My friend Paula invited me over to learn how to make beer butt chicken yesterday. Actually, I guess I invited myself over after learning that she grills beer butt chicken.
I have not come to a place where I feel comfortable eating in the homes of other people easily since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I worry incessantly about being rude or getting an accidental hit of gluten. I am a control freak about my gluten-free diet. I come by it honestly. At least I don't spin my wheels controlling things which are simply outside my dominion. I do in fact have complete control of what goes in my mouth and it is this tight grip, this rigid adherence to my gluten-free diet, that is the only treatment for Celiac Disease. I do not have gluten intolerance and I do not have a food allergy. I have a disease that left untreated will lead to catastrophic and potentially untreatable conditions including abdominal lymphoma. I can't control the course of cancer.
I have had good experiences and bad experiences as a guest eating in someone's home. There are some people I simply trust with my diet in their hands. My friend Jennifer for example is someone I trust! Jennifer introduced me to quinoa, a ancient grain from South America. She also edited a great book on food allergies, 8 Degrees of Ingredients. I know she understands the disease and the diet. I will eat food out of her kitchen any time!
I also have complete trust and confidence in Paula and Andrea and the safety of the food that comes out of their kitchen. Paula goes to a great deal of extra effort to make sure I know that she is paying attention to details like using clean utensils. She always places packages of food she is using on the table for all of us to review. She does this in a nonchalant, matter of fact manner. I appreciate this, perhaps more than anything. I don't have to ask if I can look at the label, she offers it up in advance. And when desert is served, it is the same thing for all of us. If gluten-free cookies are good enough for me, they are good enough for all of us. Paula and Andrea pick up gluten-free baked goods at my favorite bakery and they rave about my gluten-free pasta. Eating what I eat, well it just makes me feel darn good.
So, with my gluten-free beer in hand, I headed over to Paula and Andrea's house to learn how to make this beer butt chicken on the grill. It was so much fun, and so simple. After rubbing and seasoning the whole chickens we poured GF beer into to rinsed out cans of diet coke, propped the cans up into the cavity of the chicken and put them on the grill. A hour and a half later we sat down to a stellar summer dinner of succulent, moist chicken, GF pesto pasta, and ripe summer tomatoes with shaved parmesan cheese. We meet Jane, a friend of Paula and Andrea's who is the conductor and director of One Voice Mixed Choir (http://www.ovmc.org/). We loved Jane, she is so interesting and fun. Jane is part of a potluck group who's membership is made up of vegans, Celiacs and people who can eat anything. She helped herself to the GF pasta without pause, another feel good gesture as far as I was concerned. I don't like drawing attention to myself, or the difference in my diet, so when a meal can be this transparent for me it is pure joy!
I left, happy, content and connected to these two women that I simply adore. I left having mounted another good experience in eating out and trusting others with my well being. These evenings give me experience in being a confident, kind and considerate guest which is just as important. I am always grateful when friends and family are willing to go to the effort to eat gluten free, especially when it feels so genuine and so pellucid. I appreciate the opportunity to become a better dinner guest. I am still learning but I think I am getting better. I am learning that plenty of people are more than willing and more than capable, I just need to be more willing myself and allow others the opportunity to serve me. God knows how much I enjoy serving others.