat, barley, or rye. I’m sure I learned it on our first date, if not when we first met, because it’s a big deal. I remember asking him many questions. Now when he tells people I notice they all ask the same questions: How long? What does it mean? How did you figure it out? What happens to you? Can you eat potatoes? Rice? Corn? Oats? He very patiently explains it every time.

I won’t get into all the details for his sake, but it affects his life pretty significantly and his gluten free needs have changed the way I eat, too. And when I cook for him I have to be really careful to read labels. And he’s forever asking, “Can I eat this?”

There are SO MANY things that have gluten in them that you would never think do. Tootsie rolls. Soy sauce. Wild rice. Corn bread. One little slip and he’s paying for it for days to weeks. And sometimes even when you’re careful you get screwed. We went out for Mexican food in Ohio and shared chips and salsa. “Are these corn chips?” “Yes,” they answered, although over the next couple of days we realized that they hadn’t been. Poor dude.

Even I mess it up for him, sometimes. I picked up dinner from Whole Foods not long ago, and as I was carefully building his plate I saw something that looked up his alley – it had kidney beans and tomatoes in it and said “Seitan” on the sign. I thought it was tofu. I was trying so hard!

Well. Tofu it was not. Only after a couple of bites did he ask, “Can I eat this?”

“Uh… actually… it’s called seitan but now that I think about it, I don’t know what that is.” No!

Out came the iPhones. “Seitan ingredients.”

Results? “Vegetarian wheat meat.”

Damn.

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